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Help me plan my tour of Colorado ski areas! [Feb 2014]

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 

Hi Everyone,

 

My boyfriend and I have booked flights to Denver in February 2014.  We are wanting to do a small 'tour' of some of the Colorado resorts but are unsure of where is logistically possible or what the best options would be.  Please can you lovely people who are better versed about skiing in Colorado help?

 

We are both very competent on snow with both of us having done seasons in the past.  We would like a mixture of options between some back/side country but also some nice groomed runs for more relaxed days.

 

I went to Brackenridge about 10 years ago and it was great fun as far as I remember but we are open to any options.  I think in 10 days probably 3, but at most 4, resorts is a good idea.  We will be hiring a car so we can do a bit of driving but don't want to waste skiing days driving!

 

It would be such a help if anyone could give us their advice or suggestions on inexpensive places to stay!

 

Thanks,

 

Rebecca :)

post #2 of 41
A bit more information would be helpful. For example, what do you like to ski? What types of terrain? What do you like in your resorts? How competent of skiers are you?

Mike
post #3 of 41
One way to start the planning process is to consider which lift ticket product you will use. Since you seem to have 8 or 9 ski days it may be economical to buy a season pass applicable at several resorts within a 2-4 hour drive from Denver, such as Rocky Mtn Super Pass at ~$489 [ http://www.skicolorado.com/Multi-Mountain-Passes.aspx#1 ] or one of the various Epic passes at ~$300-529 [ http://www.snow.com/epic-pass/passes/epic-local-pass.aspx ]. These products could allow you to easily sample three different ski areas, perhaps relocating after a few days at each OR with car hire you could pick a central/economical location like the town of Frisco and commute to most of them in an hour or so each day. How inexpensive do you want to go? There is a hostel near Winter Park, never stayed there, but have heard good things about it: http://www.therockymountainchalet.com/Accommodations/OurHostel.aspx Using search function for places to stay in Summit County, Colorado should turn up old threads like this one: http://www.epicski.com/t/90977/cheap-place-to-stay-on-summit-county-colorado-traveling-alone
post #4 of 41

In addition to the questions above, what days are your flights?  President's day is the weekend of Feb 17 and will be crowded.   You'll also want to plan around the I-70 traffic to and from Denver each weekend.

post #5 of 41

Regardless of what you like to ski, Frisco with a car is probably the best bet. There is enough variety to keep you busy for 10 days and you wouldn't have to pack unpack pack unpack pack unpack etc.....

 

From there, it's an easy drive to:

Keystone,

Breckenridge

Copper

Arapahoe Basin

Loveland

and not too far for a day trip to Vail either.

 

There is a bus system, but really a car is much easier.

 

If you really want side country as you say, Loveland Pass has plenty. (please be sure you are well educated on avalanche issues before you do that though.)

 

As an alternative to a pass (which will restrict the areas you can ski at) you can also opt for four-packs an other multiple ticket packs. Copper has a four-pack that includes discounted "Family" tickets, so you could get one and use the discount tickets for the other party. Loveland also has a great deal on four-pack tickets. Then you can fill in the other two days at window price wherever you wanted to ski.

post #6 of 41
Thread Starter 

Thanks for replying :)

 

We fly out on January 31st to February 10th.

 

We are both very competent skiiers/boarders and have both been skiing/boarding for over 15 years.  I like to ski both groomers and powder.  It's great if I can start the morning on some fresh powder and then cruise on some groomers in the afternoon once my legs are a bit more tired!  My boyfriend is more of an adventurer and would have happy hitting sidecountry everyday.  We really do like diverse terrain with us skiing Japan last year to brush up on our powder skiing and Whistler and Europe the year before. I

 

guess it would be good to head to either resorts which have nice groomed runs and then easy access to some sidecountry or to spend a couple of days in a resort which has great sidecountry and then move on to a resort that has a bit more of a cruising vibe.... in the end as long as the snow is nice then we're happy!

 

With regards to resorts I am not very fussed about them being huge resorts if we are only staying for a few days each.  Something smaller and with less lift queues is good.  We really like staying in 'authentic' towns with relaxed vibes and a few good bars to have some beers and food in after a long day!  Nightclubs etc don't really bother us as we would rather get up early to ski the next morning.

 

I hope this helps, I might have blabbered a bit!  I cannot thank everyone enough for your replies, it's great to hear from people who could offer us firsthand advice :)

post #7 of 41
Numerous fun scenarios, here's one off the top of my head: buy Epic Local Pass. Spend first three or four days/nights at Beaver Creek; for inexpensive lodging use priceline.com to bid for a $60 room at Comfort Inn Avon with free breakfasts and quick free bus ride to lifts. Sleeping here at an elevation of about 7500' will help you adjust to altitude early in your trip. BC is posh, but friendly, maybe try one or two days at nearby Vail too. Then relocate to Keystone for three days/nights. Here you might catch a relative bargain on slopeside lodging at a very nice condo facility with kitchen like The Springs by searching on vrbo.com. Keystone has easily accessible side country and many easy groomers. Then relocate to Breckenridge and renew ten year old memories. There is a comment in this thread that says the Fireside Inn (never been myself) is an inexpensive place to stay there: http://www.epicski.com/t/98352/looking-for-breckenridge-keystone-copper-cheapest-lodging-lift-tickets-transportation-ideas-etc BC, Keystone and Breck are all within about 60 minutes drive of each other and about 2-3 hours from Denver Airport. Feel free to totally ignore above suggestion and plan your own fun itinerary to suit your personal preferences:-)
post #8 of 41
The obvious thing is to buy an EpicmLocalnpass and ski Summit County and Vail/beaver Creek. You'll save a few dollars and ski some very good terrain. You will also get to battle the weekend ski crowds with the front rangers(including me). I don't think you can do the Rocky Mountain Superpass as you have to buy it initially in person. If you decide to go thenEpic route, ski Breck, Keystone, A- basin, and Vail during the week and ski Beaver Creek on the weekends -- the further you are from Denver the more manageable the crowds will be.

If you'd like more variety, then I'd go for something like this.

Day 1 -- arrive Denver and drive to Frisco.
Day 2 -- ski Copper, drive to Steamboat in the evening.
Day 3-5 -- ski Steamboat, drive to Aspen afternoon of day 5
Day 6-9 -- ski Aspen, Highlands, and Snowmass, drive to Frisco
Day 10 -- ski Copper before driving to the airport.

You wind up with a Saturday at Copper. The intermediate terrain can be clogged on weekends, but Copper is usually pretty empty on weekends particularly relative to other Summit County resorts. It also has fantastic terrain. Aspen, IMO, has the best skiing in Colorado. Steamboat has good skiing and interesting trees. If anything, shorten time in steamboat and lengthen time in Aspen.

Mike
post #9 of 41

I would avoid the Summit Ski resorts during that weekend.

I am from California, but I have skied in Colorado a handful of times.

Breckenridge will have a new peak open, however, the lines can be horrendous.

 

I would focus on Aspen, Steamboat and Vail. The three crown jewels of Colorado.

 

My next trip there will  be Aspen since I have the Mountain Collective Pass.

Remember there are four ski mountains in the area.

 

An offbeat adventure would to go to take in Southern Colrado. Drive South to Wolf Creek,

Silverton, Telluride, Crested Butte, Aspen, Vail, and back to the airport. Thats lots of driving, but fun and offbeat.

 

Steve

post #10 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

The obvious thing is to buy an EpicmLocalnpass and ski Summit County and Vail/beaver Creek. You'll save a few dollars and ski some very good terrain. You will also get to battle the weekend ski crowds with the front rangers(including me). I don't think you can do the Rocky Mountain Superpass as you have to buy it initially in person. If you decide to go thenEpic route, ski Breck, Keystone, A- basin, and Vail during the week and ski Beaver Creek on the weekends -- the further you are from Denver the more manageable the crowds will be.

If you'd like more variety, then I'd go for something like this.

Day 1 -- arrive Denver and drive to Frisco.
Day 2 -- ski Copper, drive to Steamboat in the evening.
Day 3-5 -- ski Steamboat, drive to Aspen afternoon of day 5
Day 6-9 -- ski Aspen, Highlands, and Snowmass, drive to Frisco
Day 10 -- ski Copper before driving to the airport.

You wind up with a Saturday at Copper. The intermediate terrain can be clogged on weekends, but Copper is usually pretty empty on weekends particularly relative to other Summit County resorts. It also has fantastic terrain. Aspen, IMO, has the best skiing in Colorado. Steamboat has good skiing and interesting trees. If anything, shorten time in steamboat and lengthen time in Aspen.

Mike

eek.gif  I beg to differ but that would be a thread hijackwink.gif

post #11 of 41
Quote:
I beg to differ but that would be a thread hijack

Maybe but the gist of habacomike's recommendation is correct.  With 10 days I would drive far enough away to avoid Denver-based crowds.  

Quote:
Then relocate to Keystone for three days/nights

I don't think Keystone will cut it for a couple that quoted Japan, Whistler and Europe as places they liked.

 

With regard to sidecountry Colorado is one of the most avalanche dangerous mountain regions of the world.  Realistically the best recommendations would be controlled but hike accessible areas like Highlands Bowl or Gold Hill, maybe a day at Silverton.   The caveat is that those places are over 12,000 feet and if you live at sea level they will not be fun on your first couple of days in Colorado.  I find them tough but manageable at 3-4 days and "like a normal hike" after a week of sleeping at 8,000+.

 

Overall, given Denver access I would agree on Aspen being a logical focus of the trip, with Hanging Valley and Highlands Bowl providing the "sidecountry" flavor.   I'll add my usual caveat that early February some of this stuff might not be skiable yet; the last 2 years are a benchmark of that.  By contrast if it's a big year you might want to add Crested Butte to the itinerary.

post #12 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

Maybe but the gist of habacomike's recommendation is correct.  With 10 days I would drive far enough away to avoid Denver-based crowds.  

I don't think Keystone will cut it for a couple that quoted Japan, Whistler and Europe as places they liked.

 

With regard to sidecountry Colorado is one of the most avalanche dangerous mountain regions of the world.  Realistically the best recommendations would be controlled but hike accessible areas like Highlands Bowl or Gold Hill, maybe a day at Silverton.   The caveat is that those places are over 12,000 feet and if you live at sea level they will not be fun on your first couple of days in Colorado.  I find them tough but manageable at 3-4 days and "like a normal hike" after a week of sleeping at 8,000+.

 

Overall, given Denver access I would agree on Aspen being a logical focus of the trip, with Hanging Valley and Highlands Bowl providing the "sidecountry" flavor.   I'll add my usual caveat that early February some of this stuff might not be skiable yet; the last 2 years are a benchmark of that.  By contrast if it's a big year you might want to add Crested Butte to the itinerary.

 

 

 I was just messing with Mikesmile.gif  I basically agree with him that when planning in advance the Aspen complex is the best choice in CO for advanced skiers.   The combination of terrain and generally good snow conditions make it the best bet.  It has great terrain but there are 3 places with better terrain in CO but each of them has issues.  Best terrain and snow...Silverton but not really a lift served experience...better bring some fitness to the table.   Crested Butte and Telluride both have better terrain than Aspen on the whole but neither generally gets as good of snow conditions but if you are planning last minute.......

 

We could start another rank the resorts in CO argument threadeek.gif

post #13 of 41

I think Aspen and Telluride are about the same in terms of getting expert terrain open and keeping it open.  Crested Butte is much worse, possibly the least reliable destination resort in the West in that regard.   The snowfall stats, all measured around 11,000 feet, are Snowmass 297 inches, Telluride 277, Aspen 253 and Crested Butte 252.  While we're on the subject Taos gets 262 inches and ranks below Aspen and Telluride and above Crested Butte for snow coverage.   This is one of those topics where snowfall numbers are not the whole story.  The unique topography of each mountain comes into play, and Crested Butte has terrain that would fit right in at Squaw, Jackson or Snowbird, but doesn't work so well with 250 inches of 6% snow.

post #14 of 41
Someone who likes groomers probably needs a bit more variety of terrain than Crestted Butte. Telluride is just a LNG way from anywhere -- a 7 hour drive from DIA.

Mike
post #15 of 41

An alternative suggestion- If you want to get off the ebaten path and still get some great skiing in, by a Monarch Season pass for $429 (price goes up again November 9.

 

You get Colorado days at: Monarch, Loveland, Sunlight, Ski Cooper, Devils Thumb, Durango, Granby Ranch, Silverton, Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Steamboat.

 

You also get additional days all over the country and world, so you may find you also get bennies around where you live (I don't see that you mentioned where home is).

 

Of the Colorado Areas, Monarch, Loveland, Sunlight, Durango are "small" areas that see less crowds yet still have equivalent terrain to what you find in Summit County (just generally with less vertical  at a time and accessed by slower lifts).

 

If you want more time at major resorts, Buy a Rocky Mountain Super Pass to get access to Copper, Steamboat, Winter Park, and Monarch. $489 currently.

 

To get off the beaten path and also access some of the best skiing in Colorado, look at the Southern part of the State. Telluride, Crested Butte, Silverton, Taos (an honorary part of Colorado), and Wolf Creek can make up a great Southern Tour. Its a long drive from Denver, but who says a Colorado skier has to fly into Denver? Fly into Durango, or Grand Junction, or even Albuquerque to make for a much shorter drive.

post #16 of 41
You have to buy the Rocky Mountain Superpass in person. I don't know about the Monarch Pass.

Mike
post #17 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom View Post
 

Regardless of what you like to ski, Frisco with a car is probably the best bet. There is enough variety to keep you busy for 10 days and you wouldn't have to pack unpack pack unpack pack unpack etc.....

 

From there, it's an easy drive to:

Keystone,

Breckenridge

Copper

Arapahoe Basin

Loveland

and not too far for a day trip to Vail either.

 

There is a bus system, but really a car is much easier.

 

If you really want side country as you say, Loveland Pass has plenty. (please be sure you are well educated on avalanche issues before you do that though.)

 

As an alternative to a pass (which will restrict the areas you can ski at) you can also opt for four-packs an other multiple ticket packs. Copper has a four-pack that includes discounted "Family" tickets, so you could get one and use the discount tickets for the other party. Loveland also has a great deal on four-pack tickets. Then you can fill in the other two days at window price wherever you wanted to ski.

 

I'm certainly not a CO expert. We stayed in Frisco a couple of years ago and really liked it. Main Street is lined with Victorian buildings, Downtown is kind of a mini Breck. For us it was neither too hectic nor too sedate. it's only a few miles to Copper, Breck, Keystone, and A-Basin. Vail and Beaver Creek are within easy driving distance. 

post #18 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

You have to buy the Rocky Mountain Superpass in person. I don't know about the Monarch Pass.

Mike

 

I am 95% sure you can get a monarch pass online- I know a lot of people that have purchased the pass who lives several states away.  It doesn't say anything on the website about needing to be there in person, just that you need to sign and send the release.

 

I think for people looking to experience the best Colorado has to offer, they really need to get beyond Summit County/Vail.  The skiing in Aspen is worlds better (far better terrain, far less crowds), and the price is the same.  Steamboat has terrain that isn't exactly spectacular, but its not markedly worse than Summit and the crowds are much milder.

 

And I am a huge fan of the non-resort ski areas in Colorado. Most of them simply rock.

post #19 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by RebeccaP View Post
 

  We will be hiring a car so we can do a bit of driving but don't want to waste skiing days driving!

 

Driving from Denver to  Monarch, T-ride, etc. is not going to do it for these people. Maybe if they come back another time, they can get more off the beaten path. Monarch is one of my favorite resorts and I love the town of Salida, so it's not that I don't like the idea, just maybe not the best one for the OP.

 

Aspen is certainly a choice, and there are four mountains all on a free shuttle with good terrain and would provide the sense of variety. They could stop at Loveland or A-basin on the way to or fro for a feel for the "non resort" areas, which I agree are hidden gems. But price is the same? really? who knew!

 

(Aspen lift tix are $100 per day, Loveland at the other end is $61 or a four-pack for 129. And lodging is typically much less expensive in Frisco/Dillon than Aspen, although Snowmass does have some good value places. And if they really want to go back country, Loveland Pass is one of the more accessible back/side country areas.)

post #20 of 41

Rebecca, where are you from? Where do you usually ski? I wouldn't worry too much about crowds during the time you are here, even close to Denver, since you are skiing mostly weekdays.  You could drive during the weekends instead of ski ... Are you wanting to spend the night in the same place the whole time, or do you want to move your luggage, too?

 

As Tony said, one thing I would suggest is brushing up on the Colorado snowpack for your backcountry days.  We have some nice snow, but it is notoriously unstable here ,different than Whistler, for example. Loveland Pass is certainly accessible, but just last spring five experienced riders were killed there in one event. Bookmark this https://avalanche.state.co.us/index.php and try to find a local guide. 

post #21 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom View Post
 

(Aspen lift tix are $100 per day, Loveland at the other end is $61 or a four-pack for 129. And lodging is typically much less expensive in Frisco/Dillon than Aspen, although Snowmass does have some good value places. And if they really want to go back country, Loveland Pass is one of the more accessible back/side country areas.)

 

I meant that Aspen tickets are about the same price as Vail Tickets.  I think it makes sense for most people considering an on/near mountain stay should stay at Snowmass, which makes the lodging price pretty comparable to Vail. Really, for the marginal difference in price, I think Aspen offers a far, far, far better ski experience for most people.

 

But yes, the Monarch pass plan, or the Southwest tour plan, basically means either days from skiing or several hour drives to the new location after each day of skiing.

post #22 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by RebeccaP View Post
 

 

We are both very competent on snow with both of us having done seasons in the past.  We would like a mixture of options between some back/side country but also some nice groomed runs for more relaxed days.

 

 

 

I missed the backcountry part.

 

I'm going to respectfully bow out of this thread. I am really not comfortable with providing our encouraging folks to do back country as part of a ski vacation.  Familiarity with local terrain is one of the most important ways to stay save in Avalanche country- its pretty hard to stay out of slide areas when you don't know what you are skiing into.

 

This isn't a dig about anybody's ability, but I don't know your ability and level of training/knowledge, and for most people, the only way I would suggest skiing out of resort boundaries on a vacation to an unfamiliar place is with a guide.

post #23 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

You have to buy the Rocky Mountain Superpass in person. I don't know about the Monarch Pass.

Mike

 

I bought my Rocky Mountain Superpass+ online.

post #24 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by CluelessGaper59 View Post
 

 

I bought my Rocky Mountain Superpass+ online.

 

You can renew online, but first purchase has to be in person. 

 

Looks like you can buy just a Copper pass online now, though.

post #25 of 41

Loveland is cheaper than Highlands.  But if you're and expert, there's really no comparison.

 

Just wait and go where ever has the best conditions.  I'd much rather spend more and have the best skiing available.

If you prepurchase tickets just to save money and someplace else is going off, you'll kick yourself silly.

post #26 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

I missed the backcountry part.

I'm going to respectfully bow out of this thread. I am really not comfortable with providing our encouraging folks to do back country as part of a ski vacation.

It's been 14 days for the OP, so we're pretty much negotiating with ourselves again biggrin.gif. I'm hearing the terms back/side country, but the rest of the description sounds more like backside/frontside, lift served inbounds. Kinda hard to go wrong with a bunch of weekdays if we don't get a crappy early season again as long as she picks a good base point.
post #27 of 41
Quote:
This isn't a dig about anybody's ability, but I don't know your ability and level of training/knowledge, and for most people, the only way I would suggest skiing out of resort boundaries on a vacation to an unfamiliar place is with a guide. 

Especially in Colorado's snowpack.  That's why Aspen is a good suggestion due to Hanging Valley/Highlands Bowl having backcountry ambience and fairly low skier density but in a patrol-controlled environment.

post #28 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

Especially in Colorado's snowpack.  That's why Aspen is a good suggestion due to Hanging Valley/Highlands Bowl having backcountry ambience and fairly low skier density but in a patrol-controlled environment.

And the snowcat off the backside of Aspen Mountain.
post #29 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

The snowfall stats, all measured around 11,000 feet, are Snowmass 297 inches, Telluride 277, Aspen 253 and Crested Butte 252.  

I take issue with these stats or, more specifically, with the claim that it's an apples to apples comparison. Even with the elevation being the same, Crested Butte has a shorter season due to a stricter forestry service lease and so, given that snow totals are accumulated over the season, CB is getting short-changed compared to resorts that stay open longer (i.e. all of them). That's not to say it isn't a hit or miss mountain with snow but the comparison is off. For example, last year feet of snow fell during the week after the resort closed (and this is not uncommon) but none of those snowfalls counted toward these snow total comparisons; however, those storms did count at other resorts.

 

Regardless, CB is definitely more of a locals mountain. Last year was not a good snow year for Colorado in general but I still had a few epic days of skiing in Teo Bowl in CB......a near vertical world of feet deep untouched powder and staircased pillow lines. It's there waiting to be skied but you need to know how things have filled in for the season and where snow has blown. It's one of the benefits of skiing there a few times a week. That and learning which landmarks mean you're on track and which ones are the last stop before some absurdly high cliff band with tons of tracks leading right off the edge.

post #30 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smushie View Post
 

I take issue with these stats or, more specifically, with the claim that it's an apples to apples comparison. Even with the elevation being the same, Crested Butte has a shorter season due to a stricter forestry service lease and so, given that snow totals are accumulated over the season, CB is getting short-changed compared to resorts that stay open longer (i.e. all of them). That's not to say it isn't a hit or miss mountain with snow but the comparison is off. For example, last year feet of snow fell during the week after the resort closed (and this is not uncommon) but none of those snowfalls counted toward these snow total comparisons; however, those storms did count at other resorts.

 

Regardless, CB is definitely more of a locals mountain. Last year was not a good snow year for Colorado in general but I still had a few epic days of skiing in Teo Bowl in CB......a near vertical world of feet deep untouched powder and staircased pillow lines. It's there waiting to be skied but you need to know how things have filled in for the season and where snow has blown. It's one of the benefits of skiing there a few times a week. That and learning which landmarks mean you're on track and which ones are the last stop before some absurdly high cliff band with tons of tracks leading right off the edge.

 

 

I think it is more an apples to apples comparison than going off of ski area stated stats, many of whom use snow that fell in September and melted away clean, and snow that falls after close. A season of Thanksgiving to 1st week in April matches many, many, many Colorado Ski areas. Aspen does not open all of their mountains until December...

 

I'm far from an expert at CB, but my understanding is that the best terrain may not open all years, and may only be open for a few weeks of the season when it does. There are parallels (Trainors at Aspen is rarely open and I don't think it has been open in 2 seasons), but trying to SCHEDULE a ski vacation to hit this stuff requires luck.

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