Many people think of skiing as a winter sport, but in many places spring skiing is da bomb. With blue skies, mild temperatures and even late season storms, springtime offers amazing skiing without the harshness of winter. As the sun climbs higher, prices drop, making a spring ski vacation even more attractive. Spring officially begins March 21, but for some resorts that falls in their peak snow month. In epic snow years, more resorts have incredible spring seasons. Sometimes a resort or two will be open well into summer! We just hopped to the Lake Tahoe area, for example, and trails at Squaw Valley Ski Resort were still open.
If you have little tadpoles who don’t love the cold (alright, I know a lot of moms who also don’t like to be cold), spring skiing’s warmer temperatures are a lot more inviting. When planning a spring ski and snowboard trip, it comes down to knowing where to go to follow the snow and how to make the most of the conditions. These seven spring skiing tips will sweeten your day on the mountain.
Our Tried-and-True Spring Skiing Tips
1. Find the best resorts for spring skiing
The resorts that offer the best and longest spring skiing tend to be at higher elevations and tend to be north-facing. In Lake Tahoe, that means Squaw Valley (sometimes open into summer) and Heavenly (end of April). Northstar is good in early spring. In Colorado, Vail and Breckenridge tend to be open well into late April. Depending on the season, some resorts in the country are open until June and July!
2. Spring for savings
Spring skiing is a great way to save on a ski vacation. You can find package deals, cheaper lessons, less-expensive lift tickets, affordable lodging and deals on the next year’s season pass that often can be used in the current spring. It’s also a great time to buy equipment and clothing at spring sales. If you love the demo skis you tried, you can even purchase them at bargain prices.
3. Get the scoop on special safety concerns in spring
Spring conditions can sometimes mean that more rocks and trees are exposed (compared to winter), so always be on the lookout for debris and changing snow conditions. You should always wear sunscreen and either goggles or sunglasses when you ski, but this is especially important in spring. Protect those lips with sunscreen and remember to reapply. Chapped lips and sunburned goggle lines are never attractive or comfortable off the mountain. Prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
4. Scope out your day
One of our top spring skiing tips is to check the weather report each day and layer up. Spring offers a lot of variety of temperature (even from day to day), so you’ll need to check the weather to find out what you should wear. We skied Lake Tahoe in April and enjoyed sunshine and warm temperatures, but the weekend before and after our visit brought a lot of fresh snow, so you have to be prepared for anything when skiing in spring.
To be prepared, we always dress in layers and find that we can always shed a layer and then later add a layer for après ski activities, since temperatures can plummet once the sun goes down. Our advice for staying sane is to rent a locker to store those extra layers that you will undoubtedly shed and then want again. Click here for more sanity-saving advice for your trip. If it is sunny and in the 50s, you can get by with a thin thermal and the outer shell of your jacket during the day. If it is snowing then you’ll need to add a layer and button up. Wear waterproof pants regardless of the temperature because if you fall, that snow can be wet. Temperatures in the 50s might feel crisp at home, but they actually feel hot at a ski resort, so plan to open your jacket and unzip any vents so body heat can escape. Replenish all the fluid you lose through sweat by taking water breaks. It’s not uncommon to see people in shorts, T-shirts and even bikinis during spring skiing. Again, just remember the sunscreen! The spring sunshine is powerful.
5. Follow the sun
This might be the only time we ever say this, but unless there is fresh powder, take a spring skiing tip from us and sleep in! There is no pressure to get first tracks in spring skiing and snowboarding. Because the sun melts and softens snow during the day but temperatures drop at night, the early morning snow is hard and icy before it thaws. Sleep in, enjoy breakfast, and wait for the sun to soften the snow. Aim for hitting the slopes at 10 a.m. Follow the sun by skiing the runs that are in the sun. Keep in mind that snow conditions change, so be cautious about going from sun to shade and vice-versa. The snow might be soft in the sun, and when you ski in to the shade of a tree you can hit an icy patch. That affects your speed and control. You might find the bottom of the mountain too mushy and slow in the warmth, so aim for higher elevation.
6. Enjoy the entertainment
Some mountains have fun spring activities happening from live music festivals to tailgate parties to dress-up days to pool parties. Find out what is going on at your resort and be ready to join the party.
7. Enjoy the sunshine and warm temperatures
Eat lunch outside on a gorgeous spring day. Lounge about the village. Kick back in an Adirondack chair and listen to some tunes while soaking up the sun. Visit the hotel pool après ski. Let the kids do activities at the base of the mountain (like the bungee trampolines at the villages of Squaw Valley or Northstar). You can look for spring activities and fun things to do off the mountain at different resorts offer to help you decide which family ski resort is right for you.
The tadpoles jump for joy over spring skiing. No cold toes or runny noses to deal with. There are fewer clothing items to get in their way. They can even ditch the gloves, neck gator and sometimes coat. If your children don’t like the cold, our tip for helping them to enjoy skiing more is to try skiing in spring. Read on for more tips on keeping the froglets hoppy when skiing. Plus, after a season of skiing, you might feel more relaxed and start to see yourself and your kiddos improving by leaps and bounds.
Springtime is also a great time to book your next ski vacation. The next winter might seem like a long way off, but if you want to ski at peak times such as between Christmas and New Years or around President’s Day, you can book in spring to get your first choice of lodging. Undercover Tourist has already started booking hotels for ski resorts for this season and next. Look for more deals on packages and lift tickets for the 2017-18 season soon! Have a spring skiing tip to share? Let us know in comments below!