Why is it that parents only take their family skiing in snow
deprived December or jaw-clenching cold January? Families pay top
dollar for Christmas and New Year’s ski vacations, when snow can be
thin and crowds thick. But come spring, when savvy skiers know the
best conditions prevail, a ski trip is the last thing on a family’s
Why introduce your offspring to your official favorite sport when frostbite and “firm snow” are the conditions du jour? You want them to love skiing, not loathe it, right?
Consider taking your family to the slopes when the snow and the sunshine are optimal. Springtime is the best time to get your kids on skis, call it March gladness not New Year’s madness. Switching to summer sports just because the calendar and the retail stores say its “spring” is short sighted and a disservice to your little downhillers.
Let’s face it, early spring in New England brings March and April snow showers more than bike rides and flowers. Besides, the best conditions of the ski season remain in the mountains. The only things missing are the huge holiday crowds and the necessity of hand warmers and face masks.
March and April are the months to ski with kids. Temperatures are pleasant compared to below zero on the all too popular Martin Luther King weekend. Fear of frostbite is all but diminished by mid-March.
Ironically, this is the time of year when many families pack away their ski gear till next year. But it’s the best time to learn the sport of skiing. Trails are well covered, prices come down, crowds start to dwindle, and equipment prices hit bottom as retailers make way for next season’s gear.
Here are some ski resorts in New England that really shine come spring time:
Sugarloaf in Maine has elevation and a northern location. This resort keeps going until end of April - even May in 2013, so you can ski the Loaf for spring break, they even have a “beach” in front of the base lodge, with sun and snow - no sand. The Loaf rolls out the fun in spring. Easter is a particularly festive time at the Loaf with a Sunrise Service on the mountain, plus costume parades and egg hunts for the kids. Reggaefest at Sugarloaf is more oriented to adults (most of whom like music and partying more than skiing). Sugarloaf has slopeside lodging aplenty, and excellent kids’ learn to ski and ride programs.
Sunday River stockpiles snow all winter, and the lift keep spinning through April vacation week typically with events like Parrot Head and pond skimming. The magic carpet and learn to ski area is ideal for families just learning to turn, centrally located at South Ridge and the Chondola lift. The Bethel resort area has plenty of beds and late season deals can be found for families whether you want condominium convenience or hotel lodging.
Killington blows lots of snow and keeps their lifts and events cranking until May on Superstar. May 26 2013 The Beast of the East was the last ski resort spinning - winning out over Sugarloaf, and Jay Peak. Killington has really improved their Ramshead Family Center in recent years, this is a convenient central area for families to access the beginner slopes, and get lessons and rentals. Look for lodging deals in the hotel and condos as the spring season unfolds.
Sugarbush, Jay Peak, and Stowe make significant snow to top off their natural bounty and stay open as late as possible, into April with special events on Easter. Jay Peak and Sugarbush made it to May in 2013.
Wildcat is a great late season New Hampshire ski area. The elevation high in the White Mountains means more snow, Wildcat stays open till May some years. Lodge in nearby North Conway or Jackson, and make tracks for the Cat. Wildcat offers late season lift ticket deals, so be ready to pounce on those.
Loon, now owned by Boyne along with Sunday River and Sugarloaf, has NH's best snowmaking these days, and stays open into April withfun spring ski events.
Bretton Woods makes mounds of snow all season, and they remain open till mid-April. Their Hobbit ski and snowboard school is exceptionally good for young kids. Make a vacation out of it with the kids ski and stay free “no kidding” package. Stay at the elegant Hotel Mount Washington, ski the slopes of Bretton Woods, and the kids (12 and under) have free lodging and lift tickets. The gorgeous scenery of majestic Mount Washington is also complimentary.
Tuckerman Ravine is free, requires a 3 mile hike up the eastern flank of Mount Washington, this is seriously steep ski terrain, but it often stays open into May!
Instead of packing up the posse to go to Florida for April vacation, book a late season ski and stay package at a resort with snowmaking and elevation. Pack the sunscreen and the camera to take lots of photos of your kids skiing and snowboarding on the sunny slopes. You and the family will feel like king of the hill, not just another mouse running around Mickey’s amusement park.