How’s this for a novel Utah tourism idea: With all of this recent snow, let ski season run until July 1. Aprés-ski could be done without having any bitter local or confused visitor paying a membership fee. Ah, if only it were that easy. While private clubs will fade away this summer, like snow and the Utah Jazz, skiing could realistically get a few more weeks of action because of these recent, major snowstorms.
But that doesn’t mean skiing will go on. Despite receiving more than 100 inches of early-spring snowy goodness, the fact is a lot of resorts cannot let the show go on. Nor do they want to. “Snowbird traditionally stays open as late as possible, and Snowbasin often extends their season as well,” said Jessica Kunzer of Ski Utah, a nonprofit that promotes the Utah ski and snowboard industry.
“However, many of our resorts’ open dates are restricted by Forest Service permits.” Sundance is already shut down as of April 4, because it historically gets the lowest snow-depth totals and becomes the least skiable early on. Other resorts—including the Park City ones and Solitude—will start shutting down Easter Sunday, April 12. “We make a business decision regarding closing date,” Alta’s Connie Marshall said. “Typically, it is two weeks after Easter, minimum. When Easter falls late, it’s usually one week after.”
Alta management considered staying open a little longer but kept with the original closing date of April 19. Snowbasin will close shop then, as well. Watch out for Wolf Creek, as the Ogden ski locale closed April 4 but will rev up the lifts again for a threeday Easter weekend.
Those diehards at Snowbird, however, plan to keep it going until Memorial Day. With 142 inches of base as of April 2—second to Alta’s 159—it’s possible that, if this cold streak lasts, the snow could be somewhat decent until parades and fireworks start ruling the calendar. A no-foolin’ April Fool’s Day whiteout brought 11 inches. “March has gone out like a lion at Snowbird,” said resort president Bob Bonar. Snowbird started offering spring passes March 30 that sell for $279. It’ll also start taking $10 off lift tickets ($62) the day after Easter.
Snowbird, mimicking a few never-saymelt places in Colorado (namely famous rebel Arapahoe Basin), actually stayed open until June 22 last year. “We pride ourselves on that and believe it offers great value to the season-pass holder,” said Snowbird’s Jared Ishkanian.
April skiing definitely has its own unique feel. For starters, a lot of the seasonal help has already planned to move on. Secondly, the snow isn’t typically the greatest. So you really have to be into it, appreciating an oftensloppy mix of ice and slush, depending on the time of day. Mornings are better, since the snow may not have melted from the previous night; so it’s still soft. Third, and easily the most important factor, is that the winter tourist season has wrapped up—spring break’s over—and the locals are getting into shape for swimsuits. “We have come to understand demand for skiing, and there is rapid decline when mountain bikes and spring sports enter the picture,” said Alta’s Marshall.
But, let it snow—and for as long as possible—as far as the resorts are concerned. Like professional athletes, they can pad their stats. In the case of Utah ski resorts, sprink skiing enhances the advertising for next season, when resorts hope it’s not such a slippery slope to get much-appreciated visitors. The economy (there’s that word again) may be better, and come next ski season, Utah won’t have to send out pamphlets and apologies about bizarre alcohol laws. “This snow does a lot of great things for our industry by motivating last-minute bookings and instilling confidence in ‘The Greatest Snow on Earth’ for locals and people considering future vacations,” Kunzer said.