Spring is a magical time at California ski resorts. The lines are shorter, deals abound, and there’s a spirit of fun in the air. You can ski in a t-shirt, picnic on patios overlooking ski runs, listen to live bands, and smell (and taste) the sizzling outdoor barbecues. Depending on snowfall, California resorts have stayed open until July 4 in recent years, so you’re not too late to plan a trip now. Here are four things that make the season extra-special.
Lots of Sunshine
Sunny skies and warmer weather will have you smiling as you ski California’s slopes—t-shirt days abound. Just don’t forget the sunscreen, given the high-elevation rays, and be sure to stay hydrated, as Mammoth Lake’s blog details in its spring-specific ski tips. There’s almost always “one more storm” that dumps a fresh layer of snow to keep the lifts running well through April at most resorts. Indeed, Mammoth Mountain is planning for a May 25 closing date this year, and Squaw estimates it will stay open through May 25.
On the north side of Tahoe, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows kicks off its Spring Music Series March 7, with live bands playing at slope-side ski decks. Not far away, South Lake Tahoe’s “Spring Loaded” events run from March 9–April 5, with music, a food festival, and discounts on beer-tasting tours. Through April 12, you can toast the spring at Tōst, Northstar’s daily champagne tasting with bean bags and chairs set up on their East Ridge Run.
Many resorts also host “pond skims” to embrace the shifting season. The 30th annual Cushing Crossing at Squaw on May 2 exudes a party atmosphere as spectators cheer on costumed skiers and snowboarders attempting to cross a large water hazard. Other resorts do their own versions of pond skims: Northstar (March 28), Heavenly (April 11), Mammoth (April 19), and Sugar Bowl’s Tiki Pond Skim (April 20).
Most resorts offer spring deals with discounted lift tickets, reduced rates on lodging, and even free skiing for visitors who want to buy a season pass for the 2020–2021 season. The Squaw-based Ikon Pass and Vail’s Epic Pass cover multiple resorts in California and the rest of the U.S.—a good investment for visitors planning to ski next year. To get started, browse South Lake Tahoe’s Spring Loaded website for specific spring discounts on food, lodging, and ski rentals.
Cool Festivals and Competitions
Squaw Valley hosts its annual, bluegrass-themed Winter WonderGrass music festival March 27–29, which features free beer tastings for ticket holders. Or, sit back and watch the best at the U.S. Freestyle Moguls Championships at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows March 19–22. Then, the Red Bull Raid at Squaw April 3–4 will combine downhill and uphill ski competitions, judged on both style and speed. Meanwhile, Sugar Bowl does an extreme skiing Chute Out challenge on March 28 from its cliff-filled peaks, and Heavenly hosts a Rail Jam competition in its terrain park on April 4.