Utah ski resort welcomes 'unprecedented' early opening as snow piles up

A sunrise over Brian Head Resort's Navajo Express on Wednesday. The lift will be in operation Friday for the resort's opening day.

A sunrise over Brian Head Resort's Navajo Express on Wednesday. The lift will be in operation Friday for the resort's opening day. (Brian Head Resort)


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BRIAN HEAD, Iron County — A pair of large snowstorms to launch this snow season is paying off handsomely for a resort in southern Utah.

Brian Head Resort surprised skiers and snowboarders on Monday by announcing that it will open Friday, much earlier than it has ever before. In fact, Ski Utah confirmed Thursday that it's the fourth-earliest resort opening date in state history.

Resort officials credit a mixture of October snow and snowmaking measures for being able to open so soon. Their announcement came ahead of another storm that arrived in Utah Wednesday; the area remains in a winter storm warning through the end of Thursday, where another 10 to 16 inches of snow is projected to fall.

KSL meteorologist Matt Johnson adds that Brian Head may receive another 2 to 3 inches of snow on opening day, just from lingering showers in Utah's mountains forecast for Friday.

"Our dedicated teams and Mother Nature have come together to allow us to experience the mountain in an unprecedented early season opening," said Marilyn Butler, general manager at Brian Head Resort, in a statement Thursday. "We anticipate a great winter season and have been working diligently to enhance our guests' experience and exploring new ways to give people the freedom to ski."

This week's storms may also move up opening dates at other resorts. Solitude Mountain Resort communications manager Travis Holland said Wednesday there's a "possibility" that managers move up the resort's opening date, which is currently set for Nov. 18.

"It's definitely a possibility," he said. "Our crews are working really hard around the clock to do everything we need to do to get it open."

As it stands Thursday, Solitude, Alta Ski Area and Park City Mountain are the next Utah resorts to open in the state, on Nov. 18, according to Ski Utah. Snowbasin Resort and Snowbird are scheduled to open by the end of the month. The remaining resorts in the state are either scheduled to open in December or have not yet announced opening dates.

Over a foot of new snow fell in Park City this week, bringing wildlife into tow, as the local elk herd took up residence at the Park Meadows golf course.
Over a foot of new snow fell in Park City this week, bringing wildlife into tow, as the local elk herd took up residence at the Park Meadows golf course. (Photo: Park City Lodging)

It's a completely different situation from last year, where a dry November delayed opening days, even after a prolific start to the 2022 water year.

Ski Utah President and CEO Nathan Rafferty said in a statement he's thrilled with all the snow that has fallen over the past few weeks. He's also hopeful that the trend continues into the winter.

"We're so excited that the snow is falling, and we're looking forward to a great season," he said. "We can't predict the weather, but every year in Utah is better than most everywhere else, snow-wise. We can't wait to get out on the slopes."

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a Utah transplant by the way of Rochester, New York.

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