Skiers and snowboarders of all ages were greeted with short lines, warm weather and relentless sunshine on Friday when Bridger Bowl Ski Area opened its lifts for the 2019-2020 ski season. “It couldn’t be a better day,” said Max Cavella, 18, a freshman at MSU.

Friday was Cavella’s first time at Bridger, but far from his last.

“I came to school out here just for this,” he said.

The temperature was well above freezing during the morning when lines for the Virginia City and Sunnyside lifts were short and, sometimes, non-existent.

“You’d expect there to be a lot more people, but there’s not a lot of lines,” said Zach Dickinson, 23. “It’s beautiful out here. We love this place.”

Ski lessons met near the Jim Bridger Lodge beginning a season of learning for newcomers to the sport. Parents with young kids rode up and snowplowed down the Magic Carpet bunny hill in the sunshine.

“We decided to come out and enjoy the sun, get a couple runs in before naptime,” said Josh Gage. Between bites of gummy candy, Gage’s son, 2-year-old Beau, said his favorite part about skiing was the Magic Carpet.

Gage said skiing with Beau is “super fun,” even if it’s a lot of work. He said living in Bozeman means it’s not a big deal if Beau gets tired after only an hour or two because Bridger is only 35 minutes or so from town.

All but three lifts were taking those in search of powder up the mountain on Friday. The Flurry carpet lift, Snowflake and Schlasman’s were all closed.

Approximately 3,000 people were on the mountain Friday, according to Bridger Bowl officials. Some said the warm weather made the day feel more like spring skiing than opening day.

“The sun is shining and the snow is soft,” said Willie Gallager, 24, standing on his board. “What else do you need?”

Melissa Loveridge can be reached at or at (406) 582-2651.