Saturday, March 14, 2020

Ten Reasons to Hit the Slopes this Spring (Spring Skiing is the BEST Skiing)

Leave the hand and foot warmers behind, and bring out the sunblock because it's spring and it's the best time to ski! Gone are the days where you had to go inside between runs to warm up, and say hello to outdoor patios and bluebird days on the slopes.

Leave the hand warmers at home and grab your sunblock for some spring skiing!

Spring skiing is the BEST skiing and I hope you have at least at least a couple ski days scheduled on the calendar over the next month. Better yet, plan a weekend away to visit a new resort with your family over spring break.

Ten Reasons to Hit the Slopes this Spring 

1.Skiing is way more enjoyable when you aren't freezing to death!

We've skied when it was -35 C with wind chill and I can assure you it wasn't very fun.

Hit the slopes this spring and enjoy:

  • More skiing without having to keep going inside to warm up

  • Happy fingers and toes

  • No worries about the kids catching frostbite (and you don't have to keep your face constantly covered)

  • Being able to stop to take photos! (my phone doesn't come out much when it's -30)

  • Less bulky clothing! You can even ski in a hoodie!

Spring skiing in a hoodie and a vest 

2. Relaxed starts and long days 

In winter we always try to hit the slopes when the lifts first open, but spring skiing is much more relaxed. The snow usually needs to soften up before you head out and many resorts stay open later in the afternoon. 

Sunshine Village is open through the May long weekend and Kendra Scurfield, Brand & Communications Director, provided the following inspiration:
"Sunshine's all natural snow, high elevation, and long sunny days make Sunshine famous for Canada’s Best Spring Skiing.  In the spring we extend our lift hours so skiers and boarders can enjoy an extra half hour of fun on the slopes."

My family also likes to take the opportunity to ski local in spring where we can visit WinSport's Canada Olympic Park after school, taking advantage of the extra daylight into the evening.

Sunshine Village is magical on a spring bluebird day 

3. The snow is still good!

I talked to Clarissa Amaro in Media, Marketing & Customer Relations at Panorama Mountain Resort and she painted the most glorious picture of spring skiing at Panorama.
"Panorama really comes alive in the Springtime. Every year we are skiing summit to base all the way through to Easter when the resort closes. Because of the resort's big vertical you’ll find winter conditions at the summit and soft, slushy spring conditions on the lower third of the mountain. The weather is warm, the sun shines and we see regular snowfalls overnight right through March."

2021 Closing dates for resorts in the Canadian Rockies:

April 5th - Revelstoke Mountain Resort 

April 11th - 

Kimberley Alpine Resort
Fernie Alpine Resort
Kicking Horse Resort 
Panorama Mountain Resort
Castle Mountain Resort 

April 18th - Nakiska Ski Area 

May 2nd - Lake Louise and Marmot Basin, Jasper 

May 24th (Monday of the May long weekend) - Sunshine Village 

Now I challenge you to hit one resort per weekend above. Wouldn't that be amazing?!

It doesn't get better than spring skiing in the Sun Bowl at Panorama Mountain Resort

4. It's a great time for beginners to learn to ski 

It's hard to get excited about learning a new sport when you're wearing ten layers of clothing, the air hurts your face, your fingers or toes are frozen, and you're essentially in "survival mode" counting down the minutes until you can go inside. 

Spring skiing is a completely different experience though. There's a festive feeling on the ski hill, you can spend hours outside in comfort, and falling down actually becomes humorous in the soft spring snow.

And I highly recommend checking for spring break camps at your local ski resort (or at a resort you plan to visit this March) 
"Looking for a great way to spend spring break? Get the kids into a 1, 2, 3 or 4 day camp, make new friends to ski with and enjoy your supervised lunch (included in the price and you can choose from our menu). Available to skiers aged 5-12yrs" - Nakiska Ski Area

You can choose either one day, or consecutive days from 2 - 4 days total. See their website for more details. 

Nakiska is fabulous in spring and is often very quiet if you visit mid-week

WinSport's Canada Olympic Park also offers spring break camps. Camps are sold in one-day lessons so pay for as many days as your budget will allow. 
"While they are not in the classroom let them be on the slopes! This full day of riding keeps your child outside while continuing their progression in a fun, safe, and dynamic learning environment under the guidance of our certified instructors. We make it even easier for you by including early care, offering late care, and you can even add on a hot lunch! Don't let your child sit at home and miss a full day outside on the hill!" - WinSport

Visit the WinSport website for more information.  

Ski close to home this spring break at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park 

Many of the bigger resorts offer spring break camps as well. Panorama Mountain Resort hosts special three and five day ski and ride camps.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort also offers spring break camps and each camp includes a free 5-day child lift ticket.

Not a beginner? Take a beginner snowboarding lesson just to see what it's like. Take a park class and try to learn a new trick in the terrain park. Visit WinSport in Calgary and try the half pipe or visit Nakiska and take a few runs down the skier cross course that's set up in the terrain park. 

Try something new this spring.

** Note for 2021 some resorts may not be offering spring break camps. Please visit their websites directly. 

The skier cross course at Nakiska is super fun and it's open to the public every day 

5. Discounted spring skiing passes

For those who didn't buy seasons passes for the winter, now is a great time to buy a special spring pass. And you'll get lots of skiing in over the next two months (even if you haven't been out much so far this winter.)

Sunshine Village Spring Skiing Pass - $999.00 + GST per family ($499.00 +GST per adult.) There's also a midweek pass for $349.00 per person which is the best deal (especially with spring break coming up.)

And new this year, "purchase up to 2 Bonus Spring Lift Tickets for $90 + GST each with any Adult Spring Pass or up to 5 Bonus Spring Lift Tickets with your Family Spring Season Pass."

With your spring pass you enjoy 60+ days of unlimited skiing or riding from the middle of March through closing date in May.

* * Note prices above are for the 2020 spring pass. For 2021, Sunshine Village is only offering mid-week spring skiing passes. See the link above for more information.

April powder day at Sunshine Village 

Lake Louise Spring Skiing Pass - $899.00 + GST per family ($449.00 +GST per adult.) 

With your spring pass you enjoy 60+ days of unlimited skiing or riding from the middle of March through closing date in May.

Spring break at Lake Louise and the snow is great!

Castle Mountain 2020/2021 Seasons Pass - Purchase your Castle Mountain seasons pass now for next winter and receive FREE SPRING SKIING for the rest of this season.

With the purchase of next season’s pass, you’ll enjoy up to 35 days of complimentary skiing + riding this spring, on top of 125 + days next year.

Read more about Castle Mountain Resort here. 

Castle Mountain Ski Resort is lovely on a warm spring day 

WinSport Spring Skiing Pass -  $129.99 + GST per youth and $189.99 +GST per adult.

Passes are valid from the end of March until the hill closes for the season so buy your passes now and get the kids on the slopes every day over spring break. 

** Note WinSport is not offering spring passes for 2021. 

We love skiing at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park over spring break 


Avoid crowded day lodges and visit ski resorts with outdoor patios. Bring your own lunch or buy a burger from an outdoor barbecue. Soak up the sunshine (which helps boost your immune system) and enjoy live entertainment at many resorts.

"I love spring in the mountains!  Spring skiing is a weird, perfect mix of being able to shred but also enjoying the sunshine – who wouldn’t want patio weather on the top of a mountain?!"  - Kehna Y., staff member from RCR Resorts in Calgary 

Our 5 favourite resorts for patios and outdoor eating spaces across the Canadian Rockies: 

Panorama Mountain Resort - Panorama has mountain huts spread out around their entire mountain, each one serving cold beverages and hot food. 

For a fun descent down the mountain ride three chairlifts to the top of the mountain for a beverage at the Summit Hut (where they also serve burgers and hot dogs and have an outdoor patio.) 

Ski from the summit down to the Elkhorn Cabin where you can get a fresh homemade apple cider or order Swiss Raclette for lunch. They also have a small outdoor seating area. Ski from there down to the Mile 1 Hut (where there's also a patio) where you can get pulled pork sandwiches and cold or hot beverages. 

Ski down to the base where you'll find coffee shops and other restaurants (with several patio areas.) - Just watch how much you drink on that one descent lest you find yourself too tipsy to ride back up for another run! 

The Summit Hut will come alive this spring at Panorama Mountain Resort

Sunshine Village - Did you know that you don't even have to ski to enjoy the spring sunshine at Sunshine Village? I would honestly pay for a sightseeing gondola ride just to have lunch on the patio at Mad Trappers, a fun family-friendly pub with an awesome vibe and equally great food.

Lake Louise - The Banded Peak Base Camp is the place to be this spring at Lake Louise. Soak up the sun from this gorgeous patio located right beside the Glacier Express Gondola. The menu includes tasty smoked BBQ bites, hot soup and chili along with cold beverages of course.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort - I would travel all the way to Revelstoke this spring just to have a chicken burger from the Mackenzie Outpost, located at the top of the gondola. The outpost has a great patio and serves the best chicken burgers I've ever had in my life. Revelstoke Mountain Resort also sees a lot more sun in spring so head this way if you want some bluebird skiing.

Fernie Alpine Resort - I love the Lost Boys Cafe located at the top of the Timber Chair. I often take a break from skiing here while my boys do another lap or two. And they have a great patio with fabulous views over the valley. You can order both food + beverages here while you soak up the sunshine.

The Lost Boys Cafe at Fernie Alpine Resort (photo credit: Resorts of the Canadian Rockies)

7. Say hello to the après ski scene!

Slopeside bars and beer gardens, patio weather, and live entertainment where every ski day is a party this spring!

See #6 above for my list of our favourite patios at local resorts and see #8 below for a large list of fun events happening at resorts this spring.

My personal favourite après ski activity: Load the last chairlift to the very top of the resort you're skiing at and ski down to a mid mountain lodge that's open late for drinks on the patio before you ski back down to the base.

This works well at Revelstoke Mountain Resort where Revelation Lodge is open every Saturday until 4:00pm with live music and entertainment.

End your ski day by 3:00pm and you'll have time for a cold beverage on any of the patios scattered around the mountain at Panorama Mountain Resort as well.

At Sunshine Village Resort, Mad Trappers is open all evening for guests staying overnight at the lodge. Stay as long as you like and then download the gondola which runs until 5:30pm Saturdays. Alternately you can enjoy your food and beverages in the village and then take the ski out down. Just make sure you catch the last lift up Jack Rabbit at 4:30pm or you'll have to do a bit of pushing across the flats on the way to Goat's Eye. (You could always download the gondola as far as Goat's Eye and then ski down from there too.)

** Note for 2021, check each resort's website directly to find out what entertainment and après-ski experiences will be offered this season.

Skiing down from Sunshine Village on the ski out at the end of the day 

8. Fun events and free entertainment every weekend 

Disclaimer: Most of these events below have been cancelled for 2021. All dates and information is from the 2020 season (before ski hills closed early.) 

** This section will be updated for 2022.

Buy your lift ticket and get a concert, a professional competition, or a fun family-friendly event included for no extra cost.

Just some of the fun events happening this spring at resorts across the Canadian Rockies

Live Music:

Beats in the Base at Castle Mountain Resort 

Major Events: 

  • Shake the Lake at Lake Louise on April 25th - Presented by Kokanee!  Apres ski on the Kokanee Kabin deck, with live music. Dress code for the day is a retro ski theme. Big activities this day will include pond skimming, the Kokanee Kup rail jam, and Bikinis for Breast Cancer.

  • Sunshine Village Slush Cup on May 18th - Held each year on the last day of the season, Slush Cup is a competition where participants ski or snowboard down a run into an icy pool of water. The aim is to skim across the pool until you've reached the end. This year, Sunshine Village will be celebrating their 92nd anniversary.

  • Slush Cup and Cardboard Canoe race at Castle Mountain Resort, April 5th - Go full send and try to waterski / ride across the huge man-made pond! And want to try a canoe? Your mission is to make a canoe out of only cardboard & tape, and then to ride that canoe down Whisky Jack into the slush pit. Will you sink or swim?

  • Spring Splash Festival at Kimberley Alpine Resort, April 4th and 5th - The wettest, wildest event in Kimberley! Grab the skis, boards and lawn chairs. There will also be live music, a BBQ and beer gardens, kids activities, a kids' bouncy castle and more! Saturday is the pond skimming competition and Sunday is the downhill dummy competition where you get to watch homemade sleds attempt to make it down the race slope.

  • Fernival at Fernie Alpine Resort, April 11th - 12th - Enjoy live music, the Raging Elk Powder, POLE, Paddle Relay Race, and the Coca-Cola Slope Soaker pond skimming competition.

  • Sunsplash Funkfest at Kicking Horse Alpine Resort, April 11-12th - Enjoy watching the Dummy Downhill Race and the Slush Cup Competition. There will also be an outdoor BBQ, live music, and a pig roast

  • Sun's Out Guns Out Rail Jam at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park, March 28th - 29th. Celebrate the final weekend of the winter season with family activities including back deck live music and the Washout Bike Race 

Slush Cup weekend is a fan favourite at every ski resort (photo credit: Resorts of the Canadian Rockies)

Beer Gardens and Patios:

     Family Festivals:

    Fernival Festival, Fernie Alpine Resort (photo credit: Resorts of the Canadian Rockies)

    9. Make the most of shoulder season while you wait for "true" spring 

    I find April to be depressing because I'm usually done with winter, but "true" spring seems to take forever to arrive. We find ourselves in this shoulder season where we've finished skiing, but can't go biking or hiking yet because there's still too much snow.

    If there's still snow in the mountains, why fight it? Just go skiing and make the most of it. Ski into spring and then pull your bike out after Easter. If you ski at Lake Louise or Sunshine you can ski into May!

    Snow in the mountains? Stop fighting it and enjoy the skiing! (this photo was taken in April at Sunshine Village)

    10. Ski through Easter weekend with fun events at many resorts 

    In addition to the festivals and events already mentioned above under #8, there are special Easter themed events at a few resorts.

    Disclaimer: All events below were added for 2020. Many events have been cancelled for 2021. Visit the resort you plan to visit directly to find out what is happening.

    ** This section will be updated for 2022 

    Easter events at resorts in the Canadian Rockies: 

    Catch the Easter Bunny at Lake Louise - April 10th - 12th

    And, get creative with cardboard for the annual Cardboard Box Downhill Derby  on Easter Sunday using only cardboard, string, and tape.

    Easter Bunny & Egg Hunt at Sunshine Village - April 11th -12th

    There will also be a non-denominational Easter Church Service at 11:00 AM on Sunday.

    Easter at Nakiska  - April 11th - 13th 

    Participate in the free Easter Scavenger Hunt and receive a prize! The Easter Bunny will also be on hill from 10am-2pm handing out treats and taking photos!

    Catch the Easter Bunny at Lake Louise (photo: Lake Louise Ski Resort)

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