Sneak Peak: 2021 Ski Season

Skiers and snowboarders around the country are itching to know what this year’s ski season is going to bring — or if there’s going to be a season. With the onset of COVID-19 earlier this year, most North American ski resorts shut down mid-winter, cutting the season short — and in many places, before peak snowfall. Luckily, most resorts do intend to re-open this year — albeit with a host of new regulations for guests to follow. Our goal at UtahSkis is to get you back on the mountain as soon and safely as possible. Here’s what you need to know about the 2021 ski season.

Rules and Regulations

Vail Resorts encompasses 37 different mountain destinations throughout North America and Australia —including the popular Park City in Utah. In August, its CEO released a letter to the public outlining the operation changes for the upcoming season. These changes reflect what to expect at most ski resorts around the country this year.

Face coverings will be required everywhere, including while riding on chairlifts, in lift lines, and inside buildings.

All guests should expect to follow mandatory social distancing measures, including on lifts, in restaurants, at gear rental counters, and during lessons. Resorts plan to increase outdoor seating capacity as much as possible and encourage guests to sit outside.

Vail Resorts won’t operate traditional bar service for 2021 but instead offer packaged alcohol for purchase. Other resorts’ regulations may differ to a degree, but expect similar circumstances. Ski resorts plan to limit crowds by reducing ticket sales and requiring advance online reservations. Food and beverage services will be limited and visitors instead requested to tailgate and bring their own food and drink.

Vail Resorts will require cashless transactions for all on-site payments. You can likely expect similar regulations at other North American resorts.

Resorts will likely limit ski class sizes, require masks, and mandate social distance. Vail Resorts will instruct all employees and participants to undergo online self-health screenings in advance of classes. Alta plans to offer private lessons only.

Expect heavy uphill traffic regulations and many resorts to completely ban uphill traffic. Pertaining to Utah ski resorts, most “Early-Ups” (mountain access before it opens to the public) will not be allowed, except for at Deer Valley. Alta and Deer Valley will offer Early Ups only if you book a private lesson.

Side country access will be limited and backcountry gates closed for the season at Utah ski resorts like Powder Mountain, Cherry Peak, Deer Valley, and Sundance.

Utah Ski Resort Re-Openings

All Vail Resorts — including Park City — plan to open in November, weather permitting. According to Fox13 News , Snowbird plans on opening the Friday after Thanksgiving, despite canceling its annual Oktoberfest event. Solitude announced November 20th as its anticipated reopening date; Alta is slated to open on November 21st; and Snowbasin plans to launch operations on November 25th. Nordic Valley and Sundance both anticipate opening on December 4th. Many Utah ski resorts, however, have yet to announce their anticipated opening dates, including Brighton, Beaver Mountain, and Powder Mountain — but they do intend on opening this season.

Pre-Season Preparations

Despite new safety regulations, limited ticket sales, and more restrictions, you can expect some positive changes at ski resorts around North America for the upcoming year. Many resorts took advantage of closing early and started making preparations under the assumption the pandemic would continue into 2021. Nordic Valley opened its first new chairlift in more than twenty years, boasting the capacity to transport six people at a time and travel at a speed of 1000 feet per minute. The resort also plans to open 300 new acres of skiable terrain this winter.

Snowbird’s policies for 2020/2021 include early-season snowmaking and a terrain plan that will help to disperse guests across the mountain. In addition, the resort will release a new Snowbird app that will be available to Apple and Android users before the winter season begins. The app will provide guests with real-time lift and trail statuses, wait times, resort updates, and parking lot statuses.

Plans to construct the long-anticipated Mayflower Resort are still underway, despite pandemic setbacks. Snowbasin has made improvements to its Needles Lodge to make for increased guest capacity under new social distancing measures and added yurts and warming huts at the base of Middle Bowl. The resort will also offer “slopeside dining” — a new assortment of ski-up outdoor dining options.