Let’s Try Again: What Is Your First Visit To A Ski Resort In COVID Times Like?

Restrictions: Help, hinder, hopeless? What is your experience? Credit: USNews&WorldReport

A few weeks ago, we asked our readers to tell us how their first visits to a ski resort went in this unusual year.  We wanted to hear reactions to constraints, regulations, and policies designed to keep visitors and staff safe.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get many responses, presumably because it was a bit too early for resorts to open and our readers to visit.

When we received a detailed report from a reader on a visit to Wolf Creek, CO, we decided to ask our question again. Reader John Farley described his visit to the moderate-size Colorado area—the first in North America to open—and how his strategy for parking and getting to the lifts worked out for him. Click here to read his dispatch.

Take two: If you’ve been out for your first day of skiing this year, how did it go? How did you manage the COVID rules? Were there karmic differences between this year’s first run and other years? More important, how will lessons learned on your first day impact how you approach the rest of the season?

Please write your comments in the Leave A Reply box below.





  1. Twice to Sunday River . More early season terrain, face mask in lift Q. Boot up in parking lot , we brought folding chairs. We’re waiting for yaktrax to arrive to save the boot sole’s . I can see we’ll have more out door apres ski !

  2. Day 1 at mt snow yesterday. Learning the new drill. Yes boot up in parking lot. Make reservations to get an inside table for lunch. Will be skiing with backpack from here on in. This season will be shorter days on hill. Make and cancel reservations depending on weather. Glad area is open. I think Mt snow has done a pretty good job with protecting patrons and staff. I just need to get beyond booting up in parking lot.

  3. 2 days at 2 different ski areas. The people have been good so far, respecting distancing and masks. 2 takeaways so far: this will be a year of picnics from a backpack or parka pocket. I am not going to teach as expected, too close to too many strangers. Will miss the bowl of chili at lunch but cheese and sausage works and the view is better.

  4. Danny Levine says:

    Skied at Crystal Mountain in WA on sunny Tuesday. Was surprised by the number of people though. Felt more like a Saturday with all the people waiting in lift lines between 10-noon, but then cleared out in the afternoon. Conditions were excellent. Buildings were open just for the bathrooms, and I was very happy to have access to drinking water using disposable cups. Had to get suited up at the car, wear a mask or neck gator over mouth and nose in public areas and in lift lines, but not while skiing. Everyone was very respectful at all times, including staff and guests. Wasn’t much of a hassle or too inconvenient, likely because the weather cooperated and was able to relax and grab a quick bite outside. It is what it is, and I was very happy to be able to get out and ski!

  5. I’m an instructor at Breckenridge, so I see a lot behind the scenes. I’m also a physician, and I’ve been very impressed on Vail Resorts’ focus on safety; first, second, and last. Overall, I feel quite safe. Everybody is wearing masks, and I’m comfortable skiing with an N95 plus a 3-layer buff. People are being good about social distancing, and if anybody gets too close, you just move away. Lift lines are longer due to distancing, but we are limited to 25% capacity anyway, so it’s not a problem so far. Forget about restaurants; it’s easy to carry a sandwich and flat drink flask in your parka pocket. Space to go in and warm up is available, but limited. The best plan is eat a good breakfast at home, show up to ski around 10, quit around 3, munch your sandwich on the lift mid-day, and go home and eat a late snack or early dinner. Be smart, be safe, and stay healthy. We’re all just trying to get through this together, and a vaccine isn’t far away.

  6. A couple of things I’ve learned after my first 3 days on the mountain (Snowbasin UT).
    If you use handwarmers, activate them before you leave home so they have time to start working…especially if you have to boot up at your car instead of in the lodge. I can’t boot up with gloves on, so the hand warmers really helped out as early morning temps have been pretty low and frozen fingers at the start of the day aren’t any fun.
    Keep an handkerchief in an outside pocket that is easily accessible. Use it at the end of each ski run before putting on a mask or covering your face with your gaiter. Blowing your nose before putting on your face covering keeps your mask/gaiter much cleaner, drier, and comfortable for standing in the lift line or riding the gondola.
    I think some gaiters are too flimsy to be effective (I can easily blow out a candle through most of mine), so I choose to wear a mask. Instead of trying to reach into my helmet or take my helmet off to loop the mask over my ears, I added a mini binder clip (60 for $5 at Office Depot) to the chin strap of my helmet by the ear flaps. The binder clips are small enough to be hardly noticed, but big enough to hold the mask straps in the right place. It’s pretty easy to put a mask on, even with gloves. The clips don’t impede the helmet and have no sharp edges to cut or scratch your face, head, or googles.
    These extra steps to keep skiing safe and comfortable are worth it. Hope these tips help you.

  7. Just finished day 2 of the season at Mt Baker, WA. From the drive into the parking lot on day one I’ve seen masks on everyone. There are 2 sani-cans, mobile (trailer), at the White Salmon Base area. One to the right of the lodge and one to the left. A permanent facility in the parking lot seems well signed to keep thinks as they should be. The lodge toilets and lockerrooms are open, the lockers not — and were obviously kept up. The mens lockeroom had had 5 nicely spaced chairs one could use for booting up. Discovered that on second day, booted up in parking lot first day, something I really don’t like doing. The ticket windows were separated adequately, and monitored so spacing was maintained. There was limited grab and go food available inside, but eaten outside at separated tables in the snow Lift lines were non existent but were all spaced as required. I rode single and saw some doubles, no other numbers on chairs I saw. Tuesday was clear and not cold, nice snow as Monday they received 12″s or so snow. Today, Thursday the snow had been groomed melted after very warm Wednesday, and overnight colder temps made for cast iron finish to trails. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were sunny, clear and even too warm finally. Clear days in the PNW are not to be missed.

  8. George Karlsven says:

    Opened my season this week. Skied at Alta on Monday, PCMR on Wednesday and Deer Valley on Friday. Blue skies and hard pack. Temps mild for this time of year.

    Alta has limited bathrooms at the base. No bathrooms at Gold Miners Daughter or restaurant. face coverings required to be up when getting on lift. 98 percent use neck gaiters. Lifties are not acting like mask nazis. When skiing you do not need to keep face cover up, unless you normally would do so due to temperature. Restaurants on mountain have limited seating. Alfs does not allow you to go through food line. They bring the food to you. Just like in the old days, everyone gets ready in the parking lot. No big deal, just brings me back to the 1980s!

    Park City Mountain Resort. Limited terrain typical for this time of year. Just the white ribbon from top to bottom on the Park City side. Same as Alta re masks in lift lines, but no need when actually skiing. People naturally distance in line and on the runs. Lifties not acting like mask nazis. Most people cooperate and no one yells at another if they are not wearing their neck gaiter “properly” Bathrooms open in restaurants on the mountain. Only grab and go food. Not allowed to be seated in the on mountain restaurants. That may change later in season. Getting on lifts people naturally go in groups or as singles. No need to be told. Normal for two unrelated singles to just get on a six person lift together, without being told, but if one wants to ride single no one gets upset.

    Deer Valley had a season pass holders day on Friday, the day before their general opening. Same as other resorts re masks or neck gaiters. Staff at Deer Valley were definitely mask nazis. I saw two staff members (different times) literally scream at someone in a lift line to wear their mask correctly. Both were literally red faced with rage as they berated the poor guys who did not cover their noses entirely, even though they had their nostrils covered. Bathrooms open at Deer Valley. Restaurants require advance reservations on the mountain. When people actually are skiing no need to maintain “mask integrity”, just wear your neck gaiter as you normally would skiing.

    Snowbird is controlling the people on the mountain by requiring you to reserve your parking place! Not sure how this is going to work, but you go online and reserve your parking place in a parking lot in advance.

    It feels really good to be back on the mountain. Skiing is totally normal except for getting on lift. But that is actually no big deal. If you really need to have the restaurant experience skiing then this year will not be as fun. But if food is not that important then this year will be a good ski year.

  9. My wife and drove up to Bogus Basin (Idaho) the day after Thanksgiving and without taking a run we turned around and drove home. The lines were like Christmas week. Two people per quad doubles the lift lines. The parking lots were almost full and this was on a Friday. I’m not sure if they are requiring masks in the lift line but if so I will comply. I will not wear one while skiing. I must be devoid of the compliant sheep gene. I have always geared up at my truck. I rarely visit the lodge for lunch or apres ski drinks. I have always carried a small backpack with water and power bars. Business as usual for the most part.

  10. Paul Walchenbach says:

    Day 1 of lift assist, Dec. 5, and day 8 for the season (have been ski touring for nearly 3 weeks). Skied local area, Summit West (Snoqualmie Pass, Washington State). Actual skiing part was fairly normal, crowds about 80% of typical early December numbers, area limited guests to season pass holders only. Lift lines were a little more spread out than normal, but nothing drastic. 98% of guests and employees wearing some sort of mask or face cover. Families and friends allowed to ride quad together, singles rode in groups of 2 seated on opposite sides of chair. Demographics of lift operators significantly different this year, far fewer international employees and many more younger kids. Lodges closed except for bathrooms. Rental department was open, but usage appeared low. Outdoor food truck vendors appeared to be doing well. Learned that I needed to bring an extra puffy jacket in backpack so I could stay warm during outdoor breaks.

  11. Jackson HOle opened on Thanksgiving day. If you don’t have a season’s pass, they’re requiring reservations. They sold out on Thanksgiving day and the entire weekend. People wore masks or neck gators above nose and mouth. Ski patrol and Resort Employees were at the bottom reminding people to wear their masks. Loading lifts and Gondolas were all with only people in your bubble or family. Though I did notice in the gondis they were asking singles if they were comfortable with sharing a car. Most people I observed, said they were not comfortable with it, which I think is good practice. JHMR has been making snow almost 24/7 so coverage is quite good on main runs, but at the top where they can’t make snow it’s very thin. Snow storm is supposedly on its way this weekend. We need it. Been skiing mainly week days here, because weekends tend to be busier, but so far JHMR is doing a good job keeping numbers down over all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *