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Best bet for late March

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I am looking at a potential ski trip for my family this next season.  Unless we want to go around Presidents Day (which we don't want to do) we are basically stuck with the end of March/ beginning of April.  Any recommendations as to where we might consider in order to maximize our odds of getting some fresh snow?  We also tend to try to avoid the crowds as much as possible and do like at least a little bit of infrastructure. 

 

Last year we went to Solitude at the end of February and had a great time (4 out of 4 days of fresh snow).  We'd be perfectly happy going there again, but thought I'd check to see if there would be better choices to increase our chances of fresh snow.  Would a resort up in Wyoming or Montana be a better choice for that time of the year?  Maybe Targhee or Whitefish?  Or are we safe sticking with Utah/Colorado?  In that case maybe Solitude again or Steamboat.  I know it's getting a bit late in the season for consistent snowfall, but that seems to be our window for a ski trip this year.  Do the odds of getting good snow at the major resorts lessen significantly towards the end of March?  If so maybe we should focus more on alternative activities and consider a resort with more of a base village such as Whistler or Snowmass.  Of course our other option would be to just stay home and ski Oregon where March is often the best month of the season.  There's just something appealing about getting out of Dodge though.

 

Any recommendations?

 

Thanks!

 

Matt

post #2 of 7

Late March/early April is when my avid skiing son's spring break was growing up.  I've had upwards of 15+ ski weeks in that time frame and only one of them bad (regulars here know where that was!)

 

Quote:
Any recommendations as to where we might consider in order to maximize our odds of getting some fresh snow?

In late March/early April that is the wrong question to be asking.  Snowfall in most Rocky mountain areas is broadly spread through the months November-March with a modest falloff in April.  The Pacific Northwest has bit more midwinter concentration, but volatility of snowfall is so high that even there sometime December can be dry and March huge, last season being Exhibit A. 

 

The key variables for the late season are altitude (the higher the better in regional context) and exposure (the more north the better).  Unlike snowfall, these characteristics are constant for a specific ski area, so the same places tend to be best for late season year in and year out.

 

In Oregon you should know about this because Mt. Bachelor is one of the elite ski areas anywhere for late season.  The areas on Mt. Hood and in Washington State are lower and more sun exposed, so March/April snow is often not nearly as good as at Bachelor even though all of those places get at least as much snow.

 

Quote:
Would a resort up in Wyoming or Montana be a better choice for that time of the year?  Maybe Targhee or Whitefish? 

In general no.  Most of those places are much lower than in Colorado, and the two that are high, Targhee and Big Sky (the only ones to consider IMHO), have a relatively small proportion of terrain north facing.  The Moonlight part of Big Sky is what's north facing there.  Whitefish is low and heavily south facing, preserved well by fog midwinter but in late season it would melt/freeze with even an hour or two of sun.

 

Quote:
Or are we safe sticking with Utah/Colorado?

Yes, most of Colorado (Steamboat is the exception, lower and SW facing) and the Cottonwood Canyon areas of Utah (not the Park City group or Snowbasin, much lower and mostly east facing).

 

My successful spring break trips:

1982 Mammoth

1983 Sun Valley

1986 Alta/Snowbird

1988 Aspen

1989 Utah

1992 Crested Butte and Telluride

1993 Taos

1994 Alta/Snowbird

1997 Summit County CO

1998 Whistler

1999 Banff/Lake Louise

2000 Bachelor

2001 Wolf Creek/Monarch/Crested Butte

2002 and 2003 Mammoth

2004 Aspen/Telluride/Silverton

2005 Whistler

2007 Alyeska

Also 2011 Epic Gathering Summit County CO

 

Lots of choices there.  I also wrote this feature article on family vacations:

http://50.87.144.177/~bestsnow/fam_ski.htm


Edited by Tony Crocker - 10/7/14 at 8:49pm
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the great reply and the link you provided.  It was very informative.  After reading your post and doing a bit of research on snowfall histories I am thinking that it might not be so bad to stay close to home and hit Mt. Bachelor during that time.  We actually have a week in a ranch in Bend available to us so that might work out well, though we were planning on going there during Christmas break.  We'll just have to see how the logistics work out I guess.  If we do that then maybe we'll shoot for a long weekend sometime in January or February.  It's good to ski in something besides NW cement at least once a year.

 

Thanks again!

 

Matt

post #4 of 7

Bachelor is also a great choice at Christmas as it usually has snow and is far less crowded/expensive than most destinations.  So if you're looking for variety I would go with Bachleor at Christmas and one of the many other options for the spring break. 

post #5 of 7
Being as you are sort of within driving distance of Whitefish anyway, and that time period you really don't have to obsess about reservations, you can leave it until the last minute. Although that time period is really uneven in terms of snow, we have had more than one season with fresh, light, snow on closing day and just before. In addition, with the opening (It used to be within bounds, but not lift served. They are calling it adding 200 acres of lift served skiing yet not increasing the total acreage count.) of the Flower Point area, we will have more northerly terrain than we have had in prior years. In fact, that ridge is well shadowed until after lunch, and if you like trees, they protect it even more. So if our fog isn't helping the front, you've still got the back.

However, I think that Colorado would be more reliably good, but more of an undertaking from a last minute perspective.

One further piece of information. They close Hellroaring Basin April 1. So, if that's a huge draw for you, get here before that.
post #6 of 7

Why not wait till 3  - 2 days before you depart, look at the forecast and decide where to go then. If you steer clear of Easter you should get somewhere to stay quite easily, you might even get a deal!

 

Not sure about flights as I don't know the US patterns well.

 

I did this Europe for many years mostly at Easter but sometimes Xmas New Year. I always got away but not always to my first choice. Mind you that was often because I booked Friday afternoon to fly out Sat. TOD.

post #7 of 7
Quote:
Why not wait till 3  - 2 days before you depart, look at the forecast and decide where to go then. If you steer clear of Easter you should get somewhere to stay quite easily, you might even get a deal!

This is always good advice for resorts within tolerable drive distance, and the only viable strategy if you want to chase powder.  However, the positive attributes of good altitude/exposure in late season are predictable far in advance at the same areas nearly every year.  By contrast, who has enough snow on the ground before January is not so predictable, so last minute flexibility is much more important then.

 

Quote:
Not sure about flights as I don't know the US patterns well.

The airlines charge a lot more here if you book within the one week window that's reliable to chase powder.  At Southwest you can change last minute and defer your trip up to a year, but to get a cheap price you still have to book over a week in advance.

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