Late April 2023 road trip suggestions.

Sbooker

Member
I’m hoping for some help here if anyone would be kind enough to make a suggestion.
A mate of mine - about 20 seniors my senior - lost his wife a couple of weeks back. She got sick with cancer about 3 weeks after he retired a few years ago so they didn’t get a chance to do any of their planned travels.

Anyway he’s not confident to travel by himself any longer. He’d like to go to the North America. I’m thinking I’ll take him on a relatively short (about 10 days as he has a grown lad at home with Downs Syndrome and he can’t be away for long periods) trip after the Easter holidays next year.
This isn’t a ski trip but I would like to get a couple of days in. Maybe in towns where he would have something to do while I’m on the hill. I could imagine him killing a day in Whistler village, or the Stateline casinos, or Aspen, or Bend. You get the picture.
The main thing would be the sights and towns along the way. Vegas and the National Parks of Utah would be good. Tahoe and San Fran too. SLC up to Yellowstone. Vancouver to Banff.
Driving doesn’t worry me. In fact I quite like it. So plenty of miles is ok. So which ski areas are reliably open late April? Extra points if I can bag a hill that I’ve never skied. Heavenly and Loveland and Mt Bachelor are bucket list hills. I’m thinking there wouldn’t be much diverse landscape if we flew into Portland? Enough to see in Colorado if we flew into Denver?
Sorry for rambling post. Thanks in advance.
 

jimk

Active member
A trip to Big Sky for skiing with a side trip to nearby Yellowstone National Park (NP) is something I've done and is great, but you have to check how much of Yellowstone is open in the month of April. It can be limited. There could be limited openings for other northern "ski-park" combos like Whitefish and Glacier NP or Arapahoe Basin and Rocky Mtn NP too.

If you skied areas in the Wasatch Mtns of UT, then you can get to numerous interesting National Parks within about 4 hours to the south, such as Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion. These are very good for April visits because the temps will be nice and mild, but not too hot at all of them, although Bryce is a little higher elevation and cooler than the others.

Mammoth Mtn, CA and Death Valley NP might be another good April combo. And you wouldn't be too far from Lake Tahoe and ski areas like Palisades-Tahoe, which should still be open in April. Using San Francisco as flight gateway would add it as an attractive city to visit.

Many Colorado ski areas will still be skiing good in April, but they start closing at the time of your April dates, for example Telluride and Crested Butte plan to close around Apr 3-6, 2023.

The Vancouver-Whistler combo with other ski and non-ski explorations in British Columbia could also be quite nice, perhaps Banff area too. Vancouver is an attractive city like SF.
 
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ChrisC

Well-known member
Good ideas above...

April after Easter. A bit too late for remote/non-urban Western resorts (closed - not enough tourists)...and a bit too early for some National Parks (major sections closed - snow).

1. Canada - Alberta (plus BC?)
I have done this one myself with friends in April - Banff and Jasper National Parks plus skiing.​
3 or 4 days in Banff. Ski Sunshine and Lake Louise. Spend time in Banff. There is a tourist gondola and small hikes.​
Drive Icefields Parkway to Jasper. Amazing!​
2 or days in Jasper. Ski Marmot Basin. Drive around Jasper town. Some small hikes. Return via Icefields Parkway. (The skiing in April was great with resorts 90%+ open)​
Also, you could continue onto Whistler via Northern Powder Highway. Stop in Revelstoke and/or Kelowna.​
Ski Whistler. Leave Vancouver after some time there.​
2. USA - Utah Parks
There are a few ways you could do this:​
SLC start - ski Park City and Alta/Snowbird.​
Head down to Moab. See Arches (and Canyonlands?)​
See Bryce and Zion. Return to SLC?​
You could continue to Las Vegas and add Grand Canyon too!​
Or switch Moab/Bryce and Zion and then head to Colorado and stop in Vail/Breckenridge. Ski Breck or ABasin. Fly out of Denver?​
3. USA - Northwest
Fly in/out of Portland. Ski Mt. Hood / Timberline Lodge. Hood River.​
Dry to Bend. Ski Bachelor.​
Bend to Crater Lake NP.​
Crater Lake to Redwood NP.​
Take Oregon Coast Highway from Redwood NP stopping at towns/beaches along the way.​
Back to Portland.​
4. USA - Las Vegas and National Parks.
Fly in/out of Vegas.​
Take off to Death Valley up to Mammoth.​
Come back to Vegas and add Grand Canyon and/or Zion NPs.​

I would avoid Yellowstone NP this early. Most will not be open. Too early. And doubtful road to Jackson/Grand Teton will be open.

SF could be an option, but many Sierra passes are still closed. And you never know about snow - feast/famine.

Denver is an option, skiing is there (Abasin, Loveland, Breck, etc). But some parks are mostly closed like Rocky Mountain. You could do a loop of the state down to the Southwest. However, some of the mountain towns will be in 'mud season' mode where businesses/restaurants close.

 

jimk

Active member
3. USA - Northwest
Fly in/out of Portland. Ski Mt. Hood / Timberline Lodge. Hood River.​
Dry to Bend. Ski Bachelor.​
Bend to Crater Lake NP.​
Crater Lake to Redwood NP.​
Take Oregon Coast Highway from Redwood NP stopping at towns/beaches along the way.​
Back to Portland.​
4. USA - Las Vegas and National Parks.
Fly in/out of Vegas.​
Take off to Death Valley up to Mammoth.​
Come back to Vegas and add Grand Canyon and/or Zion NPs.​
I like Chris' #3, but I wonder what would tourist weather be like in coastal OR at that time? The non-skiing portions of the Utah and Vegas itineraries have the advantage of very comfortable tourist weather (sunny and 75 degs F) in April.
 

Sbooker

Member
Thanks for the suggestions. I've actually been to quite a few of these spots but my friend hasn't. I don't mind doing them again in the least. I've not been to Oregon so that looks attractive and I've only seen Arches and Zion in Utah so Canyonlands and Bryce are options.
You Americans have the most diverse landscape and scenery anywhere on the planet I think. In reality we could do any of these routes and have a great time.
@ChrisC I've been to Banff and skied Sunshine and Lake Louise (in April a couple of times) but not been to Jasper. That itinerary is a great suggestion. And thanks for the tip on Yellowstone. I'll leave that for another time.
 

ChrisC

Well-known member
I like Chris' #3, but I wonder what would tourist weather be like in coastal OR at that time? The non-skiing portions of the Utah and Vegas itineraries have the advantage of very comfortable tourist weather (sunny and 75 degs F) in April.

That's a very valid point. It could still be quite grey and chilly. However, storms become less frequent by then.
I've done the CA-to-WA Coast Highway in September 2x. Optimal weather.
 

ChrisC

Well-known member
Thanks for the suggestions. I've actually been to quite a few of these spots but my friend hasn't. I don't mind doing them again in the least. I've not been to Oregon so that looks attractive and I've only seen Arches and Zion in Utah so Canyonlands and Bryce are options.
You Americans have the most diverse landscape and scenery anywhere on the planet I think. In reality we could do any of these routes and have a great time.
@ChrisC I've been to Banff and skied Sunshine and Lake Louise (in April a couple of times) but not been to Jasper. That itinerary is a great suggestion. And thanks for the tip on Yellowstone. I'll leave that for another time.

Not sure which parks you have or have not seen.

You could still do a California loop or one way.

1. Northern CA Loop
SF in/out.​
Ski North Tahoe - Palisades​
Ski South Tahoe - Heavenly (4/28 closing)​
Go down to Yosemite NP. The waterfalls are best in Spring - high flow.​
Go to Sequoia NP​
Make your way to Monterey​
Head up the coast to SF​
2. One way SF to Las Vegas
SF start​
Go to Yosemite​
Up to South Lake Tahoe - Heavenly (4/28 closing)​
Maybe add North Tahoe?​
Go down to Mammoth on the East side of Sierra​
Death Valley​
Las Vegas​

I looked at Yellowstone NP again. There was major rain/snow in May/June that resulted in a 100-year type flood in the northern sections of the park. The issue - these are the entrances most likely to open first with Gardiner, MT the year-round entrance. Looks like they are still closed. From the NPS site:

North and Northeast Entrances Closed to Visitor Vehicles, Open to Approved Commercial Tours​

Alert 1, Severity closure, North and Northeast Entrances Closed to Visitor Vehicles, Open to Approved Commercial Tours​
The park entrances at Gardiner, MT (North) and Cooke City/Silver Gate, MT (Northeast) are closed to visitor vehicles. These entrances are open to approved commercial tours, bicycles, and foot traffic.​

Who knows if they will finish all the repairs this season? The Southern entrances towards Jackson/Grand Teton typically do not open in April.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
I’m in Sweden so a little late on this.

Late April from a skiing perspective is an interesting transitional time. The areas that stand out are Mt. Bachelor and A-Basin: Bachelor for that amazing backside corn and A-Basin where it’s often still winter when it’s spring everywhere else.

In Oregon you can see Crater Lake from the south but the road around the lake is not plowed in winter and with 400+ inches average snow I would not assume open by late April.

If you come down the coast from there you should check out Oregon Caves, which are marble not limestone as well as the redwoods. In this and other cases logistics would be good if you could do one way, into Portland and out of SF. Redwood coastal area is not that likely to be rainy but quite likely overcast or foggy.

In Colorado Breck, Winter Park and Loveland are open as well as A-Basin, worth checking out though higher proportion spring conditions. From there go to Aspen for a day just for the town even if no skiing. Then it’s a half day drive to Moab, where you have Arches and Canyonlands in ideal time/weather. This is all replicating part of my early April 2011 trip so far. From there Richard and I drove to Natural Bridges, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon and home.

There’s no question from a weather perspective that the central/southern Utah NPs, also Bryce, Zion and Capitol Reef, are the optimal ones in your time frame.

Given your friend’s time constraints, if you start from Denver on the above plan you need to depart from Vegas.

The Utah parks are logistically easier from SLC but LCC/BCC skiing is more of a crapshoot. Ungroomed will be great if there’s powder but often in an awkward crud stage between storms if not.

Mammoth will be good but Canyon/Eagle are closed by then. While Yosemite Valley will be open, none of the high passes between there and Mammoth will be. Tahoe skiing will be far inferior to Mammoth most of the time.

I agree with others that Yellowstone will be very limited and possibly closed completely.

If you are time constrained to a week or so the Banff/Jasper route out of Calgary is a decent choice. With a little more time I’d go for Portland to SF. I think you need 2 weeks minimum for Denver-Utah parks-Vegas.
 
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ChrisC

Well-known member
In Oregon you can see Crater Lake from the south but the road around the lake is not plowed in winter and with 400+ inches average snow I would not assume open by late April.

If you come down the coast from there you should check out Oregon Caves, which are marble not limestone as well as the redwoods. In this and other cases logistics would be good if you could do one way, into Portland and out of SF. Redwood coastal area is not that likely to be rainy but quite likely overcast or foggy.

Yes. A much better suggestion is to head South down the California Coast. Likely better weather.

Also, another important stop. You can follow the coast highway to almost SF (3/4 of the way), but then loop over to the wine country. Healdsburg, CA is a beautiful town (my favorite) in wine country and allows easy access to the Russian River, and Northern Sonoma wineries. It's worth seeing one or two. If you really like the area, you could add a stop in Napa town as well. Napa and Sonoma are quite sunny and decently warm (70f) by April.

You could fly in/out of San Francisco if that is an easier international destination. And just buy a cheap one-way plane ticket to Portland before you begin. If you cannot do an open jaw flight....
 

sibhusky

New member
There could be limited openings for other northern "ski-park" combos like Whitefish
The ski area here isn't open in late April. Closing day in 2023 will be April 9.

And the main reason to go to Glacier is to drive the Sun Road, which rarely opens before July.
 

ChrisC

Well-known member
In Colorado Breck, Winter Park and Loveland are open as well as A-Basin, worth checking out though higher proportion spring conditions. From there go to Aspen for a day just for the town even if no skiing. Then it’s a half day drive to Moab, where you have Arches and Canyonlands in ideal time/weather. This is all replicating part of my early April 2011 trip so far. From there Richard and I drove to Natural Bridges, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon and home.

There’s no question from a weather perspective that the central/southern Utah NPs, also Bryce, Zion and Capitol Reef, are the optimal ones in your time frame.

I skied Breckenridge and Loveland on the weekend of April 23/24 in 2016. Loveland was 100% open with great skiing since it's almost a 270-degree bowl with lots of sun aspects. Breckenridge only had Peak 8 open (100%) and everything else was closed. There were snow squalls refreshing most surfaces except that face due south. I am sure Breckenridge would have a lot more open now since Vail lost its late-season partner in A-Basin.

If you did do this itinerary, you could consider a detour through Southwest Colorado. Black Canyon outside Montrose, CO is worth a couple of hours. It's a smaller, steeper, and more narrow Grand Canyon. There are hot springs in Ouray, CO that are extensive and the town has a beautiful setting. I would suggest Telluride but the town goes into hibernation after the April closure: Gondola, most restaurants, and residents are not available. The road from Ouray/Montrose to Moab is quite scenic and goes through an amazing canyon where Tom Cruise filmed many scenes for some Mission Impossible movies.

Mesa Verde NP near Durango is quite unique. However, most of it is still closed in April so you cannot access the cool cliff dwellings.
 

EMSC

Well-known member
I'm obviously a Colorado guy and there are several versions of a trip that works in that time frame that either start or end in Denver. In addition to ChrisC list, Winter park is partially open in that time frame as well (Mary Jane side of the mtn and Parsenn bowl). It's possible Aspen Mtn itself stays open until ~April 20th as well.

Lots of hot springs in various spots along just about any chosen path through the state for example. Not sure how much the skiing vs non-skiing activities are being weighed for importance though.
 

tseeb

Active member
Not sure which parks you have or have not seen.

You could still do a California loop or one way.

1. Northern CA Loop
SF in/out.​
Ski North Tahoe - Palisades​
Ski South Tahoe - Heavenly (4/28 closing)​
Go down to Yosemite NP. The waterfalls are best in Spring - high flow.​
Go to Sequoia NP​
Make your way to Monterey​
Head up the coast to SF​
2. One way SF to Las Vegas
SF start​
Go to Yosemite​
Up to South Lake Tahoe - Heavenly (4/28 closing)​
Maybe add North Tahoe?​
Go down to Mammoth on the East side of Sierra​
Death Valley​
Las Vegas​
I have to question Heavenly closing date 4/28/23. That is a Friday. More likely would be 4/16, 4/23 or 4/30, depending on snow. If it's a good year, you can ski cruisers on upper mountain in AM then long, steep bumps on Face/East Bowl and Gunbarrel in afternoon.

While @Sbooker wants to go there, in a less than good year Heavenly can be limited in Spring. In 2022 Heavenly planned to run from CA base, downloading on lowest level, but mid-level melted too fast during March so Plan B was using gondola for access. Then wind kept gondola from running nearly every day between 4/11 and 4/21. They did get closing weekend 4/22-24, but most of the skiing was on Dipper chair.

Kirkwood, where lifts ran until May 1 is a better choice in Spring and on the shortest Spring route from So. Tahoe to Yosemite. But it's a 4 hrs. drive from there to Yosemite and there is not much to do for a non-skier during day at Kirkwood, besides enjoying the scenery, eating and drinking. And if they run lifts in late April, they won't be running Backside or lifts that get there and back (2, 3 & 4). If you do make it to So. Tahoe, I should be available to show you around (and share some Buddy tickets).

Rest of your routes are good (except not sure I would go to Sequoia when you can see the same trees in Yosemite) although I know @Sbooker has been to Mammoth before and he wants to add new ski area. I took my family on a Kirkwood, South Lake Tahoe, Mammoth, Death Valley, Las Vegas trip in 2005. One day we were in sub-freezing wind at Mammoth and the next afternoon when we stopped for a hike it was in the 90s (luckily there was some shade in canyon where we hiked). We also crossed Hoover Dam and hiked to Arizona Hot Springs. If you want to stay in Death Valley, you may need to make reservations soon.
 
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Sbooker

Member
I'm obviously a Colorado guy and there are several versions of a trip that works in that time frame that either start or end in Denver. In addition to ChrisC list, Winter park is partially open in that time frame as well (Mary Jane side of the mtn and Parsenn bowl). It's possible Aspen Mtn itself stays open until ~April 20th as well.

Lots of hot springs in various spots along just about any chosen path through the state for example. Not sure how much the skiing vs non-skiing activities are being weighed for importance though.
Skiing is the lesser priority. It’s mainly about my friend seeing some sites.
 

Sbooker

Member
I have to question Heavenly closing date 4/28/23. That is a Friday. More likely would be 4/16, 4/23 or 4/30, depending on snow. If it's a good year, you can ski cruisers on upper mountain in AM then long, steep bumps on Face/East Bowl and Gunbarrel in afternoon.

While @Sbooker wants to go there, in a less than good year Heavenly can be limited in Spring. In 2022 Heavenly planned to run from CA base, downloading on lowest level, but mid-level melted too fast during March so Plan B was using gondola for access. Then wind kept gondola from running nearly every day between 4/11 and 4/21. They did get closing weekend 4/22-24, but most of the skiing was on Dipper chair.

Kirkwood, where lifts ran until May 1 is a better choice in Spring and on the shortest Spring route from So. Tahoe to Yosemite. But it's a 4 hrs. drive from there to Yosemite and there is not much to do for a non-skier during day at Kirkwood, besides enjoying the scenery, eating and drinking. And if they run lifts in late April, they won't be running Backside or lifts that get there and back (2, 3 & 4). If you do make it to So. Tahoe, I should be available to show you around (and share some Buddy tickets).

Rest of your routes are good (except not sure I would go to Sequoia when you can see the same trees in Yosemite) although I know @Sbooker has been to Mammoth before and he wants to add new ski area. I took my family on a Kirkwood, South Lake Tahoe, Mammoth, Death Valley, Las Vegas trip in 2005. One day we were in sub-freezing wind at Mammoth and the next afternoon when we stopped for a hike it was in the 90s (luckily there was some shade in canyon where we hiked). We also crossed Hoover Dam and hiked to Arizona Hot Springs. If you want to stay in Death Valley, you may need to make reservations soon.
Be careful Tony. I may just take you up on the offer.
The Tahoe circuit sounds good.
 

ChrisC

Well-known member
I have to question Heavenly closing date 4/28/23. That is a Friday. More likely would be 4/16, 4/23 or 4/30, depending on snow. If it's a good year, you can ski cruisers on upper mountain in AM then long, steep bumps on Face/East Bowl and Gunbarrel in afternoon.

While @Sbooker wants to go there, in a less than good year Heavenly can be limited in Spring. In 2022 Heavenly planned to run from CA base, downloading on lowest level, but mid-level melted too fast during March so Plan B was using gondola for access. Then wind kept gondola from running nearly every day between 4/11 and 4/21. They did get closing weekend 4/23-25, but most of the skiing was on Dipper chair.

Kirkwood, where lifts ran until May 1 is a better choice in Spring and on the shortest Spring route from So. Tahoe to Yosemite. But it's a 4 hrs. drive from there to Yosemite and there is not much to do for a non-skier during day at Kirkwood, besides enjoying the scenery, eating and drinking. And if they run lifts in late April, they won't be running Backside or lifts that get there and back (2, 3 & 4). If you do make it to So. Tahoe, I should be available to show you around.

Rest of your routes are good (except not sure I would go to Sequoia when you can see the same trees in Yosemite) although I know @Sbooker has been to Mammoth before and he wants to add new ski area. I took my family on a Kirkwood, South Lake Tahoe, Mammoth, Death Valley, Las Vegas trip in 2005. One day we were in sub-freezing wind at Mammoth and the next afternoon when we stopped for a hike it was in the 90s (luckily there was some shade in canyon where we hiked). We also crossed Hoover Dam and hiked to Arizona Hot Springs. If you want to stay in Death Valley, you may need to make reservations soon.


I just did a lazy Google search and did not sniff test it. A Friday closing date makes no sense....

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I am less familiar with Heavenly's late-season operations, but the Lake Tahoe view is always intoxicating - even in suboptimal conditions. Worth a day + casinos.

You're right Kirkwood would have better skiing. And sometimes they get great April storms.

Another National Park vs. Sequoia could be Pinnacles NP. Lots of giant California Condos. Although you definitely need to hike a bit in order to get the most out of the park and see the birds.

You could even head south at Monterey versus looping back to SF and see Big Sur, San Louis Obispo, Santa Barbara, etc. to LA.
 

tseeb

Active member
Vail has announced tentative opening and closing dates for all their resorts. Heavenly and Northstar plan to open on Nov. 18, and Kirkwood on Dec. 2, which would not make me very happy if I was a property owner or renter there.

"We also know that spring skiing in our region is some of the best in the country, and the currently planned closing date for Heavenly and Northstar is Sunday, April 16, and Kirkwood plans to remain open through Sunday, April 30.
Importantly, all dates – both for opening and closing – are conditions dependent. Our resorts will begin making snow as soon as the weather will allow in the fall."
 

Sbooker

Member
Back to this as we’ll have to book airfares soon.
Is it fair to assume that after Easter (mid to late April) dates next year will have plentiful accommodation to book on the fly at a reasonable price? I've checked and it's not Oregon or California spring breaks from what I can tell.
We’re debating flying into Portland and checking out Oregon or flying into San Fran and checking out Tahoe/Yosemite. Both those options have semi efficient flight times.

Edit. Mt Hood appears to be south facing. I'm not understanding how they're open until early May? Must be a very early ski day I would think?

Also I'm assuming I'll be fine with a two wheel drive car in that time frame?
 
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jimk

Active member
I'm not that familiar with late spring skiing in OR and CA, but the rest of the US ski regions are pretty dead by that point. I find it hard to imagine you'd have a problem getting accommodations on the fly all along the way of a skiing-sightseeing roadtrip in the area, particularly in towns like Bend (for Bachelor), the north shore of Lake Tahoe (for Palisades-Tahoe), South Lake Tahoe (for Heavenly and Kirkwood), Govt Camp (for Mt. Hood).

About ten years ago I did a two week skiing road trip in that region. Flew into San Francisco, drove to Bachelor for three days of skiing, then down to Reno and skied a bunch of Tahoe resorts (Sugar Bowl, Homewood, Palisades-Tahoe, Heavenly, Sierra at Tahoe, Kirkwood) for a week plus, then back to San Francisco for flight home. I also visited a first cousin living in SF for a couple days of sightseeing the city on that trip.

You could make a very scenic loop doing something similar by flying into SF, going to Tahoe region, then up to Bend and Mt Hood, then drive some portion of the OR/CA (see the Redwood trees) coastline back to SF. Bend is a nice town with dozens of microbreweries. Tahoe as you know is very scenic and SF is one of America's most colorful/distinctive cities. Never skied Hood, but believe Mt Hood Meadows and Timberline Lodge ski areas would both be open in April. Bachelor and several of the Tahoe resorts would also be open, but Tahoe resorts might have reduced terrain?? @tseeb would know.

Two wheel drive should be fine in April. That is what I rented in winter for my OR-CA roadtrip. My trip was in January and I bought chains for $50 and carried them in the vehicle in case there was a big surprise snow storm. There was and I used them just once - to get to Sierra at Tahoe for a nice powder day!
 
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