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US desination for a trip around X-Mas - New Year

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi,

I'm living in Québec and looking around for a short (5-6 days) trip to a resort in the west US.

 

What's important:

 

- a certain degree that there will be "good" conditions that time of year (saw a site that suggested Breck)

- non-east-coast ice conditions and temperatures

- relatively near an airport and accessible by bus/shuttle (want to avoid car rental)

- expert on piste terrain (not looking for backcountry)

- affordable accomodation (where are the deals ?)

 

Suggestions ?

 

Thx !

post #2 of 11

Take a look at recent threads about early season skiing around SLC.  Staying in the city at a budget motel with free breakfast near a bus stop can't add up to much.

 

Here's one about Alta:

http://www.epicski.com/t/113891/december-15th-alta

 

A good central location with info about a variety of resorts:

http://www.epicski.com/products/category/rockies-usa

post #3 of 11

Well, Aspen/Snowmass covers 4 out of 5 of your criteria, with the affordable accommodations being the tricky part. 

 

You can access Aspen via their own airport ASE, which you can use public transportation (RFTA) from there to get around town and the different ski areas. Ajax and Highlands offer excellent on piste expert terrain, but I'm not sure if the Highland Bowl will be open by then.  Snowmass has variety along with long bump runs at Camp Ground. 

 

Otherwise, narrowing it down via close air transportation:

 

Aspen/Snowmass via ASE 

Steamboat Springs via HDN - no car needed, especially if you stay mountain side.  Lower elevation than other places in CO, unsure of conditions that time of the year.

Vail/BC via EGE - no car needed once in Avon or Vail, excellent public transportation.

Crested Butte via GUC - bus up to the town of Crested Butte, once there no car needed.  

SLC - mulitple near by ski resorts (Alta, Snowbird, PCMR etc), unsure of public transportation though.

 

 

Breckenridge is higher up in Summit County, so you have a better chance at good conditions, the problem is its distance from the airports, either from DEN 2hrs or EGE 1.5hrs.  You won't need a rental car once there, but getting there is the trick.  CME runs shuttles from the airports, but those can get really expensive really fast.

post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by S4Skiing View Post

SLC - mulitple near by ski resorts (Alta, Snowbird, PCMR etc), unsure of public transportation though.

Good buses from the city to LCC (Alta, Snowbird) and BCC (Brighton, Solitude).  I would think the ski bus starts running by mid-Dec if not sooner.  That's how some powder hounds get up the mountain when the road to Alta is closed due to a big snowstorm.  Buses get priority when the road opens.

post #5 of 11

We go through this every year...

My feature article on the subject here: http://173.193.223.192/~bestsnow/fam_ski.htm

 

Question 1 is always, "Do you really HAVE to go during that week?"  due to jacked up airfare and lodging costs, maximum crowds and at many resorts not yet full coverage of terrain.  Canadian schools get a spring break week in March, which offers prime skiing at a multitude of western resorts.  So you should always prefer that week to Christmas if you're only taking one big destination trip per season.

 

With regard to the areas suggested above:

1) Salt Lake/Cottonwood Canyons is a good choice as you'll avoid resort holiday lodging pricing and the snow track record is one of the best.  With a car you have a lot of choices where to ski in Utah, so more flexibility to avoid crowds if needed.

2) Colorado: Steamboat has the best early season track record for snow of the places mentioned by S4Skiing, followed by Vail.  But you want to be beyond easy drive distance from Denver to cut the crowds down, so that makes Steamboat quite a bit more attractive than Vail during the holidays IMHO.  Aspen/Snowmass is far enough from Denver but snowfall is less and some of the steep terrain is not likely to have adequate coverage.  And as noted above you will pay through the nose for lodging at Aspen or Vail during the holiday week.  Breck to me has all the negatives for the holidays: average snowfall for the West (you want well above average to be paying destination $ at Christmas), close to Denver so very crowded, the layout of the mountain does not handle big crowds well at all.  Crested Butte is remote but a very poor choice for Christmas in that its snowfall is modest and the steep terrain comprising half the mountain is usually not open until well into January. 

 

My recommendations are in the article referenced above.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks to you all for the interesting replies.

Our "big" holiday will be 2 weeks of Arlberg in february, but we were consideringan alternative to our close-to-home-massif-stoneham conditios

Air fare Quebec-Denver seems reasonable, and resorts seem to offer deals when booking early.
post #7 of 11

There are quite a few seasons when the early season skiing near Denver is mostly man-made like what you have at home in Quebec City.  If you want to increase your chances of getting more than that I strongly suggest Steamboat or Salt Lake of the options discussed above.

 

Nice to hear about the Arlberg in February; I'm hoping to get there for the first time myself this season.

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

Totally other line of thinking: would Alaska/Alyeska be interesting (snow whise) end of December ?

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Totally other line of thinking: would Alaska/Alyeska be interesting (snow whise) end of December ?

Maybe, but not so interesting light-wise at 62 degrees latitude.   That's why the heliskiing doesn't start up there until a week or two into February.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 10/8/12 at 8:25pm
post #10 of 11

Like has been mentioned SLC ticks all your boxes. I'd look there first. It's a bit of a hassle without a car, but it is manageable.

post #11 of 11

Picking up on the SLC/car idea, my experience is that car rental in SLC is cheap enough and it opens your options enough that it makes a great deal of sense - the cost of car + hotel in town is about half of the cost of hotel at the lifts.  Yes, there are buses, but check the schedule carefully before booking your accommodations - you might find that while your hotel is on the bus line, the first bus gets you there after everything's been tracked out.

 

  Also look at the ground transportation schedule from the airport - you might find that renting a car gets you an extra day or two of skiing with the same flight schedule.

 

BTW, I did SLC the tail end of XMas week two years ago and the crowds weren't bad - of course I had the sense to stick around for the first week of January and the crowds were non-existent then.

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