More top tips from Helen of Chalets USA about skiing Stateside. If you're thinking of taking the plunge and crossing the pond to ski here's some really good advice about when to book and when it's best to avoid - it's a bit different from Europe!
I’m often asked when is the best time to ski in Colorado, USA?
Lots of things factor into this of course snow conditions, pricing, but also when the slopes are least crowded. It’s quite different from skiing in the Alps in many ways, so here are some key things to know when considering what time of year to come skiing in the USA.
Christmas / New Year:
Of course Christmas and New Year are busy times wherever you decide to ski, but there are some dates quieter than other within these times.
If you can come pre-Christmas and enjoy all the build-up you’ll find quieter slopes & cheaper rates. If you do need to include Christmas Day in your holiday, take as many days before Christmas as possible. Rates are highest from 26 Dec and that’s when many Americans take their Christmas breaks, so avoid those days if you can. Christmas Day itself can be a really magical time to ski, especially if you are up early and can get out on the slopes before everyone else. You’ll sometimes see Santa Claus skiing around and Christmas morning is relatively quiet, as many people are unwrapping Christmas gifts and enjoying a leisurely breakfast.
Bank holidays In the USA:
There are 2 bank holidays in ski season, which Europe doesn’t have: Martin Luther King and President’s weekends. This is a popular time for Americans to take time off, as they don’t have many vacation days and they use these long weekends as holiday time, perfect for skiing in the middle of Winter.
The Saturday and Sunday tend to be busy with the crowds tailing off on Monday as people travel home. Martin Luther King weekend is normally around 20 January and Presidents’ weekend around 17 February.
UK February half term / Australian January Summer holidays:
Apart from the President’s bank holiday weekend, the Americans don’t have any school holidays in February like the Brits do or in January as the Australians do, so these months are a good time for skiers to make their way to the USA. Especially if you’re a family travelling with children and need to keep to school holidays, it can be a real advantage to ski in the US over Feb half term without having to worry about crowded slopes.
So the time the Americans do have school holidays during ski season is in the last 3 weeks of March, when the “Spring breakers” are out in force!
The states and colleges normally pick one week out of those last 3 weeks for their vacation time, so at least the skiers & boarders are spread out rather than being all in one week. The ski resorts are definitely busier during these weeks and prices a little steeper.
If Easter falls in April instead of March, coinciding with Spring break above, Easter can be a really lovely time to ski. The weather is warmer and the ski runs pretty empty. Again the Americans do not take school holidays for Easter, not even a long weekend, so it’s another good time to come skiing.
Rates really fall in April, roughly 25% from March and they can be as much as half the prices over Christmas, so you get good value for money.
Weekdays and weekends:
So Saturday can be a quiet day to ski in Europe as many tour companies use Saturday as their changeover day. It’s quite a different story in Colorado. Denver is a major city, within 2 hours drive of most of the big Colorado resorts, so there are a lot of “weekend warriors” who make the trip up to the mountains each weekend. Saturday is definitely the busiest day and then things slow down by Sunday afternoon, when people have to start making the trek in the traffic back down to the city.
This does mean that during the week the resorts are pretty quiet on the whole. So if you’re staying for a long trip, ski during the week and perhaps take your rest day on a Saturday and enjoy some of the other activities the ski resorts have to offer – snow-tubing, sleigh rides, snowmobiling or resting up with a good book in front of the fire!
I hope this gives you some good ideas when planning your next ski trip to the USA. Happy Skiing!