Spring means beaches, airbrush T-shirts, appropriating cornrows and Girls Gone Wild videos, right? Not so fast. Ski resorts are warming up, too.
Not only is spring a great time to hit the slopes, but going during the off season offers advantages such as fewer crowds and better deals. Plus, everyone knows the shredding is better in an airbrush T-shirt.
1. The Weather Rocks
Even mountains warm up in the spring, which makes for some nice conditions. Trade snowy storms for sunny days and shed your layers down to one shirt. Heavenly Mountain Resort at Lake Tahoe is famous for sunny skiing, so head out in your favorite t-shirt. If you’re more adventurous, don a swimsuit or head out in the nude—a few places allow it, and that’s how you’ll find us … in the buff. When you stop for lunch, eat and drink outside. Please pack lotion.
2. The Prices are Right
Taking advantage of the off-season is a great way to save money. Since spring isn’t the prime ski season, airline tickets are cheaper, and resorts often lower ticket prices to keep skiers interested. Vermont’s Killington resort, for example, is now selling $199 passes for unlimited access to both its own and sibling Pico Mountain’s slopes.
3. The Scenery Stuns
The beginning of spring often yields less snow, which means you get to see what’s been hiding all winter. Trees and mountain life start to emerge, literally giving a different view of the terrain. If you’re looking for an especially incredible view, head for one of the seven resorts surrounding Lake Tahoe.
4. Avoid the Crowds
Give or take a few packs of spring breakers, spring skiing means smaller lift lines. Fewer people means less congested slopes, giving you the perfect opportunity to do a more popular run without the risk of collision and the inevitable yard sale. To really avoid crowds, hit the slopes in April, or visit an under-the-radar resort like Bridger Bowl Montana.
5. Menus Expand
As seasons change, so do your dining options. Now that the weather’s warming up, wild game dishes are spicing up ski-town’s menus. Different vegetables and drinks also come make an appearance. Find some of the best seasonal food at Solstice in Vermont’s Stowe Mountain, where local and seasonal dishes thrive.
6. Shopping Galore
Two words: spring sales. As the end of the ski season nears, all the equipment that was outrageously expensive is now only slightly expensive. By taking advantage of skiing in March or April, you gain access to a world of discounts. Spring is the time to get better mittens, try out a new model of skis or finally replace the pair of pants you outgrew five years ago. You’ll find discounts everywhere, but for a hardcore ski shopper’s experience, head to Vail or Aspen Snowmass Colorado.
7. Events Abound
Since standing outside isn’t as unpleasant or dangerous in the spring, ski resorts often hold competitions and events. These events are free to attend and usually host giveaways, so take a chance at winning a car or getting a free bandanna. Jackson Hole in Wyoming is currently celebrating its March RADness, an entire month of live music.
8. Night Skiing is Actually Fun
Normally, night skiing is the sport’s cruel, icy sibling. Spring doesn’t have a huge impact on the ice factor, but night skiing is more enjoyable because the temperatures aren’t dipping as much. For serious night skiing, head to Utah’s Brighton, whose evenings offer more than 200 acres of terrain, dinner and nighttime lessons.
9. There’s a Mountain of Activities
Because the snow is inevitably melting, ski resorts introduce more activities in case the slopes aren’t in good condition. If you’re bummed by the slush, partake in activities like ice skating, mountain biking, snowshoe hikes and horseback riding. Snowbird in Utah takes the range of activities even farther with options like avalanche training, fly-fishing and a backcountry skills seminar.
Sarra Sedghi is a freelance writer and magnet collector based in Athens, Ga. She runs an Athens-centric travel blog for locals, and mostly tweets musings on junk food and whatever she’s watching on Netflix.