El Niño's promise of rain has been hit or miss, but for skiers and snowboarders, the weather phenomenon has definitely delivered. El Niño produced powerful storms that pounded the West this winter, leaving plenty of pow that will last well into April.
Even as we count down the days till spring begins, the snow is still falling in the mountains, topping resorts off with fresh fluff. Meanwhile, mountain towns are celebrating the end of winter with festivals, parties, concerts—and great deals on lodging, lift tickets, and even flights. So wax down your boards and get out the sunscreen for one last spring fling on the slopes. Here, the four places you can still hit—and we suggest you book fast.
1. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Last Chair: April 3
This legendary resort on the edge of Grand Teton National Park welcomes spring with March Radness—31 days of skiing, concerts and parties. Hop on the tram to get to the breathtaking, sky-high view from Rendezvous Mountain, or find freshness behind backcountry gates in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Book your three-night ski trip between March 28 and April 3 and save 50 percent on lodging and lift tickets, plus earn a $200 airfare credit on select flights.
Apès-ski: The Jackson Hole Rendezvous is a four-day lifestyle and music festival going down March 17–20. This year’s lineup includes Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Zack Brown Band, and the Chris Robinson Brotherhood.
2. Aspen Snowmass, Colorado
Last Chair: Buttermilk, April 3; Aspen Highlands, April 10; Snowmass, April 10; Aspen Mountain, April 17
The four mountains of Aspen Snowmass have the right snow for every shredder. Got a park rat in the family? Hit up Buttermilk’s terrain parks and halfpipes, home to the annual Winter X Games. Craving big mountain thrills? Hike Aspen Highlands’ bowl for big powder turns. If you want it all, head to Snowmass for high alpine bowls, powder chutes, perfect glades, and groomers galore. Aspen Mountain is an icon known for steeps like Ruthie’s Run that drain into downtown Aspen’s restaurants, bars, and boutiques.
Après-ski: Every spring Aspen hosts the world’s only ski-in, ski-out champagne bar exclusively pouring Veuve Clicquot. Towed by a snow cat, The Oasis pops up on the slopes at select scenic vistas; chase the cat around Ajax or follow The Little Nell on Twitter (@TheLittleNell) for updates on its location.
3. Sun Valley, Idaho
Last Chair: April 10
The country’s first ski resort wraps up its 80th season in style by hosting the U.S. Alpine Championship ski races March 22 through 27. While the pros rip down the steps, you can carve immaculately groomed Bald Mountain runs, or drop into the Baldy Bowls, a collection of wide-open snow fields blasted by eastern sun. If you really want to get away from it all, book a trip with Sun Valley Heli Ski. They’ll pluck you off the top of Bald Mountain in their A-Star chopper and fly you to fresh snow on mountains in their massive 750,000-acre permit area, the largest in the lower 48.
Après-ski: The sparkling new Spa at Sun Valley Lodge is a two-story, 20,000-square-foot stunner. Worn out from your day on the hill? Book the White Cloud Massage, which mixes aromatherapy with a deep tissue massage. If you got too much sun—easy to do here—try the signature facial. It starts with an exfoliating scrub followed by an application of a plant stem cell booster serum to smooth out wrinkles and fine lines.
4. Squaw Valley, California
Last Chair: April 26
No region has benefitted more from El Niño than the resorts ringing Lake Tahoe, and Squaw Valley has been especially been lucky with snowfall so far this March. Hop on the KT-22 to shred some of the West’s most challenging terrain, a series of powder chutes including Chute 75, Rock Garden, and Moseley’s. You can also ride the Siberia Express to the upper mountain’s powder bowls, or take the Emigrant lift to drop into Funnel’s steeps.
Après-ski: Just because you spend the day skiing fresh Cali pow, it doesn’t mean you can’t party like a spring breaker. Slide into Squaw’s High Camp Pool and Hot Tub to soak in the sun on the deck looking out over perfect mountain panoramics.
© 2016 AFAR Media