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Bozeman or Banff?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Looking for some advice. Heading somewhere Feb 25 - Mar 2nd with my uncle who is solid intermediate, and I am upper intermediate/low advanced on western mountains. He suggested Bozeman - Bridger, Big Sky, Moonlight Basin as we can do it for a reasonable price staying in Bozeman. I have a timeshare that I can trade, and found a 2 bedroom condo in Banff - Lake Louise, Sunshine, Kicking Horse?, Norquay?. Since the timeshare is paid for, it is reasonable and we can do some cooking if we want which will save some $ too. Tentative plan would be to fly in Sunday, ski Monday/Tuesday sightsee Wednesday, ski Thursday/Friday, fly home Saturday. Any experiences or opinions why we should do 1 and not the other?

post #2 of 22

You'd probably be happy with either choice.  If you were to visit the Banff region, you'd probably be more happy with Lake Louise and Sunshine Village than Kicking Horse, based on your abilities.

 

For me, the determining factors might come down to transportation cost and hassle factor to get to Bozeman versus Calgary, as well as snow conditions.  Whereabouts are you travelling from?  Although there's no way of knowing what the snow will be like at the end of February, Banff is enjoying epic early season conditions at the moment, so that bodes well for later in the season.

post #3 of 22

I have been to both areas, and both are good. Banff has the best scenery of any ski resort. The ski

areas are in Banff National Park. The only downside to Banff is the driving that is required, but since

you want to spend a day sight seeing Banff would be a perfect place. Downtown Banff is very nice.

You can take a gondola near town to soak in some Hot Springs. You can visit the Fairmont Hotel in Lake Louise, and the beautiful Banff Springs Hotel. 

post #4 of 22

I would not stay in Bozeman and ski Big Sky. Pretty far drive and can get dicey with snow. Of course I try to go ski in/out when economically possible. Me and my uncles are upper intermediate to advanced and really enjoyed Big Sky. It is great skiing for everyone really. You can get as crazy as you want and as tame as you want. Skiied most blues and blacks. Never touched a double black off Lone peak though.

post #5 of 22

If you can get a timeshare unit in Banff, better to do that than stay in Bozeman this winter.

 

There is a timeshare in Big Sky village, which would be good for Big Sky and Moonlight Basin.  Staying in Bozeman for a few days to ski Bridger is economical and a lot of fun for intermediates and advanced skiers.  Bridger is a non-profit and has a good ski school with great prices.  Bridger caters to local families and college students.  Bozeman has a neat little downtown area.  Would not recommend staying in Bozeman and doing day trips to Big Sky.

 

What is your favorite place out west so far?

post #6 of 22

I have not been to Bozeman so only count my advice at half value. But Banff, and particularly Lake Louise is one of the most scenic places I have ever been. I was first out there when I had just been skiing a few years and I found lots to enjoy at each of the mountains. But the skiing is good lots of places, I just found that area just stunning. If you take a day off on a nice clear day you might rent a car for a day, drive up to Lake Louise, go to the Chateau LL and then head out the IceFields parkway. Lots of beautiful lakes, Athabasca Falls, and a glacier field you can walk around. Lots of wildlife and great mountain views.

post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 

I would say Utah is my favorite so far. Have not skied Park City but love the cottonwoods and snowbasin.
 

post #8 of 22

I think you'd have a great time skiing either near Bozeman or Banff.  I haven't been to Banff in the winter.  But based on a summer trip, the scenery beats Big Sky.  Although you could easily take a day trip to Yellowstone if staying at Big Sky.

 

Alta is my favorite in Utah.  Check out Brighton some time mid-week.  Good place for intermediates, especially if you like high speed lifts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lonetree View Post

I would say Utah is my favorite so far. Have not skied Park City but love the cottonwoods and snowbasin.
 

post #9 of 22
Big Sky is not the greatest for mountain views imo. Utah is much more scenic. Never been to Canada but have heard great things. Cant beat an hour to Yellowstone though.
post #10 of 22

Banff is arguably the prettiest mountain range scenery in North America.  Beautiful town, inside a national park, everyone so friendly, excellent choices of 4 resorts from 5 minutes to 1.5 hours away, great range of places to stay, lots of nightlife activities if you wish, natural hot springs.  Didn't want to leave when I was there.

post #11 of 22

Another consideration is price.  Canada is very expensive.  If you drink beer take your own or pay up.  I go to Canada and ski 2-3 times a year and love the place but be prepared to shell out the bucks as lift tic. food and drink is very expensive.  Just a consideration.

post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete No. Idaho View Post

Another consideration is price.  Canada is very expensive. 

 

That's entirely dependent on where you visit.  If you go to a tourist trap like Whistler, expect to get bent over and be crying for momma.  Most other ski resorts aren't appreciably different in cost than anywhere in the U.S.  Beer and alcohol is definitely more expensive in Canada due to the higher 'vice' tax, but so what?  Unless you plan on having a drinking vacation rather than a ski vacation, or are a broke student, the extra few dollars spent imbibing won't even be noticed.   I find accommodation is far lower priced in Canada, and that more than offsets any food and beverage difference.

post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 

Banff it is. Traded my timeshare for a 2 bedroom chalet and Frequent Flier miles redeemed for the flight. Now just to wait for 2 months to go.... On the bright side we got dumped on in Wisconsin overnight and I got an 1.5 hours of 12 inches of fresh untracked snow. That's about as good as it gets around here. biggrin.gif

post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 

I figured I could do Bozeman on the cheap anytime, Banff, maybe not. Plus a 2 bedroom chalet beats the heck out of a 2 double bed hotel room.

post #15 of 22

Timeshare plus frequent flyer miles are a great combination.  Hope you'll share a TR.  I've got several weeks spacebanked that I could use for skiing in the next few years.

 

Have fun!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lonetree View Post

Banff it is. Traded my timeshare for a 2 bedroom chalet and Frequent Flier miles redeemed for the flight. Now just to wait for 2 months to go.... On the bright side we got dumped on in Wisconsin overnight and I got an 1.5 hours of 12 inches of fresh untracked snow. That's about as good as it gets around here. biggrin.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lonetree View Post

I figured I could do Bozeman on the cheap anytime, Banff, maybe not. Plus a 2 bedroom chalet beats the heck out of a 2 double bed hotel room.

post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by exracer View Post

 

That's entirely dependent on where you visit.  If you go to a tourist trap like Whistler, expect to get bent over and be crying for momma.  Most other ski resorts aren't appreciably different in cost than anywhere in the U.S.  Beer and alcohol is definitely more expensive in Canada due to the higher 'vice' tax, but so what?  Unless you plan on having a drinking vacation rather than a ski vacation, or are a broke student, the extra few dollars spent imbibing won't even be noticed.   I find accommodation is far lower priced in Canada, and that more than offsets any food and beverage difference.

 

 

Don't get all defensive.  I love traveling and skiing in Canada, the people are great.  But it is expensive, unless you are comparing it to Vail or Aspen then it is cheap.  But compared to where I live it is expensive, period.

post #17 of 22

Have not been to Bozeman, but:    I said this once and I'm going to say it again, Banff (Lake Louise) has the potential to be number one in the world.   The only downside (and I have not seen it) is the weather.  I've been told you have to get the weather right for that area, otherwise there could be little snow and very cold.  It's not possible to find better scenery in an official ski resort.  Stay in Banff and drive everywhere.  You'll be able to see a lot of beauty. 

 

I'm planning to hit Island Lake (if possible), and Banff again in 2013.

 

This should help:

 

1.jpg

post #18 of 22

I grew up in Calgary, skied the Banff area for 20+ years and you will not be disappointed. Some insider tips: Lake Louise is the best hill, especially when there is snow, and you'll want to head to the Larch area for sure. http://www.skilouise.com/images/the-mountain/trail_maps/0910/LLSA_Larch_Area_2010.jpg It's phenomenal mid-to-upper blue and mid-black terrain. Also the backside Temple lodge is a great place for lunch, particularly if you bring your own, but it's got totally acceptable overpriced ski-resort bbq and etc. 

 

Norquay is where I learned to ski and you'd probably have great fun skiing there, but both Louise and Sunshine are significant step above Norquay and I'd never recommend anyone spend time there unless they had more than five days to ski in Banff. Avoid Nakiska, it's everyone's third choice. 

When you go to Sunshine (which you should - but only for one day, Louise you'll want two) you'll probably spend most of your time skiing the Wawa quad chair and the right side of Standish http://www.skibanff.com/sunshine-village/trail-maps/mount_standish.jpg  (Wawa is to the right side of the map). 

 

Kicking Horse is wonderful and absolutely worth the drive, particularly if the weather is good, high wind can shut down the gondola, but it's never happened to me. I spend most of my time on the Stairway to Heaven chair, but you'd most likely be on the Gondola,  and Catamount and Pioneer chairs. Kicking Horse is such a great resort its logo is the only sticker to grace my MacBook.

 

Banff is a wonderful - if slightly touristy - town. You will absolutely want to visit the UPPER hot springs. Particularly after skiing one day. 90 (farenheit) degree water does wonders for the skied out body. Only go to the lower (Cave and Basin) hot springs if you're a history buff. If you are a history buff, TOTALLY go to the lower hot springs. The Indian Trading Post at the bottom of the hill by the bridge is neat to wander around, but it's wares are pretty lame. The Banff Museum, just across the river into town, is excellent however. http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/ab/banff/index.aspx

Melissa's: http://www.melssteak.com/ is the place to go for in-Banff, pre-ski breakfast and the Magpie and Stump http://www.taximike.com/magpie.html is the place to go for great apres-eats. 

If you have kids and they get sick of skiing (how?), take them to the Douglas Fir Resort to the indoor water slides http://www.douglasfir.com/waterslide-pools.html ... non-guest admission is steep, but it's a great way to spend several hours.

 

If you, or any member of your family or group, are artistically inclined, the Banff Arts Centre is the premier residency and training facility for artists in Canada - imagine the Iowa Writer's Workshop combined with Juilliard and the School of the Art institue of Chicago and then set in the Canadian rockies. If you care about, or are interested in the arts, check out what's happening during your stay: http://www.banffcentre.ca/ if you could care less about the arts, that's also fine. 

Bothe the Chateau Lake Louise and the Banff Springs Hotel are staggeringly beautiful, http://www.fairmont.com/lake-louise/   http://www.fairmont.com/banff-springs/  I highly recommend taking the time to explore one of the two hotels, whichever one is more convenient. Both have their unique qualities and I'd be hard pressed to choose between them. Lake Louise is perhaps more picturesque, but Banff Springs has a really great and easy walk from town along the river. Doing them both would probably feel redundant, though you might enjoy it. 

The Other Banff highlight: Ye Olde Fudgery was a Banff staple, though their website no longer works, so they might have shut down since I left, address was:  215 Banff Ave. Banff, AB  - right on the main drag. If you find it, buy some Rundle Rock - berserk good. 

 

Don't let anyone sell you an "adoption" certificate for the Elk, it's a scam, if an ingenious one. 

Have a blast in Banff. 

 

post #19 of 22

The only bit of the advice above that I'd disagree with is the part about avoiding Nakiska. I have no idea what it would be like late in the year but I know that as someone who does racing, I enjoyed it a lot in early winter. Nakiska is unusual in that it is used by many national teams for training and for the development teams. At least when I was there, they kept many of the trails in race-like  very firm, even injected, condition. As a former Olympic site, the hills have good pitch. It is certainly not going to be everyone's favorite but I think that anyone who is active in racing at any level would enjoy a day there.

post #20 of 22

^  I stayed at Douglas Fir and I liked my mountain view cozy room for like $100 per night in the spring.  If I go there next time I will go to all ski resorts.  I just need a 4k camera in order to capture that beauty one more time. 

post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by vsirin View Post

The only bit of the advice above that I'd disagree with is the part about avoiding Nakiska. I have no idea what it would be like late in the year but I know that as someone who does racing, I enjoyed it a lot in early winter. Nakiska is unusual in that it is used by many national teams for training and for the development teams. At least when I was there, they kept many of the trails in race-like  very firm, even injected, condition. As a former Olympic site, the hills have good pitch. It is certainly not going to be everyone's favorite but I think that anyone who is active in racing at any level would enjoy a day there.

 

I completely agree with that.  If the O.P. likes well groomed fall-line cruising, Nakiska is definitely the place to ski.  I ski there more than anywhere else, partly due to the layout and maintenance of the runs and partly due to convenience to the city.

 

I disagree with the previous poster's comments about Sunshine.  It always has far superior snow to Lake Louise, but don't waste your time on the WaWa chair.  It's a 'beginner/low intermediate'' chair good for a quick warmup run in the morning, but you'll be far better off skiing Goats Eye or the Divide if you're intermediate to advanced.

 

Lake Louise has great variety, and for the O.P.'s stated skill level the Larch chair will be fun, for awhile, but you'll get bored with it after about three runs.  There are some nice cruising runs on the front side, but if you're skiing on a weekend the front side runs can be extremely crowded and thus frustrating.  The back side bowls are excellent, but I suspect they will be beyond your ability.

 

Kicking Horse might be worth a day visit, but based on the O.P.'s stated skill level you will be primarily limited to runs on the lower part of the mountain as most of what is serviced from the top, by the gondola, will be way beyond your ability.

 

As far as nightlife and restaurants in Banff, there is a huge selection to choose from (Magpie and Stump would be near the bottom of my list and Melissa's isn't much better).  They had their time in the sun 20 years and more ago, but there are so many more options that are far superior now that those two have definitely slipped down the list.  You'll find out when you get here how broad the options are.  Since you have a time-share, you'll be able to pick up groceries at the local Safeway and save a lot of money, if you choose.

post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tips. I am thinking Sunshine for 2 days and Lake Louise for 2 days at this point. If my legs can do 5 days in a row, maybe a half day at Norquay or a full day at Sunshine or Louise. While I enjoy railing big GS turns on groomers, I am really hoping for some powder days to get my Nordica Unleashed Hell's  out and do some floating off the groomers, since we don't get to do that all that often here in WI.
 

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