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"Best" US Spring Break Family Trip Location?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Flying from New York area around March 15 through 22.  Using miles to fly, so most, but not all, US airports are an option.  Traveling with wife and 12-year-old daughter.  Some priorities/thoughts:


  • Wife is non-enthusiastic, take-it-or-leave-it skier, but a good sport.  She can manage to stand on skis and rigidly pizza down a green trail.  She is more inclined to try skiing on western snow than on eastern ice, but views it more as "taking one for the team" than something she really wants to do on her own. 
  • Daughter is a cautious intermediate, not quite parallel skier.  She skied most blue runs at Winter Park last year, as well as most blue runs in the Catskills, but prefers mellow slopes.  She is not one of the kids begging to try a black diamond.  She will not use poles at the moment. 
  • Short of jumping cliffs and tight, high consequence chutes, I will ski almost anywhere on the mountain, though generally at moderate speeds, and not always gracefully.
  • None of us like large crowds; I hate waiting on lift lines.
  • Need an excellent ski school.  My daughter needs encouragement and good instruction.  I've often seen kids ski groups where they just tool around in a line without much improvement.  She's kind of on the cusp of the "green" groups and the "blue" groups, but is the slowest in the blue groups.  My wife also needs a good instructor for somewhat fearful adults. 
  • If my wife is not skiing all the time, I don't want her to be bored, but she is good at entertaining herself by running, relaxing in a beautiful area, etc.  While a town to walk around in and shop is nice, she is not a professional shopper by any stretch.  She does enjoy a good massage, though. 
  • We like the option of cooking some of our own meals, but also like a good meal out.
  • While the convenience of ski-in/out would be great, not 100% a priority, as long as resort is close, no traffic to and from resort, and parking is not chaotic.
  • Good snow to make the journey away from the east coast (more) worthwhile.
  • Everyone must have fun so that wife is inclined to indulge me on a big ski trip every year. 


Through input from others here, I have come up with the following places I've been giving serious thought to.  Please give me your opinions or other suggestions:


  1. Steamboat.  I have found somewhat reasonable walk to lift lodging there.  Should I be concerned about spring break crowds there?  Is there a chance of ski school slots being filled up? 
  2. Snowmass.  More expensive lodging, but could be the care-free spot that will make everyone happy, with access to Aspen for walking around.  Again, will crowds/ski school slots be an issue?
  3. Snowbasin.  While no on-mountain lodging, the area looks tremendously beautiful and peaceful, with great terrain for all levels, no crowds, and much cheaper lodging.  Option to make a day trip to Park City, Alta, or Powder.  I've been looking at the weather forecasts, though, and see temps above freezing.  I know there's no guarantee, but should Snowbasin still be skiing well (and hopefully with fresh snow) in a couple of weeks?
  4. Park City.  Convenience, things to do, etc., but crowds?  Also, if I'm there, I'd really prefer to ski in LCC/BCC, but that adds a schlepp factor for the rest of the family. 
  5. Jackson.  Was my first choice for various skiing and non-skiing reasons, and have a skiing friend there to boot, but lack of green terrain probably makes it not the best choice for the rest of the family.  Please convince me otherwise! 


Telluride and Whitefish were also on the list, but the flights weren't available.  Thanks so much in advance for all the thoughtful advice!

post #2 of 15

I've only been to PC on your list here, and I think it would be perfect given your situation.

post #3 of 15

Did you consider Mt. Bachelor ???


No slopeside lodging but plenty of condo/home type lodging outside the NFS area


Town of Bend has things to keep your wife occupied if needed


Good Ski School


No lift lines !!!


Resort shuttle from bend if wife wants to do other things


Reasonably priced

post #4 of 15

Your wife sounds like a catch! Skis to make you happy, keeps herself entertained and not a big shopper? Score for you! 


I think any of those locations would work pretty well. My first thought was that Snowbasin wouldn't be great if your wife was looking for more of a concentration of things to do (i.e. ski town), but Ogden (I assume that's where the cheap lodging is) is great for walking around in a nice setting. She can poke around historic downtown or take a walk/run/snowshoe along the bench or Ogden River Parkway (paved). I'm sure there are spas and such, I just don't know any to recommend. 


In general, Snowbasin should be skiing very well by in mid March and up until early April. This year, the base is way down, so there are more rocks and weeds poking out, but it has gotten some huge storms and plenty of powder. On a powder day, there are few resorts in the world that you'd rather be at. It's way too early to worry about forecasts for your timeframe - they change by the day and hour. 


Of the other ones I've been to: 


Steamboat is a ton of fun with no real crowds. It has some of the best trees in the country but lacks any real open-bowl or steep terrain. Great town that's easy to get to via free bus. 


I'd take Park City over Steamboat personally. In fact, I visited PC for the first time when I lived in Steamboat and immediately wanted to move there (ended up a little farther north). The town is a little less quaint, but with three resorts, more varied terrain, more to do and a more upscale vibe in terms of shops and restaurants, I think it's a better all-around experience. I don't believe they get many crowds in PC and the resorts are large enough that you shouldn't have any worries. On the other hand, if you really think that traveling to LCC will be a problem, go to Snowbasin - the terrain can compete with the Cottonwoods and this year even the snow total is competing. 

post #5 of 15
They would all be fun, but if you haven't been to Aspen before I think your group would really get a kick out of the Snowmass option for great intermediate terrain, variety of skiing at AH and Ajax, Snowmass village convenience, and fascinating shopping and apres ski at town of Aspen. That should still be a primo time for good conditions there too. And there are frequent posts on Epicski about how Aspen area is never super crowded except maybe Christmas.
post #6 of 15

March crowds are spread out since school spring breaks aren't all the same week.  So that's probably not as big a factor as for a Christmas break ski trip.


My vote would be for Steamboat or Park City.  If Park City, do a day trip to Snowbasin for future reference.  Ski schools are good in all the places you are considering.  I went to Steamboat as an intermediate.  Enjoyed the skiing and the town.  Didn't bother with a rental car.  Haven't skied Park City areas because the LCC/BCC and Snowbasin/PowMow are too enticing but you really can't go wrong around SLC.  My guess is that wife and daughter would enjoy Deer Valley.  No snowboarders is a plus.  Of course, being at Park City means a day at Alta is a possibility too.  Have them take a lesson at Alta while you do the Mountain Workshop in the afternoon.

post #7 of 15

I'd recommend ski in/out for your wife.  That way she can come/go whenever she wants. 

post #8 of 15

I've done more late-season, circa-spring break Western skiing than I'd like to count, including several times to Steamboat.  I'm sure there's been exceptions, but in my personal experience I've never found Steamboat to be a great late-season resort.  When I think of slush in the afternoons, I think of Steamboat!    It's a shame, because I think your daughter in particular would really enjoy the great variety of relatively easy intermediate skiing, and the hot springs are a great non-ski diversion while there.  But, why settle -- hit Steamboat on another trip (in February).  Telluride is north-facing and has a great town, as you know.  Kicker with Telluride is boy, is that high skiing.  Was there two years ago and never truly got acclimated, even with constant hydration and cutting back on the evening apres safety meetings. 


My assessment of Park City is the same as your's, and I say that on the eve of catching a plane tomorrow morning for Park City (the other wife in my group is a non-skier, so we have to keep her happy, but just as you say, I'm not looking forward to the schlepping to Alta and Snowbasin we have planned -- getting 8 people, including 4 kids, up, fed, and out so we can be there near opening will be like herding cats...).


Of your list, particularly with your miles, I think Snowmass might be the way to go -- the whole area is certainly a lot more interesting than Winter Park, and maybe it might reel your wife in on the sport a little more.


For an out-of-the-box thought, (you'd mentioned ski-in/ski-out) -- Sun Peaks in the Canadian Rockies.  It's on my bucket list precisely because of relatively inexpensive ski-in/ski-out access.  Been a while since I looked into it (the air costs from the East Coast being the major consideration, since you have to go by way of Vancouver, then a small flight back East to the Rockies from there) -- a Japanese company took it over when it was a relatively small mountain, and sunk millions into it, completely re-inventing it -- and they went out of their way to provide a lot of ski-in/ski-out accommodations at a reasonable rate.  The Canadian Rockies don't get the 500" that excite us about places like Alta and Grand Targhee, but winters last longer up there and they hold their snow for a long time.  Just a thought.

post #9 of 15

Bummer that Telluride is no longer an option, because that would certainly fit the bill (great ski school, terrain to keep all three of you happy, NO LIFT LINES and a wonderful town).  I just got back from Steamboat and worry that it does get somewhat busy over Spring Break as the Sunshine area was congested last week in what was considered a slow week.  Steamboat's lower elevation is nice for sleeping and breathing, but is more conducive to slush/ice conditions at that time of year.

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

It's hard to keep up with the airlines.  We had to change the days a little.  Now it looks like there are available flights into Telluride (TEX and MON), but none into SLC.  


Focusing now on Telluride and Snowmass.  Haven't come up with a "bargain" yet, but I guess that's the nature of the beast.  Thanks for all the great advice and insights above.

post #11 of 15

Hard to go wrong with either of those choices, but I would think you will find things a lot less crowded at Telluride.  Snowmass is bigger, but I think you'll find the variability of terrain more to your liking at Telluride as it has great beginner runs (Meadows, Double Cabin, Galloping Goose, Bridges) for your wife, beautiful long blue runs for your daughter (See Forever, Sundance, Misty Maiden) and then the Telluride Face will keep you plenty entertained.  (At Snowmass, you can get similar variability by visiting the nearby mountains of Buttermilk, Aspen and Aspen Highlands).

post #12 of 15

I am in NY state but my daughter only has one day off that week.


We have a trip planned to snowmass.  My daughter is 15 and is an intermediate skier.  My wife might ski one day and we will head over to buttermilk for that .  My wife and I have been to snowmass a few times already and it is our favorite area.  The group that I went with also loved snowmass.  We tried Aspen Mtn for one run and it was too steep for them (not me, I would love to go there but don't want to ski alone).  I never tried highland or buttermilk.


We usually stay slopeside but this time staying 100 yards from slope (I guess you can call it slopeside).


Flights for most of our trips seem to be $600 + regardless where we go :(

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

And the winner is... Jackson Hole!  


I can't begin to say what a pain it was to book this and I'll spare the internet the details, but one end of each trip to various locations just wouldn't work, but I finally a way for me to go Sunday 3/7 through Saturday 3/23, flying into Jackson and out of Idaho Falls.  The rest of my family won't arrive until Tuesday, so I'll have some time to ski on my own and with a friend who lives in Jackson and who is a good skier.  So psyched!  If anyone's around and wants to ski a bit, PM me.

post #14 of 15
Originally Posted by ADKS View Post

And the winner is... Jackson Hole!  


post #15 of 15

Congrats-- JHMR is the bomb.  I think it's my fav hill in teh West . I went with a similar situation with my wife ( maybe a little braver) and she loved it.  MAKE SURE you link up with Bob Peters ( very popular on this board and the undisputed Jackson guru.  Some would say Chuck Norris-like . )   We had a day with him and it will be a day you never forget if you are so fortunate to meet up.  

Enjoy the Hobacks...........

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