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Wondering How Cheaply I Could Take a Ski Trip

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi, I'm new to Epic.  I made an account a while ago but forgot about it and never really used it.  Thus this is my first post.  I make no guarantees that I posted this in the right spot but at least I tried.  I did do a search and I didn't find exactly what I was looking for so I decided to post this question.


I'm currently a high school senior living in Dayton, OH.  I ski pretty regularly (about 20 days a season) at a place called Perfect North in Southern, IN.  This is only my third season skiing but I picked up the sport pretty quickly and I'm getting pretty bored with the limited (to put it nicely) terrain at my local hill.  I've also taken several trips up to Holimont in New York since I started skiing, and I'm going to Peak N' Peek next weekend.  These trips are always a lot of fun but I'm looking for something a little more adventurous.  I can ski anything at both Perfect North and Holimont (with the exception of large icy bumps) without very much trouble, and with pretty good form.  I'm not saying that this qualifies me as an expert skier or anything because it doesn't.  All I'm saying is that I would like to get myself into some more challenging terrain, longer runs, and perhaps some powder.  I've decided that the solution to this problem is to take a trip west, which I've never done before.  Despite the fact that the rest of my family skis, my parents don't seem very interested in doing this as they would rather spend their vacation money in Florida.  Therefore if I'm going to take a trip west I'm on my own to pay for it.  I was thinking that I could drive out to Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, ect. for a long weekend with some friends (I have a 3.5 day weekend not next weekend but the one after that.  We could also skip a day or two of school to make this work. This isn't the only option though.  If later in the season will be cheaper that works too).  I was wondering if anyone could give me a rough estimate of how much something like this would cost along with suggestions of what resort to go to, where to stay, how to find bargains on lift tickets, and anything else that you think would be helpful to me.  I'm planning on doing everything as cheaply as possible, so definitely not staying at the Ritz.  Correct me if I'm wrong but right now I'm thinking that A-basin may be the way to go because it is one of the closest western resorts to me and they also have fairly cheap lift tickets but I'm open to suggestions.


Sorry about the rather long-winded post but I was trying to give as much info about me as possible.  Thanks in advance for the help

post #2 of 16

Any mountain out west will be huge for you.  I started driving out west with my bud's, my senior year in HS.


Sunlight would only be two hours further on 70 and would be much less crowded and Glenwood is a nice town. 



post #3 of 16

Use I70, depart Dayton at 5am, arrive Georgetown, CO at 11pm. Approximately 2500 miles roundtrip, the total gas cost would be roughly $250 for a vehicle that gets 30mpg. Recommend stay and ski a minimum of four or five days to make the two days lost to driving worth the effort. Nice low budget trip with high probability of excellent spring skiing at Loveland, A-basin, Copper, Breck, etc. These places have great skiing into mid-April.

Stay at Georgetown Mtn Inn or Super 8 Dillon.  Get $52 dollar Loveland tickets at Safeway.  Earlier this winter could have got 4 pack at Love for $119.  Search this site for other CO ticket deals for Copper, A-basin, etc.


If you head northeast, closest big mtn is Gore, NY, about 11 hrs from you, but the good conditions there will start to rapidly deteriorate in a few weeks.

post #4 of 16

Get one of these puppies, too. I just ordered one. It costs $10, but gets you some great deals on what are already cheap (and good) places.



Crash at places like Super 8 or Motel 6 to save extra bucks. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, home made granola, etc. The awesome thing about driving, is that you can bring an ice chest for all your food. With everyone pitching in for gas, groceries, hotel, you will have an awesome trip on a dime.

post #5 of 16

Don't forget the propane BBQ.

post #6 of 16

Check out the lift ticket prices for Searchmont and Treetops at upnorthlive.com click on ski club, fantastic prices they just discounted them 

post #7 of 16

Hi.  I'm a Perfect North skier, too.


I would agree that a trip to a bigger hill would do you good, provided you pace yourself.  Our blacks are blues out there...but you seem like you get that already.


Expense-wise, you basically have transportation, lodging, food, and lift tickets.  (And ski rental?)


Transportation:  Driving is probably cheaper, especially with a bunch of people.  Keep in mind, though, Colorado is far.  If you're not driving through the night in shifts, this is going to mean extra hotel nights to pay for.  Not to mention, it's not just gas you're paying for.  2500 miles round-trip is 1/20 of a set of tires, 1/60 of a new car, etc.  You just won't pay those expenses right away.  When comparing to airfare, I'd use a figure of 40 or 50 cents per mile for driving expenses - not just the 10 cents per mile or so that you'll spend on gas.  Of course, if you fly, you'll need to either rent a car or use a shuttle service such as Home James (Winter Park) or Colorado Mountain Express (Breckenridge area).  Keep in mind that some ski areas charge for parking (though you can often leave your car at the hotel and ride a free bus).


Lodging:  There is cheap lodging.  Generally the closer you get to the hill, the more expensive.  Last month I stayed at the Luxury Inn in Silverthorne, CO.  It was something like $55/night during the week and $75/night on the weekends, for a room with 2 queen beds.  It's within 30 minutes of Breck, Keystone, and others.  Alpine Inn is at the same exit off I-70, and was about the same price, maybe $5 less.  La Quinta is next to Luxury Inn, and is also cheap I've heard.  Fireside Inn in Breckenridge is cheaper - the accommodations are like a youth hostel.  There is a youth hostel in Winter Park.  I've heard stories of people throwing sleeping bags in the back of their van but I'm not sure how safe that would be.  If you go to Utah, you can stay at a Red Roof/Motel 6/etc. in Salt Lake City for cheap, and it's only 30 minutes or so from the ski resorts.


Food:  Resort food is expensive.  Last month I got chili, gatorade, and a dessert for lunch each day, and I think it was like $17.  If you want to go on the cheap, stop at a grocery store in Denver and stock up.  King Soopers is a chain there that you can use your Kroger card at.  Even if you're not going to do sandwiches and stuff for your lunches, at least stock up on gatorade here.  The more you hydrate, the less your chance of being affected by altitude sickness.  But that's a whole other subject.


Lift tickets:  There are deals to be had.  Sometimes gas stations will offer 2-for-1 lift tickets with a fillup.  Sporting goods stores can have discounts (and if you don't own your skis, this is a cheaper place to rent than on the mountain).  If all else fails, you can save a bit (say 5%) by buying your lift tickets from the resort's website at least a week ahead of your trip, instead of at the ticket window the first morning you want to ski.  Smaller, less-well-known resorts will have cheaper lift tickets than the big name places.  Monarch, for instance.  It's a few hours out of Denver, but a lift ticket is only $56.  That's the first place I skied out West, by the way.  It's too late this year, but for future reference be sure to do the math to see if it's cheaper to buy a season pass - if you're going more than 5 days, it might be.


Another thought is to look at your local ski club.  They'll often have trips arranged at group rates.  http://www.daytonski.org/trips.asp  The cool thing here is, if you join one OVSC-affiliated club, you're eligible to go on the trips arranged by any other club - Chicago, Louisville, etc.  Membership is cheap - mine (Lafayette, IN) is only $25/year.  The Jay Peak trip in December is an exceptionally good deal.


Crowds can be a concern.  If one place is 10% cheaper, but you're spending 20% more time waiting in the lift line...is it really a better deal?  That's another plus for the resorts that are small and/or out of the way, or for avoiding popular times like the weekend, Spring Break, etc.


One last thought:  You could go East instead of West.  Less driving, and the skiing can be almost as good in some places.


Good luck, and have fun!

post #8 of 16

Abasin, Loveland, Copper, Sunlight

and if you get to Glenwood Sprgs you;re in striking distance of Aspen and Vail.

but I think the other more 'local' areas have a huge amount to explore.


I still do hostels on my motorcycle trips - absolutely luv it!

would consider on ANY road trip...



ski roadtrips, they were the best!

carry chains and a tow strap...

food and good sleeping bags


we'll expect some pics after... yahoo.gif

post #9 of 16

If you have a week off in April, I'd consider coming then as it tends to be cheaper- with the base we have now, the skiing could be very good although any single week is hit or miss in terms of powder and overall snow conditions. 


Copper w/ a Shell fill up has 2 for 1s and there are other discounts to be had- check the various resorts websites.  Could also check craigslist to see if anyone is unloading Loveland or other tix that they are not using.


Had lunch across from a guy who was staying at a hostel in Leadville for $20/night- this is close to Ski Cooper (smaller area) that you might get a free tix to with the Colorado Gem card mentioned above.  Not sure how they charge for multiple guys, so it might not be cheaper than a motel room shared 3 or 4 ways.

post #10 of 16

Call a couple of mountains to ask about ski-and-stay package. I think you should focus in on Colorado, as it's the closest/cheapest. My first trip out to Colorado was back in '04; I called Copper's hotline and booked a package via phone--it came to something like $750 with the four nights of lodging, when they added lift tickets in, it came to $500-something--for two people/three ski days/four nights. Yeah, it was actually much cheaper to stay and ride than just to stay, go figure? We were within walking distance of the main lift and the tickets were copper's "bee-line" tickets, which basically let you skip the regular line for your own dedicated, automated line (they cost double the price of a regular day ticket if you were buying them alone).


Long story short, don't just use the Internet and don't just pick the place that offers the cheapest day tickets (though Loveland and others may have good packages too). Figure out a couple of resorts that look good, call the reservations number and get a few prices for packages. Then go to the cheapest one. I don't know how much things have changed in Copper over the years, but with the still-recovering economy, I'd think you should be able to find some good package deals--especially late in the season.


Anyway, good luck, and enjoy it! That first trip out west (especially from somewhere like Ohio) is an eye-opener.

post #11 of 16

For one person hostels are the cheapest alternative, for three or more you're probably better off in a cheap motel. Just make sure you have a kettle or some other way of boiling water (soup, ramen, and mac/cheese). If your unit has no fridge, cars will often work just as well (it's colder in the trunk than the cabin, and colder still in the skibox. Take 15 minutes to stop and shop at a supermarket and you can have cheap and healthy meals each day for much less than you'll pay in a cafe.

post #12 of 16

One thought that I had is that you may have a hard time getting someone to rent you a room. 


Personally I wouldn't consider driving out for a long weekend.  I have lots of friends that have driven to Colorado from southwest Ohio and you should plan on 18-20 of driving each way.  If you can find a group to join on a trip you will get the best bang for the buck but probably not the lowest price.  The OVSC trips have always looked like they cater more to older folks with more money than students with an emphasis the social aspect.


post #13 of 16

Hey gladeskier, that sounds like a cool trip, but a lot of driving for a long weekend.  The chances might be pretty slim of getting fresh powder this late in the season.  I see your home resort has 400' vertical.  There are a lot of pretty big resorts back east, Whiteface in New York has over 3200', Killlington in Vermont has over 3000' vertical, Sugarloaf in Maine over 2800' and Sugarbush in Vermont over 2600', etc.  These mountains would give you a HUGE step-up from your home area, are much closer and wouldn't require as much elevation adaptation for you.  Have you thought of doing something like that this year and then saving up for an awesome full week of Western skiing next season?

post #14 of 16


Originally Posted by rideanddive View Post

The chances might be pretty slim of getting fresh powder this late in the season.

That may be true for Midwest and Ice Coast skiing but definitely not Colorado or Utah.  We have powder dumps in May and June.   Just ask the construction crews trying to do maintenance and construction then.  I've been in 2-3' fresh powder days on Closing Day at Steamboat, Winter Park, Snowmass, A-Basin, etc.  Two years ago, a 3' powder dump closed the pass and no one could make it to the resort.   Employees had a field day in all that untracked powder for a few days.  I can't count the number of Closing Day parties I've attended at Loveland in snowstorms in May.


Here's May 15, 2010 at A-Basin.  Must've been 1.5' of freshies that day.  http://www.associatedcontent.com/slideshow/52584/photos_arapahoe_basin_ski_area_on_may.html?cat=16

A-Basin is offering a $99 pass that's good through the end of the season.  It was in the Pali's Pitch newsletter last week.

post #15 of 16

The cheapest trips out West (to Colorado) I took were those where I would leave Friday afternoon, drive through the night and crash in the car (no pun intended) for a couple hours early Saturday morning waking up just in time to get a ticket as the resort opens.  I also would book a motel in Golden, Georgetown, or someplace else within an hour or two Sat night for half what it costs to stay on the other side of the tunnel or other lower elevations. Go back and ski half of Sunday then make the long, brutal drive back.  Stop Sunday if you're too tired to drive and call in sick Monday if necessarydevil.gif


If you're lucky you'll also need chains though!


I now have a couch available to me at a friend's place anytime in Albuquerque and a couple other mountain friendly places now.  But, gas ($$$$UGH), food (PBJs and water), and lift tickets ($$$UGH) are the bare minimum requirements

post #16 of 16

Hey daysailer1, this is definitely one of those times when I'm more than hapy to be proven wrong.  I've been planning some late-season trips to Utah and Colorado, good to know there may be a need to take powder gear

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