Spring in the Rockies Can’t Be Beat

words :: Ben Osborne // cover photo :: Dan Evans / Courtesy Norquay.

It’s kind of backwards, isn’t it? As the snowpack in the mountains out west stacks up and the temperatures get more bearable, people’s interest in the mountains tends to wane. Shoulder season for most represents a time of transition. After a long winter season, people want to do something new—we get it.

In the Rockies, Spring might seem like the time to move away from the mountains and onto the golf course, the bike trails, or the river. But in reality, it’s just the opposite—spring is time to make use of all that the winter-long conditioning you’ve done, whether in the mountains or on the après patio.

Maybe it’s out of necessity—you need to use your Ikon or Mountain Collective Pass to get your last few days. Or, maybe there’s an epic deal—there’s no better time for value when it comes to hotel packages at SkiBig3 than in the spring. However you end up in the Rockies, you’ll notice three things—the events are all-time, après-ski might be the best part of your day, and the backcountry can offer some of the best (and safest conditions) of the year.

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All-Time Après 

It’s no secret that sitting on a patio in the sunshine with a beverage is a good time—but doing it after a day on the hill holds a special place in any skier or rider’s heart. With more daylight, it’s easy to pack plenty of activities into your day, and après is one you need to factor into your schedule if you’re visiting the Canadian Rockies this spring.

Is there anything better than après beers on a sunny patio? Photo: courtesy Noel Hendrickson / Banff and Lake Louise Tourism

In Banff, the Banff Ave Brewing Company is celebrating 10 years of serving up tasty microbrews alongside a menu full of delicious food options. Take a tour of the brewery (if your legs still have anything left) and you’ll get six samplers and a 32 oz. growler to take home with you as a souvenir.

Taking the water from six glaciers high in the Rockies, grain from high-altitude Alberta family farms, and adding in a whole lot of love, Park Distillery serves up delicious cocktails and spirits unlike anywhere else in the world. We’d recommend the Glacier Rye, which took home Gold at the International SIP Awards in 2017.

Après with a twist. Photo: Devan Ingraham

If you’re still looking for a bit of friendly competition after your day on the hill, head over to High Rollers for some pins, pizza, and pints. Part bowling alley, part beer hall, this small slice of New York City has something for everyone. 

Fun in the Sun

Go ahead and get more bang for your buck with the Untracked Concert Series in Banff after a day on the hill. Starting on April 4th through May, nothing screams ski trip more than dancing in your boots until the wee hours of the morning—and the Untracked Concert Series is a good place to start.

Live music at the base of the mountain at Lake Louise. Photo: courtesy SkiBig3

On the hill, spring is when a season’s worth of creativity and flow come to fruition—at Sunshine Village, that will take place in the form of the Howly Bowly. Join in on the fun as world-class riders descend upon the Rockies for a competition that doesn’t follow your normal rules, and always delivers in entertainment value.

The most unique event in snowboarding goes down at Sunshine Village on April 20. Photo: courtesy Sunshine Village

The Backyard Battle at Norquay offers another unique competition format with a head-to-head bracket of riders playing “S.N.O.W.” against each other to decide who moves on to the next round. The best part? The winner takes home a brand new Chrysler Daytona Turbo.

As spring goes on and things start to heat up, Shake The Lake at Lake Louise offers the perfect segue into summer with tropical vibes the form of the always-entertaining Pond Skim, the Kokanee Kup, and a party run down Easy Street in support of Bikinis for Breast Cancer.

 Go Deeper

While the party goes on in the valley, in the mountains things remain serious—and for good reason. There’s a special time in any hardcore mountain person’s heart when the snowpack starts to tighten up and the long days mean pushing deeper—and there is perhaps no better place in Canada than the Rockies in the spring for tackling big objectives.

Heaven for a skier, a normal spring day in the Rockies. Photo: courtesy Reuben Krabbe / SkiBig3

Just a short drive away from the liveliness of the town of Banff, a massive slice of iconic Rockies skiing awaits you in Banff National Park. Here you’ll find a huge variety of terrain for all levels of backcountry rider and plenty of options depending on avalanche hazard.

There a whole world out there—you just gotta go out and get it. Photo: courtesy Reuben Krabbe / SkiBig3

Bow Summit’s easy access and variety of terrain makes it most popular, but don’t forget about other options such as the Crowfoot Glacier and Mount Jimmy Simpson which offer excellent options for skiing and more amazing views.

No matter what you’re going for, the Rockies offer a wholesome experience in the spring that you don’t want to miss out on. Put away your golf clubs—ski season doesn’t stop until a long winter’s worth of snow and good vibes have plenty of time to melt away. —ML