In March and April, the tides of ski season turn. The days are sunnier and warm, and fewer powder days mean you can grill out in the parking lot, eat lunch outside, relax at the ski beach, and wear a layer or two less.  

While everyone has a favorite reason to spring ski, I’m here for the “corn.” Mashed potatoes, boiler plate, sun baked, icy, firm, corn—those are just a few terms that skiers use to describe spring snow conditions. But corn is the sweet spot. Corn is the magic hour. Corn is the best part of spring skiing. 

Spring Snow Explained

Ok, so what is corn? In the warmer spring months, the top layer of the snowpack goes through melt and freeze cycles. As the water droplets work their way into the snowpack, they coagulate and refreeze into kernels of, you guessed it, corn! This type of snow, at the right temperature, allows for superb edge grip, letting you carve and fly down the run with confidence and control.

Finding the Magic Hour

At night, the ski runs are groomed, and they set up with a ridged pattern. From 9:00 - 10:30 a.m., those runs are firm and cold, and your skis may scrape right across the top of the snow.  But corn is like a teenager who won’t get up in the morning, you must let the snow wake up. From about 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. is when corn skiing comes to life as the snow needs to soften up just a bit underneath the warm spring sun. Like a knife in warm butter, when leaning over you can fly down the run with your skis carving in the snow with ease. Advanced skiers love corn snow for the grip and speed. But beginner and intermediate skiers like it too for the extra support and control—inspiring confidence and making it a bit easier to hone your skills on the mountain! 

Warm Afternoons

On most spring days by about 1:00 p.m., the melt phase is going full steam, and the snow breaks down. This creates super soft, wet conditions where the snow can be pushed around like mashed potatoes. Skiing on this type of snow can be fun, but the higher water content creates a lot of suction on your bases and will slow you down. Different waxes and base tunes can alleviate some of this effect. Several ski shops in Park City can give your skis a spring tune and wax to keep you moving fast.  

East facing runs will soften up first in the morning! Photo Credit: Ross Downard

At the End of the Day

If you love skiing, the magic corn snow is the best part of the day. But the window for corn is only about two or two and half hours. Of course, you can ski all day and make the most of the firm snow in the morning and the super soft snow in the afternoon. But since the best snow is midday, I thought we could fill the peripheral hours with a few spring activities. 

Ease into the day. You don’t have to be there at 9:00 a.m. Take the bus, leave the car, and get there around 10:00 a.m. Grab a bagel and a coffee and sit outside while you wait for the soft snow. If you insist on skiing early, try to find lower elevation, east facing slopes that get the first morning sun. 

In the afternoon, après ski is in full swing. Swap the goggles for sunglasses, ditch the coat, and roll up your ski pants . . . and reapply sunscreen. Find a bar with a deck and preferably a live band. Grab a drink, kick up your feet, and enjoy the sun! Below are just a couple of our favorite après spots in Park City that are right next to the snow: 

That's just a sampling though. There are plenty of places to aprés ski in Park City. And now that you know all about corn snow and have a game plan for before and after the magic hour, join us in Park City for some spring skiing!

Maybe the best part of spring skiing!