Closing week is packed full of everything we love in late-season skiing: soft snow, sunny skies, sweet deals, uncrowded slopes, and fantastic parties. It's the week that's dedicated entirely to celebrating a successful season of skiing and riding, regardless of how many turns you got in or how many feet of snow fell. By the end of March, most of us are soaking in some well-deserved sun and looking forward to off-season adventures. And we also have the opportunity to end this ski season right by taking advantage of all the closing week perks you may or may not know about. Here are 7 reasons to ski closing week this season:
1. The best trails open.
Resorts with areas of extremely steep, challenging terrain wait until late season to open the gnarliest of runs. This is because snowpack has stabilised and hazardous rock areas have been covered enough for patrollers to deem the runs as skiable. A lesser-known fact is that patrollers often wait until the last days of the season to open such areas because they know there will be fewer crowds and tourists (and hence, fewer chances that out-of-towners who shouldn't be skiing the expert areas will make the attempt). The chutes at Mt. Rose in Tahoe are known for getting the clear to open late season. The upper east wall at Arapahoe Basin is prime by early April.
2. Lift tickets are heavily discounted.
You'll find lift tickets for 30-40% discounts off their original prices, especially if booking a package deal or at sites like Liftopia well in advance. At this point in the season, resorts are trying to get as many people to the area as they can (to sell lift tickets, but also to sell food and ski shop gear that's still on the floor). Their main tactic is discounted lift tickets. All-inclusive deals that include rental equipment and even lunch vouchers are also common.
3. Everything else is on sale, too.
Back in the day, nearly all the restaurants in Vail Village offered half price food for all of closing week; some of them still do. Especially at destination resorts, where the two-month off-season lull begins the day after lifts stop spinning, restaurants are getting ready to close their doors, and therefore getting as many customers as possible to walk in the doors. Resort-run and local gear shops slash prices by 40-60%. This is the time to buy that down jacket for January that will be bumped up to full price by next October.
4. There aren't many crowds.
Regardless of how many articles we post about why everyone should go spring skiing, there still won't be the same crowds you see at Christmas, or President's Week, or Spring Break. Closing weeks for most areas don't fall during school vacations or holidays, so the vast majority of people out on the slopes are locals or weekenders. By this time in the season, slopes feel empty, lift lines are short, and you'll slip seamlessly into the laid-back vibes reserved exclusively for closing week.
5. The closing day parties rock.
I'll never forget my first closing weekend at Vail, when I watched in awe from the base one evening as dozens of skiers made their way down from the après ski party at the mid-mountain lodge. Some had ditched their poles in favour of double-fisting PBRs or shouldering an old-school boombox through their wobbly turns. This party, like most at closing weekends everywhere, started in the morning and would last long into the night, featuring barbeques, sun-tanning, ski golf, live music, shotskis, ice bars, and more. These are the social events of the season at ski resorts, and not to be missed.
6. Everyone is happy.
It's true: long, sunny days, corn snow, and the awareness that another season is coming to a close makes for happy locals, happy tourists, and most importantly, happy staff. While resort employees are encouraged to offer excellent customer service throughout the season, their ear-to-ear grins and offers to help you with whatever you possibly need are absolutely genuine during closing week – and the attitude is contagious. You can enjoy your vacation, while they can enjoy the anticipation of theirs, which will last the next seven months.
7. You can learn to ski (almost free).
As a professional ski instructor for several years, I say with confidence that the best time for kids to learn to ski is late in the season. They'll enjoy the slopes when the sun is out, they'll get more specialised attention in group lessons because ski schools are more or less empty, and you'll get the best deals for learn-to-ski packages during the last week of the season. Whitetail in Pennsylvania, for example, offers a $49 USD ($72 AUD) package that includes beginner lift ticket, gear, and lesson for first-timers.
Enjoy all those closing week deals, folks, wherever you may be. If you'd like a little help finding the best ones, click here for more info. Happy trails!