Late-season trips extend the fun
Q: Who plans a ski vacation for this season now? 1) Crazy people 2) Ski and ride enthusiasts who just don’t want to let go quite yet 3) Crazy people who are also smart 4) All of the above
That’s right, there are folks out there booking flights and/or rooms, making sure their skis and boards are tuned and drafting their away message, because while April and May are not exactly the same as mid-winter when it comes to conditions, if you pick the right place to visit, “not exactly the same” can translate to pretty, pretty great.
A few winters back – during a season like this when the spring snow just seemed to keep coming and coming — my husband and I booked a last minute trip to Breckenridge. We headed there expecting smushy snow, sunshine and leisurely apres, which would have been fine. We found instead fresh, deep (and light) powder, zero lines and yes, discounts on just about everything. What a gift.
Another winter of late snow, we booked a few days and nights up at Vermont’s Sugarbush. Again, thinking our worst case is a delicious Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine in the sunshine after some limited skiing, we found paradise: most every trail was open and even the trees still had some fresh lines to share. The bumps were soft, making skiing them easier.
So, do you take the risk? This ski enthusiast says absolutely yes. Because even if snow conditions fade a bit before your trip, you’ll be visiting the mountains at a kind of morph time: ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon, anyone? It can happen.
The first step is to pick the right place. While it is more the norm for resorts to have a set closing date that they stick to, there are those areas – particularly the ones prone more to late-season snow – who extend closing dates as a norm. Finding not only the spots that stay open longer but also have more to do (particularly in early spring) than others is key.
East or west, there are resorts hoping to be spinning lifts well into late April and even early May (or longer).
In the Northeast, the late season players tend to remain the same: Killington, Sugarbush, Jay Peak Resort, Sunday River and sometimes – when we get lucky – a few others like Wildcat all make bids to stay open as long as they possibly can.
Sugarbush (https://www.sugarbush.com) has history behind them: They’ve clocked an early May closing day each of the past 10 years but for one (March 2020, the year the pandemic stopped it all). And thanks to their season-long focus on snowmaking and grooming as well as their northern locale, they hold onto a lot of trails for a long time. A bonus: Should you be pondering purchasing an IkonPass (https://www.ikonpass.com) for next season, if you purchase it now, Sugarbush skiing is covered on your new pass now. Plus, prices are at their lowest now for passes.
Sunday River Resort (https:// www.sundayriver.com) traditionally stays open until mid April, but often pushes things to May 1 or so, depending on how the spring surface holds.
While right now they list April 16 as their last day of operations, they encourage spring skiers and riders to keep an eye on their website for updates – all this early spring snow could change things.
Up at Sugarloaf, Maine (https://www.sugarloaf.com), not only do they push things to the end, they save some of their best fun — and busiest times — for late spring.
Their famed Reggae Fest takes place April 6-9 this year, with tons of live music, great food cooked indoors and out, and other fun events. The snow way up there sticks for a long time, so you can almost always be confident that there will be
plenty of trails to savor as well. And, should you purchase a season pass, it kicks in on March 20 of this season.
Jay Peak Resort (https://jaypeakresort.com) may just be the king of late season. Just four miles from the Canadian border, they almost always get the most snow per season in the east, and are able to keep on keeping on well into April. Other than the COVID year, they’ve closed the first week of May each of the last 10 years.
A special thing to keep an eye on this spring: Wachusett Mountain Resort (https://www. wachusett.com), while within view of the very not-snowy Boston skyline, has had such a great late season, they’re pondering pushing their closing date further into April. Right now, they’re set to wrap the season April 3, but on April 1 they’ll assess where they are at and make a decision about adding more spring days then. They’ve done it in the past, pushing into the teen week of April. With another possible storm bearing down – and our collective fingers crossed – we could carve turns there longer this season as well.