The ski lifts at Colorado’s mountain resorts run well into April, sometimes even May, and last year T-shirted skiers danced on the Beach, a snow-covered area at the base of Arapahoe Basin , into late June. Picture yourself cruising on fresh snow, parking your board for a slope-side lunch and dancing to après-ski bands. These five tips will help navigate your way to a fun-filled, spring-break ski trip in Colorado.
The rising sun softens the east-facing slopes first, so most vacationers wait until mid-morning to slide down these slopes, and then follow the sun through the day. You should also seek out advice from locals and resort staff on where to start, so you won’t feel like you’re skiing on a sheet of ice.
Aspenite Tucker Vest Burton, for example, says on a sunny day she starts skiing on Timber if she’s at Aspen-Snowmass , or Exhibition if spending the day at Aspen Highlands. She chooses Columbine or Racers Edge at Buttermilk.
At Breckenridge , much of the terrain faces east, so the sun softens trails across Peaks 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 fairly early in the day. Vail ’s Sun Up and Sun Down Bowls’ names are clues when to ski them.
If you’re a first-chair-up person, check the resort’s list of slopes groomed within hours before the lifts open to enjoy freshly groomed corduroy. Or, to make things easy, ask a staff member where to access north-facing slopes that may be less affected by spring’s freeze/thaw patterns.
March is prime spring-break time for Colorado ski resorts, so prices are high. But as the end of the season draws near, prices tend to drop. So if you really want to save money, you may want to consider postponing your spring break trip until everyone else has already returned home. If you don’t already have a multi-resort pass like Epic or Ikon, look for packages combining lodging, lift tickets and more. Keep your eye on resorts’ websites and you’re bound to catch a flash sale.
If possible, plan your vacations around the late March and the early April school spring breaks in Denver and Colorado Springs. When the children are out of school, and the universities don’t have classes, day skiers from these cities flood the slopes, so you’ll want to avoid these times if you’re seeking uncrowded powder.
If you don’t need thousands of skiable acres, Sunlight Mountain Resort has great rates on Ski, Swim, Stay packages come March. Another option is to overnight in Boulder and take the RTD Ski-n-Ride buses to ski at nearby Eldora .
Expect festivals, après-ski bands and parties. Book trips around March events such as The Bud Light Spring Jam at Aspen-Snowmass, Beaver Creek ’s Bloom festival, or Purgatory Resort’s McDonald’s Cardboard Derby. Crested Butte and Winter Park end their ski seasons with skiers skimming across ponds. Sunbathing at Keystone ’s La Bonte’s Beach is popular.
Skis with sharp edges cut through frozen snow in the morning, and a warm-weather wax job helps you glide over corn snow. The techs at resort shops can help you keep your skis in top shape.
You’re at high altitudes in Colorado’s resorts (lift-served and hike-to terrain at Telluride and Loveland soar more than 13,000 feet above sea level). Remember to apply sunscreen at least twice a day, drink lots of water and wear layers. It’s cool when you start skiing, but by midday you’ll be sweating.