Denver — Thinking about an early summer vacation? You might consider skiing in the Rockies. This spring has been so wet and snowy that ''the skiing is fabulous,'' reports Peggy Lamb of Colorado Ski Country.
Normally, ski areas here start closing down at about Easter time. But conditions have been so good that two Colorado areas - Arapahoe Basin and Berthoud Pass - have stayed open.
And world-famous Vail, which closed April 10, reopened May 21, after 8 to 10 feet of new snow fell there during the last month. Vail is expected to stay open through June 5.
''It's been one of the coldest and snowiest springs in 50 years here. As a result, the skiing is just like midwinter, with 16 inches of powder,'' says Lillian Ross of Arapahoe Basin.
Spring snow usually tends to be wet, heavy, and tiring for skiers. Even if snow conditions are good, the number of ski resort customers usually drops off drastically with spring, as people's thoughts turn to gardening and tennis. But the wet and snowy spring weather throughout the region has kept skiers coming.
These abnormal conditions present the skier on a budget with an unusual opportunity. The ski areas that remain open are charging reduced spring rates.
At Arapahoe, for instance, $128 will buy two days' skiing and two nights in the lodge for a couple. During the winter, the room alone costs $98 a night. At Vail, rooms are going at half the normal rate.
Of course, taking a ski vacation at this time of year does entail an added risk: The weather may take a turn for the better. Despite the current 90- to 100 -inch snow base, skiing conditions can deteriorate rapidly with lots of sunshine. In June, skiing will likely be limited to the mornings.
''I hope someone stays open until July. I'd love to go skiing on the Fourth, '' Ms. Lamb volunteers. The way the weather has been, she might get her wish.