Best resorts for skiing in May across the globe

Newsroom Best Of Topics Best resorts for skiing in May across the globe

You can’t beat T-shirt skiing in late spring, with longer days and lots more sunshine. May brings a relaxed vibe, warm temperatures and long, sunny days. It’s normally a case of getting up earlier for the best of the snow conditions (hard-packed first thing, perfect by mid-morning, getting soggy by early afternoon) and perhaps finishing your day by mid-afternoon.

By early May fewer than 50 ski resorts are open anywhere in the world – and it’s still a month or so before the southern hemisphere’s ski season kicks off – so if you’re skiing in May, you know you’re one of the lucky few on the planet.

Our top choices for skiing into May:

Hintertux, Austria

Highlights: 1,000m+ vertical, fast lifts
Open: 365 days a year

One of only two ski resorts open 365 days a year, Hintertux is one of the largest skiable areas in the Alps from April to November when it endeavours to open every day (weather permitting) and is accessed by its fast, modern, high capacity series of glacier bus lifts. There is normally at least 40km of piste open still in May and in good-snow years often as much as 65km. There’s an excellent terrain park and a near constant series of festivals and parties each weekend to keep the atmosphere fun. International football teams arrive here sometimes for altitude training and a bit of R and R.

Hintertux Glacier
Late spring skiing on Austria’s Hintertux Glacier is often ideal. Credit: Hintertux Tourist Office

Ruka, Lapland, Finland

Highlights: 24-hour daylight, Europe’s longest non-glacier ski season
Open: Until mid-June

Ruka in Finnish Lapland boasts the longest ski season for a resort without a glacier in Europe, keeping the main slope open (thanks to snowmaking) until mid-June then re-opening about 100 days later in early October. Ruka usually has five or six runs and a terrain park open in May. Finland is a very different place by May from the cold, dark land it is in mid-winter, instead near 24-hour daylight rapidly arrives and the woodland comes alive for the short summer. On the slopes race teams arrive to train and there are normally terrain park features to enjoy.

Ruka, Lapland, Finland
Ruka, Finland lightens up in may for terrific non-glacier skiing and riding. Credit: Ruka Tourism

Whistler Blackcomb, Canada

Highlights: Glacier guarantees good spring conditions
Open: Until the last weekend in May

By May, the famous BC,  Canada resort has invariably clocked up at least 10 metres of snowfall and base depths are usually spectacular. Skiing is concentrated on the resort’s glaciers where several hundred acres of terrain remain open and the resort provides a world-class terrain park too. The resort’s Horstmann Glacier skiing, which remains open into late spring, is complemented by a surge of summer activities further down the mountain.

Whistler Blackcomb, Canada late spring
Whistler BC skis late into the spring on the Horstmann Glacier. spring. Credit: Whistler Blackcomb

Tignes, France

Highlights: Longest season in France, fast access to the slopes
Open: Until mid-May

Formerly open year-round, Tignes is still open for nearly three months longer than any other French resort and stays open well into May. As the season winds down at the start of May it is often still possible to ski the full vertical back to the resort and, in a good snow year, there can still be more than 100km of piste available. The high-altitude village has fast access to the Grand Motte glacier via the underground funicular which quickly whisks you to the snow-sure slopes.

“There are few more satisfying ways to end a day’s skiing than sunbathing in La Folie Douce, before jumping on the Tommeuses lift back up to Toviere for the ski down to your digs in Tignes,” says Brit skier Richard Sinclair.

Tignes, France
Tignes Grand Motte Glacier makes for good spring sking. Credit: Maison de Tignes

Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort (formerly Squaw Valley), California, USA

Highlights: Spring ski pass deals, spring chill-out session at High Camp
Open: Until mid-late May

Marketing itself as the ‘spring skiing capital of North America’, Squaw normally remains open at least until mid-May (and often later).  The amount of terrain open in May depends very much on the amount of snow accumulated through the season but there can still be 1,000 acres in a good year. Squaw really takes its spring skiing seriously with a low-cost spring skiing pass and an afternoon party atmosphere at High Camp, its mid-mountain station, where facilities include a freeform swimming pool and a giant 25-foot hot tub. One of the big events in spring skiing silliness is staged here at the end of April or early May – the Lake Cushing Classic, named for founder Alex Cushing, a pond skimming contest.

Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort (formerly Squaw Valley), California, USA
The spring capital of skiing in the USA is at Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort (formerly Squaw Valley), California. Credit: Tom O’Neill

Passo Tonale, Italy

Highlights: Deep snow base, challenging runs
Open: Until July

Passo Tonale, in the tellingly named Valle di Sole, invariably has either the deepest, or one of the deepest snow bases in Italy. This translates to a ski season that lasts to July up on the 3,000m glacier. Along with a great relaxed Italian atmosphere, Tonale is unusual for glacier ski areas in that it offers steep red and black runs right through to summer (most ski areas close their more challenging terrain in favour of the gentler slopes by the time Easter is past).  In May, however, much more terrain is usually open, often as much as 50km of slopes remain accessible and in a good snow year there’s still top to bottom skiing.

Passo Tonale, Italy
Passo Tonale has one of the deepest spring snow bases in Italy. Credit: Passo Tonale Tourism

Banff, Canada

Highlights: Stunning scenery, bikini slalom
Open: Mid-late May

All three of Banff’s ski areas — Sunshine Village, Norquay and Lake Louise — stay open into May, with Norquay and Lake Louise open to the first half of the month and sunshine normally open into the last week or so. All three ski areas try to keep all their terrain accessible right through to the end of their seasons and generally there’s so much snow accumulated, this isn’t a problem. The scenery at Lake Louise is spectacular from the slopes: the famous Lake melts from steely grey in mid-winter to turquoise blue as you look out across the valley. There are lots of fun events organised at this time of year including the annual bikini slalom (mid-May) at Sunshine raising money for breast cancer charities.

Banff, Canada
Banff’s three ski resorts stay open throughout much of May. Credit: Ski Big 3

Riksgränsen, Sweden

Highglights: Long daylight hours, affordable heliskiing
Open: Until June

Riksgränsen is a very special resort, 1400km north of Stockholm and 250km inside the Arctic Circle, it’s too dark to open until February and then the snow remains in great shape right through to June. What makes it more special still is that the ski area is one giant terrain park, and from late May there’s 24-hour daylight and the lifts run in the small hours for you to enjoy skiing or boarding under the midnight sun when the entire resort is normally fully open.

Riksgränsen, Sweden
Rickgransen, Sweden is light again for 24 hours for bright spring skiing. Credit: Riksgränsen

Mammoth, California, USA

Highlights: Deep powder, Californian surf culture vibe
Open: At least until June

In snowy years up to 90 percent of the US ski areas that stay open into May and June are in California, but the resort packing the most snow depth and the most terrain open is almost always Mammoth Mountain. Mammoth unveils new spring terrain parks, for those who love their park life, organises weekend spring ski and board events, and there’s great hiking and biking terrain for later in the day, or you can just relax on the deck and soak up some rays. Normally the resort remains open top-to-bottom in May with around 1,000 acres to enjoy, sometimes more at weekends when there are more skiers and boarders around to enjoy it.

Mammoth, California, USA
Mammoth spring brings the surf to the snow for a fun bite. Credit: Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort

Zermatt, Switzerland

Highlights: Europe’s highest lifts, ski over to Cervinia
Open: 365 days

You can’t get much more snow sure than a ski area which is open every day of the year, and you can even ski over the border to Cervinia until the second week of May when more than 100km of cross-border piste is usually available. Once Cervinia closes this can drop to nearer 60km in the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise side above Zermatt. The Matterhorn in spring is an even more magical, awe inspiring sight than in winter. The efficient Klein Matterhorn cable car, Europe’s highest, accesses an area where snow retains its high quality until late in the season and fresh powder falls year round.

Zermatt, Switzerland
What’s more magical than the Matterhorn in springtime at Zermatt. Credit: ZBAG
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