Best Kept Secret – Skiing In April

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Does April or even May mean the ski season is over?!?!? NO WAY! This statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Think we’re crazy? Don’t know what we’re talking about? Let us prove you wrong. Put up the bathing suits (or rather bring’em with ya) and grab the snow gear. Put that trip to the tropics on hold. This spring, head to the mountains! Why you ask? The days are longer, the crowds have reduced to a trickle, and the winter storms have given way to sunshine and warm temperatures. If you haven’t taken a trip out west this year, skiing in April or May is the time!

Why You Should Go

  • Great deals to stay & ski
  • Sunny weather and warm temps
  • Non-existent crowds
  • The ability to do other stuff like golf AND ski in the same day

But before you even pick the ski resort to visit, there are a few things that you should know about skiing in April. First, don’t expect to ride a full day. Instead, focus on the full experience. The après ski is almost as important as the skiing. Is there a cool town to hang in? Do you have a place that has a grill and patio to chill at? How about a mountain bike park or a golf course? Now you feelin’ it? Next, don’t expect the resorts to be at full operation. This is good news though. It means that you’ll have a ton of terrain all to yourself and can lap those runs until you can’t feel your legs. If you want to learn the in’s & outs of skiing in April, what gear to bring, & why it’s our favorite time to go on a ski vacation, check out our comprehensive spring skiing guide.

 

Corn?! What’s That Got To Do With Snow?

What a busy day at Mt Bachelor in the spring. Someone took one turn ahead of her off of Summit Chair.
What a busy day at Mt. Bachelor in the spring. Someone took one turn ahead of her off of Summit Chair.

By this time of year, the snow begins to form into what is called “corn.” These little nuggets get their name from the fact that they look like frozen corn kernels. For it to form you need multiple sunny and warm days in a row plus cold freezing nights to produce this glorious surface. If it does, you’ll be hooked for life. To learn more about what is corn & why it’s our second favorite type of snow, click below.

A Chance To Get One More Powder Day

Closing Day at Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort Lake Tahoe
Closing day at Sierra at Tahoe on April 15th was the BEST day of the season.

Compared to early or mid-season, the last snowstorms of spring typically come from the north. This means in between those corn harvests there’s a good chance you’ll be skiing cold smoke blower pow. If Ullr does gift you with a powder day, it’ll be one of the best days of your life. As tourists and locals alike have already moved on from the ski season, you’ll pretty much have the snow to yourself. It’s also a good idea to focus on north facing slopes. These trails will be protected from the high sun angles during this time of year that are turning other aspects into what many folks like to call “hot pow” or transitional snow.

 

Get Your Equipment Ready

When it comes to corn snow you need to fight off the “stickiness” and so to do this your equipment needs to be ready for what they call spring conditions. Depending on if you’re going to be doing a lot of spring skiing or not, there’s a few options. The easiest and most affordable is to switch to warm weather wax (above 32 degrees F). For final touches, use a bristle pad to make 45 degree angle patterns down your skis and snowboard so that the water doesn’t flow the entire length of the board. This reduces the friction. The best solution if you’re going to be doing a lot of spring skiing is to get your base structured so that the skis or snowboard wick away the moisture. This trick allows you to ride wet snow more smoothly and a great way to extend your day. To learn more about a base structure and how spring skiing works, check out our article.

Where To Ski In April

Now that your board/skis are prepped and you’ve got an idea of how to ski/board corn, where should you go skiing in April in North America? Here are the things to consider when picking a resort to visit:

  • Historically open late into the season
  • Large amount of terrain above treeline
  • Deep snowpack
  • Ski resort that’s received lots of snow (at least annual average)

Each of the following ski resorts fit this criteria and pretty much have a late closing date. As recommended above, the après should be good too.

Nothing like wearing a t-shirt while skiing!
Nothing like wearing a t-shirt while skiing!  Chilling mid-mountain at Mammoth in May
 

Whistler Blackcomb

  • A walkable village filled with a TON to do.
  • Mountain Biking at the bottom of the resort opens in late April so you can ski/snowboard AND mountain bike in the same day in late April/May.
  • A great option for those with an Epic Pass.

Mt. Bachelor

Nothing like have the entire mountain to yourself and some great corn waiting for you to slash it. Summit Chair at Mt Bachelor.
Nothing like have the entire mountain to yourself and some great corn waiting for you to slash it. Summit Chair at Mt Bachelor.
  • This place is “Beer-vana” with a HUGE selection of breweries that you can walk to. There even is a Bend – Brew tour app!
  • A volcanic cone which means you can follow the sun to find the best snow. Best spring snow on the planet.

Alpine Meadows | Squaw Valley

Spring skiing fun with hot tub at Squaw Valley High Camp in Lake Tahoe California
Image appears courtesy: Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows
  • The town of Truckee is nearby filled with tons of great cuisine.
  • Lake Tahoe is just a few minutes away with boating and golfing available usually by late April.

Mammoth

  • With a huge population in Los Angeles just a few hours away, Mammoth normally has more terrain open than any other resort late into the spring.
  • A great option for those with an Ikon Pass.
 

Arapahoe Basin

  • Normally open until June or later, this place is a mecca for spring skiing. The parking lot is called the “Beach” and you can watch people skiing down the mountain as you grill right in the parking lot. For those in Colorado, we recommend skipping Breckenridge or Vail and heading here instead.
  • It’s one of the only ski areas on average where April is their biggest snowfall month of the season.

SkiBig3 – Lake Louise / Sunshine Village

  • Not just one, but two ski areas that are open through the 1st weekend in May. And with a SkiBig3 lift ticket, you can choose your ski resort each day according to the snowfall!
  • The hopping town of Banff filled with an assortment of cuisine, apres, and hot springs is 20 minutes from Sunshine Village and only 40 from Lake Louise.

Heli-skiing In Alaska

  • Although not a ski resort, if heli-skiing in Alaska is on your personal bucket list (like ours), then April is the time to go. The days are longer, the temps are still cold, AND expect still a bunch of snow.
  • Since it’s so close to the coast, the maritime snowpack gives skiers & snowboarders the opportunity to ride some of the steepest terrain on razor-sharp ridges and plunging chutes.

This is only a few of the many places that are open into spring. For a full list of our favorite spring skiing spots, check out our article.

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