BIG SKY, Mont. -

Big Sky Resort opened bright and early this Thanksgiving to skiers and snowboarders eager to get first tracks. Representatives tell us four lifts are up and running and 10 percent of the mountain is open.

More than an hour after lifts open, dozens stand in line to get their season pass.

"I have been waiting about half an hour, not too bad," says visitor Logan Kruse.

The day started early for many folks at Big Sky.

"We opened up today to a ton of excitement. We had our first people in line about 5:30 in the morning, waiting for first chair," says Big Sky Public Relations Director Sheila Chapman.

Butte resident Robbie Leipheimer arrived at 7am, snagging the fourth chair. He says he's been keeping an eye on the cameras and wanted to try out the snow for himself.

"The snow's perfect, the day's perfect, couldn't get much better than that," says Leipheimer.

Representatives with the resort say mother nature did a lot of the work for them, dropping more than a foot of snow last week but, "We've also had our snow guns running day and night," Chapman says.

Skiers and snowboarders say, it shows.

"For opening day, the snow's been great. It's filled in pretty well, nice and soft," says skier

The start of the season isn't just about skiing, it also means big business for local retailers.

"Thanksgiving's good. We have a lot of local business for the first couple of weeks until Christmas comes around. Then, we start getting more of the tourist scene going but, this first week is mainly Montana people coming in," says JP Woolies owner Tucker Vanyo.

Vanyo sorts through new merchandise. He owns JP Woolies with his brother Drew in Big Sky's Mountain Mall. He tells me they started preparing for this day mid-summer.

"We try to receive it in the fall, we're still open. We close for six weeks before Thanksgiving in the fall off-season," explains Vanyo.

Now, Vanyo and his brother are focused on making sure they're prepared for the rush of the winter season, from bills and scheduling to merchandise, while folks like Leipheimer are giving thanks for a day on the slopes.

"You got a lot to be thankful for and snow's one of them and to be up here on Thanksgiving makes it even better," says Leipheimer.

Visitors tell us they're also excited about the Big Sky- Moonlight Basin merger.

Big Sky representatives say they're looking forward to taking the great team from Moonlight and learning and evolving together.