This thread was the impetus for joining the board as my internet search "vail bowls overrated" yielded this one. Lunch topics were not very interesting to me though as I go to ski rather than to eat. I suspect one made an assumption that any lodge would have an accessible and quick style cafeteria which most areas do. When I ski with my kids, I find I need a good place to take multiple breaks for hot chocolate to warm up so nice views are an added bonus.
My quick takes with the caveat I haven't skied CO since a college trip a number of years ago which included Breckenridge, Keystone, A-Basin, Vail, Copper.
* Breckenridge was ridiculous. Merging blacks onto an uphill traverse green. One of the most poorly laid out ski areas I have been to. OVERRATED.
* Keystone was not very memorable.
* A-Basin was fast and steep as I recall. It was the middle to the end of our trip though so my legs were fairly trashed at that point.
* Vail. Skiing the back bowls was very cool and my first deep powder experience. Certainly expensive, somewhat crowded, but it had what I thought was the european flair. I had the run of my life on blue ox, highline, or some similar trail in skiing a perfectly shaped and soft mogul run from top to bottom without stopping. When I wish I was 20 again, I think of that run. Ugh. Breck, Keystone, A-Basin do not have similar memories.
* Copper. Black || Blue || Green. Perfect. Perfect set up and layout for a ski ever ever. Would go back there in a heartbeat.
Wyoming - only skied Jackson Hole. Underrated for beginner and intermediate terrain??? I have not traveled too much, but I have never seen so many capable skiers in my life and difficult terrain. I would not recommend it for greens or blues as I only recall a very small area for the beginners and the blues were not akin to blues anywhere in New England. My ski buddy and I hired a guide and we tackled mostly blacks with some double blacks. I recall leaning on my poles alot trying to catch my breath. Beautiful ski area. No way it is overrated.
* Park City. Similar to Vail in how it felt upscale. There were runs where I could ski a black and my significant other could watch at the bottom from a blue that intersected. It was a nice way to ski together while having an opportunity to ski different levels of terrain. Possibly a little overrated for how expensive it is.
* Solitude. Had fun there but I recall feeling like I was going to get hit on every trail we went. This was partially due to the slow pace of my companions (one of which was hit) and the terrain we skied.
* Alta. Loved it. The caveat being it was the only day I skied alone on our 3 day trip so I was able to ski at my own pace and my own terrain. Pretty much skied while humming Blur's Woo Hoo the entire time. No way Alta is overrated IMHO. No snowboarders is also a huge added bonus. Beginners and intermediates alike scrape the snow as bad or worse than a full-out snow plow.
* Too many OVERRATED areas to mention.
* NH: Loon & Waterville Valley: crowded and blah. Ridiculously OVERRATED.
* VT: Killington is one - crowded, expensive, mishmosh and difficult to navigate. Southern to Mid VT: Stratton too crowded and blah. Okemo. Ridiculously flat at mid-mountain - ridiculously overrated and one of my least favorite "big mountains" in the northeast. I have only skied Jay Peak a few times but it never seems to have the 'epic' conditions it promises.
* Pico. Killington's little brother who is nicer and more manageable in size and crowd levels. UNDERRATED
* Stowe. Has the only remotely european flair in the Northeast. Ridiculously overpriced. Good ski area if you can score a decently priced ticket. Also good area to share the experience between various levels of skier.
* Gunstock in NH was a pleasant surprise. Not very challenging from what I saw but has a beautiful view of Lake Winnipesaukee and very close to Boston. Reasonable lift tickets and crowds as well. Great views and hot chocolate at the top!
* Bretton Woods is also a nice family area with great views of Mt Washington. Not very challenging. Great views and hot chocolate at the top!
* Sorry, not a Maine guy. Have skied Sugarloaf and Sunday River. Tremendous personal bias but OVERRATED!
Favorite Northeast and "local" area
* Sugarbush. Castlerock Chair. BEST SKI TERRAIN IN THE NORTHEAST PERIOD!!! Certainly one of the most challenging. If there is snow covering it which doesn't seem to ever be adequate. UNDERRATED!!!
My ski buddy is a Whiteface Mountain convert though. I have yet to ski there as the 'iceface' moniker has stuck in my mind. The fact that the mountain top had a wind child of minus 114 degrees a couple of days ago doesn't help. The fact it has the Lake Placid mystique certainly does.
* what ski areas am I missing in not skiing in the Northeast US/Canada, Rockies, or Pacific NW?
* what would be a good area to indoctrinate ~10 y/o kids into "big mountain" skiing?
* any european areas that are accessible from a cost perspective as well as I don't want to kill my kids inadvertently going off-piste?