Where are the best places to go spring skiing this year?
Spring skiing is one of the greatest experiences when slapping two planks on your feet and sliding down a mountain. Warmer temps, a healthy snow pack and sunny lenses in your goggles are always a great combination.
Sometimes the spring ski trip is best left to a last minute decision based on easy, inexpensive flights and the snow conditions. The crowds are typically lower in volume to give you more time on the slopes, and less time in the lift line. Plenty of resorts offer discounted lift tickets this time of the year if you purchase online in advance.
Here are the top 3 places to sneak off to due to their current weather conditions and historical springtime snowfall:
Lake Tahoe is home to 13 different ski resorts that straddle the California/Nevada border. This region was struggling with snow for a majority of the season, then March came around. Since late February several storms have dropped multiple feet of snow with no end in sight, giving skiers a chance to catch up on some much needed deep powder skiing! Lately resorts have been reporting anywhere from 6-10 inches regularly, with some storms dumping up to 30 inches on more than one occasion.
Each ski area has its own vibe, making Tahoe a diverse area to hit the slopes. Picturesque views of the lake are not be be missed and are available from most resorts. Nightlife in nearby Reno makes for an exciting time with high end restaurants, casinos, breweries and clubs can be jumping anytime of day, or night for those looking to ski with a hangover.
Where to Ski:
Ski Areas like Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Kirkwood and Northstar are known for their challenging terrain and die-hard, charging, cliff-hucking locals. Don’t worry, in my experience I have found the locals to be very friendly and eager to show pride in their resorts.
Then there is Heavenly that straddles the California/Nevada border, actually allowing you to ski in two different states. This is the most family friendly of the large resorts there. Long winding cruisers are plentiful, and the views of the lake are not to be missed.
If you like down-home, grass roots places to ski, then Homewood, Mt. Rose and Sierra At Tahoe should be on your must-ski list. While no slouches on terrain themselves, these slightly smaller, uncrowded resorts are simply all about the skiing.
Salt Lake City
Home to the Wastach Mountains and located just outside of this major metropolis – Salt Lake City has quick and easy access to several ski resorts. This is another area of the country that is known for heavy snowfall, and unfortunately this season was pretty bleak. Then the Ides of March hit again. Since the first of the month snow has been plentiful in the beehive state. Springtime in Utah can often bring some of the biggest storms of the season of the trademark Greatest Snow on Earth.
Where to Ski:
Skiing in Utah gives you a few different options as a place to keep home base. You can stay in the downtown area with public transportation to Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. The Park City side of town is loaded with shops and restaurants with a big ski town feel. Staying in the Ogden leads you towards uncrowded slopes. Each area has its own distinct feel.
If you stay in the downtown Salt Lake City area, the closest ski resorts are going to be Alta and Snowbird in Little Cottonwood Canyon. These resorts are only accessible via highway 210. This winding road sits directly underneath several different avalanche paths, and is prone to road closures after big snowfall. If these places are on your list to ski, make sure that you are up the canyon road early to avoid traffic. Salt Lake Valley has a die-hard ski population who regularly ride these two resorts. Alta is for skiers only, so double check with your crew to make sure that you don’t have any snowboarders planning to join you that day.
The less traveled Big Cottonwood Canyon still offers world class skiing at Solitude and Brighton. Solitude really lives up to its name, by continually being named as one of the best value ski resorts and one of the resorts that provides plenty of elbow room. Lift lines are uncommon here, even after a massive storm. The entire ski area of Brighton feels like a natural terrain park with jumps, cliffs and air of all sizes that can be found in any type of terrain for any skill level looking to have some fun and catch some air.
The Park City side of town is a large ski town with all types of options for lodging, dining and apres parties. Although they do not get as significant of snowfall as the Cottonwoods do, this is an incredible area to ski. Park City Mountain Resort offers easily accessible terrain for all levels of skiers. Not to mention their world class ski school. This may make an opportune time for you to hone up on your skills. Deer Valley is as elegant of a ski resort that you will find anywhere in the world. Immaculate grooming, with fast and easy lifts to navigate should make Deer Valley another bucket list resort to check off.
Staying in the Ogden area gives you quick and easy access to two often, overlooked resorts. Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. Both of these resorts are pretty low key with endless terrain options. Pow Mow as it is affectionately known, is incredibly huge. Over 8000 acres of terrain means that this is one of the largest ski areas anywhere. 3000 acres are lift serviced with an additional 5000 acres of backcountry terrain. Make your reservations in advance for guided snowcat skiing, this fills up fast and can be the experience of a lifetime.
Not your typical destination for a ski trip, the Pacific Northwest has had some of the best conditions and most consistent snowfall this year. Week after week, nearly this entire season the PNW has been bombarded with heavy, localized storms. Many people do not know that this can be one of the snowiest areas of the country. With many ski areas to choose from, that are pretty spread out, it may be a little difficult for you to find a home base. You may want to pick a single area to stay near, camp out in Seattle or bounce around from resort to resort on a road trip.
Since this area is not particularly heavy on tourists, you may be surprised on how much more economical lift tickets are. If you have never been here before, I bet you might add this region into your regular rotation of ski vacation locations. Plenty of skiers who are familiar with altitude sickness enjoy skiing in the PNW for the deep snow and low elevations.
Where to Ski:
Mount Baker, Washington is less than 3 hours from Seattle and is powder haven. The winter of 1998-99 totalled over 1100 inches of snow claiming the world record snow total for any ski resort. Even during the spring you may found cloudy or foggy conditions here, but that preserves the snow well into April.
Crystal Mountain, Washington is about an hour and a half from Seattle. Already totalling more than 400 inches this season. With a deep snowpack skiing off of the Northway Trail Map is a dream for experts. Steep and pocketed with rocks and trees this can be some of the finest skiing you will find anywhere.
Stevens Pass, Washington is about two and a half hours outside of Seattle. Just shy of 400 inches have fallen here so far this season. Lodging in Leavenworth will be your best option if you decide to ski at the pass. Stay and ski packages are readily available and you may find yourself staying here and not going home.
If you find yourself needing one last powder fix for the ski season, be sure to investigate these destinations. Spring skiing is always fun, i mean, who doesn’t like skiing in warm weather and deep snow, with little crowds?
For more information on spring skiing check out our picks for the Best Spring Break Destinations for Every Type of Skier, and if you’re on the road make a pit stop at one of our favorite Dive Bars in Ski Country.