It’s almost October. Is your ski or snowboard trip planned yet?

Ski Trip 2


Checklist for researching places to go on a riding or skiing trip:

  • Good snow: You can’t predict weather, but you can at least increase the odds of getting dumped on when you are there.
  • Crowds: During your trip, you don’t want to spend your time stuck in lift lines.
  • Terrain: Are you an expert, intermediate or a mixed group of skill levels? Be sure to check out the trail maps to give you an idea of the type of terrain that is available for your group.
  • Apres: Since trips like these are planned well in advance, there’s never a guarantee of snow.  Be sure to chose a location with plenty to do in case mother nature doesn’t cooperate.

Finding where to go?

So, you’ve finally decided to take a trip.  The question is, are you flexible? Can you only take off for a long weekend or a certain time of year?  Do you want to go to a certain region or ski resort?  It’s essential to plan your trip accordingly to maximize your time on the snow.

When to go?

Early Season (Pre-Christmas):

If you really want to go on a trip before Christmas it’s all about consistent early snow. The following regions and resorts are usually pretty reliable.

Looking across the ridge at Stevens Pass, 2 hours east of Seattle.

Looking across the ridge at Stevens Pass, 2 hours east of Seattle.

  • Pacific Northwest – Lately, their season has started “hot n heavy.”  Note, there is always the possibility of rain due to low elevation so be ready to find alternate entertainment when planning an early trip here.
  • Whistler – Since this area has similar weather pattern to the PNW, but has a higher altitude there is a lower probability of a rain.
  • Grand Targhee – It might not have the same terrain as it’s big neighbor and one thing to consider before planning a trip to Grand Targhee is the remoteness from Jackson, Wyoming.  It is called the “Dark Side” of the Grand Tetons, but that means more pow for you!
  • Wolf Creek – In Southwest Colorado this place is known to be open early (by Halloween on a good year) and boasts some of the highest accumulations in all of Colorado

The Holidays (Christmas-January):

For this time of year it’s about getting away from crowds in addition to finding the good snow.

Lone Peak looking beautiful in the mid-January sun.

Lone Peak looking beautiful in the mid-January sun.

  • Northern Rockies (US) – This time of year the storm tracks usually end up taking northern route, which make this location an ideal recipient!  Also, the crowds are normally down south this time of year.
  • Interior British Columbia – The powder highway gets hammered this time of year.  Again, minimal crowds due to low tempertures and more popular spots make it a great place to visit during the holidays.
  • Ogden, Utah Compared to its brethren in the Big and Little Cottonwoods the crowds are usually not even close and storms still like to head south into Utah.


Most places should be a safe bet this time of year.  On a good one, storm tracks slow down and even the Tahoe region can get huge snows.  Over the last couple seasons this has not been the case.

Spring Break (March – April):

Unless it’s spring break this is when to hit the normally crowded regions.  This is your best bet if you’re looking to minimize the crowds.

From the top of Sentinel bowl looking towards the Palisades at Kirkwood on a March powder day.

Sierra storm from the top of Sentinel Bowl at Kirkwood.


Lake Tahoe – By this time of year, Tahoe’s snowpack is usually deep.  The sun is warm, and there is a good chance that one of those infamous Sierra storms will role in.

Colorado – Due its higher elevation this is THE time to go to Colorado.  Snow should not be an issue.  The storm track seems to be magnetized to Colorado in the spring.  Be mindful of spring breaks during this time to avoid the crowds.

Late Season (May – June):

This time of year it’s all about the resorts that contain a deep snowpack and places where a good local following ensures there are enough people for the resorts to keep running the lifts late into the year.  Don’t forget, trips during this time of year should have some good après activities for the afternoon.  By that time of day the snow will turn to mashed potatoes.  Some of our favorites are listed below.

  • Mt Bachelor – In a normal winter the summit of the mountain is closed due to the winds and snow.  By late April and May the probability of the summit being open is almost certain.  Mt. Bachelor is cone shaped meaning that you can “dial” the corn snow softening by starting on the south facing slopes and slowly moving from one trail to the next
  • Mammoth – This late in the season the crowds are gone, but the snowpack still exists. In addition, there is a good chance you’ll see pros lapping the park trying to get one or two more tricks under their belt for the next season’s blockbuster flick

These suggestions are based on our experiences and travels.  The idea is to use this information to improve your odds of reducing lift lines, finding the best snow and having a great time.  There’s more to come.  We will talk more about the après activities available, local hotspots and further assistance to plan your next trip…stay tuned!!!!

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