Skiing isn’t just a winter sport. You might be surprised to hear that many ski resorts in the United States enjoy ample snowfall well into spring and, in some high-altitude destinations, even through summer.
Spring skiing conditions are often wetter and slushier than what you’d find on a normal bluebird winter ski day, but you’ll find some pretty sweet benefits, too. Crowds are thinner, lift tickets are cheaper, days are longer, and you can often ski in just your wool base layers or even bare your arms in a merino tee.
In this guide, we’ll cover a few of the best places to hit the slopes in late March, April and beyond.
Ready to give it a shot? Here’s what you need to know.
Be Prepared for Spring Skiing
Before we dive into where to head for some April, May, and Juneshredding, it’s important to cover a few of the key requirements of late-season skiing. It can be a blast, especially if you have the right gear and know what to expect. The most important thing to know is that weather is particularly unpredictable at this time of year, which means you need to be prepared for anything.
- Wear the right layers. We always recommend Merino wool during transitional seasons because it keeps you warm when it’s chilly out but also helps you dump heat quickly when you’re skiing on sunny days to prevent you from sweating and catching a chill. Wear a Merino wool base layer—a truly all-season piece to add to your arsenal of versatile ski clothing—beneath your water-resistant top layer so you can adapt to the changing weather as needed.
- Wax your skis. When things are wet and slushy — and trust us, they will get wet and slushy at this time of year — you want to make sure your skis are properly waxed so they can get through the wet conditions without damage or slippage.
- Go for a wider ski. Many avid spring skiers also recommend switching to a wider ski at this time of year because they tend to carve through wet, slushy snow a bit better. This may also be a good time of year to switch to snowboarding, or to give it a shot if you’ve never had a lesson. During shoulder season, even the fanciest resorts may be more likely to offer budget-friendly discounts and package deals.
- Don’t forget the reef-safe sunscreen. To be honest, you should be rocking the sunblock year-round because you definitely can endure sun damage and burns in the middle of winter. But it’s extra important at this time of year when the UV index can be high and the sun’s rays can reflect off the pristine white slopes. Opt for a reef-safe, natural variety even if you’re a thousand miles from the nearest ocean—those chemicals can travel through your hotel shower drain into local rivers and streams all the way out to the ocean, even from from the middle of landlocked nowhere.
- Check on closing day. Depending on the weather, resorts may close sooner than expected or extend their season by a few days if there’s an unexpected dump. Always check with your ski area of choice before heading out to make sure they’re still open.
Know Where to Go
So where can you ski in April—or even May or June? It totally depends on the year and the climate as a whole, but generally speaking, you’ll have better luck in higher elevation regions like resorts in the Rockies well above treeline. Be sure to allow yourself some time to adjust to the altitude if you’re coming from sea level—skiing at 10,000 feet can affect your body much differently than skiing down from a lift around 4,000 feet. Some of the best places to go include:
- Timberline, Oregon — You may have heard of Timberline because it’s home to the iconic Timberline Lodge, the hotel used for the exterior of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. This relaxed Mt. Hood town sits at about 6,000 and the resort has over 3,600 vertical feet of skiing. Because of this, Timberline is the only ski area on the continent that is open 12 months of the year. That means you can enjoy the powder well into spring and even in the summer. Amazing, right?
- Mammoth Mountain, California — Who knew you could continue shredding well into summer in Mammoth? This popular little ski town has the benefit of being snowy through the Fourth of July most seasons. With an elevation of over 11,000 feet and fewer crowds than peak winter ski days dedicated skiers know that spring is actually one of the best times to ski at Mammoth.
- Arapahoe Basin, Colorado — The Arapahoe Basin ski area offers the longest ski season in all of Colorado, which is why it’s one of the most popular among snow-lovers in this region. Each year, the season spans roughly from October to June (depending on the weather, of course), thanks to Arapahoe Basin’s base elevation of 10,520 feet and its high average snowfall. While the official season ends in June, Arapahoe has been known to stay open long enough for skiers to shred on the Fourth of July. You’ll often catch people skiing shirtless or in bikinis, so be sure to check the events calendar at A-Basin—as locals call it—for summer-themed activities to end the season in style.
- Mt. Bachelor, Oregon — Located just outside of Bend, the Mt. Bachelor ski area is a big-time bucket-lister for skiers and snowboarders who want to get their boards wet in the springtime. Depending on the conditions, the area has been known to host skiers through the month of May, which means plenty of potential for fresh snowfall with longer days and smaller crowds. Mt. Bachelor offers an elevation of about 9,000 feet with a vertical drop of 3,365 feet and over 4,300 skiable acres.
- Snowbird, Utah — Snowbird is a popular spot for springtime shredders because the region tends to have some pretty legendary snow dumps well into April and May. That means fresh powder ready for some of the best runs of the season. Thanks to its relatively high elevation of8,100 feet and historically high spring snowfall, Snowbird offers Utah’s longest ski season, often staying open into May or June. It’s not unheard of to see Snowbird stay open until the Fourth of July, either.
Dedicated skiers know that the longer the season, the more fun! Luckily, there are plenty of desirable mountain towns around the U.S. to help you soak up the slopes throughout the year. With an added bonus of fewer people, longer days and maybe even discounted rates, there’s no reason not to give late-season skiing a try, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a total novice.