There is perhaps no better time to be a skier or rider than in the spring. While it’s easy to start dreaming about bikinis, barbeques and pool lounging this time of year, the best part about spring skiing is that you do still get all those quintessential “spring things”… but they’re somehow seamlessly, and gloriously, combined with epic days on the mountain! (Okay, you may have to swap an icy pond for the pool, but the skimming part makes that totally worth it!).
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Plus, there’s more daylight to cram it all in; more sunlight to finish perfecting your goggle tan (or get started on those speedo lines!); fewer crowds on the mountain; incredible deals; and of course some of the best après celebrations you’ll find all year. And, if you do it right: surprisingly good skiing!
Yep, spring skiing is awesome. And while we think it can be pretty darn awesome just about anywhere, there are definitely some mountains that stand above the rest when it comes to delivering both the goods and the fun in spring. Here’s a list of some of our favorites from throughout the U.S., what makes them great, how to make the most of your spring day, and events you don’t want to miss.
Colorado: Arapahoe Basin (A-Basin)
There’s simply no spring ski destination more iconic than Colorado’s A-Basin. Boasting one of the longest operating seasons in the U.S., A-Basin is typically the first ski area in the state to open and last to close. In 2017, the resort operated a full 230 days, staying open until June 11th! This year’s projected closing date is June 3rd. Thanks to an ideal combo of factors – including a base elevation over 10,500 feet and a summit exceeding 13,000, 350” average annual snowfall, a surplus of high alpine terrain, and favorable slope aspects, with a full 55% of its terrain facing north — A-Basin is superbly positioned for prime spring conditions, and it consistently delivers. The area’s newest in-bounds terrain, The Beavers and the Steep Gullies, offer some of the best north- and west-facing spring powder stashes, and exceptional tree skiing poised for epic spring turns. (And well worth the hike back to Pallavicini lift at the bottom!)
Above all, though, A-Basin is known for its character, with one of the liveliest (and craziest!) après party scenes out there. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more celebratory scene than “The Beach,” A-Basin’s slopeside parking area and ‘spring tailgate central,’ where costumes and shenanigans are as encouraged and embraced as the BBQs and beers. Pack your mini-grill and cooler, and arrive early to stake out your spot for prime tailgating! While The Beach is always a highlight, other can’t-miss spring events include the “Shakin’ at the Basin” spring concert series, running weekly April 28th through closing day, and the Annual Swimwear Day on May 12th (because who doesn’t relish a chance to hit the slopes in their best swim attire?!).
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California: Mammoth Mountain
While Mammoth may not be enjoying its snowiest winter thus far, there are still plenty of reasons to hit this Eastern Sierra gem this spring. As of late February, the mountain has reached less than 50% of its annual snowfall, but, the Sierra Nevadas are well known for their “March Miracles.” Historically, Mammoth has received some of its highest new snowfall totals in March, averaging more than 66” in that month alone since 2010 – plus another 35” in April. So, if history is any indication, there’s still plenty of time to keep adding to that snowpack! Regardless, Mammoth is routinely committed to staying open late, consistently turning lifts through Memorial Day. With a base elevation significantly higher than its Sierra counterparts, at nearly 8,000 feet, and a whopping 65% of its terrain north-facing, the mountain holds snow exceptionally well through the spring, despite heavy doses of sunshine eagerly soaked up by skiers and riders. And with more than 3,500 skiable acres, there’s no shortage of epic terrain to choose from.
To top it all off, Mammoth’s base village offers tons of amazing après options, and there’s a variety of famed hot springs, hiking trails, climbing and camping nearby, for unlimited fun off the mountain as well. Spring event highlights include the U.S. Revolution Tour March 11th to 16th, the annual Pond Skim and after-party at Canyon Beach Bar on April 15th, and the legendary “Ezakimak Challenge,” a 5k race from the base to the summit, on April 28th.
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Offering up the longest season in Utah, and regularly raking in more than 500 inches of snowfall in the process, it’s easy to see why Snowbird Resort is the state’s go-to spring ski destination. Snowbird is world renowned for its powder, and spring is no exception, as late-season storms make frequent, rewarding visits to the mountain. Combine that with its abundance of north-facing terrain and elevation advantage as the highest resort in Utah, and you’ve got a recipe for incredible skiing all spring long. Snowbird features a stunning variety of terrain, with numerous extreme runs and ample opportunities to find prime conditions just about any day. Be sure to check out Little Cloud Bowl and the Peruvian Cirque for truly memorable spring turns. And while the Mineral Basin can get quite sun-baked on warm spring days, it can still serve up a real treat on a spring powder morning following a storm! When you’re ready for some après, Snowbird is featuring more live music events this spring than we could possibly list here, so be sure to check out their website for a full schedule so you don’t miss your favorites!
New England: Sugarloaf
Sugarloaf Mountain is known as the “King of Spring” among New Englanders, and for good reason. While it may not have quite the broad draw of many western resorts, ‘The Loaf’ truly shines in the spring months, serving up a particular flare that leaves skiers and riders reveling in the ‘spirit of spring.’ The mountain is not for the faint of heart in early winter, as the temps are low, the snow is hard, and much of the mountain stays shaded. But come March and April, darker days give way to sunshine and warmth that illuminate a well-preserved snowpack. Plus, Sugarloaf is the largest ski area east of the Rockies, and the only one in the East offering lift-serviced, above-treeline skiing, in its renowned Snowfields. Be sure to get up there for some prime spring turns! Not-to-be missed events include the 30th Annual Budlight Reggae Festival April 12th to 15th, and of course the always-entertaining East Coast Pond Skimming Championship slated for April 21st (Don’t forget your costume!).
New England: Killington
One of the most reliable mountains anywhere when it comes to spring ski availability, Killington offers the longest on-snow season in the East, almost always running well into May. Last year, the “Beast of the East” stayed open through June 1st! Of its roughly 250” average annual snowfall, Killington receives more snow in March than any other month (averaging 57” in that month alone!), so there’s certainly no shortage of fresh flakes in the spring. However, if Mother Nature does fail to deliver, the mountain boasts one of the most extensive snowmaking systems in the world, covering a whopping 600 of its skiable acres, and able to produce a full 12 inches of fresh snow in 24 hours under ideal conditions. As such, Killington’s skiers and riders can count on consistent snow surface conditions throughout the season, even while enjoying average high temps of 57 in April and 70 degrees in May – perfect for enjoying the mountain’s plethora of spring festivities, like the much-anticipated “Nor’Beaster” Bud Light Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge (slash giant on-snow party!) on April 7th, Pond Skimming on April 14th, and the annual “Dazed and Defrosted Party” April 21st.
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Pacific Northwest: Mt. Bachelor
With its consistently deep snowpack and frequency of big late-season storms, Mt. Bachelor is a perennial staple among top-ranked spring ski areas. It routinely stays open through Memorial Day, thanks to an annual snowbase averaging upwards of 200”, with more than 460” total snowfall. The area is celebrated for its diverse terrain, serving up over 4,300 acres of lift-accessible skiing and riding, and a plethora of great spring powder stashes. The iconic Summit Lift, which is often closed in winter months due to weather hazards, runs much more consistently in spring, opening up some of the best terrain on the mountain, with 360 degrees of skiing and riding options off the 9,000-foot summit. (Not to mention, phenomenal views of Oregon’s Central Cascades!).
Overnight RV camping is available right in the West Village parking lot, so just like at A-Basin, spring tailgating gets pretty next-level. For more good times and spring vibes, check out the 10 Barrell “Hella Big Air” comp on March 31st, and the Springtacular + Snowbeach Party series, where beach games hit the snow, and go bigger and better (think giant cornhole, giant croquet, and a dunk tank!). Throw in the area’s close proximity to world-class biking, hiking, paddling, climbing, and a virtually unlimited mecca of other outdoor activities – plus a virtually unlimited variety of beer choices — in nearby Bend, and you’ve got yourself a spring ski destination fit for any bucket list.
Northern Rockies: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
While the northern Rockies generally don’t offer the lengthy season of other regions, there’s still some amazing skiing – and tons of fun – to be had at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort through early spring. The resort typically closes the first weekend of April, so start planning your trip and get out there while you can! As of late February, Jackson Hole has already recorded over 350 inches of snow, so things are shaping up nicely for some great spring turns these next several weeks. While Jackson’s terrain aspects aren’t favorable for snow preservation, as most of the resort faces east or south, spring storms are fairly common and can bring welcome powder days well through closing day. Otherwise, spring guests can often find great corn skiing in the resort’s open bowls. Jackson Hole offers a ton of expert terrain, with over 4,000 vertical feet of skiing, but some of the most celebrated spring favorites include the Rendezvous Bowl at the top of the Mountain, Cirque (with several different drop-in options), and Headwall.
Spring season at JHMR is highlighted by the Jackson Hole Rendezvous, a four-day spring lifestyle and music festival taking place in Jackson Town Square and at the base of the mountain March 15th to 18th. This year’s event features legendary music acts, including Michael Franti and Spearhead, The Mavericks, Frankie Ballard, and Portugal. The Man. The best part…? All concerts this year are FREE, and don’t require a ticket!
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