Spring skiing is such a different experience than deep winter skiing that it honestly should be thought of as a second season. While the winter months are characterized by intense storm cycles, freezing temperatures, and mercifully limited daylight—granted the payoff is incredible powder days—spring is all about long sunny days, groomed runs and parks, and slushy afternoon slopes—and maybe a few fresh powder days, because…spring.
The contrast between a week spent at a ski area during the December holidays versus March and April could not be starker. For starters, you’ve got an entire winter’s worth of snow depth to ski on providing great coverage. And the frothing crowds that throng to the mountains have had their fill (or at least mellowed out). Plus, the sun stays high up in the sky longer, providing warmth and a casual afternoon perfect for carving up the groomers and terrain parks, or taking full advantage of après ski outside on the sun deck.
Ski areas have taken precautions throughout the season in partnership with the National Ski Areas Association’s Ski Well, Be Well Program to minimize the risk of COVID-19. These include physical distancing in the lift lines and base area, mandatory face masks, regular sanitizing, and individual responsibility to ensure a safe visit. Resorts have also moved toward online equipment and lesson reservations and ticket purchases to minimize contact. You’ll definitely want to book ahead to get the best deals. Spring is when many resorts offer discounted lift tickets, season passes, and lodging packages, so you might save a few bucks.
It’s this combination of a deep snowpack plus attention to grooming and parks that makes these resorts stand out as our picks for the best spring skiing spots of 2021. And, hey, while we’ll all miss the spring party atmosphere that comes with the usual big events and music festivals, you can still don that retro neon one-piece if that’s your thing!
Mount Baker, Washington
Mount Baker has had a phenomenal season with a 199-inch mid-mountain snow base—that’s one of the deepest snowpacks in North America! Baker is a steep mountain where you can definitely challenge yourself. The backcountry access into areas like Hemispheres and the Shuksan Arm is a huge draw for experienced backcountry skiers and snowboarders who ride with avalanche beacons and rescue gear. Looking for a mellower experience? Go charge the natural halfpipe on Chair 5 where the legendary Banker Slalom snowboard race takes place every year. Throughout the month of March, beginners can take advantage of the Best For Beginners Package for $75, which includes a two-hour group lesson, rental equipment, and a beginner lift ticket.
End the day with a local microbrew on the sundeck and a bowl of homemade smoked salmon chowder from the Grab & Go menu while taking in the stunning views of glaciated Mount Shuksan towering overhead. The mountain closes for the season May 5, 2021.
Big Sky Resort boasts 5,850 acres of inbounds skiing, making it the biggest skiing in North America with more than an acre per skier on average—now that’s some social distancing! Where to even begin with the spring opportunities at Big Sky? The mountain can be thought of as three separate areas. Andesite mountain is a lollapalooza of groomers and spaced-out tree runs. Then on the other side of the mountain is the Moonlight Basin area, which was once an entirely separate ski area. It really comes alive in the spring as the sunlight finally hits its north-facing slopes, where skiers can ride Horseshoe, one of the longest, loneliest (in a good way), and most scenic groomers in America. Finally, the iconic Lone Peak summit and bowl, as well as the numerous chutes, gullies, and snowfields descending from the upper mountain, offer challenging expert terrain that ski best with a deep spring snowpack.
The resort also has a newly remodeled base lodge featuring the Vista Deck. Now there’s plenty of space to spread out for outdoor dining and après ski. The sun deck also hosts regular live DJs for that spring vibe. Be sure to purchase lift tickets online at least one day in advance as the resort is limiting capacity to ensure physical distancing. The Big Sky season wraps up on April 18, 2021.
Mount Hood Meadows, Oregon
Mount Hood Meadows has already received 406 inches of snow this season, and boasts a 214-inch mid-mountain snow base. This complete coverage makes memorable groomers and provides plenty of snow to shape and chisel into custom terrain park features. Meadows is renowned for its network of expert terrain parks, halfpipes, and family-friendly progression parks all around the 2,150-acre resort.
The ski area offers a discounted Midweek pass that begins March 1, 2021 through the end of the season for just $239. Day tickets, lesson, and rentals must be purchased online in advance this season. Grab and go dining is also available this season including freestanding beer stations offering local microbrews. The resort is open through April 25, 2021.
There’s no shortage of resorts to choose from in Colorado, but Vail wins out for the glory of riding the back bowls in the springtime (although we are missing the mid-April Spring Back to Vail festival, which we hope to see back in 2022). The resort offers something for everyone from the wide-open groomers off Northwoods to the all-abilities Golden Peak terrain park. And, of course, there’s the seven legendary back bowls of Vail. In the spring, there’s even enough daylight to make that trek out and back to the distant Blue Sky Basin.
Vail also stands out for having some of the best outdoor dining patios including Los Amigos at the Gondola One base area and the giant deck at Garfinkels in the Lionshead base area. The resort has logged over 188 inches of snowfall this season and has extended its season through April 18, 2021.
Killington boasts the longest ski seasons in the East, and with 1,509 acres of skiable terrain, it’s also the biggest ski area in the East. The resort has received 188 inches of snow this season with a 40-inch base. To stay open with great conditions through spring, the resort stockpiles snow and resurfaces the runs throughout the season. This winter the resort has additional protocols in place including adhering to Vermont cross state travel guidelines, requiring online ticket purchases, as well as requiring parking reservations for Saturdays. Visitors are encouraged to treat their vehicles as their base lodges as indoor access is limited.
Killington is a deal in the spring thanks to the Nor’Beaster Spring Pass, this $249 pass is good for unlimited access to the mountain from March 15, 2021 through the end of the season, it will also save you 20 percent on lodging. The ski area also features the only Woodward Mountain Park in the East with seven different enhanced terrain zones for all levels, from mellow, banked turns providing a little variety to pro-level parks. Killington expects to operate through May 2, 2021.
Timberline Lodge & Ski Area, Oregon
Timberline Ski Area sits high up on the flanks of Mount Hood offering year-round skiing. The resort kicks off its spring season with discounted spring passes beginning March 15-31 for $175. That nets out to 78 days of skiing and snowboarding. During the peak of spring, the skiable terrain includes over 3,690 vertical feet of intermediate and advanced skiing from the top of the uppermost Palmer Lift to the bottom of Jeff Flood Express. That terrain includes the star of spring skiing: the five unique terrain parks and halfpipe, all of which are groomed (daily conditions permitting).
Timberline offers the only ski-in, ski out-lodging in Oregon at the historic Timberline Lodge (you might recognize it from The Shining), and a spring deal to go with it—book a midweek stay in a queen room for $310 and receive a free Timberline Spring Pass.
Spring at Snowbird can be corn snow, groomers or it can be powder. The resort received over 7 feet of snow in a seven-day period during February making for a comfy 81-inch base. Snowbird might be your best bet if you’re not ready to put away the powder skis and boards. Little Cottonwood Canyon has been known to get some big snowstorms in March and April. Cruise corduroy trails, lap the tram, and then end the day at the Plaza Deck. Here you’ll find a stage for live music and a well-spaced patio to channel the sun and enjoy après ski.
Parking reservations are required this winter at Snowbird, limited indoor dining is available as well as grab-and-go offerings. Snowbird expects to operate through May 9, 2021.
Mount Bachelor, Oregon
Mount Bachelor has some of the best spring skiing conditions ever with over 320 total inches of snowfall this winter, making for a 10-foot deep snowpack. The resort is offering a Spring Pass ranging from $184-$299. That’s good for up to 65 days of skiing or snowboarding from March 27 through May 30, 2021. The resort offers the most open terrain in North America during its spring season with 4,323 acres through April. This transitions to more than 2,000 acres through the end of May.
If you’re looking for something more, the Woodward Mountain Parks will get you going with a network of terrain features spread across the mountain, plus a series of dedicate parks for all levels, and a superpipe. Mount Bachelor also boasts one of the premier Nordic Ski Centers in the country. It features 56km of trails and a season that extends well into the spring. As part of the 20/21 operating plans, parking reservations are required at Mount Bachelor and online ticket sales are strongly encouraged. The resort is also encouraging guests to use their vehicles as their base lodge as indoor access is limited. Mount Bachelor is open through Memorial Day weekend.
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