Colorado's Arapahoe Basin Will Be the First Ski Area in the Rockies to Open For the Season Friday

Jonathan Erdman
Published: October 11, 2017

A view of Arapahoe Basin, Colorado, on October 11, 2017.
(Arapahoe Basin)

A Colorado ski area will be the first in the Rockies to open for the 2017-2018 season Friday, only days from its earliest opening day on record.

Arapahoe Basin, located about 45 miles west-southwest of Denver, announced Tuesday it will open for the season Friday at 9 a.m. 

The Black Mountain Express high-speed quad will be open, however, no beginner (green) runs will be available, according to the ski area's website

This opening day is eight days earlier than its 2016 opening date, and just four days later than its record earliest opening date of October 9, 2009.

As of Wednesday morning, A-Basin reported a mid-mountain snow depth of 18 inches, typically the threshold used for opening for the season. 

A cool, snowy stretch since late September has produced both natural snow, and has kept temperatures cool enough to allow snowmaking to build enough of a base for opening.

(FORECAST: Arapahoe Basin, Colorado)

Nearby Winter Park, typically open by mid-November, picked up 19 inches of snowfall over a roughly two-week period since September 24, according to the National Weather Service.

"Our snowmaking efforts have gone very well with cold temperatures and high streamflows," wrote Alan Henceroth, chief operating officer for A-Basin, in an October 10 blog post

Just a few miles away, Loveland Ski Area has not yet announced an opening date, but was in the process of snowmaking. Loveland and Arapahoe Basin have a long-standing, friendly rivalry competing to be the first to open each season.

Assuming optimal weather for snowmaking or early-season snowfall, a number of ski areas around the country typically open for the season in November, particularly during Thanksgiving week in the Rockies, Sierra, Cascades, Upper Midwest, Appalachians, Adirondacks, Green and White Mountains, according to onthesnow.com

We previously reported A-Basin would be the first ski area in the U.S. to open for the season, but that was incorrect. Oregon's Timberline Lodge, located near the top of Mt. Hood, opened for the season on October 8. Timberline is known for having the longest ski season in North America.

We'd like to thank Eric Hand for pointing out this error.

Jonathan Erdman is a senior meteorologist at weather.com and has been an incurable weather geek since a tornado narrowly missed his childhood home in Wisconsin at age 7. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter


The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

Featured Blogs

Meteorology of Saturday's Colombian Flood Disaster That Killed 254

By Dr. Jeff Masters
April 3, 2017

At least 254 people were killed in the in the city of Mocoa (population 40,000) in southwest Colombia near the border of Ecuador early Saturday, when torrential rains triggered a debris flow on a nearby mountain that surged into the town as a huge wall of water carrying tons of mud and debris. The disaster is the fourth deadliest weather-related disaster in Colombia’s recorded history.

Iconic American Destination Virtually Isolated for Rest of Year

By Christopher C. Burt
March 24, 2017

Half of the village of Big Sur, on the coast of central California, has lost its only access to the north following the demolition of the flood-damaged Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge along State Route 1 (also Rt. 1 or SR 1) on March 19. Although Rt. 1 to the south of Big Sur has reopened to traffic (after mud and rock slides were cleared) it is a long 70-mile journey along the windy but spectacular highway to Cambria, the next town of any significance where supplies can be had. CalTrans (California Department of Transportation) estimates it will take 6-9 months to rebuild a new bridge over the canyon.

An extraordinary meteorological event; was one of its results a 1000-year flood?

By Stu Ostro
October 5, 2015

The confluence of meteorological ingredients the first weekend in October 2015 resulted in an extraordinary weather event with severe impacts. Was one of them a 1000-year flood?

Why the Arrest of a Science-Loving 14-year-old Matters

By Shaun Tanner
September 16, 2015

By now, many of you have heard or read about the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old high school student from Irving, Texas. Ahmed was arrested because school officials called the police after he showed one of his teachers his homemade clock. Mistaken for a bomb, Ahmed was taken into custody, interrogated, shamed, suspended (still on suspension today, Wednesday), and reprimanded. All of this after it has been found that the "device" he brought to school was indeed, a homemade clock.