Presidents’ Day Weekend is one of the busiest ski weekends of the season. Add in a powder day or two, and the highways, parking lots and lift lines are all that much more packed. Try our suggestions to make the best of Presidents’ Day Weekend.
1. Head north of the border
Heading to Canada over Presidents’ Day Weekend has a lot of benefits, not the least of which is that it’s not a holiday in Canada. Plus, if you travel during the week, 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: The current exchange rate still favors U.S. travelers going north of the border.
Many Canada ski resorts are running great special offers right now, such as Red Mountain Ski Resort’s Good Life Vacation special. It features a 2-bedroom deluxe condo (sleeps 4) with a full kitchen and private hot tub for 15 percent off, plus 20 percent off lift tickets every day you ski. Bonus: Kids 6 and under ski free.
2. Visit a lesser-known ski area
Typically, February is a great time to ski in Colorado. The base depth of snow on the mountains are often at its deepest, and there is likely to be plenty of powder still pouring in. However, on a holiday weekend that means highways and parking lots are pouring over with traffic. So we recommend visiting one of the lesser-known Colorado ski areas, like the ones we featured in our round-up of Colorado’s affordable ski areas, like Loveland. Some hotels in the Loveland area offer ski and stay packages, such as the Comfort Suites Golden West on Evergreen Parkway.
3. Take a family ski trip to New England
One of the top family ski resorts in New England is Smugglers’ Notch, located at the top of Vermont in Jeffersonville, and they have a great special offer for families called the Smugglers’ Mountain Experience Package. It features mountainside lodging, daily lift tickets, access to the indoor pool, Ozone at the FunZone 2.0, evening entertainment, and more. Plus, discounts are available on ski and ride programs. The package is available through April 10, 2023. Get to Smugglers’ Notch by Thursday afternoon to enjoy the Winter Carnival, followed by entertainment, activities and fireworks.
4. Head to the Midwest, to Lutsen Mountains for midweek bargains
You’ll find wide-open runs, no lift lines, and fresh tracks when you ski weekdays at Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota. Four interconnected peaks overlooking Lake Superior await. Take advantage of Lutsen’s midweek lift and lodging packages valid through March 29. The longer you stay, the more your discount increases. When you want a break from skiing laps, then try dog sledding or snowmobiling.
5. Go south to Southern California
Southern California’s Big Bear Mountain and Snow Summit are celebrating Presidents’ Day Weekend from Feb. 18-21 with extended ski and snowboard hours and more. Both areas have longer daytime hours, while night sessions are from 3-8:30 p.m. at Snow Summit. If you’re 4 years of age and younger or 80 years of age and older, you can ski or snowboard for free. And for those who like to kick it in terrain parks, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit’s 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.
Tips for peak-season skiing
- 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. Eat early or late, but when noon hits, lots of resorts clear out to the base lodge or other restaurants. This means that 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. Check ski resort websites for details.
- Explore stepping up your choice of lodging and spending a little extra money. It can be worth it to spend a little extra on that top-floor hotel room or the vacation cabin that is further from the slopes but doesn’t share walls with strangers.
- 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.