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If I had to pick just one time of year to go skiing with kids it would be spring skiing hands down. I am absolutely in love with spring skiing with kids. The snow is usually great here in the Rockies. You don’t have to worry about hitting rocks and the weather simply can’t be beat. I also love the spring skiing takes on a bit of a party and celebratory atmosphere which always makes anything with kids even more exciting.
Many families love to plan spring ski trips because it coincides well with school spring breaks. What you may not know though is that spring skiing will often give you a break from the typical crowds you’ll often find during Christmas and other winter holidays. So if you’re looking to find a less crowded time to ski with kids, skiing during March and April is one of your best bets.
While we do ski with our kids all the time throughout the year we always try to save a big chunk of our ski dates for the spring. In fact, we even plan a few days to have our kids miss school during the middle of the week just during the spring because the conditions are so ideal for kids to ski.
If you’re used to skiing in the middle of winter you’ll quickly learn that spring skiing has some greater things about it. However, you will need to prepare for it a little bit differently. Here are 9 fantastic tips to help you prepare for your family spring ski trip.
Research your destination in advance
Here in the Rocky Mountains, spring skiing almost always guarantees good coverage and fantastic snow conditions. However, this is not the case everywhere. Many ski resorts that are at a lower elevation or in warmer climates, will have lost a lot of their snow by the time that’s spring skiing comes around. If you don’t choose your Resort wisely you may find yourself skiing on a run that’s half-covered in dirt or with grass poking out.
In January make sure to check the resort’s snowpack to see if they are at, above, or below average for their annual snowpack totals. It also helps to check with the resort and see their traditional closing date and if there’s any chance of that being bumped up or pushed back.
If you want the best chance of being able to Spring ski and good conditions I highly recommend skiing and Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, British Columbia, and Alberta. As always, if you want to stretch your ski dollar farther, consider a budget ski resort.
Dress in layers for fluctuating temperatures
The weather during spring skiing can be a bit wild. It’s not uncommon for the weather to be in the teens or twenties when you start skiing in the morning and be in the 40s by mid-afternoon. While that may not seem like extreme temperatures, if you’re skiing while the temperatures are in the 40s you will most definitely be getting warm.
Plan on dressing in layers so that you can add or remove clothing throughout the day as the weather changes. We always recommend wearing high-quality base layers first. We had the best luck with merino wool base layers for kids. I love that they both insulate the kids when the weather is cold, and they also help to wick sweat away once they start working hard and getting hot.
On top of base layers you need to wear a good insulating mid-layer to help keep you warm when the temperatures are a bit cooler. We love wearing lightweight fleece as our mid-layer and my kids especially appreciate that it’s extra soft and cozy.
Waterproof outerwear is an absolute must during spring skiing. The snow is a bit slushy and if you do receive any snowstorms they will likely be a much higher water content than you’ll see in the middle of winter. Waterproof gloves or mittens are non-negotiable.
Read our full review of the best waterproof gloves and mittens for kids.
Waterproof snow pants will also likely be a lifesaver. The last time we went skiing with our kids, one of our kids wore a pair of old snow pants that weren’t great quality and he was literally soaked by the end of the day. Wearing high-quality waterproof snow pants for kids, will not only help your kids stay dryer, but it will also help them be more comfortable and happier as they ski.
Read our full review of the best waterproof snow pants for kids.
Don’t be in a rush to get up too early in the morning
We often see parents in a frenzy trying to get their kids on the ski kill for the first chair of the day, when it comes time for spring skiing waiting a little bit later in the day is one of your best bets. During springtime, the snow heats up in the afternoon sun, but at night the temperatures are still dipping below freezing. That means that early morning ski runs are more likely to be icy and extra slick making it really difficult for kids.
I find that if my kids start out the day in difficult conditions like that, it’s much harder for them to feel confident about their skiing abilities for the rest of the day. During spring skiing, our family typically starts skiing around 10 a.m in the morning. By then the snow is starting to lose its crustiness and a lot of the ice has started to melt, giving our kids a much more confident start to their ski day! Our toddler is much happier with a great breakfast and the snow isn’t as icy.
Follow the sun
Another great way to avoid icy slopes is to follow the sun. In the morning, ski slopes that face east, and even south, since they will warm up the fastest. As the day progresses and the sun moves higher in the sky, gradually move to northern-facing slopes and then to western-facing slopes. Remember, avoiding icy terrain with kids will make your ski day so much easier, so plan to go where the sun is on your family spring ski trip.
Get a fresh coat of wax on your skis
Did you know that ski waxes are designed to function best at certain temperatures? Some waxes are designed to work great in really cold temperatures while other waxes work great at really warm temperatures of snow. To help your skis glide well across the snow, take them into a local ski shop when you get to your destination and ask them to wax your skis. It may not seem like a big deal looking ahead, but if you spend a day where your skis are constantly sticking to the snow and you can barely move ahead, you’ll regret not getting that ski wax ahead of time. Ski waxes are typically very affordable, and you can often get a ski shop to wax your skis for about $15. If you can’t get into a ski shop, buy this no-heat ski wax and apply it yourself.
Carry a backpack for extra gear
Moms, I know that you can relate to this one. As soon as you get your kids all dressed in their gear, suddenly someone is too hot, another kid is too cold, and inevitably one of your children will want a snack.
Carrying a backpack with you throughout the ski day can be a lifesaver, especially during spring skiing when the conditions can change so quickly. Carry an extra lightweight layer for each family member in your pack, several snacks that the kids will love, a stick of sunscreen, and some chapstick with SPF. If you have a child who is extra prone to playing with snow throughout the day it also may be wise to carry an extra set of gloves in case their gloves start to get soaked with water.
Go ski tailgating
Ski resort tailgating is one of the best parts of spring skiing. Around 11 a.m. the atmosphere in the parking lot will start to change. The smell of barbecues will start to fill the air, music will start coming from the back of everyone’s car, on what was once just a parking lot is now a tailgate party scene.
Instead of heading to the lodge for your family ski lunch, embrace the ski tailgating scene and plan ahead so that you can join in the festivities (and save a ton on resort food prices). While you don’t necessarily have to bring your own grill or put together a massive lunch spread, simply eating lunch at your car and enjoying the tailgating atmosphere is sure to delight your kids on your spring ski trip.
Our family absolutely loves to have a warm ski lunch, so we’ve invested in a fantastic insulated jug that keeps our hot chocolate piping hot all day long, and it’s also perfect for nice thick chunky soups. If you’re in the market for a well-insulated jug that keeps things extra warm and has never leaked once in the six years we’ve owned it check out this 64 oz insulated jug. We often take kids sleeping bags to warm the kids up in the parking lot if it’s going to be a little chilly. It’s the best way to warm kids up and still embrace the tailgating scene.
Read our full collection of the best ski lunch ideas that are perfect for tailgating.
Check the local calendar
During the spring many ski resorts add extra events and activities to their Resort calendar that is absolutely perfect for families. Some ski resorts have themed costume days, while others may have pond skimming competitions or spring festivals. These ski resort events will add a little bit of extra excitement to your family ski trip and are just the thing to make your family ski trip in the spring extra memorable. While oftentimes these events do bring more crowds to the ski resort, many of the locals will be so busy participating in the events, that the ski runs can be nearly empty. Take advantage of this and spend part of your time enjoying the celebrations, and the other part enjoying the less crowded ski slopes.
Protect yourself from the sun
If you’re new to spring skiing it may surprise you that you’re significantly more likely to get a sunburn while skiing in the spring than during most other times in the mountains. A combination of the sun being closer to where you’re at, as well as the sun reflectingg as it bounces off the snow, can bring some really intense sunburn problems. Plan on putting sunscreen on all of your exposed skin both in the morning and throughout the day to prevent yourself from sunburn an embarrassing goggle line.
I especially love this stick sunscreen because it’s easy for me to carry in my pocket and reapply throughout the day, and it never runs into my kids’ eyes when they start to get sweaty.
It’s also important to remember to protect your eyes from the sun during spring skiing. While it may be tempting to take your goggles off and enjoy the sunshine beating down on your face, resist the urge. Most goggles are equipped with UV filters to help protect your eyes from the sun. If you do not wear eye protection while spring skiing your eyes can actually get sunburned, and in extreme cases can lead to temporary blindness.
Read our full review of the best kids ski goggles.
Join the spring skiing party
Just yesterday I was out skiing with my kids and we saw a group of about 15 adults dressed in coordinating character onesies. I simply couldn’t resist and had to ask them why they were dressed this way to see if there was something special that they were celebrating. They told me that even though it was still a little early in the season they all felt like it was time for spring to come so they decided to dress up and usher in the spring skiing season all on their own.
During spring ski season, it’s not uncommon to see other skiers dressed in tutus, skiing in swimming suits, or dressed up as different characters. If you’re looking for another great way to make some exciting and fun ski memories with your kids, let them dress up for your family spring ski trip. It’s basically the best of a family ski trip and Halloween in one. You may want to bring some extra treats for your kids on the chairlift just so they feel that the ski days are extra festive. One time we even let our kids dress up and passed out wrapped candy to people at the base area. The sky really is the limit when it comes to Spring skiing celebrations so if you ever want to go all out with your kids and be a little bit crazy now is the time to do it.
For the best chance of good snow during spring break, head to the Rockies. You’ll find the best spring skiing in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, and British Columbia.
Spring skiing snow is traditionally warmer and a little bit slushy, though not always. Sometimes ski resorts get massive spring snowstorms where they will receive several feet of fresh powder.
Most resorts in the Midwest or the East Coast close during March. In the West, most ski resorts stay open until about mid-April. Arapahoe Basin in Colorado often stays open until July 4th.
Spring skiing is ideal for kids because the weather is warmer and more predictable. It’s also less crowded, so it’s a great time to introduce kids to the sport of skiing.
During the spring some lifts and runs may be closed due to snow melting but most resorts will have end-of-season deals to make it more affordable.