Image: skier
Jim Cole  /  AP
A skier heads down the mountain at the Gunstock Ski area March 15 in Gilford, N.H. Ski areas across the Northeast have plenty of snow and offer unusual spring skiing events.
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updated 3/21/2011 11:22:20 AM ET 2011-03-21T15:22:20

Steve Moulton's got his skis packed for several spring outings in Vermont — along with his suntan lotion and sunglasses.

Moulton, 53, of Windsor, Mass., loves skiing this time of the year. "The only people left on the slopes are fun-loving, genuine folks who love skiing for what it is — fun," he said. "Nobody's out to impress with their expensive attire, there are no lodge skiers, these are the real ski people ... and when you need a break, you can just hang out on the patio listening to tunes or if lucky, some live music or sit on the side of the mountain enjoying the day."

New England ski resorts are rounding out a season full of generous amounts of snow and good attendance. They're hoping for a strong finish before people start bringing out their golf clubs, boats and tennis rackets.

"This has been an outstanding winter for snowfall and the ski areas really couldn't have asked for much more," said Karl Stone, marketing director for Ski NH, a statewide association representing alpine and cross-country resorts and lodging properties. Stone estimates that total spending on skiing and related activities by the end of the season will reach over $800 million, a bit higher than in the past few years.

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Slideshow: Hit the lifts (on this page)

Curt Hazeldine, 50, of Foxborough, Mass., who enjoys skiing and snowboarding, said the snow can get a little "mashed-potatoey" and the weather a bit fickle in the spring, but it's still a great time to be outdoors.

"Bad conditions/weather on the slopes beats any day at home or at work," he said.

More than skiing
In addition to skiing, the spring brings a variety of events at mountain resorts: pond skimming, snow golfing, cardboard box races, motor bike racing, as well as beach and reggae parties and concerts. A lot of the resorts are offering promotions for reduced passes, daily lift tickets, food and drinks. Some inns are offering spring ski getaway packages with discounted resort vouchers, such as the Mulburn Inn in Bethlehem, N.H.

The theme at this year's pond-skimming event on March 26 at the Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont is superheroes and comic book characters, spokesman Josh Arneson said.

"We had a lot of hippies for the '60s, a lot of disco-groovin'-type folks for the '70s theme," he said of past themed pond-skimmings, in which intrepid skiers and snowboarders try to cross a cold, slushy man-made pond without getting wet. "We get over 100 competitors."

SkiVermont President Parker Riehle anticipates Vermont will reach the 4 million mark in skier visits this year as the state has benefited from the third-snowiest winter on record. Estimates for this season were not available yet; last year, the season resulted in more than $750 million in direct spending.

A new event called the FestEVOL is combining a concert series featuring the band O.A.R. with an "eco village," exhibits by environmental nonprofit groups and businesses and organic food sampling. The event, sponsored by EVOL Burritos, kicked off at Okemo Mountain in Vermont this weekend, then travels to Crested Butte Resort, Colo., before wrapping up at Mount Sunapee Resort in New Hampshire on April 2-3.

April 2 also is the annual BodeFest at Cannon Mountain, where New Hampshire Olympian Bode Miller donates proceeds to the Turtle Ridge Foundation promoting youth sports.

Deals and plenty of snow
At Bretton Woods in New Hampshire, spokesman Craig Clemmer said the resort reached a base snow depth of over 100 inches in January, a month earlier than usual, followed by lots more snow. That's made for great skiing conditions, as well as for unconventional events, like the finals of the Winterbike Championship Point Series. "That's pretty fun, watching all these mountain bikers coming down the snowy hillside," he said.

In Maine, where well over $500 million of economic activity comes from skiing and snowmobiling, most ski areas have plenty of snow, said Greg Sweetser, executive director of Ski Maine. "The state of Maine has the longest ski season of any ski area east of the Rocky Mountains," he said, with some resorts opening as early as October and closing as late as May.

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At Sugarloaf, which just celebrated its 60th anniversary, free lift tickets are available for children ages 6-18 with a minimum stay of three midweek nights from March 21-25.

One of the more unusual events of the season is March 26 at Maine's Shawnee Peak, the fourth annual America's Mattress Race. Teams of up to four people decorate and race downhill on their old, beat-up mattress. The prize for the fastest team? A new mattress.

Paul Clark of Nashua, N.H., 44, a fan of spring skiing, said people expect to battle the elements during winter skiing — layers and layers of clothing, hand and feet warmers to cut the biting chill.

"Make it through a winter's day of skiing and you feel like you've conquered the snow gods!" he said. "But when spring grants its gifts to the ski slopes, it is a gift that must be received ... and remember that gifts such as these are rare and few."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Popular ski and snowboard playgrounds in America

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  1. Heavenly run

    Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., offers skiers 91 trails and 4,800 acres of terrain. (Corey Rich courtesy of Heavenly Ski Resort ) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Busy at Beaver Creek

    Colorado's Beaver Creek Snow Resort averages 311 inches of snow per year, gets 300 days of sun and offers more than 1,800 acres of skiable terrain. (Jack Affleck courtesy of Beaver Creek Snow Resort) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Oh boy, Alberta

    Whiskey Jack Lodge is pictured at the foot of the ski hills in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. Lake Louise Ski Resort is one of the larger ski areas in North America with 4,200 acres of terrain. (Andy Clark / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. 2-mile-high club

    Looking for a high-elevation rush? The base center at Utah's Snowbird Ski Resort sits at 8,100 feet. The resort's highest point, Hidden Peak, climbs to 11,000 feet. (Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Va-va-va-Vail

    Vail, Colo., located west of Denver, is one North America's better-known ski towns. Vail Ski Resort features more than 5,200 acres of skiable terrain over 193 trails. (Jack Affleck courtesy of Vail Ski Resorts) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Après ski

    Skiers and snowboarders can do more than hit the slopes in Vail, Colo. Visitors can visit spas, go shopping and enjoy nightlife, festivals and family-friendly activities. (Jack Affleck courtesy of Vail Ski Resorts) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Take a Telluride

    Also located in Colorado, Telluride Ski Resort has 18 lifts, 120 trails, more than 2,000 acres of terrain, and features "Galloping Goose," the resort's longest run (4.6 miles). (Telluride Ski & Golf) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Road trip!

    Ski and snowboard enthusiasts can easily drive to Telluride from the Four-Corner states. Located in Southwestern Colorado, the drive time is seven hours from Denver and Phoenix, 2 1/2 hours from Grand Junction, Colo., and 2 1/4 hours from Moab, Utah and Durango, Colo. (Telluride Ski & Golf) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Stowe away

    Stowe Ski Resort is smaller when compared to competition west of the Mississippi, but it is a hot spot in the Northeast. The area offers 485 acres of terrain, but an average trail length of 3,600 feet -- longer than any other New England resort, its Web site boasts. (Stowe Mountain Resort) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Great spot for beginners

    Buttermilk Ski Resort is small compared to some of its Colorado neighbors. Located just outside Aspen, Buttermilk has carved out its niche by focusing on snowboarders and beginners. Buttermilk offers 435 acres of terrian over 44 runs. (Hal Williams Photography Inc.) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Experience required

    Aspen Mountain is the backdrop for a horse and carriage ride in downtown Aspen, Colo. Aspen Mountain features 76 trails -- 48 percent considered "more difficult," 26 percent "most difficult" and 26 percent "expert." If you're a beginner, you probably want to get your feet wet some place less daunting. (Hal Williams Photography Inc.) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Take a hike

    Members of Aspen Center for Enviromental Studies (ACES) take a snowshoe tour in Ashcroft, Colo.Ashcroft Ski Touring/Cross-Country Area offers about 22 miles of groomed trails, and is located 11 miles from Aspen. (Courtesy of ACES) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Lock and Keystone

    Another popular ski option in Colorado is Keystone Ski Area, located about 90 minutes from Denver International Airport. The area features 20 ski lifts, two gondolas and more than 3,100 acres of terrain. (Bob Winsett courtesy of Keystone Ski Area) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Grab a six-peak

    Vermont's Killington Ski Resort stretches across six peaks. Skiers and snowboarders can reach the area's 752 acres of terrain with 22 lifts. (Killington Resort) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Beautiful Breckenridge

    Big crowds may descend on Colorado's ski resorts, but that shouldn't be a problem at Breckenridge. The resort has two high-speed SuperChairs, seven high-speed quad lifts, a triple lift, six double lifts, and others, giving it the ability to move nearly 38,000 people per hour. (Carl Scofieldd courtesy of Breckenridge) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Bring the family

    Smuggler's Notch in Vermont bills itself as "America's Family Resort," and offers services, activities and education aimed at making sure everyone in your clan has fun. (Smuggler's Notch Resort) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. 63 years and going strong

    Colorado's Arapahoe Basin has been operating since 1946. "The inaugural season opened with a single rope tow and $1.25 daily lift tickets," its Web site reads. Prices and equipment surely have changed, but "A-Basin" offers the skiers and snowboarders 900 acres of terrain -- more than half above the timberline. (Arapahoe Basin) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Long way down

    Utah's Alta Ski Area is scheduled to remain open through April 18, 2010. It features 2,200 acres of terrain, more than 100 runs and an average snowfall of 500 inches per season. It does not, however, allow snowboards. (Alta Ski Area) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Not for the faint of heart

    Of the 116 runs at Jackson Hole Ski Resort in Wyoming, 50 percent are "expert" and 40 percent are "intermediate." That's great news if you pass up the bunny slopes for some challenging skiing and snowboarding. (Jackson Hole Mountain Resort) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. On -- or off -- the beaten path

    Jackson Hole Ski Resort offers 2,500 acres of terrain, plus an open backcountry gate system that offers access to an additional 3,000 acres. (Jackson Hole Mountain Resort) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Sun Valley -- how original

    Seriously. Idaho's Sun Valley, started in 1936, claims it is the original ski resort. "Born out of a desire to bring the magic of the European ski resorts to America, Sun Valley quickly became a phenomenon without peer on this continent or any other," its Web site boasts. (Sun Valley Resort) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Do you believe in miracles?

    American Shaun White is pictured competing during the Nokia Halfpipe Snowboard FIS World Cup on March 4, 2005 at Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid, N.Y. Lake Placid has hosted the Winter Olympics twice -- in 1932 and 1980 -- and offers a variety of activities, including downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, ice skating and more. (Ezra Shaw / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Old West reminder

    Seven thousand feet up in the Colorado Rockies, nestled quietly below one of the largest ski mountains in North America, sits a small ranching community that serves as a constant reminder that the Old West is alive and well. Never far from its ranching roots, Steamboat remains firmly linked to a Western tradition that sets it apart from every other ski resort in the world. (Larry Pierce courtesy of Steamboat) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Big skiing in Big Sky Country

    Whitefish Mountain Resort in Whitefish, Mont., collects 300 inches of snow each year and features 3,000 acres of terrain, 94 marked trails and a 3.3-mile run called Hellfire. (Donnie Clapp courtesy of Whitefish Mountain Resort) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Sweet on Sugarloaf

    Sugarloaf Ski Resort features 1,400 acres of skiable terrain, including Tote Road, a 3.5-mile-long stretch running from summit to base. Sugarloaf's redesigned terrain park features the 400 foot long Superpipe, a magnet for snowboarders throughtout the region. Portland and Bangor offer airport service to Sugarloaf, and Boston and Montreal are four short hours away. (Grant Klene courtesy of Sugarloaf Ski Resort) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Crossing borders

    With more than 400 inches of snow per year, nearly 8,200 acres of skiable terrain and 200 trails, Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort in British Columbia, Canada, is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise. (Randy Lincks courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb ) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Carrying the torch

    Some athletes will become world champions of their sport on the slopes of Whistler Blackcomb when the Winter Olympics roll into British Columbia early next year. (Paul Morrison courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb ) Back to slideshow navigation
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