Tired of packed parking lots and long lift lines? Looking for ways to avoid the President’s Day ski crowds? Here are some tactics to try out:
1. Head north of the border
No, Canada does not celebrate the U.S. holiday. There’s no Prime Minister’s Day. If you can hit the resorts on the U.S. Presidents’ Weekend and after, you’ll reap the benefits of midweek skiing while most Canadians are back at work.
Heading to Canadian resorts to ski for the holiday will give you an extra bonus, too. While not as good a deal as it was a while back, the current exchange rate still favors U.S. travelers going north of the border.
Quebec snow is waiting for you. Owl’s Head is just a hop over the border and is recording a snowpack closing in on four feet. Mont Sutton, also close to the border, currently has accumulated more than eight feet of snow on the mountain since the season began. Tremblant in the Laurentians has all of its lifts open on three feet of groomed slopes.
2. Go west and head to Loveland
Typically, February is a great time to ski in Colorado. The base depth of snow on the mountains is at its deepest, and there is likely to be plenty of powder still pouring in. The mountains are fully open, so there is a ton of terrain to cover.
The Comfort Suites Golden West on Evergreen Parkway is close to Loveland Ski Resort, so take advantage of their Ski & Stay Package. Two adult lift tickets, one night’s lodging, 20 percent off equipment rental at Boone Mountain Sports, Continental Breakfast, and snacks for the slopes. The cost is $259 plus tax. The deal is available beyond Presidents’ Week through April 30.
3. Make it memorable for the whole family
The king of family resorts in the U.S. is arguably Smugglers’ Notch at the top of Vermont in Jeffersonville.
Club Smugglers’ Winter Experience Package offers activities for the whole family. Package choices include – but are not limited to – Mountainside resort condominium lodging, nighttime and daytime snow tubing, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. Teens (13-19) can enjoy their exclusive Teen Center.
Families can be together at Thursday afternoon’s Winter Carnival and evening torchlight parade and fireworks and nightly entertainment. Mountainside resort condominium lodging has 1, 2, or 3-bedroom condos with fully equipped kitchens and within walking distance to or on-demand shuttle service to village amenities.
While Presidents’ Week is a great time to enjoy the family in a Vermont setting, the package can be reserved through April 10, 2022.
4. Go for the Legends event at Vail
Celebrate Presidents’ Weekend with the Legacy of Vail’s free events in the village and on mountain. It all begins with the 10th Mountain Parade Friday; the Riva Ridge Ski Down & General Beagle Speech, and Legacy Hut Troopers Cup Saturday.
If you’re into helicopters, check out the Blackhawk helicopter landing at the top of Chair 2 Sunday. The event wraps up Monday with an avalanche/beacon training session with the ski patrol. An apropos way to celebrate a past president with a legacy.
The Vail area is forever tied to the 10th Mountain Division that trained nearby at Camp Hale. The resort was founded by returning 10th Mountain soldiers.
5. Bear down in Southern California
SoCal’s Big Bear Mountain and Snow Summit are celebrating Presidents’ Weekend from Feb. 18-21 with extended ski and snowboard hours and more. There are longer daytime hours at both areas and night sessions from 3-8:30 p.m. at Snow Summit.
If you’re 4 years of age and younger or, conversely 80 years of age or older, ski or snowboard for free. Into terrain parks? Bear Mountain and Snow Summit terrain parks have a combination of 193 features.
Don’t forget about snow tubing at Snow Summit’s Grizzly Ridge. This all adds up to a day of laughing at boredom.
But if you do choose that peak February time…
- Look for a section of the ski area that’s a bit off the beaten path, particularly if you can handle most terrain. Look for a back bowl in the West or a tough intermediate bump run. If you stay a few days, you’ll see how the crowds disperse.
- Ski through lunch. East early or late, but when the chow bell rings, lots of resorts clear out to the base lodge or other restaurants and you can bag a bunch of additional runs.
- Get early access, or as some resorts call it, “First Tracks.” Many ski areas let you get on the slopes early while the corduroy or powder is fresh. Be sure to check.
- Explore “stepping up” in your choice of lodging. You don’t need to share wall with college spring breakers do you? There are no guarantees as you can’t choose your neighbor, but usually higher cost sends the noise away.
- Reserve everything you can in advance so you don’t wait in long lines — equipment rentals, ski school, childcare, lodging, flights, and driving at peak traffic times from the big cities.
- Adjust that attitude and go with the flow. No sense getting stressed out with crowds. You chose it, so relax and enjoy it.