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The Best Ski Resorts In April
BY Christopher Steiner

Some ski resorts are better bets for April. These are the ones with lots of north-facing terrain, protecting snow from the acute rays of a sun whose influence on weather, and capacity to turn everything to hot mush, has greatly strenthened since the depths of winter. High elevation is also key here, which is the reason Taos, New Mexico appears on this list. Its southerly latitude counts against it, but its north-facing terrain and greater-than 12,000-foot elevations buy it a lot of points.

Some of the best ski days ever had are those in early December and in April, the shoulder seasons when ski resorts are usually open, but when tourists are thin and locals aren't yet into ski mode, or they've already moved on from the ski season. A snowstorm in April, and plenty of big ones take place every year, can be a magical thing.

We'll allow ourselves one gushy personal anecdote here. The latter end of April 2002 brought a prolific chain of storms to Utah's Wasatch front. The ski resorts, however, had closed for the year. Day after day the snow came, sending backcountry skiers up slopes on their skins and leaving others cursing, "Where was this in March!?"

On Wednesday, April 24, Alta announced it would re-open on Friday, April 26. By Friday morning, it had snowed more than five feet since the last skis ran through the woods off of Wildcat lift. It was, unequivocally, one of the three best skiing days for two of the ZRankings' crew. Lap after lap, fresh line after fresh line, bottomless snow. Just as important, and even rarer at Alta, there was zero competition. No racing other skiers, no lift lines. True bliss.

That kind of experience is hard to duplicate, but that's the kind of singular day that keeps skiers prowling for that perfect shoulder-season day, which, in many cases, can be far superior to any day had in January, February or March.

With that in mind, we know that many people choose to ski in April for all kinds of reasons:

Note: Most major ski resorts are open through the first week in April, but schedules change year to year, Some resorts, such as Snowbird and Mammoth, typically stay open deeper into the year, often well into May or June.


Ski Resorts with Best Snow for April

   Resort True
Snow*
Base & Top Elev.
Days w/ more
than 6 inches
Months w/ more
than 90 inches
Months w/ less
than 30 inches
North-facing Terrain
East-facing Terrain
West-facing Terrain
South-facing Terrain
April Snow Score
Alta Ski Area
UT
517" 8530'
to
10550'
20.2% 49.3% 1.3% 53% 17% 29% 1% 100 more
Snowbird
UT
497" 7760'
to
11000'
18.0% 37.0% 3.4% 50% 16% 21% 13% 98 more
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
CO
314" 10780'
to
12472'
10.4% 6.4% 23.2% 55% 25% 15% 5% 93 more
Wolf Creek Ski Resort
CO
387" 10300'
to
11904'
14.9% 27.1% 18.6% 65% 35% 0% 0% 92 more
Grand Targhee
WY
466" 7408'
to
10000'
18.9% 40.4% 3.5% 20% 0% 60% 20% 83 more
Kirkwood
CA
459" 7800'
to
9800'
20.1% 44.3% 18.1% 65% 25% 10% 0% 82 more
Brighton Ski Resort
UT
504" 8750'
to
10500'
19.3% 44.2% 4.3% 43% 15% 32% 10% 79 more
Ski Apache Ski Resort
NM
185" 9600'
to
11500'
7.0% 1.0% 45.0% 40% 60% 0% 0% 78 more
Solitude Mountain Resort
UT
437" 7988'
to
10035'
17.1% 34.0% 7.5% 55% 27% 15% 3% 78 more
Loveland Ski Area
CO
344" 10800'
to
12700'
12.6% 11.6% 11.0% 40% 30% 0% 30% 78 more
Copper Mountain
CO
278" 9712'
to
12313'
10.5% 3.8% 21.1% 55% 25% 15% 5% 76 more
Taos Ski Resort
NM
254" 9207'
to
12450'
9.5% 4.7% 31.9% 60% 25% 15% 0% 74 more
Beaver Creek Resort
CO
325" 8100'
to
11440'
12.1% 8.3% 13.1% 55% 25% 20% 0% 73 more
Telluride Ski Resort
CO
276" 8725'
to
12570'
10.8% 4.8% 23.1% 50% 10% 33% 7% 71 more
ZRankings has excellent package deals on April ski trips!
 

As recounted with mawkish anecdotal clarity above, April powder days are especially rewarding. Here are the places skiers and riders stand the best chance of finding good snow underfoot during the fourth month of the year:

Alta, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah - April Snow Score: 100

Alta must always be given its due is the stalwart snow magnet and preserver that it is. There are ski areas that may have better winters here and there, but there is no place in North America with more consistent, prolific and high-quality snowfall. As the season stretches into April, and the days grow warm, Alta remains a premium location for skiers planning ahead of time and hoping to score good conditions. Not only does the ski resort receive copious amounts of snow on average, but it's also well suited to preserve the snow what has from the onslaught of the warm spring sun. A full 53% of Alta's terrain faces north, keeping it sheltered from the harshest warmth of the season, and allowing Alta to keep most of its slopes open as late as it pleases.

Alta can offer big rewards in the late spring to persistent skiers who show up in April.
Alta can offer big rewards in the late spring to persistent skiers who show up in April.

Snowbird, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah - April Snow Score: 98

Being situated right next door to Alta, Snowbird is going to show up on most of the same lists. We actually prefer Snowbird in the spring as its tram allows skiers to access the good, high elevation stuff quickly, while the lines, due to the time of season, tend to be small. April is a fantastic time to ski Snowbird, which preserves snow well, as 50% of its terrain faces north. April also offers skiers opportunities on the lodging front. Spring can be a great time to pick up lodging bargains, especially at vanguard properties such as Snowbird's Cliff Lodge, the quintessential ski-in, ski-out, full service hotel.

A-Basin, Summit County, Colorado - April Snow Score: 93

There is no ski resort whose conditions relative to the rest of the continent improve at such a pace as the season wears as those of A-Basin. The ski resort is perfectly suited to preserve snow, with high elevations, topping 12,000 feet, and a high ratio north facing terrain, a full 55%. The early season at A-Basin isn't as dependable because it can sometimes be short of snow, but that it is rarely a problem come April; most of the snow it has received during the last three months remains on its slopes. So even in a mediocre snow year, A-Basin remains a dependable choice for a late spring ski vacation. It's a great resort to pair with trips to Breckenridge, Vail, and Beaver Creek, as they're all on the [Epic Pass].

Snow quality of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area compared
w/ rest of North American resorts

Wolf Creek, Southwest Colorado - April Snow Score: 92

Of mainline destination ski resorts in Colorado, Wolf Creek is one of the sleepier spots, but it is often the snowiest spot among all Colorado ski resorts. It sits in a unique basin that funnel storms toward its peaks, giving it a more prolific snowfall profile than anywhere else in Colorado. This prowess for snow collection continues into spring, where Wolf Creek's slopes preserve well the bounty bestowed upon them, with 65% of terrain facing north. Getting to Wolf Creek can be a bit harder for destination skiers, as it is a long drive from Denver, about five hours. The best bet is to fly to Durango and drive the 84 miles east from there. It's unique spot, as it remains independent, and in many ways a smaller operation. But it has stretches of big time terrain, and history of snowfall that almost any resort would trade for.

Grand Targhee, Tetons of Wyoming, via Idaho - April Snow Score: 83

Grand Targhee gathers up snow at a rate only matched by Alta. As the leading edge of the Tetons, facing west, Targhee draws in a phenomenal amount of snow throughout the year, usually greater than 500 inches. This offers skiers a prime opportunity to find a deep snow base in April and the late spring. The freeze-thaw cycle can be intense at Targhee, so skiers are advised to search out corn at mid-day, and ski with the sun, which is always an enjoyable way to spend the day. Skiers can pair days at Targhee in April with a few days spent at Jackson Hole as well, and the Jackson airport offers one of the best local ski airport options available in North America.

Kirkwood, Southern Tahoe Region, California - April Snow Score: 82

Kirkwood is the unrivaled snow champion in the Tahoe region. Not only does the ski resort receive more snow than others in the area on average, but it also predominately faces north, with 65% of its terrain staying shadowy and cold throughout the midwinter into spring, preserving those prolific dumps of the California Sierra. For those seeking out a California ski vacation in the late spring, it's often worth the trip down to Kirkwood at some point to sample its superiorly preserved snow. And because Kirkwood is a Vail Resorts property, and is part of the Epic Pass, it pairs well with a trip that includes days at Heavenly and Northstar.

Brighton, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah - April Snow Score: 79

Just north of the more famous Little Cottonwood Canyon sits a snow trap almost as effective. The funnel of Big Cottonwood Canyon delivers deep snowfalls to Brighton and Solitude every winter. Brighton, being at the end of the canyon, just as Alta is to the south, is best positioned to take advantage of this geographic oddity that turns run-of-the-mill systems into major snow events. Combine this with Brighton's terrain, 43% of which faces north, and skiers have a perfect vessel for snow preservation well into the spring.

Beaver Creek can go off in the spring.
Beaver Creek can go off in the spring.

Aspen Snowmass, Central Colorado - April Snow Score: 78

In addition to being near where the best towns in skiing, Snowmass possesses qualities that should pique the interest of any skier looking for April skiing action. The first of those qualities is elevation; Snowmass tops out more than 12,000 feet, among the highest mainline resorts in North America. In addition, Snowmass it built upon an overwhelming majority of north-facing terrain, with a full 60% of slopes positioned away from the sun, and out of harmful spring rays. A spring trip to Snowmass, paired with a day or two at Aspen Mountain and the revelry of being in the quintessential American ski town, makes for one of the best spring ski trips that can be had.

Solitude, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah - April Snow Score: 78

When Brighton ends up on a list, it's likely that Solitude, which is parked right next door, will be there, too. Spring skiing is not the exception, as both ski resorts good bets for skiers looking for action during those first weeks of April. Solitude benefits from the same uncanny effects of the Big Cottonwood Canyon snow vacuum. The steepest terrain at Solitude is a bit more challenging than that of Brighton, but the very best skiing is reserved for those who put in a little work and bootpack their way to spots where fresh snow can often be found. Brighton and Solitude are great spots on Saturdays, when the ski resorts in Little Cottonwood Canyon and on the other side in Park City are packed.

Loveland, straddling the Johnson and Eisenhower Tunnels on I-70, Colorado - April Snow Score: 78

Loveland is largely the province of Denver area locals looking to get some quality turns without making the full and sometimes painful drive to Summit County or Vail/Beaver Creek. But people visiting from elsewhere shouldn't ignore this unique ski area that sits on the continental divide just off of I-70. Loveland is one of the highest ski areas in North America, topping out at 12,700 feet, with a full 40% of its terrain facing north. Add in one of the better average snowfalls in Colorado, with 347 inches per year, and you have a custom-built setup for spring skiing. Skiers traveling further west to Breckenridge, Vail or elsewhere would be well advised to stop and get some turns in at this gem that sits perched above perhaps the most famous tunnel in America. It should also be mentioned that Loveland's terrain offers legitimate sustained and steep fall lines. It's a place that even experts will enjoy.

Telluride offers a prime town-skiing combination for April skiing seekers.
Telluride offers a prime town-skiing combination for April skiing seekers.

Copper Mountain, Summit County, Colorado - April Snow Score: 76

Copper Mountain possesses a sharp proclivity for preserving snow. This characteristic is handy all winter, but especially useful at the end of the season. When other resorts may be showing stress and dirt in weaker spots, Copper powers on, its natural traits a vertiable deep freezer for the snow that has fallen during the last four months. Those strenghts start with Copper's elevation, which touches 12,300 feet, making it one of the highest ski resorts in Colorado. Perhaps more important, however, is Copper's terrain, 55% of which faces north, keeping the sun angles oblique and away from its snow.

Taos, New Mexico - April Snow Score: 74

The stalwart of New Mexico has usually received enough snow by late March to offer skiers superior destination in the southwest. The mountain preserves snow well because of its two prime characteristics, elevation and terrain. The resort tops out at 12,450 feet and 60% of the resort's terrain faces north, an absolute necessity for quality skiing in the spring at a latitude as far south as New Mexico. Skiers seeking out a unique spring experience should consider going to the Southwest.

Beaver Creek, Central Colorado - April Snow Score: 73

This bastion of service and chocolate chip cookies also offers skiers a great target for April skiing. Beaver Creek has one of the better snowfall profiles in Colorado, receiving an average of 328 inches during the course of the winter. That snow is well-preserved by the Beav's slopes, 55% of which face north. Hitting up Beaver Creek in the spring offers families a great opportunity to enjoy mild temperatures, sunny slopes and outdoor pools where the outside temperature can be 60 degrees at the end of the day. All while enjoying steep shots off of Birds of Prey and the ski resorts' other prime lifts.

Telluride, The San Juan Mountains, Colorado - April Snow Score: 71

One of the finest and most striking mountain towns in the world also offers skiers hey prime late spring skiing experience. Telluride only tends to be opened the first week of April, but it's often a glorious time to rip down its high elevation slopes tilted north, cranking into a classic old mining town that only Park City and Aspen can rival. The ski resort's top lift, Revelation, hits 12,570 feet, and there is a bevy of runs that stay high and cold. In addition, much of the resort's lower terrain that filters directly into town faces north and is lined by tall stands of Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir that help shield the slopes from the harsh spring sun.