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Mid December - DEN to ?????

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Kids just walked in an said; " Take us Skiing before xmas".....  I said - "Hell yea"........

 

BTW - last 2 years they didnt even want to go at all so I am stoked for lack of a better word ....

 

I know its early and always a crap shoot - but will book flights/SUV and head towards the snow ....

 

Dont mind driving if thats what it takes..... 

 

Which resorts are within a days drive of DEN;

 

South = Aspen, Wolf Creek ,,, Tride ? 

West = Steamboat ---- Park City ?

East = Not a chance

North =  ?

 

Just want to put a few places on the radar and start watching the weather when its time ...

 

Thanks

 

 

NNN  

post #2 of 25

As many will no doubt say, but it's true, wait and see who gets the early snowfall. That early, you won't have any trouble getting last minute lodging. I would see how things look about 3-4 weeks before you want to go and do everything then. I watch early season pretty closely every year, and you just never know.  

post #3 of 25
Grand Targee,

Can you handle 9 hours with kids in the rig though
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maui Steve View Post
 

As many will no doubt say, but it's true, wait and see who gets the early snowfall. That early, you won't have any trouble getting last minute lodging. I would see how things look about 3-4 weeks before you want to go and do everything then. I watch early season pretty closely every year, and you just never know.  

 

Agree - just hoping to get lucky - I know last year was a bust in Colorado before Xmas....  - but I have to book flights now as it gets difficult to find seats "on direct flights" from Miami to Den around xmas... 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by near nyquist View Post

Grand Targee,

Can you handle 9 hours with kids in the rig though
 
Probably not :-)  4 hour flight then a 9 hour drive would kill us ..........  Plus I will be in JHMR in late January with the grown ups !!!!  
 
The more I think about it - we could easily drive anywhere from Steamboat to Aspen or even Wolf Creek and maybe Telluride ... and if snow is really bad we could always fly to SLC from DEN...  
 
I guess there is nothing between Steamboat and Jackson ? 
 
Anyway, good to be thinking about snow ...... 

Edited by triplenet - 9/8/13 at 5:20pm
post #5 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by triplenet View Post
 
I guess there is nothing between Steamboat and Jackson ? 
 

 

 

Actually, there is a whole lot of nothing between Steamboat and Jackson. 

post #6 of 25

I haven't seen the big air fare sales just yet, but they should be happening in the next couple of weeks. But I don't think they'll be as low as last year.

 

I've skied early December every year since 1977.  It's usually not that bad and I've had some of my best days ever, early season.   If your flexible, you'll find something decent.

post #7 of 25

Park city and Telluride are 6.5+ hours away from Denver in good weather, FYI.  Any ski area that is more than 2 hours from Denver will have much lower crowds (highly recomended if your dates are close to xmas)

 

You can get full lists of ski areas at sites like: http://www.skitown.com/resortguide/statemap.cfm/co/Colorado

 

You might also want to consider:

Taos, NM

Vail/Breck/a basin/loveland/winter park/keystone/Copper/Beaver Creek  (close to Denver and can be crowded)

Sunlight/Monarch, CO (smaller areas)

Crested Butte, CO

post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys for the info....... Will see what happens .... probably easier to hop on a flight to SLC from DEN if I need to go that route.......

 

Keeping my fingers crossed for Aspen or Steamboat ...... 

post #9 of 25

Just go to SLC.  Take the kids to the Cottonwood Canyons (Alta) or if any of the PC areas have snow go there for a day or two.  I would skip DEN that early in the season.  I am bringing my girls to SLC on 12/19!

post #10 of 25

Every ski area in Colorado is a days drive from Denver, depending on your definition of "day"- Telluride is the furthest at about 8 hours from DIA- You go all the way to Grand Junction and then head South.

 

Speaking of which, DIA is not the only airport in the State- Steamboat, Telluride, Aspen, Eagle, Durango, not to mention Grand Junction all have airports in ski country. Some, like Durango, even have flights from discount carriers.

 

Mid December in Colorado is sketchy- A good year is 100% open, a bad year is 20%.  Even the Colorado areas that get a lot of snow can be sketchy in December, as the snow either comes or it doesn't. Wolf Creek was open in name only until December 20th last year when the snow finally came. Before that, they opened after one 20" storm the week before Thanksgiving, and got nothing more for a month. I didn't even hate my rock skis enough to use them out there.

post #11 of 25
You're mostly dependent upon cold rather than precipitation at that time of the season. It's colder in the higher areas, so snowmaking starts earlier. You've not mentioned Summit County, which includes Copper, Breck, Keystone, A-basin, and, just over the hill, Loveland. The latter two open in October. Keystone and Copper open Nov. 1. Breck opens a week later. Steamboat and Aspen don't open until Thanksgiving. Who's going to have the most terrain available by mid-December? Unless there's a big pre-Thanksgiving storm, only the Summit County area resorts will have much open. And they're just an hour or so out of Denver.
post #12 of 25
I don't believe your premise. Early opening doesn't have much bearing on how much terrain will be open mid December.
They open early because they have a huge population base that will pay to ski a single run and they'll make a lot of money.
But having a ton of traffic on those few runs will degrade the snow quickly.
I'll bet a six pack of good beer, Aspen or Steamboat have better skiing 12/14?
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post
 Who's going to have the most terrain available by mid-December? Unless there's a big pre-Thanksgiving storm, only the Summit County area resorts will have much open. And they're just an hour or so out of Denver.

 

1. I would agree that up until around Thanksgiving, Loveland tends to be a very safe bet for having either the most terrain open or near the top of the list.

 

2. "Only" Summit County area resorts will have much open in Mid December? About 5 years out of ten, Wolf Creek will be 100% open by Mid December. 2 years ago, Wolf Creek was 100% open before HALLOWEEN.  Most years, Wolf Creek will solidly kick the ass out of rest of Colorado for skiing conditions once it gets deep into December.

 

By Mid-December, every resort out there has blown their snow, and the only question is how much natural snow has fallen to open up the advanced stuff with no snowmaking infrastructure. Snowmaking is pretty irrelevant by then.

post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 

I have confidence that we will find snow - May have to drive a full day for it --- but we will get some ;)

post #15 of 25
Quote:
Just go to SLC.  Take the kids to the Cottonwood Canyons (Alta) or if any of the PC areas have snow go there for a day or two.  I would skip DEN that early in the season.  I am bringing my girls to SLC on 12/19! 

+1 Yes, book the flight to SLC now.  Obviously it will cost a huge amount more if CO is crappy like the past 2 years and you have to book DEN-SLC at the last minute.   From SLC you also have Targhee (very likely good) and Jackson (more speculative but still better odds than much of CO) 5 hours away.  You're also 5 hours from Sun Valley, which I normally wouldn't recommend so early but was great in December last year.

 

Quote:
By Mid-December, every resort out there has blown their snow, and the only question is how much natural snow has fallen to open up the advanced stuff with no snowmaking infrastructure. Snowmaking is pretty irrelevant by then.  

 For mid-December here are the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles for percent of area open in CO since 1988:

 

A-Basin: 14,33,57

Breck: 27,55,75

Copper 31,41,65

Keystone 26,56,88

Loveland 20,66,88

Steamboat 41,74,92

Vail 42,80,96

Winter Park  44,66,79

 

Wolf Creek will be in full operation ~80% of the time.   Other Colorado areas will be more like Summit County and not as reliable as Vail and Steamboat which get more snow.

 

For mid-December here are the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles for percent of area open in UT,WY since 1996: 

Alta 75,93,100

Snowbird 68,80,94

Brighton/Solitude 63/88/100

Snowbasin 25,47,80

Park City 34,50,80

Jackson 30,51,75

 

Targhee is in full operation ~90% of the time, probably the safest ski area in the world for mid-December.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 9/13/13 at 3:16pm
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

+1 Yes, book the flight to SLC now.  Obviously it will cost a huge amount more if CO is crappy like the past 2 years and you have to book DEN-SLC at the last minute.   From SLC you also have Targhee (very likely good) and Jackson (more speculative but still better odds than most of CO) 5 hours away.

 

 For mid-December here are the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles for percent of area open in CO since 1988:

 

A-Basin: 14,33,57

Breck: 27,55,75

Copper 31,41,65

Keystone 26,56,88

Loveland 20,66,88

Steamboat 41,74,92

Vail 42,80,96

Winter Park  44,66,79

Funny you responded - I  review your web site religiously ....  Great information BTW 

 

One of the kids only boards so I think Alta is out ?   

 

I booked Southwest direct to DEN - if no snow in Colorado I can hop over from DEN to SLC for some $$$ ... or make the drive if flights are too expensive  ... 

 

Fingers crossed ..... 

post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by triplenet View Post
 

Funny you responded - I  review your web site religiously ....  Great information BTW

 

One of the kids only boards so I think Alta is out ?  

 

I booked Southwest direct to DEN - if no snow in Colorado I can hop over from DEN to SLC for some $$$ ... or make the drive if flights are too expensive  ...

 

Fingers crossed .....

 

 

Would you drive from Key Largo to Atlanta and back to catch a flight? Because that is the type of drive you are talking about going from DIA to SLC, only the DIA to SLC drive is through areas that snow a lot.

 

It is probably cheaper to suck it up and change your flight than paying the gas to drive.

post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 

DEN to Park City is 515 miles .... Key Largo to Atlanta is 717 miles ... Few hours difference 

 

But I agree - driving is not in the cards.... I can buy a round trip flight from DEN to SLC for $210.... 

 

Will keep the DEN flight and reassess in early December ... 

post #19 of 25
Quote:
I can buy a round trip flight from DEN to SLC for $210 

Maybe now, but probably not in early December for a week or two later.

post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 

Just a little bump BTT ..... Are we feeling a bit different now about mid December in Colorado ?

 

:D

post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by triplenet View Post
 

Just a little bump BTT ..... Are we feeling a bit different now about mid December in Colorado ?

 

:D


Not really? The early season snow is welcome and the cold temps have allowed good snowmaking progress. But we haven't gotten enough snowfall to open terrain without snowmaking, and until you get enough on the ground to get stuff open, anything can happen.

 

The specific example I am thinking of is two seasons ago. Pretty good early season snowfall (amazing for Wolf Creek- 100% open in mid-October), but the storms went away by Thanksgiving and didn't really come back until late January before going away for good in mid Feb.

 

There was a 6" storm in the Aspen area the first week in December, and that was it til Mid Feb, and conditions in Mid December/Christmas were pretty rank. What snow fell in October become irrelevant when nothing comes down in December.

 

Obviously that was an outlier and there is no reason to think that would happen this year, but lets hold off on the champagne corks.

 

And yes, I feel pretty good about this season. An average season would feel amazing after two tough years.

post #22 of 25
You'll be fine. The SOP remains the same.

Book a few days prior to arrival, based on conditions, your requirements, price and convenience.
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by triplenet View Post
 

Just a little bump BTT ..... Are we feeling a bit different now about mid December in Colorado ?

 

:D

Don't jinx it!!! :)

post #24 of 25
Quote:
You'll be fine. The SOP remains the same.

Book a few days prior to arrival, based on conditions, your requirements, price and convenience.

+10  A few small storms this early should not change this basic plan.  By the weekend before Thanksgiving look at percent of terrain open at the areas you're thinking about.  If someone is running way ahead of the normal pattern then, that's the time to consider committing to something.  There's a lot of historical info on Colorado early season.  I'd want to see Thanksgiving percents open comparable to mid-December of an average year before considering the Front Range over Utah for December.

 

Anachronism has it right. Some areas like his are quite generous about opening terrain when it's still thin.  Wolf Creek 100% open on a 22 inch base is probably not worth a 4 hour diversion from Denver.  How much base is needed depends on the individual area, and in Wolf Creek's case I'll leave it to anachronism to tell us what base depth he thinks is sufficient for most if not 100% skiability.

post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

 

Anachronism has it right. Some areas like his are quite generous about opening terrain when it's still thin.  Wolf Creek 100% open on a 22 inch base is probably not worth a 4 hour diversion from Denver.  How much base is needed depends on the individual area, and in Wolf Creek's case I'll leave it to anachronism to tell us what base depth he thinks is sufficient for most if not 100% skiability.

 

As a coincidence, I added some discussion of that to the Wolf Creek Guide a few days ago. My view is that a 36" base is probably good for most of the mountain excluding Alberta, 48" can start to put Alberta in play, and some areas require around 100" BASE before the lines can be skied rather than "straightline and pray."

 

Tomorrow Wolf starts spinning all lifts with a 28" base.

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