First Tracks 101: Pro Tips for Perfecting the Dawn Patrol Experience

There is something to be said about waking up before the sun rises and bearing witness to the bright colored hues of a sun rising over a snow-filled mountain range. This is the true essence of dawn patrol, rolling out of bed early and getting to the mountain before the sun rises to get your turns during the first light of day .

The next time you are on a ski trip, see if the resort has a dawn patrol or “first tracks” experience. If they do, join. You’ll be able to hit the slopes before the resort officially opens. Imagine freshly-groomed corduroy tracks and handsome pockets of untouched powder. It’s guaranteed a more invigorating wake up than any caffeine.  

Here are five tips for having the perfect dawn patrol experience

It takes some effort to get up early enough for dawn patrol, but the benefits are worth it.

© Vail Resorts

No Snoozing

To be fully dedicated to the dawn patrol cause you have to disciplined enough to go bed at a decent hour and not hit that snooze button. Instead of trying to catch another 10 to 15 minutes of sleep, encourage your body to get up at that first alarm. Think of it as the beginning step towards a successive ski day on the hill.

Eat Something

It has been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and nourishment gained is a crucial step in the process of bringing your A game to the slopes. Focus on getting a well-rounded meal (or at least some toast and peanut butter) and don’t forget to hydrate. Perhaps even add some snacks to your pocket in case you get hungry throughout the morning.

7Kmj0oyhVekcGiMUAQS0u6Many resorts offer early-morning mountain access to guests.
© Vail Resorts

Plan Ahead

Running around in the morning trying to put all of your ski gear together at the last moment can be disastrous, especially if you are having to assemble gear for little ones. Take 10 minutes the night before to lay out all of your gear (socks, gloves, goggles, boots, etc.) so there is little effort required to get going in the morning. Look at the snow report as well and don’t hesitate to bring an extra layer just in case.

<<Make sure you have the right gear for your early morning escapades. Rent now.>>

Don’t Rush

Give yourself a little bit more time than you might think to get going and get to the mountain, just in case. It doesn’t hurt to arrive early—in fact, you’ll be one step closer to being up the chair and on the slopes.

<<When you rent gear, you can take advantage of early pick-up and free delivery to help you prep for dawn patrol. Read more about rental benefits.>>

5bJgfe1df2ACC2oUyeseqWHit the slopes before anyone else for untouched lines. © Vail Resorts

Check Out the First Tracks Program

If you are really serious about getting to the mountain early, see if your resort has a First Tracks program—Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, and Northstar all do. This often means meeting around 7:00-7:15 AM and getting on the chair around 7:30 AM to ski freshly-groomed runs. Dates, times, and meeting specifics vary, so be sure to check with your resort to get all the info you need.

Even if you’re not a morning person, you’ll appreciate the serenity of the experience. You’re on vacation, there’s no time for sleeping in when there is fresh powder to be had!

Featured image provided by © Vail Resorts

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