When the season’s calendar turns to spring about early March it arrives with the perfect opportunity for beginners, especially kids, to get out on the slopes. Why?
During the spring things tend to mellow out, skiers and riders on the mountain are much more relaxed and patient. Also, it’s much easier to ski without having to avoid a collision on every run! So if crowds and rushing stress you out, the spring could provide a better learning environment.
1. It’s a lot warmer
Whoever invented toe warmers deserves a Nobel prize, but even those small pouches of life-giving goodness have their limits. In the beginning, it’s all about having fun, and it’s hard to have fun if you can’t feel your fingers or toes. With warmer temps come happier extremities, and that’s no small thing, especially for kids.
Warmer weather means all of us can focus on learning skills, not figuring how to get to the base lodge quicker for hot chocolate.
2. Shorter lift lines, more groomer lines
No one’s ever learned how to ski standing in a lift line. Getting multiple reps in succession is the best way to progress. In the middle of winter, when lift lines are at their longest, it can be hard to get into a flow. Once spring hits, fewer crowds in general means fewer hassles. Learning to ski can be daunting enough without navigating lines to get lift tickets, rent gear, etc.
3. Spring skiing discounts
You’ll find deals on everything from tickets and lodging to rentals and lessons in the spring when reduced demand typically equates to reduced rates. And in some cases, it’s even free. Many mountains offer those who purchase a new season pass for the following winter the ability to use it right away.
With some ski resorts like Mammoth staying open into the late spring and summer, that can equate to as much as three free months of skiing and riding when you commit to purchasing a pass for next winter. You also can find some good deals on gear and apparel this time of year, as retailers slash prices on remaining inventory.
4. The spring ski season vibe
You may have heard the saying that there’s “no friends on a powder day.” We think whoever coined that phrase needs new friends, but regardless, the opposite is true in the spring. An experience that can feel intimidating in the winter—lift lines packed full of powder hounds frothing at the mouth to get their fix—is much more approachable in the springtime. As the temps climb, it’s all about having fun, being outside in the sunshine with friends and enjoying the last couple months of the season. For new skiers and snowboarders, that translates to a much more enjoyable learning experience.
Lunches are laid back in the spring. ©Big Bear Mountain Resort
5. The snow is softer
The painful truth is that in the beginning, new skiers and snowboarders are going to fall. It’s not a bad thing. It’s the only way to improve, but it also may mean a few bumps and bruises along the way. In the springtime, the snow tends to soften up a bit, reducing the size of those bumps and bruises, even if slightly. When it comes to one’s tailbone, “slightly” isn’t trivial.
6. Après-ski at its best
Spring skiing or boarding lets you experience the epitome of après-ski (for you more mature beginners!): Sunglasses, deck chairs, sunny patios, your beverage of choice and possibly a hot tub or pool. It’s hard not to fall instantly in love with this sport when you’re hanging out in a tank top or swimsuit toasting with new friends and working on your tan. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.
So, where should you ski?
Here’s a thought you might not have considered when choosing a resort for beginners in the spring: Often, the great mountains for intermediates through experts are perfect for beginners in the spring because they often feature huge swaths of easily-accessed surprisingly mellow terrain.
Be sure to head to an area where the ski school has lots of instructors for beginners. Consider Beaver Creek, Steamboat, Keystone and Aspen Snowmass in Colorado; Palisades Tahoe and Big Bear Mountain Resort in California; Park City Mountain Resort in Utah; Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont, and Sunday River in Maine.
Historically the following resorts have extended ski and riding spring conditions. The 2023 extensions span across the country including Stevens Pass in Washington State, Mammoth Mountain in California, Heavenly and Kirkwood in Lake Tahoe, Vail Mountain in Colorado, and Killington and Mount Snow in Vermont. Additionally, Breckenridge in Colorado and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia will remain open through late May, conditions permitting.