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Best Spring Skiing



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March is one of the snowiest months of the year at ski resorts in the western US and Canada. You never know for sure where the skiing will be the best once March hits and spring begins but there are some places that are more reliable for snow seekers.

Bargains abound in March and on into spring, except for the spring break peak which is around the last week of March. You can an incredible range of deals on either side of this week. If you need some new stuff, many places try to reduce their inventory as well so you'll find some bargains.

The days are longer, the prices are lower and the crowds are a bit lighter. At least they are not always in your way.

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Ski the Corn

Corn is the name given to the large rounded snow structure the evolves from a melt and freeze cycle. The warm days melt the snow pack, form larger snow crystals and then refreeze at night leaving shapes like baby corn.

Know the conditions and try for the best corn skiing conditions. Don't ski when it's like a rock. Avoid the late afternoon melt when the conditions are a mess and it's more like water skiing. You can manage this by following the sun. Ski east facing slops early, move on to the south slopes and then the west facing slopes to finish the day. Deeper snowpacks like in the Northwest's Sierras or Cascades tend to do better corn than the drier packs in the Northeast and the Rockies.

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Canada

Whistler Blackcomb : the biggest ski area in North America has something for all kinds of skiers late into the year. From vertical drops to backcountry drops, you can do it here.

California

Kirkwood : The highest altitude makes for a great longer season.

Squaw Valley: A tough ski area above Lake Tahoe.

Mammoth : Runs late into the season, often through Memorial Day and sometimes to July 4th.

Colorado

Arapahoe Basin or A-Basin operates late, usually through May and sometimes into July.

Copper Mountain and Winter Park are north faced and hold a long season.

Vail/ Beaver Creek: Second in size to Whistler Blackcomb, this area is huge. Vail is a really crowded place during the season. Vail, with lots of sun exposure, is more erratic for late season skiing however. Keep in mind that you may want to avoid the peak travel times from Denver which are Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons. An alternative to the crowds is Beaver Creek.

Aspen/Snowmass, Crested Butte, Telluride all hold good conditions late into the year. The high elevation and northern exposures hold powder late but the remote locations lead to earlier closures for lack of skiers.

Montana

Big Sky: Spring can still bring highs only in the teens for temperatures, assuring some late season winter like feel. And this rugged country truly is a getaway.

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New Mexico

Taos Ski Valley : The high elevation keeps the season going longer here but like southwestern Colorado, it is more remote so the season may close before the snow is gone. And remember that in 2008, Taos Ski Valley began allowing snowboarding. They were the last hold out in New Mexico to do so.

Oregon

Mt. Bachelor: Near the town of Bend, skiing and snowboarding here is actually more active in the spring than in the middle of season due to the common winter wind closures.

Utah

Snowbird/Alta : two resorts next to each other. Big snow can come late in the year here at 11,000 feet. Get a combo lift ticket for both.

Solitude and Park City are a thousand feet lower in elevation and warm up earlier than Snowbird.

Northeast

Low elevation, less snow and more rain make for rare decent spring skiing. Your best bet is probably Vermont.

Europe

Tignes /Val d'Isere, France: Skiing goes into summer at this high altitude paradise.

Val Thorens / Les Menuires, France: Not necessarily the busiest or most beautiful area in France but higher elevation and glacier skiing carry the season longer here.

Chamonix , France: This is more of a spring and summer resort than winter due to heavy closures from the weather. The best time to ski here is also the least crowded, March into April.

Zermatt, Switzerland : This is the traditional Swiss resort. From skiing most all of the year to a cozy romantic village, it's all here.

Oetztal Arena, Austria: This is the highest resort in the Austrian Alps and has good late spring skiing. Look nearby for the villages of Hochgurgl and Obergurgl .

That's the round up for the best spring skiing . Get out there but don't tell everyone, the light crowds and cheaper prices are great.




Adam | Mar 5, 2009 | Category: Best Of, Getaways

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