Generally the slopes in the USA are less crowded than in Europe and it's pretty rare to stand at the top of a run surrounded by millions of people. However many of our clients still want to know when the quietest time is to ski in the US.
They are often surprised to learn that it's quite different from skiing in Europe.
The Americans have completely different holiday times from most of the UK & Europe, which can definitely be an advantage if you have a family and need to come during school holidays.
Even if you are not restricted to school holidays it can be a joy to figure out when you can whizz down the slopes without there being too many other people around.
Yes of course Christmas and New Year are busy times in the ski industry for everyone. However Americans tend to take their Christmas break between Christmas and New Year, starting on 26 December, rather than before and including Christmas Day.
So you'll find the slopes are still relatively uncrowded the more days you can have before 26 December. Also rates tend to increase for Peak season on 26 Dec and nightly prices are often 20% higher or more on 26 Dec than on 25 Dec.
Christmas Day itself, at least in the morning, is a magical time to ski. The slopes tend to be fairly quiet, as many people are still having a leisurely breakfast and opening presents. So if you are early risers (or the kids are wide awake) making some turns on Christmas morning is a great idea.
The Americans have 2 bank holidays in Winter time which the Europeans don't have: Martin Luther King weekend and President's weekend. People living in the USA frequently make the most of the long weekend to come skiing, so the slopes can be busy over these times, particularly the Saturday and Sunday. Many people travel home on the Monday so things quieten down then.
Martin Luther King bank holiday is the third Monday of January and President's is the third Monday of February, so these bank holidays are roughly the same time each year. Do check with us for exact dates.
Except for the bank holidays above, US skiers do not have school holidays in either Jan time as the Australians do, or in mid Feb as the Brits do, so Jan & Feb are not particularly busy times for skiing in the USA. Yes the February half term can coincide with the end of President's weekend, but after that you'll see mostly international skiers on the slopes.
Instead of half term, the American's have a week off for "Spring break". This usually falls during the last 3 weeks of March. However instead of the whole country having a break at the same time, each state or college selects a week, spreading out the "spring breakers".
Unless Easter falls during March, again the American's do not have Easter school holidays as such, not even a long bank holiday weekend. Easter really can be a great time to ski in the USA if it's in April. The rates are much lower often falling about 25% from the rates in March and can be as little as half the price of the Christmas holidays.
In Europe Saturdays can be a good day to ski, as often Saturdays are changeover days for the large ski companies and people are leaving & arriving in resort, leaving the slopes relatively empty. This is quite different for many of the Colorado USA resorts. Denver is a big city and within about 2 hours drive of most of the major resorts - Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek & Winter park. Therefore many people do come up to the mountains and ski for the day on Saturday and some stay overnight and ski on Sunday morning before heading back to the city.
This also means that the resorts are pretty quiet during the week. So arriving at the weekend will mean missing some of the busiest days of the week if you are just staying for 7 days. Another way to plan a longer trip, say for 10 days, is to arrive early in the week, say on a Monday or Tuesday, stay for 10 days and leave again on Thursday, Friday or Saturday the following week, which means you only have one weekend during your trip. By then perhaps you will feel like having a rest day and want to try some snow tubing, dog sledding or a sleigh ride.
I hope this helps with planning your ski holiday in the USA.
We live in the USA, know the ski resorts & accommodation and visit them regularly.
We can give you expert advice and save you time & effort finding the right USA ski holiday for you.
Helen & Rob Brown
UK Tel 01223 655642
US Tel 303 482 1961