Whenever friends back East ask me the best time to plan a ski trip to Utah, my answer is always the same: “If you need to plan ahead, come anytime in March.” The obvious follow-up question is: “Why?” The answer, in long form, can best be summed up by reviewing the story of our current season, as well as Mother Nature’s deep sense of irony.
After months of high pressure systems, sunshine, and dashed hopes for deep snow in the Wasatch, it turns out all I had to do was leave town. While we enjoyed the occasional storm here and there, and Solitude had been skiing top to bottom since the holidays, we had yet to see the big, frequent storms dropping the Greatest Snow on Earth that the Central Wasatch is so famous for.
After half a season worth of close calls and disappointments, I’d reverted to the only positive mindsets I had left: “Any skiing is better than no skiing. It’s still fun. Snow will come.” The good news in living here during bad seasons is that with every day that goes by without snow, the odds grow in your favor that SOME snow will show up. So imagine my surprise when I woke up on February 15 to discover that late on Valentine’s Day nature decided to reunite me with my first love (don’t tell my wife)... snow.
“Was this supposed to happen?”, I asked my wife on the VERY snowy drive down Parley’s Canyon. “There was a chance for something, but not this” she responded. Consider this foreshadowing of what was to come.
By rule I don’t generally schedule trips in the middle of ski season if I can help it, unless it’s to travel somewhere else to ski. Thankfully, that’s what I was doing when I flew out of SLC headed for British Columbia. But it didn’t stop the FOMO I had for the next week watching the Instagram feeds of skiers in the Wasatch celebrating one over-producing storm after another. It was official, winter had returned to the Wasatch. I just hoped it would last long enough for me to get back to Utah and get in on it.
Wish granted. It’s the evening of March 6 as I write this, and I’m sitting in my kitchen in Summit Park studying weather statistics on SkiUtah.com. Over the last 2 ½ weeks, beginning with the Valentine’s Day storm, every resort in the Wasatch has seen between 80” and 120” of snow. Additionally, during that span we haven’t gone more than 48 hours without some measurable precip in the Central Wasatch.
That’s somewhere between 6 ½ and 10 FEET of snow in UNDER THREE WEEKS. In the words of Ron Burgundy, “That escalated quickly!” That’s how fast things can turn around here and why, as skiers, we hold out hope. While that pace is unlikely to keep up, it doesn’t matter. Our time has come. We’re taking the deepest base we’ve had all year and rolling it right into my favorite part of the season: spring.
This brings us to the TL:DR version of why March is the best time to plan a Utah ski trip… there’s no downside and you’re virtually guaranteed to have a good time. Best case scenario is deep late season storms. Worst case scenario is sunny, slushy, spring turns and beers on the Roundhouse deck. How can you go wrong? You can’t. See you when you get here. Bring sunscreen.