5 Ski Resorts With the Best Spring Scenes
From Low-Key Hidden Gems to Lively Mountain Parties
As much as skiing in the heart of winter is about abiding by the infamous mantra “no friends on a powder day” as you drive to the resort before sunrise and solo, prepared to battle with fellow pow-hounds for first chair, spring skiing is the complete opposite.
The snow is soft, the skies are clear, and skiers gather in the parking lot between laps to exchange stories of an epic winter, work on their goggle tans, grill tasty eats, and sip cold ones. Spring skiing is as much about the social scene as it is about the turns—and some ski resorts simply have better spring scenes than others.
We’ve polled the Backcountry office and picked ski resorts with the best spring scenes, from full-on music festivals to pond skimming. So, grab your high-SPF sunscreen, buy a lift ticket, and join the party—skier style.
After a long, bitterly cold winter, skiers at Sugarloaf band together every April to jam out at Reggae Fest, dubbed the biggest spring skiing party in the East. “It’s quite the day,” reminisces Backcountry employee Chris Latimer. This tradition has been raging since 1988, and it’s a four-day party not to be missed. Though the weather is usually sunny, don’t write off the possibility of a spring storm and some pow turns. And fear not though—Reggae Fest goes on, rain or shine.
Pro tip: Use warm-weather wax on your skis. Conditions can get slushy!
Where to stay: Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel
What to bring: Your wildest Hawaiian shirt
It might be an understatement to say that Brighton-goers rock out in the parking lot all winter long, but when spring comes, tailgating shenanigans hit an all-time high. Park your car at “the beach,” where, as Nicole Sumner from our marketing team puts it, “everyone lines up to tailgate and wears costumes.” Brighton also hosts the annual Beach Bash (unrelated to the parking area) the last Saturday of the season—a beach-themed party at the Milly chair, complete with a DJ, rail jam, and bathing-suit clad skiers and snowboarders. Utah is blessed with a long season, thanks to The Greatest Snow on Earth®, so plan on high-tide conditions and even a surprise spring powder day if you’re lucky.
Pro tip: Carpool—Big Cottonwood Canyon, where Brighton is located, sees a lot of traffic, even in spring.
Where to stay: Silver Fork Lodge
What to bring: Your tightest, brightest ski onesie and Pit Viper shades.
Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia
Longer days mean more time for après, and in Whistler, the scene really comes to life in the spring sun. Our creative director Paul Tew attests that it’s “the best pre and après tailgating ever.” Take your pick of cold bevvies on one of the many patios in the village and if you’re skiing in April, explore the World Ski and Snowboard Festival. This 11-day event is filled with exciting on-snow comps, music, art, and energetic nightlife. Whether you visit just for a weekend or stay for the whole festival, book your trip early—we’re not the only ones who love Whistler in spring.
Pro tip: For a full Whistler experience, rent or bring your mountain bike and hit some of the trails on the Sea to Sky Highway.
Where to stay: Sundial Boutique Hotel
What to bring: Waterproof outerwear (in addition to a festival outfit, obviously). Spring weather in BC can mean rain down low and heavy snow at upper elevations.
Holiday Valley, New York
We had never heard of it either, but our senior photographer and East Coast native Re Wikstrom and her Rochester Institute of Technology Ski Team fellow alumni schooled us. Perched in the Enchanted Mountains of Western New York, this hidden gem boasts 13 lifts, a 750-foot vertical drop, plenty of deck space at the base lodges, and spring activities to keep skiers and riders entertained. Put your best ski forward in the pond skimming contest—if you don’t make it across the pond, you can still win a prize for best costume or best crash! Free the heel and demo the latest tele gear during Telestock. Rip moguls off Yodeler. However you like to celebrate spring on the hill, Holiday Valley’s a great place to do it.
Pro tip: Visit the Ellicottville Brewing Company and try the Blackberry Kölsch—it’s perfect for warm spring days!
Where to stay: The Inn at Holiday Valley
What to bring: A towel and change of clothes in case you don’t make it across the pond
Bridger Bowl, Montana
If you’re looking for low-key spring skiing that caters to diehard powder hounds and dirtbags, look no further than Bridger Bowl’s parking lot in March and April. The scene here involves no-frills brews and grills on the tailgates of pickups with Montana plates. But if you want to really fit in, expect to do a lot of skiing. “The resort is mostly expert terrain and attracts a lot of locals who don’t want to battle tourist crowds,” shares Matt MacDonald, our resident social media expert. Plus, lift tickets at Bridger Bowl are much cheaper than those at nearby Big Sky, so Bridger in spring is a no-brainer destination for those who want to ski steeps in the sunshine and save a few bucks, too.
Pro tip: Get there early—parking is extremely limited and there are no shuttles.
Where to stay: Your RV. Bridger Bowl allows overnight parking, which means you can enjoy ski-in-ski-out lodging for as cheap as it gets. Do call ahead to make sure there’s space and for a full rundown of the rules.
What to bring: Avy gear and a friend in case you want to explore some of the lift-served backcountry skiing