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Where to ski in Colorado . [beginner/intermediate, early season]

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Im planning a 4 days ski trip to Colorado for the week before thanksgiving 2013 , we are 2 couples of beginner skiers . The plan is to fly to Denver and rent a car . We woukd like to know the best place to go according to our skills .
We would like a beginner friendly ski area with reasonably priced lodging near by , ideally a 2BR condo the more secluded the better (we have a car) but not to far from a village or town where we could go for dinner and drinks wink.gif . We are open to all suggestions since this is our first trip to Colorado anyways .

smile.gif:)We can change the trip for the first weekend of December if that offers any advantages .smile.gifsmile.gif
Edited by Manuel Rosquete - 7/24/13 at 1:39pm
post #2 of 28

I hate to be a debbie downer, but the week before Thanksgiving will be totally unpredictable.  Most Colorado resorts don't even open until around November 22.  You *might* get lucky and have a big dump, but there is a strong risk that you will have limited options.  Why not plan a trip for later in the season?  The best snow and lowest crowds often are in April.

post #3 of 28

or just be prepared to do more hiking and site seeing than skiing; possibly some lower altitude mtn bike riding. Its a great time of the year out there weather -wise.  

post #4 of 28

It would be best to read through this thread first

 

Before spending your hard earned money

 

I would not  make any plans until snow is on the ground

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/120852/help-planning-on-a-short-ski-trip-thanksgiving-intermediate-first-trip-out-west

post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manuel Rosquete View Post

Im planning a 4 days ski trip to Colorado for the week before thanksgiving 2013 , we are 2 couples of beginner skiers . The plan is to fly to Denver and rent a car . We woukd like to know the best place to go according to our skills .
We would like a beginner friendly ski area with reasonably priced lodging near by , ideally a 2BR condo the more secluded the better (we have a car) but not to far from a village or town where we could go for dinner and drinks wink.gif . We are open to all suggestions since this is our first trip to Colorado anyways .

smile.gif:)We can change the trip for the first weekend of December if that offers any advantages .smile.gifsmile.gif

Welcome to EpicSki!  How did you get the bug for skiing?  It's fair to say that the later, the better in terms of snow conditions.  That's true even for places that start snow making as early as possible.

post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thank you Marznc ... I've always loved to ski , I have done it a few times in different parts of the world , and try to do it at least once a year .
I went to Park City the first week of December 2010 and there was lotttt of snow , got to ski a lot and had a blast , I was wondering if Colorado was similar that time of the year .
post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manuel Rosquete View Post

I went to Park City the first week of December 2010 and there was lotttt of snow , got to ski a lot and had a blast , I was wondering if Colorado was similar that time of the year .

 

Colorado would be similar.  2010 was a good year for snowfall and not every year is as good, especially in November.  Being beginners, you could probably have a good time on limited terrain.

Thanksgiving can be crowded, so I would try to get your skiing in early in the week.

post #8 of 28

Manuel, are you and your group comfortable on blue runs yet or are you still mostly on greens?

 

The first week of December is much better than the week before Thanksgiving.  Second week of December even better.  Third week better still.... up until Christmas which is a zoo and crazy expensive.  Each additional week gives more opportunity for mother nature and the snowmaking guns to open up more and more runs.

 

I think a December trip to the higher elevation Colorado resorts is a good bet for a beginner or intermediate, but not an advanced/expert skier.  A good plan is to get tickets to DIA when they are cheapest, then decide on your exact destination(s) once the snow is on the ground.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas is low season, so no worries about finding lodging at the last minute.

 

As already mentioned, most of this was just covered in this recent thread.  Have a read, then come ask some specific questions or let us know what you are thinking and we'll give feedback:

 

post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
We are green runs skiers for the most part , We changed the trip to early December hoping to get better conditions and still take advantage of Low season prices . Now the question is where to go , according to what I asked before .
post #10 of 28

Summit County would probably be best for you early in the season. Quite a bit of snowmaking and several areas have lots of green runs. I am partial to Copper Mountain but there is also Keystone, Breckenridge and several others. You could stay in Frisco, Dillon or Silverthorne.

post #11 of 28

Summit County is your best bet since it is the shortest drive from Denver. Copper would be my first choice, Keystone the second for lower level terrain. Since it is early season, there may be great deals for slope side lodging.

post #12 of 28

I'd also suggest Summit County since the high altitude results in colder temps that allow earlier and better snowmaking.  I'm also partial to Copper, but not sure who has the most green runs open early Dec. It would be fun to try all three of Copper, Breck and Keystone.

 

Personally I'd stay where you can walk to a lift so you can avoid the car, and so everybody doesn't have to agree when to come and go.

 

But, if you want secluded and don't mind driving to ski, here is a great neighborhood that is an easy drive to Breck/Keystone/Copper.  You could haggle a last minute deal on one of these houses that is going to sit empty otherwise:

http://www.vrbo.com/vacation-rentals/usa/colorado/northwest/breckenridge/north-breckenridge/highlands


Edited by tball - 7/25/13 at 10:58am
post #13 of 28

I would suggest staying centrally in Summit county and go where the best conditions are. Could be Beaver Creek, Vail, Copper, Keystone, just don't know. Also as beginners don't discount smaller mountains like Loveland. More affordable lessons and plenty of good terrain for beginner skiers. Less crowded for sure, could be a good option for you...

post #14 of 28

I would say some of the easier early season terrain can typically be found at Breckenridge- some of this is marked blue, but 90% of the run is pretty flat with one or two sections that are a legit blue.  Mid-week days are better than weekends.

 

Copper and Keystone both do a good job with early season snow making, but a fair bit of typical man made snow terrain is blue.

 

FWIW, Debbie is wrong about opening dates- Loveland and A-Basin typically open in Oct, Copper & Keystone the first weekend of Nov and Breck the 2nd weekend of November.  Vail typically opens the weekend before Thanksgiving and many other places try to be open for Thanksgiving as well.

post #15 of 28
Quote:
The first week of December is much better than the week before Thanksgiving.  Second week of December even better.  Third week better still.... up until Christmas which is a zoo and crazy expensive.

+1 

In general most Colorado areas are not on my short list for that time of year, but for beginners/low intermediates I agree that Summit County is a logical first destination.

 

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manuel Rosquete View Post

I went to Park City the first week of December 2010 and there was lot of snow , got to ski a lot and had a blast , I was wondering if Colorado was similar that time of the year .

 

Colorado would be similar.  2010 was a good year for snowfall and not every year is as good, especially in November.

2010-11 was THE best overall year for snowfall in North America of the past 38 years and tied with1996-97 for the best early season. Colorado in December the past two seasons was marginal, and should be a reminder that:

Quote:
Each additional week gives more opportunity for mother nature and the snowmaking guns to open up more and more runs.
post #16 of 28

Loveland. Has the most snowmaking infrastructure and unless it is a huge early season snow year, they will have more terrain open than anybody up to the 1st week of December.

post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

Loveland. Has the most snowmaking infrastructure and unless it is a huge early season snow year, they will have more terrain open than anybody up to the 1st week of December.

Um, that is just not true. The most snowmaking infrastructure? 

 

It is probably a good place to go during that time, but they don't have more snowmaking than Copper, Breck, or Keystone. And I seriously doubt they will have more terrain open, but I'm not positive. Fewer skiers, yes, and that can make less terrain better, but.... 

post #18 of 28
Breck will definitely have the best beginner terrain open at that time.
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

Um, that is just not true. The most snowmaking infrastructure? 

 

It is probably a good place to go during that time, but they don't have more snowmaking than Copper, Breck, or Keystone. And I seriously doubt they will have more terrain open, but I'm not positive. Fewer skiers, yes, and that can make less terrain better, but.... 

 

Pay attention this year, because what I said is accurate. Of anybody in the early season game, Loveland consistently has more terrain open until around the first week in December, unless its just a wildly bountiful early season.  They turn their guns on earlier and have more snowmaking infrastructure than anybody else in Colorado that plays the early season game (Abay).

 

All of these drought years, Loveland has had the most open terrain during the WROD part of the season.

 

Keystone and Copper may have more equipment, but they either can't or chose not to blow snow as early as Loveland and Abay, and the head start matters.  

post #20 of 28

^^^ Not buying it.  Loveland might have the most terrain for the first week or two of November, but by Thanksgiving the major resorts will have more open.  

 

The major front range resorts all have 3-5 times the snow making acreage of Loveland.   Acreage = infrastructure.  What you said is just not true.

post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

 

Pay attention this year, because what I said is accurate. Of anybody in the early season game, Loveland consistently has more terrain open until around the first week in December, unless its just a wildly bountiful early season.  They turn their guns on earlier and have more snowmaking infrastructure than anybody else in Colorado that plays the early season game (Abay).

 

All of these drought years, Loveland has had the most open terrain during the WROD part of the season.

 

Keystone and Copper may have more equipment, but they either can't or chose not to blow snow as early as Loveland and Abay, and the head start matters.  

 

1. I am disputing the assertion that they have more snow making infrastructure than the Summit resorts. It can't be true. Or they use more equipment to cover less than half the acreage? That makes no sense. 

 

2. Loveland didn't turn on the guns earlier last season: "Copper Mountain is the first ski area to start making snow for the 2012-2013 ski season. They started making snow on Tuesday to prep for ski-race teams who want to train early."

 
3. I am not sure that Loveland had as much open last season as Copper did in December. I used to get  a Loveland midweek pass, and I didn't two seasons ago and I was so glad I didn't because of the drought. Copper had just expanded its snowmaking because of the ski racing deal, and even though it sucked, there was way more to ski there for the first part of the year. NOT in November, because a lot of it is restricted to the race teams, but by mid-December they do release that terrain. 
 
4. I do agree with you that if I were in the OP's group, I wouldn't go to Copper in November if there isn't much natural snow. There are fewer skiers, and more green terrain at Loveland. 
 
5. I don't know about Breck and Keystone, but my impression is that they have more snowmaking than Copper does, therefore WAY more than Loveland. I have read that a quarter of Breck is covered by snowmaking, and that would be somewhere over 500 acres. If you can cover 500 acres of snowmaking with less infrastructure than you use for 160 acres, that's a cool trick. I guess it's possible ... and maybe Loveland has a lot more water rights, I don't know about that. Copper has a couple of sources of water, and I think they get more than the Vail Resorts.
post #22 of 28

Look, I'm not going to post any more about this because aside from wasting more time than its worth scouring archive.org for old websites, there's no way to show this. However, for years I watched early season openings like a hawk, and it is a rare, rare year that Loveland doesn't have the most terrain open. Some years A-bay beats them in opening by a day or so, but Loveland can consistently get more terrain open- they show on their trail map which runs have snowmaking infrastructure, and by the first week of December, they almost always have all of that open, no matter what happens with snow.

 

When I am referring to snowmaking infrastructure, I'm referring to those in the running to open first, which really means Abay.

 

Maybe I'm overstating things by saying the first week of December, but excluding 2010-2011 and other years where early season snow has been sufficient to open the entire mountain regardless of snowmaking (Loveland had chair 8 open pre thanksgiving in 2010), Loveland almost always wins the Thanksgiving game.

 

Another thing I think is in Loveland's favor is that they don't open runs until they have a rock-solid base- They will manage runs by opening them for a few hours for skier packing, then shut them up again to blow more snow, and repeat several times before officially opening a run for the season- I've never damaged a ski skiing there in the early WROD season.  I'm not comparing this to Copper as I haven't skied there pre turkey day since 2007, but I know a lot of other places early season (WOLF) are ski at your own risk...

 

If the OP is going to ski pre thanksgiving in Colorado, I think the safe bet is Loveland.  It muddies up a bit for the first week of December, by then everybody is open and conditions can be 100% in a good year, or 20% for a bad, and who is winning depends on whose microclimate was favored by the storms.

post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

Look, I'm not going to post any more about this because aside from wasting more time than its worth scouring archive.org for old websites, there's no way to show this. However, for years I watched early season openings like a hawk, and it is a rare, rare year that Loveland doesn't have the most terrain open. Some years A-bay beats them in opening by a day or so, but Loveland can consistently get more terrain open- they show on their trail map which runs have snowmaking infrastructure, and by the first week of December, they almost always have all of that open, no matter what happens with snow.

 

When I am referring to snowmaking infrastructure, I'm referring to those in the running to open first, which really means Abay.

 

Maybe I'm overstating things by saying the first week of December, but excluding 2010-2011 and other years where early season snow has been sufficient to open the entire mountain regardless of snowmaking (Loveland had chair 8 open pre thanksgiving in 2010), Loveland almost always wins the Thanksgiving game.

 

Another thing I think is in Loveland's favor is that they don't open runs until they have a rock-solid base- They will manage runs by opening them for a few hours for skier packing, then shut them up again to blow more snow, and repeat several times before officially opening a run for the season- I've never damaged a ski skiing there in the early WROD season.  I'm not comparing this to Copper as I haven't skied there pre turkey day since 2007, but I know a lot of other places early season (WOLF) are ski at your own risk...

 

If the OP is going to ski pre thanksgiving in Colorado, I think the safe bet is Loveland.  It muddies up a bit for the first week of December, by then everybody is open and conditions can be 100% in a good year, or 20% for a bad, and who is winning depends on whose microclimate was favored by the storms.

Well, you  shouldn't have mentioned Keystone and Copper then ... 

post #24 of 28

25th, 50th and 75th percentiles of percent of acreage open at Thanksgiving since 1988:

A-Basin 0%(the early snowmaking started in 2002), 12%, 35%

Breck 10%, 14%, 37%

Copper 7%, 29%, 39%

Keystone 9%, 28%, 52%

Loveland 11%, 22%, 56%

Steamboat 8%, 23%, 45%

Vail 6%, 24%, 38%

Winter Park 4%, 37%, 57%

 

Given size of the areas, 24% of Vail's 5,289 acres >> Copper's 29% of 2,465 acres > Loveland's 22% of 1,365 acres.

Of course Vail might be more unpleasant for crowds on a holiday.  But if it's early December I'd be going to Vail or Steamboat among this group.

 

25th, 50th and 75th percentiles of percent of acreage open in mid-December since 1988:

A-Basin 14%, 33%, 57%

Breck 27%, 57%, 75%

Copper 31%, 41%, 65%

Keystone 26%, 56%, 88%

Loveland 20%, 60%, 86%

Steamboat 41%, 72%, 94%

Vail 42%, 80%, 96%

Winter Park 44%, 66%, 79%

 

The last 2 early seasons were worse than 25th percentile.  Note that in a 25th percentile season Loveland and A-Basin have the lowest percents open, which tells me that their snowmaking is less comprehensive than other places.   Vail and Steamboat look better in the mid-December comparisons because they get more natural snow, and by then that's helping to open terrain even in average years.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 8/14/13 at 1:52pm
post #25 of 28

I think Tony has it down, least wise lines up with what I've noted over the last 5 yrs wanting to get out to Co in the first/second week.

 

Normally I want to hit Steamboat but can state last 2 years were very limited.   however if the OP can choose last minute, then Summit would be a good choice and move with the likely snow.  I've asked resorts on planned opening and historical opens .. they're open (mostly) to sharing historical open lifts and pack.

post #26 of 28

  The acreage covered by snowmaking which I grabbed from the resorts website: Keystone 662, Breck 565, Copper 380, Loveland 160. These guys likely upgrade all the time but that's what it says today. For what its worth, I have skied Summit County the last three seasons on the same week in December ( 8th-12th ) 2010 at Breck (80 % open ), which Tony has indicated was an anomaly. In 2011 at Copper there was 450 acres open, and 2012 there was 330 open at Copper. Being from the East where there is no snow in that time frame, we always have a good time. Oh ya, we're primarily groomer skiers )

 

  Ken

post #27 of 28
Quote:
The acreage covered by snowmaking

Not the whole story.  It also depends on how much water you have, so how fast can you cover terrain when you have snowmaking temperatures.  Thus the historical record of how much is actually open is the best way to look at it in terms of numbers.  Long time locals are better placed to make qualitative comments, in terms of how good the snowmakers are in avoiding chokepoints, icy surfaces, etc.  Some of this is out of their control.  My observation is that high traffic and manmade snow are not a good combination.  So skiing mostly manmade in mid-December might be OK, while during Christmas Week I would avoid it.

post #28 of 28

The amount of snowmaking infrastructure doesn't tell the whole story either. I don't know for a fact, but I would be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that Breck has a ton more guns, power, water and air than Loveland has, but I remember during the (thin) start to last season, I was frustrated by the slow pace of terrain opening at Breck. Riding up with an insider revealed that they were concentrating the lion's share of their snow making efforts on creating a super pipe and other park features because of an upcoming televised Dew Tour event. I imagine that was a smart business decision because of the exposure that got them, but just think if all that snow could have been spread out among the beginner terrain on Peak 9 instead. They could have opened several more lifts and trails and reduced the considerable wait time.

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