Here’s a couple of secrets about Thanksgiving holiday skiing and riding. Turkey Day tends to be light on crowds at many U.S. resorts. November isn’t peak season, so resorts offer reduced lodging rates. Plus, you can avoid kitchen stress by dining out on traditional holiday meals of roast turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

Sure, the fledgling snowpack may rely on heavy snowmaking for groomer skiing, but most skiers’ legs need to adjust to slope pounding. Barring fickle weather, six North American ski resorts are fairly safe bets for 2012 Thanksgiving ski holidays, and they throw in off-snow fun, too.

What are you waiting for? Time to make Thanksgiving reservations.

Beaver Creek Resort adds to warm holiday traditions by passing out cookies hot from the oven for their Thanksgiving Day opening. The World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Competition features the top five finalists baking up 1,000 cookies each. You can vote on the tastiest and work off the calories skiing on the slopes.

The day following Thanksgiving, a Colorado blue spruce takes center stage at the outdoor ice rink for the annual Beaver Creek Tree Lighting Ceremony to launch the Christmas season. Music, fireworks, live performances, Santa, a free kid-friendly film, hot chocolate and the Gingerbread Competition round out the family entertainment.

Click here to see the other resorts that made the cut.

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