Everything You Need to Know About Spring Skiing

Backroad Packers
11 min readFeb 21


While we are sure that most people would assume that the middle of winter would be the best time of year to ski (think December and January), in truth in most places — including many of the top ski resorts in North America — the most optimal time to hit the slopes is actually during the spring season (mid-February to mid-April). This is due to a number of things — from weather to crowds to the actual snow on the mountains.

Below we outline why spring is the best time to be out on the mountain skiing or snowboarding, the top ski resorts to visit for the absolute best conditions and the most fun, and finally, what gear you will want to have with you on the mountain.

\\ Why Spring is the Best Time of Year to Ski

There are a few key reasons why we think springtime is the best time to hit the slopes for an epic ski adventure. Below we outline 4 of them:


Overall, you can expect the price of a day pass to drop once the high season (December and January) passes. Likewise, some ski resorts — especially the smaller, independent ones — will even release a spring season pass at a pretty significant discount than the full season options.

💬INSIDER TIP: Monarch Ski Resort in central Colorado (near the town of Salida) puts out their “Wings Pass” every year in late February or early March. This season pass gives you access to the mountain for the rest of the season (the resort usually closes in mid-April) as well as the whole next season. In our view, this is definitely one of the best ski deals around. You can learn more about the Wings Pass here.

Similarly, you can usually find some pretty sweet lodging deals once spring rolls around — including at some of the more popular ski resorts like Vail, Steamboat and Crested Butte. While you may still see some expensive nights during the holidays (especially during Spring Break), if you are able to visit on a random week and especially on a random weeknight, you may be surprised at the very low prices.


Now this isn’t always the case — especially during spring holidays like Spring Break — but we would say overall you can usually expect shorter lift lines during the spring.

This is mostly due to the fact that a lot of the people who come to ski like to visit during the middle of the winter and the holidays. So, once spring rolls around, the mountains are often a lot quieter. Definitely take advantage of this — especially if you have the chance to ski on a weekday.


We are not snow scientists, but we will say that during the spring the snow just seems to be better. Especially if you are able to hit the slopes early in the morning when it is still untouched and the sun hasn’t made it super slushy yet.

While it would be easy to think that the mountains get the most snow during the middle of winter (December and January) in fact, many resorts (especially the ones in Colorado) get most of their best snow during the spring. Watch the snow forecasts and try to plan your adventure to happen right after a big snowstorm.


Now this might sound like the exact opposite of what we said above about snow storms, but bear with us. While a lot of snow does fall during the spring, you also have a great chance of skiing under some truly amazing blue skies. Honestly, a warm ski day under a sunny sky is one of the best feelings out there. If you can hit the mountain on a bluebird day, do it.

💬INSIDER TIP: we highly recommend checking the weather report before hitting the slopes just to make sure you are actually going to be able to ski under a sunny sky and so you also know what to pack in case the weather does turn bad (see our gear guide below).

\\ The 5 Best Ski Resorts For Spring Skiing

We would say that for the most part, a lot of the ski resorts in the USA (and Canada) are overall better during the spring. But with that being said, there are a few real standouts when it comes to just being an epic destination for spring skiing. Find our list of the top 5 ski resorts in North America for spring skiing (in no particular order) below.

❔GOOD TO KNOW: the mentioned closing dates are based on previous year estimates. Note that some resorts may stay open longer or close earlier depending on the overall snow levels.


LOCATION: Lake Tahoe, California


Known as the Spring Skiing Capital, Palisades Tahoe Resort should definitely be high on everyone’s skiing bucket list.

With over 40 lifts, 270 trails and 6,000 skiable acres across two mountains, there truly are endless adventures to be had at this California resort. Other important things to know about spring skiing at Palisade Tahoe is that the resort gets (on average) 400 inches of snow a year, it is also known to have endless sunshine and lots of soft powdery snow, and finally, it starts offering discounted lift tickets on April 1st.


⛷ PASS: Palisades Tahoe is on the IKON Pass.


LOCATION: Dillon, Colorado


In a state full of ski resorts (at last count there were 28), it can be hard to stand out. Luckily, Arapahoe Basin has some really unique offerings. Including, being home to some of Colorado’s most legendary terrain (it is ranked 1st in Colorado for being the most challenging and 4th in the West). It is also known for its chill, laid-back vibe, fun community events, and great food.

When it comes to spring skiing, Arapahoe Basin (or A-Basin) really shines due to its cheaper lift tickets and for having the longest season in the state.

❔GOOD TO KNOW: A-Basin doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to having challenging terrain. It really walks the walk too. In fact, of the 1,428 acres that make up the resort, 73% of it is rated as black or double-black.


⛷ PASS: Arapahoe Basin is on the IKON Pass.


LOCATION: Mammoth Lakes, California


While Palisades Tahoe might be known as the Spring Skiing Capital, its more southern brother isn’t too far behind. Mammoth Mountain, located in the town of Mammoth Lakes, California, is often one of the snowiest resorts in North America (on average it receives over 400 inches of snow). But, what makes it really special is that it also usually sees 300 days of sunshine a year.

Other things that make Mammoth Mountain stand out include the fact that the resort’s summit sits at 11,053 feet and it (unsurprisingly) has the highest lift-served skiable terrain in California. From the top, you will be rewarded with unparalleled Sierra Nevada views, access to incredible bowls and powder (the mountain is known for its legendary snowpack), and over 3,500 acres of amazing runs.


⛷ PASS: Mammoth Mountain is on the IKON Pass.


LOCATION: Bend, Oregon


Next we have Mt. Bachelor, a large resort located near the adventurous town of Bend, Oregon. Home to over 4,300 acres of lift-accessed terrain and some stunning views of the surrounding area from the 9,065-foot summit (a volcanic summit no less), Mt. Bachelor is one epic place to spend some time skiing — especially during the spring season.

If you want to check it out for yourself, consider purchasing the resort’s Spring Pass, which is valid for unlimited skiing or snowboarding between April 1st and May 28th (closing day).


⛷ PASS: Mt. Bachelor is on the IKON Pass.


LOCATION: Park City, Utah

CLOSING DAY: April 17th

While Park City Ski Resort in Utah is a great resort to ski at no matter the time of year, we think it really shines during the spring. Here is why: it is the largest ski resort in the U.S. with over 7,300 acres of skiable terrain and 330+ trails (and half of those are considered more “advanced”), it gets over 300 inches of snow (on average), and it offers some amazing snowpack later in the season thanks to lots of sunshine. Plus, the resort starts offering discounted lift tickets later in the season.


⛷ PASS: Park City is on the EPIC Pass.

\\ The Top Spring Skiing Gear

The main trick with spring skiing when it comes to what to wear is to layer, layer, layer. This is because spring weather can be really unpredictable: sometimes it will be really cold in the morning and then seriously warm up once the sun starts to peak over the mountain, or it can be the total opposite — warm, sunny mornings and then blizzarding in the afternoon.

That is why you should try to come prepared for any and all types of weather. Below you will find our recommended ski gear for all of your spring skiing adventures.


It is smart to start with a comfortable and moisture-wicking base set for this is what will be touching your skin the most. This Kara Traa top is made from renewable and biodegradable wood fibers, making it not only eco-friendly but also super soft and form-fitting. Plus, the breathable underarm panels give you some added ventilation (aka less sweat). CHECK IT OUT.


Finish the set by purchasing the Kara Traa bottoms, which are made out of the same soft and breathable wool blend as the top. CHECK IT OUT.


Now to start the layering process. We recommend wearing a thin but warm jacket on top of your base layer. This fleece Mammut full-zip jacket will help keep you warm on the slopes without adding a lot of extra weight. CHECK IT OUT.


Finish your upper half with a sturdy outer layer, like this Gore-Tex Pro Jacket by Backcountry. This somewhat lightweight outer shell is perfect for both cold and warm days on the slopes. It is also super stretchy and good for mobility (even if you choose to wear a backpack) and it has 2 options for the hood to help really protect you from the wind. CHECK IT OUT.


Just like with your top half, we recommend wearing a warm mid-layer on your legs. This super soft fleece-lined jogger pant by Backcountry is perfect since it will help keep your legs nice and warm, while not adding too much bulk. CHECK IT OUT.


For the final bottom layer, we recommend this ultra-durable bib (also by Backcountry). With its easily detachable bib (top half) and durable but still breathable GORE-TEX membrane, this pant is perfect for those deep powder days. CHECK IT OUT.


Maybe one of the most important pieces of your ski kit is a buff or baklava. Not only will this help keep your neck warm, but it is also important for sun protection (the sun's reflections off of the snow can be intense). This buff by Skida Alpine is not only comfortable and warm but it is also made with a Polartec micro-fleece lining which dries really quickly — meaning less gross and sweaty material on your face. CHECK IT OUT.


Keep your head warm on the slopes with this lightweight and ultra-wicking stocking cap by Kari Traa. Made primarily of merino wool, this thin hat is great at managing moisture — no matter how long you are out sweating on the mountain. CHECK IT OUT.


Nothing seems to ruin a day on the slopes like cold hands. That is why having proper gloves can be such a game-changer while skiing or snowboarding. This insulated mitten pair by Hestra is made up of a cozy and soft fleece interior and a durable leather exterior. CHECK IT OUT.


Just like cold hands can turn a good day of skiing into something close to miserable, so can frozen toes. That is why we always wear warm wool socks on the slopes. This set by Darn Tough is made up of a moisture-wicking fabric that helps keep your feet dry even during high periods of activity (like skiing). Plus, the underfoot cushion can help enhance your comfort while wearing ski and snowboard boots (now that’s a win-win). CHECK IT OUT.


Goggles: if you are hoping to ski a lot, then we recommend investing in a good pair of goggles. This one by Smith includes more durable lenses that will help decrease the number of scratches and impacts, while also boosting clarity (even during cloudy conditions). It also comes with better airflow technology and an inner coating to help prevent fogging. CHECK IT OUT.

Helmet: let us first say that you should never ski or snowboard without a helmet. Seriously, just don’t. Luckily, this helmet by Smith has in-mold construction for a lighter, more streamlined performance, adjustable front and rear vents for better airflow, and removable ear pads that offer both warmth and the option to add audio chips. CHECK IT OUT.


| Waterproof sunscreen

| Chapstick with UVB and UVA protection

| Sunglasses

| Water bottle and backpack (if possible): this larger backpack (18 liters) is great for those long backcountry days when you need avalanche gear, extra layers and plenty of snacks and water.

In our opinion, spring skiing is definitely the way to go. With cheaper prices, shorter lift lines and a higher chance of skiing on a gorgeous sunny day, spring skiing should be a no-brainer when it comes to the best time of year to hit the slopes.

If you have any questions or comments about spring skiing, then let us know below or reach out to us directly!

Happy adventuring!



Backroad Packers

Two adventurers creating in-depth travel guides to inspire you to have your own grand sustainable adventures.