Last month, the New York Times published an article naming the top 5 North American spots for spring skiing. We were thrilled to see that three of our favorite areas, Mammoth Mountain, Squaw Valley, and Snowbird made the list! Rounding out the rankings were Banff, Alberta and Whistler, British Columbia.
Thanks to Cindy Hirschfield for posting a great article! You can read her report below:
“Mountain folks know that spring is often the best time to ski. The snow base is deep, with a winter’s worth of accumulation. Bluebird days are more plentiful. And as the temperature rises, the crowds and high-season prices melt away. Here are five of the top North American spots for spring skiing.
Some of the sunniest skiing can be found at two neighboring Canadian resorts in Banff National Park. At Sunshine Village (877-542-2633; skibanff.com), 90 minutes west of Calgary, skiing goes through May 24, thanks to a base area at 7,200 feet, high for Canada. A variety of terrain is often accessible through closing day, including the notoriously steep Delirium Dive. And by early May, afternoons are warm enough for those brave, or foolish, enough to ski in shorts and a T-shirt.
Another half hour west is Lake Louise (877-956-8473; skilouise.com), which offers 4,200 acres of bowls, steeps and cruisers, most of which stay open through the first weekend in May. The wooden deck at Temple Lodge, near the Larch Express Quad, is even nicknamed Temple Beach for the throngs of sunbathing skiers splayed on lounge chairs, SPF 50 at the ready.
MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, CALIFORNIA
Mammoth Mountain (800-626-6684; mammothmountain.com), with a peak elevation of 11,053 feet, offers superb spring skiing, often as late as mid-June, thanks to several high-alpine bowls. Abundant sunshine (the resort averages about 300 sunny days a year) and cold nights turn snow into velvety corn.
After April 18, lifts run only out of the higher-elevation Main Lodge area. Lifts open an hour earlier — at 7:30 a.m. — than otherwise and run through early afternoon, to allow skiing when snow conditions are at their best. Mammoth, which is popular with freestyle snowboarders and skiers, also builds a new terrain park and a 22-foot halfpipe higher up on the mountain each spring.
Getting there is also easier this spring and summer, with Horizon Air offering a daily nonstop flight from Los Angeles starting April 12.
Snowbird (800-232-9542; snowbird.com) gets about 500 inches of snowfall a year, which means a good bit of it sticks around well into late spring, allowing for what is usually Utah’s longest ski season. This year’s projected closing date is Memorial Day.
Nearly the entire mountain stays open, too, for top-to-bottom skiing, although a few south-facing areas that soak up sun, including Mineral Basin, may close in the early afternoon. Lifts run throughout the week, until about mid-May, when they switch to weekends only.
Snowbird even offers special season passes for the spring, available April 1 for $299.
SQUAW VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
Squaw (800-403-0206; squaw.com) is known for steep skiing, and several black diamond areas, including North Bowl and Granite Chief, hold good snow well into the spring.
After a day spent hammering mushy moguls, skiers head to the High Camp Lagoon and Spa for après-ski that’s more San Diego than the Sierras. This midmountain complex has a heated outdoor pool with waterfalls, a 25-person hot tub and four bars and restaurants on multilevel decks. Lockers, showers and towels are available, too.
Situated about 45 minutes from the Reno airport, Squaw is also easy to get to. Closing day at the resort is May 9.
WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA
The Olympic races may be over , but the skiing at Whistler/Blackcomb (800-766-0449; whistlerblackcomb.com) keeps going — as late as summer.
The Whistler Mountain side of the resort, with its 5,020-foot vertical drop, stays open until April 18, as high-mountain areas like Whistler Bowl offer soft, ego-boosting snow.
The Blackcomb Mountain side goes later — much later. It is scheduled to close on May 24, but only temporarily. From June 19 to July 25, the Horstman Glacier, a permanent snow area that sits high on Blackcomb, opens with terrain for intermediate to advanced skiers.
Besides the novelty of skiing in July, the glacier hosts training camps for aspiring Lindsey Vonns and Bode Millers.”