Photo Credit: Carl Frey, Winter Park
It’s Spring break! That wonderful time of year for college students everywhere that offers a much-needed reprieve from the torturous second half of the school year. Spring break is one of those college experiences that has a very strong connotation in the public consciousness. You know the stereotypes: young beautiful people, partying on beaches and boats, in fancy hotel bars in tropical locales like Cancun and Costa Rica. I know what you’re thinking, sounds terrible right? Who in their right mind would go to a beach during the snowiest month of the year for Colorado’s mountains? Spring break in ski country is an experience like no other with both sunshine and powder in abundance. To make the most of it, here’s a handy guide to spring break in Colorado Ski Country.
Be sure to plan ahead
Colorado’s notoriously moody weather means that at seemingly any moment the sun can disappear and the snow can start flying. If you plan to be spending your days traveling in the mountains during spring break, it's always a good idea to know that the sun and warmth can change at any moment. Like the Boy Scout motto, always be prepared. If you’re driving, make sure you’re prepared for winter conditions, even if it's 65 and gorgeous down along the Front Range. And while skiing, it's good to layer up (this should be the new state motto, to be honest).
Don’t worry, it can be done cheaply
For those of us not blessed with the bankroll to be frolicking in the waters of the Caribbean, there are many options that offer even the brokest of college skiers a chance to take a little ski vacation. Ski areas like Loveland, A-Basin, Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort and Monarch offer cheap lift tickets, and while not full of lodging, discount options can be found nearby. My friends and I spent a beautiful spring break a couple of years back in Glenwood Springs, splitting a motel room for cheap and enjoying both great bluebird days at Sunlight, but also the hot-springs and culture of Glenwood. Spring break is a great chance for college students to spend multiple days up in the mountains, having a great time skiing as well as exploring the other wonderful amenities of the high country.
Don't set expectations
Because of the oscillating nature of Colorado’s weather in March, it's good not to set any expectations of what your spring break skiing might entail. The good news though, it's going to be great. Spring is practically the only time when you can guarantee you’ll either be skiing powder after a massive storm (March being the snowiest month in the state, and April the third snowiest), or skiing under warm, inviting sunshine and buttery conditions. Spring break is a win-win, but don’t go into it thinking you're going to stack untracked powder days, or t-shirt weather bluebird laps 100 percent of the time.
Want to make the most of Spring Break? Then take a left turn where you would take a right and try some new things. Whether it's trying out new ski areas or using the warm weather to your advantage by taking a chance with other snow activities like tubing, snowshoeing or snowmobiling, spring break might offer the last chance to do something new and different this ski season. It's also a great time to try out the “other side,” by which I mean exchanging the snowboard for a friend’s skis, or vice versa. The warm weather and the joyous aura of the springtime mountains make it a good time to back up that claim of yours that skiing is laughably easier than snowboarding or vice versa—bet a patio beer on it.
Justin Cygan is a fourth-year student at the University of Denver, where he studies International Relations and Journalism. Born and raised in Colorado, he learned to ski and snowboard at his home mountain of Loveland, where he still regularly rides today. When not chasing pow he can be found skateboarding, writing, reading, cooking and taking pictures in Denver and throughout the state. Justin is the proud father of a year-old aloe plant. Read more of Justin’s stories here.