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Colorado thanksgiving time

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Looking to make a trip to Colorado the day after thanksgiving. Looking for any input where to stay,restaurants, ease of drive from Denver, etc. never been out of the Midwest skiing, I'm trying to research as much as possible, i know no one has a crystal ball, but is skiing usually decent at that time of year? Looking at winter park, vail, or brekenridge.
post #2 of 8

Lots of places will be open for skiing but probably with limited numbers of runs open.  Who knows what conditions are going to be like, but since you've never been out of the midwest for skiing just about anything in Summit County would be fun.  I'd say get a room or condo there and then judge where to go based on which resorts have runs open that you want to try.  Don't forget about A-Basin and Loveland since they have the earliest start on making snow.

post #3 of 8

I did a trip like this back in 2008, and conditions were good but not great.  Unfortunately, none of the more interesting terrain (Vail's back bowls, Breck's trails off of Imperial and #6 chairs, A-basin's Montezuma bowl, etc.) was open yet.  That being said, we had a great time, and it was still better than all the skiing I do at home (mid-atlantic).  I don't know for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if conditions last year at Thanksgiving were bad.  Even in the worst years, every area will have at least 1-3 runs open by Thanksgiving I think, but that would be a pretty disappointing trip.


The upside of Thanksgiving skiing is low prices and the crowds are light.  We rented a condo in Dillon really cheap and skied A-basin, Keystone, Breck, and Vail.  Staying in a place like Dillon makes it a bit easier to go to whichever area has the best snow conditions each day.  Breckenridge is my favorite place to stay because it is more like a real town rather than a resort village, and you can easily walk to all the bars/restaurants.  Dillon and Frisco have good bars (including a couple brew-pubs) and restaurants, but you probably won't be able to walk back easily.  Keystone is often the cheapest place to stay ski-in-ski-out, and it has a walkable village area that is pretty good (similar to Vail but not as big).


For me, the back bowls and blue sky basin are the main reasons to shell out for a Vail lift ticket, so I would consider cheaper places like A-basin and Loveland that tend to have better early-season conditions anyway.  A-basin is often the first area to open each year.  I have never skiied Winter Park because it's always too tempting to get a Vail lift ticket that gives you the option of going to Vail, Beaver, Breck, Keysone, or A-basin on any given day.  If you are desperate to get as many runs in as possible while you're there, Keystone is the only area that I know of that offers night skiing.  It is bad skiing for CO, but not bad compared to your average day in the mid-west or mid-atlantic.


The drive from Denver is pretty easy I think.  I have done it in all weather and in everything from a large SUV to a tiny compact rental car.  Weekend traffic on I-70 can get pretty heavy, so be careful if trying to catch a flight out on a Sunday.  If a bad enough storm blows in they will close I-70 completely, so also watch out for that.  I usually ski at Loveland (on the east side of the Eisenhower tunnel) my last day, so there is no chance I can get caught on the wrong side.  During the '08 Thanksgiving trip, a storm blew in the day we were at Vail and they closed I-70 at the Vail pass most of the night.  Rather than sleep in the car, we opted to drive (in the storm) from Vail to Dillon via Leadville, which scared me more than anything I've ever done while wearing skis.

post #4 of 8

sstork:  Welcome to EpicSki!  What's your favorite place to ski in the Mid-Atlantic?  How often do you get out west?  I like several places around SLC but have been avoiding Colorado because of the higher altitude and longer distance from the major airport.

post #5 of 8
It is warm and dry here, and it just keeps going. Our best mid term forecast is small storms followed again by warm and dry.

I wouldn't do it unless you can wait until last minute and we get a lot of snow starting next weekend, or you don't mind lapping a few manmade blue/green groomers.

Higher altitude probably better than low, so Summit or WP probably best bets if you want to roll the dice, and the resorts publish their snowmaking coverage from an acreage perspective so you can get a feel for the potential.
post #6 of 8

My sister and I have taken many thanksgiving ski trips together to avoid the family craziness.  Thanksgiving and early December are a crapshoot in Colorado and you're likely to be skiing on whatever runs they can open with snowmaking.  That said, one big storm can open a lot of intermediate terrain.  Such storms are not uncommon.  :) The steep stuff and bowls seldom opens before mid December but the green/blue runs can be a lot of fun.  


Check out  Tony Crocker maintains a great website detailing how much terrain is open at various intervals and he has data going back a very long time.  He's also a member here and chimes in from time to time.  


I went to Winter Park last year the second week of December and they had ~10 runs open. Summit County had a miserable year last year for snow and I did a bit of poking around and it seems that Copper Mountain, Keystone, and Breck have better snowmaking capabilities than Winter Park.  All things and snow conditions being equal, I prefer WP but that's merely a personal preference and all are good mountains.  Breck has more apres-ski so that might be a consideration if you want to do more than just ski. You'll have a great time no matter where you go. Enjoy!



post #7 of 8
Back in the old days before snowmaking, you'd consider it a good year if there was a ski area in Colorado open for Thanksgiving. While prodigious snowmaking allows the resorts to open much earlier, without a lot of natural snowfall you are going to be looking at only a handful of runs open. So, it's a real gamble.

Note that Copper has a Snow Day Guarantee on now where if you book a trip that starts by December 25 and you don't feel the conditions are up to snuff, you can reschedule for later in the season with 2 days notice. One way to hedge your bets.

post #8 of 8
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