2015-16 saw a switcheroo in snow conditions across North America. After four lean seasons (particularly last winter), the much-hyped “Gozilla El Nino” was a major factor in bringing the biggest snowfalls to much of Western North America since 2010-11. Alyeska up in Alaska clocked in at 824 inches during its season— That’s nearly 70 feet/21 metres!
It has kept snowing heavily through April, and even into May in the mountains of the west, so there’s fresh snow to be had despite that fact that we’re in the latter half of spring. Several resorts have already extended their ski seasons to late May and may continue operating in to June and July.
Over on the East, sadly, it was a challenging winter. Conditions were too warm for natural snow—and at times snowmaking—for large swathes of the winter.
So which resorts are still open for skiing and boarding in May, June or even July 2016? Well there are ten hero resorts where winter 2015-16 hasn’t ended yet, with at least one more planning to re-open. Take note, some are only open at weekends, but I’ll mention that. Some also switch their operating days so they open early around 8am and end their ski day early afternoon.
California: Mammoth & Squaw Valley
It keeps snowing in California—how different from a year ago! Mt Rose, which closed on May 8th, reported over a foot of fresh snow on its closing weekend. But both Mammoth Mountain and Squaw Valley have announced they’ll be open to Memorial Day and both may extend their seasons into June once that date is reached – they’ll decide depending on conditions then. Mammoth has stayed open until August before, though more recently it has been June or early July. Currently, it has more than 50 inches lying at its base, triple that up top, and still getting fresh snow even in mid-May.
Back in 2011 (the last super-snowy season in California), several Tahoe ski areas re-opened for skiing on Independence Day weekend. As of yet, there’s no news of whether that will happen in 2016.
Colorado: Arapahoe Basin
Arapahoe Basin is definitely one of the best places on the whole continent to ski or board during May, and normally in to June, if you’re planning a trip. As we approach mid-May, the resort is reporting a near six-foot base, fresh snow falling (4 inches on 9th May), all eight lifts operating and more than 80 trails open—100% of easy, moderate and advanced terrain, plus Montezuma Bowl, are open with only some expert runs closed. How good is that?! So far, A Basin has confirmed it’ll be open at least to June 5th and even that may be extended.
Oregon: Mt Bachelor & Timberline Lodge
Mt Bachelor has had nearly 500 inches of snow this season with more than 60 inches currently lying at its base and more than double that at mid-mountain. It’s open at least through to May 30th when it hosts the North American Pond Skimming Championships.
The Palmer Snowfield above Timberline Lodge in Oregon usually holds the title as North America’s longest ski season. Conditions permitting, they’re pretty much open year-round, barring a few closed-for-maintenance weeks in September. So far in 2016, conditions are looking good with more than 100 inches of snow lying at the start of May.
See Oregon lift tickets.
Utah: Snowbird Resort
Snowbird has always had the longest season in the state of Utah and 15-16 is no exception. It’s the only area still operating and will be open weekends through to Memorial Day. There’s been fresh snow and at the start of May the base was 100 inches.
Vermont: Killington Resort
Killington Resort is always the last to close in Vermont and, despite the challenging conditions in New England this past winter, 2016 is no exception. The resort clocked up 180 operating days and is currently open weekends only—it even reported an inch of fresh natural snow at the end of April. There’s two feet lying at the summit and up to half a dozen runs open. At the start of May, Killington was reporting that slopes that may not be groomed and some walking to the snow may be required.
Washington State: Crystal Mountain
Crystal Mountain (which closed in mid-April after a very snowy winter season) has announced its plans to re-open on weekends from Memorial Day Weekend onwards—although for exactly how long remains to be decided.
Canada: Sunshine Village & Whistler Blackcomb
Whistler has extended its already long season by a week and will be closing on the last weekend of May. It will then only be closed for 10 days before re-opening for five weeks of glacier summer skiing and boarding.
Sunshine Village will be open until May 23rd, finishing the ski season with its first Pond Skimming World Cup (and 88th annual Slush Cup – the world’s longest running pond skimming competition) on Monday May 23rd.