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For the first year ever and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, skiers and snowboarders need to make reservations at Bridger Bowl prior to hitting the slopes. 

That's been a learning process, said Erin O'Connor, Bridger Bowl's marketing and communications director, especially in the early days of the season when only a fraction of the mountain was open because of a lack of snow. Now, all but a few runs at the top of the mountain are open, and Bridger customers and staff are familiarizing themselves with the reservation system and having fewer issues.

"We only had 100 acres open out of 2,200, so we only had 750 slots available," O'Connor said of the early season. "We've been able to up that number exponentially, and so now it's a little bit easier for people ... I think that was the frustration in the beginning."

Reservations go up on Bridger's website four days in advance — so, for example, reservations posted on a Monday are for skiing on a Thursday. As reservations are canceled, Bridger staff mark them as available again. So just because a day is marked sold out doesn't mean that it will stay that way. 

A majority — 80% — of the reservations are earmarked for season-pass holders, and the remainder are available for day-pass holders. 

"Every time we've been able to open up another lift, we've been able to open up more reservations," O'Connor said. That number will continue to grow as more snow accumulates and additional terrain opens. Eventually, O'Connor said, the number of daily reservations will likely near 2,000. 

Skiers and snowboarders on the mountain have been overall respectful to the staff and compliant with the new regulations, which include mask wearing and social distancing in addition to the reservation system, O'Connor said.

But that's not always the case, especially over the phone. 

"As we have been saying, this is our first pandemic as well," she said. "Kindness is a wonderful thing. We're friends and neighbors. We live in the community, too."

To help folks with the new and likely one-season-only reservation system, the Bridger Bowl staff created tutorial videos on how to reserve a day to ski, whether it's with a season pass or a day pass. Those videos are available on Bridger's website, bridgerbowl.com

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