April Snows Cap Snow Season; Rafting, Hiking, Wildflowers Await
For most Western resorts, the season is over, but lots of snow in the mountains -- even late into April -- means plenty of water in the rivers for rafting and blankets of colorful wild flowers covering the high alpine meadow for hikers and bikers.
But as resorts shut down and shift gears into summer mode, SnoCountry took a quick look at the end-of-the-winter snowpack around the West to give off-season mountain enthusiasts an idea of what to expect at some of the popular summertime areas.
This winter, record snowfall piled up in the southern tier of the Rockies and most all of the Sierra. The farther north you went, the less you found. Despite early dumps, the Eastern Cascades could only get about 75% of normal.
There should be plenty of water to play in this summer around Lake Tahoe, where snowpack is up to 250% of normal in mid-April. Same to the north in the Truckee area, where it's about twice of normal. Rafting and kayaking should be exciting in the Truckee and East Carson rivers.
Utah had a strong winter, from Beaver Mountain in the north to Brian Head and Eagle Point in the south, where records were busted with 180% of normal snowpack. This bodes well for a spectacular wildflower season on the Markagunt Plateau around Brian Head.
The southern and central Rockies started out with boffo snowfall, but fell off as the season progressed. Nonetheless, from Steamboat to Taos, snowpack sits well above normal, especially in southwestern Colorado. That means great water on the San Juan and Animas rivers, and superb wildflower hikes in the Weminuche Wilderness and Sangre de Cristo Range.
Sitting off by itself, Arizona Snowbowl had one of its best years in recent times. The San Francisco Peaks gathered 160% of normal snowpack and will feed good flows in the Verde River to the south.