As I sit here typing, it’s snowing.
I-70 was intermittently closed yesterday. Arapahoe Basin is reporting powder conditions on a 79” base and just days ago, the iconic Mammoth Mountain sign was buried in a late spring blizzard.
If there were ever cause to talk of an endless winter, it’s this one.
Yet, as we all know, the snow will melt and ski resorts will close.
Which leaves us with this question: come summer, where will we ski?
Summer Skiing in North America
If you live in Colorado, California or Oregon, you’ve got a pretty good shot at skiing into June, July and beyond.
As of today, Arapahoe Basin is open through the end of June. Both Mammoth Mountain and Squaw Valley plan to stay open through July 7th. In Oregon, well, the ski season at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood never really ends, with a a booming business in ski and ride camps all summer long.
And then there’s Beartooth Basin, a summer only ski area located 23 miles south of Red Lodge, Montana, which will open for their season on May 29th and close on July 7th.
Getting By on the Dry Slopes
While a relative rarity in North America, dry slopes are a big deal in Europe, with the U.K. alone having 53 dry slopes. And in these locales, dry slopes aren’t just for summer, but are year-round attractions. For many people, especially those from relatively temperate and flat countries, these slopes are where they learn to ski and ride.
In the U.S. there are three outdoor dry slope options: Buck Hill (MN), Powder Ridge (CT) and Liberty University Snowflex Centre (VA). While opening dates vary, summer offerings include public skiing and tubing, summer camps, terrain parks and more.
We skied on the dry slope at Buck Hill on a warm, humid day. Lindsey Vonn was visiting her home hill that morning and while we didn’t see her ski, there were plenty of people enjoying the beginner hill, training in race gates and riding the terrain park.
We met other first-timers like ourselves, there for the novelty of skiing on the bright green plastic and silicone surface, as well as loyal Buck Hill skiers who ski every day all winter and every day all summer just for the joy of it.
Tips for Dry Slope Skiing
- Rent synthetic-ready skis or snowboards. Save your personal equipment for winter.
- Cover your legs and arms to avoid road rash if you fall.
- Dry slopes require moisture to stay slippery. Before getting on the chairlift, pass through a shallow pool of lubricant to help you slide. Better yet, ski on a rainy day when the surface is especially slick.
- Skiing on a dry slope is like skiing on hard pack snow, without the ice. For stability when turning, keep your weight on your inside, big toe edge.
- Give yourself at least four runs to adjust to the surface.
Take It Inside
Ski Dubai is probably the world’s most famous indoor ski area, with a vertical drop of 279’ and a year-round temperature of 32° F, despite being in one of the hottest regions on Earth. To date, there are 31 indoor snow parks — currently operating or in development — across the globe, from Egypt to China and Australia to Russia.
In North America, Big SNOW America is set to open this fall. Part of a 3 million square foot retail, dining and entertainment complex in the Meadowlands (East Rutherford, New Jersey), Big SNOW America is being developed in partnership with Snow Operating, best known for their Terrain Based Learning learn-to ski and ride method.
If skiing at a mall isn’t your jam, other indoor options include Snöbahn near Denver and Alpine Indoor near Toronto. Both of these facilities provide ski and snowboard lessons and training on a “revolving slope” — essentially a large treadmill.