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I’m a spring skiing convert. Yep, you heard that right. Skiing in April.
Fewer people, nicer weather, better après-ski options.
For me, skiing has always been associated with winter. I didn’t learn to ski until I was almost 21, and while I’ve lived within driving distance of Lake Tahoe’s many ski resorts for years, I’ve only ever gone in the winter.
The idea of spring skiing was utterly foreign to me.
Until I fell in love with it.
Spring skiing at Squaw Valley
Having had an incredibly long week (month? quarter?) at work, we decided to go up to Squaw Valley and stay at the resort there. (Treat yo self, right?)
There is a ski rental shop on site and a ski lift specifically for those staying at the Resort at Squaw Creek — perfect for ski in and ski out.
Going up that lift alone was what converted me to spring skiing. It was so nice and peaceful, with only the sounds of nature and the humming creak of the lift ascending up the mountain.
The resort lift is a long, long ride — 1,300 feet to be exact — great for introspection and enjoying nature. (It also leads to only blue and black trails, but there is a free shuttle from the resort to the ski village where you can access green lifts.)
Up top, the sun brightly shines. The typical 20- or 30-degree weather you might associate with skiing becomes 40s and 50s.
Yes, the snow can be a little softer, sometimes to the point of slushy, but at least it’ll hurt less if/when you fall. (It’s always a “when” for me.)
And the runs are gloriously open.
For me, this is a picture of perfection. No anxiety riled up by being afraid I’ll crash into someone else equally unskilled or fear that some high-speeder will slam into me. Just nice smooth going at my speed.
When it’s time for a lunch break (or a beer break), spring skiing weather allows you to bask in the sun and relax in comfort instead of shivering and eating through chattering teeth.
I mean, do you get this during the winter? (It doesn’t count if you’re freezing in the sun.)
Squaw Valley touts itself as the best spring skiing spot around. It’s self-dubbed as the “spring skiing capital.”
I’m certainly a convert.
7 tips for having the best spring skiing experience
- Leave your insulated ski gear at home. If you don your normal ski gear, you’ll be sweating before you know it. Instead, people ski in shorts, bikinis, animal onesies, and once in a while, even in the nude.
- Apply sunscreen more often. The warmer weather will have you sweating off your sun protection before you know it.
- The same applies to sun protection for your lips.
- Buy your lift tickets in packs. Since spring skiing season is low season compared to the crowded winter days, many resorts will have discounted multi-ticket packs. Squaw’s spring skiing 3-pack, for example, is approximately 40% discounted off regular prices and can be shared with others (one ticket for each person).
- If you have a seasonal pass, you may be able to ski for free. For example, skiers who’ve bought the IKON Pass for next year’s season can ski for free at Squaw in the preceding spring.
- Bring your waterproof shell. Rain and hail may come at any time. It is spring, after all.
- Bring your swimsuit, too. On nice spring days, the sun shines strong enough for poolside bikini lounging after you’re down from the mountain — it’s even warm enough for someone like me who always runs cold!
Staying at Squaw Valley
One of the other advantages of spring skiing is that you don’t have to drive on dangerous, snow- and ice-covered roads. Nor do you have to deal with the traffic jams that happen on the roads to Tahoe in the winter.
But if you don’t feel like driving to and back from Tahoe in the same day, Squaw Valley has a large number of lodging options.
I can’t speak for all of them, but here are my favorite things about staying at the Resort at Squaw Creek.
- The gorgeous views
- Multiple hot tubs and pools. Poolside/hot tube-side bar service very much available.
- Double shower heads! Much gratitude from my sore muscles.
- Free s’mores everyday from 3-5 p.m.
- Live music on weekend evenings
- Ski in/ski out semi-exclusive ski lift and concierge service
Ready to give spring skiing a whirl? Some of the world’s best spring skiing resorts are still open. Squaw Valley is expected to stay open until July 7 this year.
Fourth of July BBQ up on the slopes? Count me in.
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