April ski conditions are difficult to predict, anywhere, unless you
are heading to the higher elevations in Canada or the west. I live in
Park City, Utah, home of three, world-class ski resorts, and even
though our resorts are at elevations from 7,000 - 10,000 feet, the
snow on the lower beginner terrain in April can vary from year to
year. In places like Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine, you run the risk
of a scant covering of slush or ice if the resorts stay open that
long. Other years, the skiing can be just great right through the
spring. (I used to ski those slopes as well!)
Therefore, it is important to have several possibilities in mind for
your family ski destination, depending on how far you are willing to
travel and your financial parameters. I have noted a few ski resorts
that are family friendly, are noted for beginner terrain, and might be
a good choice for April skiing. Again, though, this is all based on
potential winter snowpack!
From Skiing & Snowboarding 101 - 10 of America's Top Learning Programs
I have highlighted three of the eastern resorts. There are a few
other suggestions on the east coast that I think are more questionable
for snow. As for the western suggestions, feel free to browse them.
Jackson Hole is a great resort but can be very expensive. Grand
Targhee and Breckenridge are both a bit out of the way and hard to get
to. Snowbird, Utah is very accessible from Salt Lake city and would be
a good choice, but I think the Park City resorts that I mention
further down would be a better bet with kids.
Smuggler's Notch, Vermont
"Vermont's Smugglers' Notch Resort (800/451-8752), once again rated
"No. 1 Family Resort in North America" by Ski magazine, is New
England's finest children's learning center for two reasons: its
scenic beginner terrain is safely segregated on Morse Mountain (one of
the resort?s three peaks), and these guys know how to make it Fun.
Smuggs offers a complete range of snowsports including alpine and
cross-country skiing, snowboarding, airboarding and ice skating.
Smugglers' Discovery Dynamos Camps teach children to ski at age 3, or
snowboard at age 4, using recently developed, kid-specific equipment.
That's already one of the youngest serious learning programs in the
country. New in 2006 was the Little Rascals on Snow program designed
for ages 2½ to 3½-years as part of the resort's award-winning daycare
facility. A gentle morning lesson, followed by lunch and a nap (sounds
great for adults, too) can't be beat. Families who want to try
snowboarding together may opt for Night School for Boarding, a program
for beginners 6-years through adult. You'll begin with an equipment
review, then a one-hour group session on the lit Sir Henry's terrain
park, followed by an additional 90 minutes of independent practice
time. Adults-only beginner ski and ride clinics use special balance
poles and ego-maintenance techniques. Additionally, more traditional
group lessons are offered to ages 6+ and each is followed by the
resort?s activities; for example, the once weekly cookie slalom race
gives beginners a delicious incentive to finish. Several learning
programs are included in the Club Smugglers' Advantage package that
bundles lodging, lift ticket, lessons, and evening programs into one
fee, and it?s available all season long."
BEST FOR FAMILIES: Smugglers' Notch. Nonstop family activities inside
and out, and a knack for knowing what children want keep Smuggs in
Jeffersonville, Vt., on parents' radars. Turning 50 this season,
Smugglers' Notch not only has gentle terrain for beginners on Morse,
but thrills on Madonna with a mix on Sterling.
"Bromley Mountain (800/824-5522) is in Manchester - not far from the
noted steeps at Killington - but it claims Ski magazine's title as "#1
Resort in North America for Family Programs." The first in the state
to introduce valet parking, it's the little conveniences and
consideration of young children's needs that make a Bromley Learn to
Ski or Ride experience so easy. Young beginners have their own
isolated learning area, and the resort's main mascot, Pig Dog, but
he's got a full roster of snowsports-lovin' critters to help out. The
3 to 5-year-olds can join Bruce the Moose's Mighty Mooses and mix
skiing with playtime, in a day-long program. First time adults benefit
from a full-day ski or ride program. Clinics and private lessons are
run by a Pro Staff which, according to the resort's website, "includes
members of the elite PSIA examiners and educational staff...the people
who actually 'teach the teachers.'" Bromley also boasts about the
latest in teaching technology - shaped shorty skis - which enable
novices over age 13 to learn skiing more quickly."
"Okemo (800/78-OKEMO) is one of Vermont's most popular family resorts,
because its simple layout and one main basecamp (a 2nd basecamp at
Jackson Gore Mountain is mainly used by Jackson Gore Lodge guests)
prevent 'losing' kids who ski or ride independently of their parents.
Staff are careful to monitor lift lines and groomers are meticulous
with the gentle slopes. The family-owned, friendly atmosphere also
makes parents feel comfortable entrusting their little ones to this
mountain's terrific teaching staff. According to the resort, one of
the biggest trends is the increased participation in children's
Learning Center programs and private lessons. At First Tracks (for
ages 7 and up), novices will learn the basics of skiing or riding in a
one-day package complete with two beginner group lessons, rental
equipment and unlimited use of Okemo's beginner lifts. The Double
Tracks is a two-day beginner program that includes three lessons and
an upgrade to a full-day, full-mountain lift ticket at no extra cost.
To promote return visits, Okemo gives all First Tracks graduates a
card for discounts on rental equipment and lift tickets. Additionally,
there are parent-tot lessons with a private instructor, so
intermediate or above level parents can get guidance on teaching their
own kids to ski or ride. Group lessons for young skiers start at age
4, for riders at age 5; children ages 3-4 have an option of adding a
1-hour, 2-hour clinic, or a private 1/2 hour lesson to their day in
the mountain's noted daycare center, the Penguin Playground. Aware of
customers' sensitivity to price, Okemo has introduced many innovations
in pricing, such as the Flex Card, good for discounts all season and
free skiing on the season's last two days. Midweek packages bring
lodging rates at the mountain's ski in/ski out facilities down to a
more affordable rate."
How about Maine?
BEST SPRING SKIING: Sugarloaf. Maine frost heaves are forgotten as the
reggae plays and the sun works wonders on changing snow surfaces
throughout the day .
At 4,237 feet, Sugarloaf is Maine's second highest peak and one of New
England's favorite family resorts. Tucked into the Carrabassett Valley
of western Maine, a two-plus hour drive from Portland, Sugarloaf takes
advantage of its proximity to wilderness, wildlife, and whitewater,
spreading over 5,000 acres
At Sugarloaf, families can mix their mulligans with moose viewing and
have the adventure of a lifetime. The Grand Summit Resort Hotel, a
good fit for families, is a classic mountain lodge with 119 rooms and
suites (many with microwaves and refrigerators). Sugarloaf also
features about 200 condo units; among the top family properties is The
Commons, with one- to five-bedroom units.
Also read "Hitting the slopes with the kids - A look at Maine's ski
resorts and what they offer families," By Hannah Gregory
Whistler, British Columbia and the Lake Tahoe resorts come up
repeatedly as good spring skiing destinations. Both areas have good
beginner terrain and some off-slope activities that families will
enjoy. Unfortunately, Whistler is hard to get to - it is a 2-hour
drive from Vancouver, BC, and probably not a very cost-efficient
choice. Mammoth Mountain, California and the Copper Mountain in
Colorado also have good spring skiing with a family-friendly
From "Top 10 Spring Skiing & Snowboarding Resorts," by Charles Leocha
Lake Tahoe, California
A handful of the Tahoe resorts offer wonderful spring skiing and
snowboarding. Kirkwood is perhaps the best with the highest altitude,
followed by Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows with excellent exposures.
These areas allow visitors to combine sunny skiing and snowboarding
with dramatic scenery and excellent nightlife, especially on the south
shore of the lake.
Also see Lake Tahoe: A Directory Of Winter Fun
Kirkwood, Lake Tahoe, California, U.S.A.
"Tahoe is surrounded by amazing peaks that keep the snow fresh well
into April. Kirkwood is the best among them, with the fullest array of
services and activities, as well as the most impressive vistas.
Kirkwood is famous for its off-piste lines, where enterprising skiers
can explore every nook of the mountain. With more than seven eateries
and bars, a skating rink, a snowshoe terrain, cross-country tracks, a
tubing hill, a massage parlor, and a dog sled track, the aprs-ski is
as big a part of the mountain as the skiing. What not to miss: The
Grover Hot Springs only 45 minutes from the resort, where you can
chill in a natural outdoor mineral pool.
Summit County, Colorado
"This is county claims the highest altitude resorts in the state. Of
the three main resorts, Copper Mountain has the best terrain and
exposure for the late season. Nearby, Arapahoe Basin is a spring
legend. The steep Palivaccini hold snow well into the summer and some
Aprils have four feet of snow and May sometimes adds another two to
three feet of snow. The scene at the base area is fantastic with
hundreds of skiers enjoying tailgate parties. Nearby Loveland is also
a springtime contender."
"Copper Mountain could be considered the model for the mythical book
"Designing Ski Resorts for Dummies." It's easy to get to: just off
I-70 from Denver. And it's easy to figure out: Thanks to the area's
topography, trails are neatly organized by level of difficulty?left to
right, facing the mountain, black diamond to blue square to green
circle. Plus there's plenty of terrain to go around for all abilities.
In fact, beginners aren't relegated to the lower slopes and, unlike
many other areas, have an equal share of Copper's terrain."
Read some reviews from TripAdvisor
Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada
"This area, especially the upper slopes, normally makes it almost to
Memorial Day, however, its coastal proximity means variable spring
weather. Blackcomb's big bowls and the glacier make this a perfect
place to enjoy skiing and riding in the sun. The slopes into the
village can develop very deep slush. Downloading here is not for
sissies. It allows a head start on the party that is about as good as
it gets in April."
"Families and beginners alike will absolutely love Whistler Mountain's
BIGGER AND BETTER FAMILY ZONE. An increase in size and move to Ego
Bowl, creates a better experience for families and beginners."
"This has historically been the first-to-open and the last-to-close in
New England for decades. This resort conserves snow better than any
other northeastern resort."
With one of the world's largest snowmaking systems, the resort
literally blankets its seven mountains in white. Thanks to this
prodigious snowmaking capacity, Killington/Pico is usually open longer
than any resort in the East, sometimes as long as eight months. The
resort is huge, by Eastern standards, and truly has terrain for all
abilities, including some super bumps, nice glades, old-time narrow
trails and plenty of blue squares for easing down the mountain..
"Killington is known for having the longest ski season in the east,
boasting the best spring skiing you?ll find anywhere!"
Park City, Utah
I can attest to the family-friendly nature of Park City and it's
three, top-notch ski resorts: Deer Valley, Park City Resort and the
Canyons. All three resorts stay open until mid April if the weather
holds. Deer Valley and Park City Resort have good beginner terrain. We
have an ice-rink in town, lots of cross-country skiing, gyms, swimming
pools, movie theatres, restaurants, and plenty more to do for off-hill
fun. Take a look at the Olympic bobsled, luge and ski-jumping venues
if you come! Plus, it is an easy flight into Salt Lake City and a
30-minute drive up Parely's Canyon to Park City!
From "6 best resorts for non-skiers
"Sooner or later everyone who loves skiing or snowboarding will
acquire a friend, lover or spouse who doesn?t ski. Sometimes the new
friend doesn?t even like winter all that much. What to do? Get the
snow out of your eyes, and look around. Here are six top destinations
that will appeal to skiers and non-skiers alike.....
Park City, Utah, Trails from three resorts (Deer Valley, Park City
Mountain Resort and The Canyons) drop into this restored mining town.
Utah is known for its deep, feather-light powder snow, but there is
far more to enjoy than skiing and snowboarding. Hurtle down the 2002
Olympic bobsled track. Go hot-air ballooning, skating, winter
fly-fishing or tubing. Dine at one of more than a hundred restaurants,
or luxuriate at a spa.
Deer Valley is a great place learn how to ski--- our oldest took her
first runs there when she was 4--- or to gain confidence on
well-groomed slopes and trails. There is none of the intimidating,
larger than life terrain that I find so appealing at Park City or
Snowbird, but which intimidates my wife and kids. The only thing you
show off at Deer Valley is your outfit.
About Park City
I hope these suggestions help you find a FUN April ski vacation for your family!
best spring skiing
April skiing Vermont
spring skiing in Vermont
beginner ski resorts
New England ski resorts best spring skiing