Update: Due to COVID-19, Sunlight Mountain Resort closed early for the season in early March. However, I wanted to still share details from my recent ski trip and share how wonderful the resort is; please consider planning a trip to Sunlight next season!
When you think of a ski trip, there are certain images that come to mind. Snow, cold, layers. It’s a winter activity, right?
That’s not always the case, especially in Colorado. When I went skiing at Sunlight Mountain Resort on March 7 for a gifted media visit, it was anything but typical: the sun was shining, heating the temperature to the mid-fifties. It was spring skiing, or snowboarding, in my case, and it was just as wonderful as if I’d gone on opening day.
Spring-time skiing is an experience all its own.
Before You Go
Here’s all that you need to know before heading on your springtime ski trip.
Check for Deals
Since most ski resorts have their closing day mid-spring, there are often affordable ticket and pass options available.
Sunlight, for example, has their closing date scheduled for April 5 of this year. Be sure to check out their lift tickets for late-season discounts, or their Spring Pass, where skiers can get unlimited days on the mountain until closing day.
Grab Your Gear
If you are renting your gear, you can do so at Sunlight’s shop. They have two physical locations: one on the mountain (super convenient), then one in downtown Glenwood Springs (even more convenient, especially if you’re hanging out nearby and can quickly run in).
There’s also the option to reserve your rental gear online, which is my go-to choice.
What to Wear
If you read anything about ski trips, the recommendation is unanimously to wear layers, so that you’re able to remove clothing and replace it during any temperature fluctuations you might encounter.
While that remains true, spring skiing tends to deal with higher temps. For us, we didn’t want to lug around heavier layers when the forecast wasn’t dipping under 50 degrees.
First, check the forecast. If it’s warmer, maybe go lighter on the layers. That’s what we did, and it worked great. It doesn’t hurt to keep a warmer winter ski jacket in the car, just in case.
In addition to the usual gloves and wool socks, we decided to forego a base layer under our snow pants. On top, I wore a sports bra, wool Patagonia pullover, and a light waterproof soft shell jacket. It was perfect, though the lack of thick layers didn’t give much padding for falls.
Be sure to pack your goggles and wear plenty of sunscreen. This is important, since the snow is reflective and spring skiing usually means plenty of sunshine. Lather up!
On the Mountain
Once you get to the resort, here’s what you need to know.
Timing is Everything
If you get there too early, be prepared for some gnarly snow. It’s a cycle: the sun warms up the snow and melts it during the day, then it freezes over night. So when the snow is groomed first thing in the morning, it’s usually pretty slick and icy. In some cases, it might be best to wait a little while, like until 10 – 10:30 a.m., before getting to the mountain.
Don’t Waste Your Time
If you’re going spring skiing, you want to enjoy every second and maximize your time left with the snow.
The key is to not waste your time by waiting in giant lift lines. Thankfully, when you choose a resort with a small-town feel, like Sunlight, there’s no lines. Ever.
I can’t stress how cool this is.
With the sun shining, be sure to take plenty of breaks. Drink water and hydrate, grab a snack at the lodge, or simply pull off at the side of the run to admire some incredible views and soak in the beautiful weather.
Pro-tip: Leonard’s Lookout is an optimal spot to take a quick break and enjoy views of the Roaring Fork Valley and Mount Sopris in the distance.
Even though your day on the slopes has come to an end, there’s more to do.
After you’ve completed your runs for the day, grab a beer at the bar for the ultimate après ski. You can stick around Sunlight for some quality patio time, or you can clear out and head toward other local options.
My faves for après: Casey Brewing and Blending - Glenwood Springs White House Pizza - Carbondale Ball Brewing - Glenwood Springs Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub - Glenwood Springs
If you’re interested in making skiing a long-term activity for you or your family, consider investing in owning your own gear.
Start Making Plans for Next Season
With a gorgeous day of skiing under your belt, you’ll want to start making plans for next year.
Be sure to start the planning process early, and check out the affordable scale of options at Sunlight Mountain Resort.
Cheers to endless fun in the snow (and sun) at my favorite local resort.