Photo: Larry Pierce
Everyone knows that ski resorts are busy during holidays and spring break. The good news is that unlike bumper-to-bumper traffic, skiing on a crowded day is better than not skiing at all. However, you just may be in traffic on the way to and from the slopes, or when trying to get your ski pass, or morning latte or a restaurant seat at night. No matter which winter month you choose to ski or ride, if you’re renting gear, Ski Butlers offers door-to-door delivery service of ski and snowboard equipment so you never have to stand in line.
After you get your gear delivered, how can you get that specialized experience on the slopes? “The best advice I can give is the earlier you book, the more money you can save with discounts and package deals from ski areas across the state,” says Chris Linsmayer, public affairs director for Colorado Ski Country USA. “The best time to book a ski or snowboard vacation is as soon as you know you are ready to go.” The early bird may get the value worm, but the flexible traveller may get the powder. Follow the advice of these industry professionals, who share their best tips on how to avoid crowds and focus instead on enjoying your mountain experience.
Photo: Solitude Ski Resort
Hans Hjelde, assistant snow safety director, and ski guide with Ruby Mountain Heliski
Initially, I moved to Utah to ski patrol and ski deep untracked powder. I had skied in Utah before and was always impressed by the variety of terrain and combination of sunny days, hard-hitting storms and subsequent powder days. Twenty years later, I’m still at it and the Wasatch doesn’t disappoint.
My advice for those visiting Utah for a ski vacation is to make sure you ski day two or three of a storm cycle in the Cottonwoods — nothing beats skiing in the trees when it’s hammering 2 – 4 inches an hour. Don’t ever underestimate Solitude Mountain. Get out of bed and be in the lift line 1⁄2 hour before opening at least once. Once you do, you’ll know why. Ski Powder Mountain two days after a storm. Early December and April/May can have epic conditions in Utah, depending on the season. If you want to avoid crowds, ski midweek and be willing to ski on a storm day. Avoid sunny powder Saturdays, though Sundays are less crowded in Utah.
Tucker Vest Burton, Aspen Snowmass public relations manager
While Aspen Snowmass is known for having uncrowded slopes, there are certain times to hit the mountain when you could be the only person on the run. The second week of January is a good time to visit if you are looking for powder stashes all to yourself. It’s after the Holiday rush and before MLK day, as well as big events such Aspen Gay Ski Week and X Games Aspen. February is also a good time to visit if your goal is to have ski runs all to yourself.
The secret month to visit is April. Things have started to slow down, yet Colorado is known for big dumps in the spring. So you could quite possibly have one of the best powder days of your season with plenty of snow all to yourself. A great way to get the most out of your ski season is to remain flexible and keep your weekends open. When a huge powder storm rolls through, you want to be ready to hit the slopes. April is the best for pow days, and sometimes Aspen Snowmass will extend the season if we see a lot of snowfall, so if you’re flexible, you may get in even more ski days than you normally would in a season.
Ingie Franberg, Vail Mountain Resort’s product manager, adult signature programs
The first two weeks of December are always good for both accommodation deals and low crowds in Vail — and the best time to hone your skills for the season. If you can take off on short notice and the early snow is good, then a trip to Vail in December before the holidays can be the perfect time for a ski or snowboard vacation.
Between Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 21, 2018) and President’s Day (February 18), there is a non-peak, three-week window when we typically see fewer skiers and riders on Vail Mountain. Whether you come alone or with a group, this is a great time to ski as well as join a ski or snowboard program so you can continue to work on your skills and meet people. Even with Easter happening so late this year (April 21), there are typically good deals and less crowds in April, which is often a great time to experience either powder or corn snow (or both) during the long spring days.