Travel Spotlight

What’s New on the Slopes: Indagare’s Ski News Report 2023-2024

On the heels of a record-breaking snow season (for much of western North America, at least), the 2023/2024 ski season is riding in on high expectations. Mountain resorts the world over are gearing up to meet the ever-increasing demand, and since they can’t make any promises for the snowfall, they are devoting their efforts to the guest experience with major lift improvements, pass perks and buzzy events—plus, new dining options on and around the mountains.

Among these exciting updates and improvements, this season we are also seeing several bids from mountains for their longest season ever (looking at you, Big Sky and Jackson Hole) as well as big pushes for accessibility, with resorts like Snowbird and Vail implementing programs that get younger skiers and riders on the slopes for free.

Read on for everything you need to know this season about our favorite mountains (Ikon, Epic and beyond!), including what’s new, opening dates and where to stay.

Read last year’s ski news digest: Indagare’s Ski News Report 2022-2023

What do we know about the snow forecast? El Niño is Coming.

For skiers of southern Colorado, Utah, California and New Mexico, patterns indicate better ski seasons and snowfall during an El Niño year. Forecasts are typically less promising for skiers of the Pacific Northwest, Canada and New England, which often see warmer and dryer seasons. Of course, these are just predictions, and ski season is always unpredictable.

Contact Indagare or your trip designer to start planning your next ski trip. Our team can help match you to the accommodations, reservations and destinations right for you.

(Note: All opening dates are subject to weather and may change.)

SKI IKON: From Deer Valley to Jackson Hole and the Dolomites to Zermatt

Ikon is dipping its toes into the Mid-Atlantic this year, adding New Jersey’s Camelback Mountain and Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountain to the pass’s portfolio (which already includes New York’s Windham). Both additions come with some of the best infrastructure in the region—a win for residents of New York City, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. Note: These mountains are on both the Ikon Pass (seven days) and the Ikon Base Pass (five days).

Major Changes

  • After purchasing Schweitzer in Idaho this year, Alterra now owns 17 total resorts across North America.
  • Taos has moved off the Base Pass and will only be available on the Ikon Base Plus and Ikon Pass.
  • Several more resorts are implementing a reservation system (see below)

Pass Perks: The Ikon pass continues to add perks for pass holders. This year, highlights include two discount codes for the ever-popular Smith Optics brand (30 percent off sunglasses and 20 percent off any product) and 10 percent off luggage shipping, among other perks for brands like Outside and Paramount. To find these benefits, log in to the Ikon Pass site or app and select “View and Redeem Benefits” on your profile. Remember to check these early every year as many expire.

Ikon Pass also offers a First Tracks program, allowing pass holders to hit the slopes before the masses on designated days at certain mountains—including Deer Valley, Palisades Tahoe, Steamboat and Stratton. Participating mountains and dates can be found on the Ikon Pass website.

For more details on the Ikon passes and pricing, see How to Plan a North American Ski Trip.

Deer Valley, Utah — Opening November 17

Reservations Required

Expansion: Deer Valley has dominated Utah ski headlines this year after finalizing a partnership with the Mayflower Mountain Project (literally on the back of Deer Valley Resort). In an announcement that is as exciting as it is unsurprising, Deer Valley will officially be operating the as-yet-unfinished 3,700 acre Mayflower Mountain Resort upon its opening—nearly tripling the ski resort’s terrain. Skiers can expect the new resort to have 16 chairlifts, a 10-person gondola, four on-mountain restaurants and a ski village with hotels, housing, dining, ice skating and a “ski beach.” A soft open is projected for next season, though more likely projections show that skiers will not enjoy the bulk of the new terrain until the 2025/2026 season and beyond.

Dining: This year, the 21-and-up crowd can enjoy an expanded drinks menu at Cushing’s Cabin, plus an all new aprés ski spot and bar on the second floor of Royal Street Cafe, located mid-mountain at the Silver Lake Lodge.

Notable Events: Sundance Film Festival (January 18-28); Intermountain Health Freestyle International Ski World Cup (February 1-3)

Related: Park City & Deer Valley Dining Guide

Big Sky, Montana — Opening November 22

Reservations Required

Lift Operations: The new Lone Peak Tram is officially opening on December 19th with an all-glass viewing platform at the top and access to some of the mountain’s most exciting terrain. The new tram requires a separate ticket per ride, and prices will vary throughout the season.

Sustainability: Big Sky is switching to 99-percent renewable diesel as part of its “ForeverProject 2030” master plan, announced this April, to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030. This year’s move is expected to reduce current emissions by 60 percent.

Notable Events: Big Sky is hosting the National Brotherhood of Snowsports Summit, the largest winter sports organization for African Americans (February 24 - March 2).

Jackson Hole, Wyoming — Opening November 24

Reservations Required

Resort Ownership: In recent years, Jackson Hole has stood out as one of the few renowned resorts that has retained its family-owned status. But with no family succession plan in place, after 31 years of ownership, Kemmerer siblings Jay, Connie and Betty have decided it’s time to sell—but not to Vail or Alterra. The resort will remain independent and is being sold to family friends and JHMR board members, Eric Macy and Mike Corbat (former CEO of Citigroup), both Jackson Hole residents who are committed to preserving the rugged darling of the West’s ethos and tradition.

Ticket Perks: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is offering “Golden Tickets” which allow anyone with a season pass to any ski area in the world (yes, anywhere) to get 50 percent off lift tickets at the Wyoming mountain on select dates: November 25 - December 20, January 16-24 and March 18 - April 14.

Notable Events: December 9 is “Ski in Jeans” day at Jackson Hole as they attempt to break the world record for the most people...well, skiing in jeans. The day comes with $25 lift tickets, $25 rentals, live music and a lot of cowboy charm.

Aspen Snowmass, Colorado — Aspen Mountain and Snowmass Opening November 23; Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk Opening December 9

Reservations Required

Expansion: The new Hero’s lift and terrain (formerly known as Pandora’s) will open for the first time this season, with 150 new acres of lift-accessible expert terrain that increases Aspen Mountain’s skiable acreage by 20 percent.

Dining: From Aspen insider, Lisa Baker: "Aspen's restaurant scene is on-fire with Barclay Dodge of Bosq, known for his creative and innovative locally sourced menus, being awarded a Michelin star. New restaurant openings include the swanky Sway, a Thai fusion concept opening in December and Ji Moto Ramen. Locals are especially excited about the reopening of European Brasserie, the Wild Fig, at their new location on Hymen Avenue.

Hotels: From Aspen insider, Lisa Baker: “New to the hotel scene is the Mollie Aspen (opening December 2023), a 68-room hotel located on Main Street. Named after one of the many women responsible for crafting Aspen's social and cultural scene, the hotel offers comfortable luxury, a rooftop lounge and a bar and restaurant created by Gin and Luck. In other hotel news, The Little Nell is debuting the Spa at the Little Nell this winter. Designed by Luis Bustamante, the spa will feature bodywork, integrated rituals and skincare in partnership with Dr. Barbara Sturm.”

Steamboat, Colorado — Opening November 22

Expansion: Steamboat is poised to become Colorado’s second biggest resort with the opening of Mahogany Ridge, accessible via the new Mahogany Ride Express, in December 2023. It includes 650 new acres of advanced and expert uncut terrain, comprising primarily glades, chutes and cliffs that will be monitored and avalanche-controlled by ski patrol. (Steamboat has also introduced an avalanche dog program, with the first two dogs expected to spring into action in the 2024/2025 season.) From Mahogany Ridge Express, skiers can also access the expert terrain at Fish Creek Canyon, which will require a 20 to 30 minute hike back to the lift.

Lift Operations: The Wild Blue Gondola—the longest and fastest 10-person gondola in North America—will be fully operational this season, bumping the out-of-base capacity at the resort by 60 percent, which should mitigate this popular resort’s base lines.

Notable Events: MusicFest 2024 (January 6-11); Gay Ski Week (January 14-21) WinterWonderGrass, bluegrass and roots festival (March 1-3)

Alta & Snowbird, Utah — Opening November 17 and 30

What’s New: Alta's Albion lift is officially retired (and off to Montana’s Red Lodge) and has been replaced with the fully operational Sunnyside 6-pack, which should do wonders for crowd control at the Albion base area. Additionally, Alta is updating its snowmaking equipment at the Wildcat chair and making further upgrades to avalanche safety equipment, a must after last year’s record snowpack and an unsurprising move for the resort that pioneered avalanche safety in the 1940s. Snowbird too is making avalanche mitigation improvements, adding additional control towers that will give the resort the most avalanche control towers in the U.S. Skiers at the Bird can also expect a new Mountain Center this season, catering to all needs from dinner reservations to heli-skiing, plus a newer and larger location for the always-convenient Snowbird Sports.

Notable Events: Snowbird's Plazapalooza aprés concert series, every weekend and select fridays from March 23 to May 19.

Sun Valley, Idaho — Opening November 23

What’s New: Sun Valley began its Warm Springs Lift Enhancement project in April 2023, bringing new and improved lifts that should up out-of-base capacity at the smaller Warm Springs base area. This upcoming season, it will debut the new Flying Squirrel lift and the replacement Challenger lift, expected to be 35 percent faster than its predecessor.

Notable Events: Sun Valley Music Festival (March 6-9)

Snowbasin, Utah — November 18

What’s New: A former-Olympic darling, Snowbasin will debut a new high speed 6-pack as well as a 5,000 square foot heated patio at the Strawberry Lodge with new dining options.

Ikon Mountains in New England

What’s New: Hopping cross country to New England's top resorts, one of the most exciting pieces of news is that Maine's Sugarloaf (or more affectionately, The Loaf) will see its largest completed expansion in 40 years with the opening of the new Bucksaw Express, providing access to the West Mountain Expansion terrain, including 12 new trails across 120 acres. Loon Mountain in New Hampshire is also expanding on the South Peak Side with the addition of beginner and intermediate trails across 30 acres and the new Timbertown Quad providing access from downtown Lincoln. And over in Vermont, Stratton (opening November 18) will not only be adding RFID gates (so skiers will no longer have to take their passes out to scan) but improved snowmaking equipment with the potential to increase snow production by a staggering 100 percent. Additionally, three new magic carpets are coming to the learning zone, as well as a new tiered slope system for teaching new skiers, and the Ski Butlers rental service—this allows skier to book rental equipment online and includes in-room delivery and a personalized fitting, eliminating the need for trips to the rental shop.

And in Europe... Zermatt Matterhorn, Switzerland — Full Terrain Opening December 2

Lift Operations: For the first winter season ever, skiers will be able to traverse seamlessly between the slopes of Zermatt, Switzerland and Cervinia, Italy. In just four minutes, skiers can be whisked across the border via the Matterhorn Glacier Ride II, the highest cable car crossing in the Alps connecting the peaks of Klein Matterhorn and Testa Grigia, which began operation on June 1st.

Special Experiences: This year, Zermatt will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Gornergrat Railway, the first fully electrified cog railway that climbs nearly 5,000 feet, with dramatic views of the mountains. Special experiences will include an exclusive day trip aboard a sleek coach with fine meals, drinks, photo stops and stories as well as a new exhibition on the history of the railway at the Matterhorn Museum (open until Summer 2024).

Notable Events: Zermatt Unplugged music festival (April 9-13)

Dolomiti Superski, Italy — Most Mountains Opening Between November 25 and December 7

Hotels: The Dolomites’ Cortina is back in the Alpine spotlight as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics in 2026 alongside Venice. Skiers can expect a slew of new hotel openings leading up to the games—beginning with the gorgeous sustainability- and wellness-focused Hotel de Len, which opened last year, and a grand renovation of the historic Hotel Cristallo, which will reopen in 2025 as a Mandarin Oriental resort.

Dining at Alta Badia: The recently launched “Taste for Skiing” initiative brings dishes by gourmet chefs to Alta Badia’s mountain huts. This season, the eight participating huts have been paired with a dish by chefs, including Ana Roš of two Michelin-starred Hiša Franko (which also has a Green Star) and Massimiliano Alajmo of three-Michelin-starred La Calandre. No reservations are required.

Related: Diary of a Dolomites "Ski Safari"

Chamonix, France — Opening November 16

What’s New: A new lift station and cable car will be opening at Chamonix’s Grand Montets midstation (the last was destroyed in a fire), and the on-mountain Bergerie de Planpraz restaurant has been renovated. Additionally, the mountain is rolling out new GPS-outfitted snow groomers as part of a governmental sustainability push to save energy.

SKI EPIC: From Park City to Heavenly and Whistler to Stowe

Epic Pass Prices Increase on November 19.

Vail Resorts is launching a revamped app My Epic (formerly called EpicMix). Carrying over all the features of its predecessor, the My Epic app will now also have a mobile pass function, allowing passholders to use their phone rather than a physical pass to load the lift (so long as the My Epic app is open and logged into). Note: The mobile pass is only available at Vail-owned North American resorts. Partner resorts like Whistler and Telluride and European resorts will still require a physical pass.

Pass Perks: Don’t forget that Epic pass holders can get 20 percent food, lodging, rentals, etc. at most Vail-owned resorts, plus discounts on select experiences at partner resorts: you can get 20 percent off Whistler Heli-skiing if you book before December 18th this year, for example. Learn more at the Epic Pass website.

For details on the current Epic passes and pricing, see How to Plan a North American Ski Trip.

Park City, Utah — Opening November 17

Lift Operations: Anyone who has skied the Canyons side of Park City in the last couple years knows that the most harrowing parts of the day is making it up into the mountain from the crowded base—due to a combination of out-of-service gondola cabins and windy conditions inhibiting the Orange Bubble Express. One of those problems has been solved as the Red Pine Gondola is debuting all new gondola cabins this season, with floor to ceiling windows from which to view the sprawling resort.

Dining in Town: On Main Street, popular bar and restaurant O’Shucks is relocating into a bigger space only a short walk away from the town lift. The revamped version will have a spacious patio and live music on Saturday nights, and the menu of pub fare will now feature sushi (at more reasonable prices than most of Main Street, rumor has it). But locals and regulars know that some of the best (and better priced) food is away from downtown. One notable addition in Kimball Junction is Aubergine Kitchen, from Brazilian owners who will offer salads and grain bowls.

Events: Park City’s 60th Anniversary, with special events and concerts all season; Queer Ski from February 28 to March 3 (the events lineup is yet to come); Sundance Film Festival (January 18-28)

Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia - Opening November 23

Hotels: Opening this month is the new Wedge Mountain Lodge and Spa, a chic 10-bedroom property with a maximum of 20 guests that has been billed as somewhere between a 4-star hotel and a luxury rental property (which could be great for buyouts).

Dining: The team behind the popular French-inspired, dinner-only Alta Bistro in Whistler Village has just opened Alpha Cafe next door, a cute spot to grab pastries and coffee for breakfast, or sandwiches and salads for lunch. For delicious Spanish tapas and cocktails, Bar Oso has reopened in a reimagined space, with an expanded dining room and a chic new bar. The final notable addition to the dining scene this season will be Mekong, opening in Whistler Creekside and serving fine Thai dishes by award-winning chef Angus An.

Operations & Lifts: The Fitzsimmons lift out of Whistler Village has been upgraded from a 4-pack to an 8-pack, increasing its out-of-base capacity by 73 percent, which should contribute to lessening lines at the base. On the heli-skiing front, Whistler Blackcomb will be offering a new alternative for customers who have their heli-skiing day cancelled due to weather: guests can meet their guides at 7:30 a.m. for a First Tracks experience on Blackcomb, allowing them untouched terrain until the mountain opens, with continued lift priority until noon that day.

Notable Events: Whistler Film Festival (November 29 to December 3)

Vail, Colorado — Opened on November 10

What’s New: True to the distinctly Alpine style of its village, Vail is bringing Bavaria (specifically beer, brats and pretzels) to the slopes with the new Two Elk Biergarten & Stein Club set in its own separate section of the Two Elk Lodge. Over at the Express Lift bar, a new first-come-first-served Mug Club will be offered this year to Vail-goers, with discounts on food and drinks. And, of course, the historic ice bar at Eagle’s Nest is returning again this season with cocktails, food, music...and Snow Bungalows from which to enjoy it all.

Notable Events: Dine with Dogs is back every Sunday from December 17 to March 31

Beaver Creek, Colorado — Opening November 22

What’s New: It’s all about dining and entertainment this year at Beaver Creek as three local restaurants have been recommended in the newly debuted Michelin Colorado Guide , including the French spot Mirabelle and two restaurants serving new American cuisine, Splendido at the Chateau and WYLD. Plus, this season will see a new underage club in Beaver Creek Village, emulating an alpine-cabin design with an arcade, ski simulator, lounge, non-alcoholic drinks and more.

Heavenly, Lake Tahoe — November 17

What’s New: A buzzy monthly aprés experience is coming to Heavenly, dubbed “Brews and Views” at Lakeview Lodge, with food, drinks and music paired with views of Lake Tahoe.

Notable Events: Toyota Air and Aprés (March 1-3), where skiers can enjoy a temporary village of food vendors and watch professional athletes tackle a 40-foot jump at the base of the World Cup run.

Keystone, Colorado — Opened November 1

What’s New: Bergman Bowl is open! Serviced by the 6-pack Bergman Express, Keystone skiers and riders now have access to an additional 550 acres of intermediate-and-up terrain, comprising 16 new trails in both the Bergman and Erikson bowls.

Stowe, Vermont — Opening November 18

What’s New: Vail Resorts’ new “Gondola Gallery” is coming to Stowe: The exterior of the Gondola Skyride’s cabins will display unique works from artist Jim Harris.

Notable Events: Season-long, Stowe will be celebrating 90 years of service for the Mount Mansfield Ski Patrol with health and safety events and a docu-series on the organization’s history.

Other Resorts: News from the Swiss Alps

Gstaad, Switzerland — Opening December 16

What’s New: Executive chef Martin Göschel of the Michelin-starred Sommet at Alpina Gstaad has brought sustainable dining to the slopes. Specifically, a sustainable food truck (or snowcat), where he sends the excess of top notch ingredients used in his restaurant, transforming them into delicious on-mountain dishes.

How to Get There: Take the Gstaad-Eggli gondola to the ski lift up to Vorderes Eggli

St. Moritz, Switzerland — Opening November 25

What’s New: In August 2023, St. Moritz saw its first luxury hotel opening in decades with the chic Grace La Margna, located near the Carlton and open for its first ski season this year.

Related: The Best Places to Ski in the U.S.: Indagare Matchmaker

Published onNovember 14, 2023

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