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Thanksgiving Ski Trip

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I know its always dicey booking a thanksgiving ski trip, but I want to take advantage of my kids school vacation schedule and was looking for some info on my best US bet or possibly Banff.  I'll be traveling from NY. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for the help.



post #2 of 14

The usual advice would be to wait and see where the snow falls. Given that is a non-busy time at the resorts, it's still good advice.

post #3 of 14

Not sure what you are looking for in terms of amenities to keep the kids interested.


I would look to the Northeast since it is an easier trip and it is heavily invested in snowmaking.


Typically Killington and Sunday River lead the way with opening terrain.


Personally I would look at Sugarloaf as they have made a major upgrade in their snow guns this year and I imagine they will want to make an impression.


Oh and the best advice is to wait, but I know that is hard when planning with a family.

post #4 of 14

The northeast for Thanksgiving is invariably just a few WRODs (White Ribbons of Death).


Yes, the larger areas (Killington, Sunday River, etc) have massive snowmaking capabilities, but they need some time to operate.  It simply doesn't start getting cold enough early enough for them to have substantial terrain open in November.

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks to all for the advice.  Waiting seems to make the most sense.  I'm just concerned about thecost of flights if I wait but I guess thats a small price to pay for going where the snow is.  That said, any thoughts on Banff?  Am I hedging my bet based on past recent history of early and decent snow fall? 

post #6 of 14

Turkey Day can be limited and/or crapshoot just about every where, but here is good info on early season possibilities from Tony Crocker:


Personally, I'd save my dough and apply it towards a trip over Spring/Easter Break or even Christmas-NYs if you don't already have plans.

post #7 of 14

I don't know whether you researched airfares, (I haven't) but aren't cheap fares hard to find at Thanksgiving because so many people are traveling? Easter's pretty early in 2013 so a spring skiing trip while the kids are out of school should be a good possibility - I know I'm looking forward to it.

post #8 of 14

Flights and variable conditions are the problem with Thanksgiving.



Book flights into SLC on Southwest.  If it doesn't look good, cancel and use the credit for a trip later in the season?

post #9 of 14

Well, you could pick a spot to vacation, and if the conditions are favorable then ski.  SLC might be a choice for that.  If the snow is lousy, drive to Zion, Byrce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches National Parks.



post #10 of 14

There is a more current Tony Crocker early season article here (that one linked above is from 1995, and the rankings have changed):


We go to Whistler every year for a long Thanksgiving weekend (Wed-Sun) and I'm always happy with conditions. We haven't even had to download the past few years--there was snow coverage to the bottom. There are great deals during that time, since it's early season--we always get a great condo deal (in fact I booked a 2 bd, 2 story, dog friendly, private hot tub condo for $150/night just today!), and lift tickets cost less. It's not crowded. The past few years Whistler Mt has opened early/mid November, then Blackcomb always opens (US) Thanksgiving day. But, the entirety of both mountains aren't open, of course. The high alpine won't be. You'll be skiing groomers, probably. But, compared to anything else early season, the amount of terrain that's open is great. It's totally worth it, for us, since we can drive there. It's something we really look forward to and are always happy with. That all said....If I had to put a whole family on a plane from the East Coast to get there....ehhh...I don't know. If money is no issue, why not. If it's your only trip of the year? Probably not.


You can find snowfall stats on Whistler by month linked below. You can see that the last three Novembers have been amazing, and even in the bad years, it's still a lot better than most other places. But I wouldn't have wanted to fly cross country during the bad years.


Here's what the above article says about Whistler.


3. WHISTLER/BLACKCOMB, British Columbia
One can easily underestimate Whistler's early-season reliability by focusing upon the rain-vulnerable lower mountain. A poor start to Whistler just means that the lower 1,000-2,000 feet aren't covered so you must download at the end of the day. The Whistler and Blackcomb Alpine regions got about 100 inches of snow in November/December of 1997, 2000  and 2005  (the average is more like 150), and 5,000-plus acres of terrain were open by New Year's . There have been only three  early seasons in the past  28  years (77 inches in 1989-90 91 inches in 1992-93  and 81 inches in 2004-05) with less snow. Whistler's early December World Cup downhills were cancelled three years in a row due to too much snow. In  the 2000-01 Canadian drought, Whistler had the only quality skiing in a 500-mile radius from mid December to late January.


post #11 of 14

For US, Wolf Creek in CO.  I skied Thanksgiving weekend last year in a 100% open resort, 55 inch base with powder in the trees. It gets notoriously busy that weekend as it is usually one of the first to be 100% open but I never had more than a few mins wait time in the lift lines. Bonus with this place is you can hit the hot springs in Pagosa Springs to ease the early season muscle aches.  Also, the lift tickets are cheap compared to the big resorts.  We got a 35$ locals appreciation day rate(open to non locals as well) which they do regularly.

post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

A very late thanks to all those who posted.  Rolled the dice and went to Utah with family and friends.  Great skiing for my 6 and 3 year old but a little rough on the rest of us.  Snowbird and Alta had good snow but we were on the other side and skied Park City.  So, its a lesson learned.  Either wait and see and book last minute, or book airfare into SLC early and cheap, and then wait to book the hotel last minute where the snow is.  Regardless, it was a great early season family vacation.  Truly appreciate all the advice.

post #13 of 14
Snowbird and Alta had good snow but we were on the other side and skied Park City.

Why on earth would anyone do that at Thanksgiving???   Your odds are not that great anywhere, but in the Cottonwood resorts you at least have a shot at some decent natural snow coverage.  At Park City you're virtually guaranteed to be skiing the WROD at Thanksgiving.

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

That's exactly my point, you wouldn't.  Unfortunately, we relied on another family who skied Utah a number of times to make the call.


Simply put, in the future, having to work around school vacation, booking early cheaper flights to SLC, and waiting last minute to book a hotel is certainly better than booking the whole ball of wax in advance and hoping for the best. I have a 6 and a 3 year old so flying direct into SLC  from New York when you only have 5 days to work with and then having 5 different mountains to choose from within an hour once you land at least raises the odds of staying at a resort with some decent snow.  If not, you don't go and use the airline credit at a later date.   Again, just my take.  The point of the post was simply to thank those who posted. 

Edited by avamb - 12/13/12 at 8:01am
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