The Best (and Worst) Days of the Year to Go Skiing

Perfect weather can make dreams come true. Photo: Courtesy of Park City Mountain

Ski season is just around the corner … And it brings with it some of the best days of our lives.

However, with the good often comes the bad. And sometimes that same day on the hill can be unforgettable for great and terrible reasons all at the same time.

Here are some of our favorite (and least favorite) days to hit the hill.

Early Season

Fast grass and soft rocks are the cornerstones of skiing before the lifts open. Photo: Courtesy of Aaron Rice

Some people like to earn their turns even before the lifts start spinning for the season. These are some of the best days because it’s a return to what you love most. Skiing, snow, and smiles abound as the familiar sound of boots clicking into bindings and snow crunching returns after a long summer.

Unfortunately, this is one of the most dangerous and scary times of the year to ski. Thin snowpack is hiding sharp rocks underneath. In low-tide conditions, sharks can jump out and leave an excited skier with broken gear or body parts and a season ended before it even really started.

Opening Day

Everybody is your best friend on opening day! Photo: Courtesy of of Park City Mountain

For those not crazy enough to hike before the resorts open, opening day of their favorite ski area is often ranked among the best days of the year. Seeing friends that were forgotten during the dry season, the wonderful feeling of a full day in ski boots and, of course, that sweet freedom of sliding on snow is hard to beat.

On the other hand, there are only a million other people doing the same thing. And maybe those gloves that could go for one more season are ready for early retirement.

Major Holidays

Merry Christmas … or Bah Humbug? Photo: Jakob Owens/Unsplash

A three-day weekend! A week of school vacation for the kids! It’s time to travel to a new and exciting destination to try it out. Maybe it’s the perfect time for a reunion with the old college ski buddies and tear it up while the knees can still handle it. A holiday weekend might be the only time you get a chance to shred the hill like the good old days.

The other side of the coin is that most ski areas in North America don’t have the greatest coverage in December and January (the most popular times for holiday ski trips). Good coverage typically comes around late February. Everybody else is on the same vacation schedule and packed into sometimes a frighteningly limited selection of runs.

Weather Days

Fun for the whole family and all their friends all at the same time. Photo: Courtesy of of Park City Mountain

When the weather lines up to provide the clear bluebird powder day (on a day when we can actually ski it), it doesn’t get much better than that. That magic feeling of floating down a mountain effortlessly is in full force. Dreams come true … Romances are ignited.

however, weather can also be as wild as those romances ignited on the perfect day. The following week, going out to ski with your new partner without checking the forecast can be disastrous. Wind holds while sitting on the chairlift. Temperatures so low that boots crack and toes turn black. If your new partner is still with you at the end of the day, they might leave when you refuse to give them a warming foot rub on their newly black toes.


No better way to celebrate a birthday. Photo: Courtesy of Ben White

What better way to celebrate a birthday than by sliding on snow? Nothing. The pure joy of carving a turn can’t be beat on your special day, and there’s now two reasons to celebrate at the end of the day. Commemorating the day you rocketed into existence by rocketing down a mountain surely deserves cake at sunset. (Bonus points for skiing a chute in your birthday suit.)

Although, letting the celebration vibe get too loose can end in a bruised ego or broken femur. Feeling invincible is often associated with birthdays, and while it might feel like being extra daring on your extra special day is warranted, it’s probably not.

Gaper Day

An epic spring day on the hill. Photo: Courtesy of John Howland

Almost always around April, Gaper Day is the perfect spring day to get silly with your ski buddies. Dressing up in your parents’ one-piece suits and pulling retro gear out of the back of the garage is pretty fun. The snow is soft, the sun is shining, and maybe the one-piece ski suits get traded for bathing suits.

On the other hand, a body-length rash from sliding on snow with bare skin is one of the worst ways to walk away from a Gaper Day ski. Maybe Mom or Dad’s one-piece suit got forgotten somewhere, or the faded and cracked plastic on the retro bindings finally gave out. Sometimes, the mountain plays pranks on you, and sometimes it goes a little too far.

Closing Day

Leaping into spring on a closing day pond skim. Photo: Courtesy of Park City Mountain

Late season and warm weather. There are pond-skims, burgers on the grill, and there’s nothing to lose if patrol pulls your pass. It’s one of the biggest parties of the whole season. If there was a time to do something you hadn’t done during the mid-season, today’s your day. (That cutie you met on the double chair two months ago isn’t going to be sitting there tomorrow.)

Now it’s time to start counting down the days until the lifts start running again. Your friends can go play golf or whatever they do. It doesn’t matter because it’s not skiing and they aren’t recognizable without their helmet. Skis and boots can go into the back of the closet for now, to be replaced by that not-so fun bike as the go-to fun tool. That cutie on the double chair will just have to wait until next season.

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