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Christmas/New Year trip advice

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hi Bears:

 

My family and I are heading out West to ski ~Christmas week through New Year's Eve, and I am looking for some input.  We live in Minnesota, and will be driving so we are quite flexible. Skied at Big Sky two Christmases ago and loved it, so we thought we would go back there this year but my son wants to consider going someplace new to us.

 

My son (15, snowboarder) and I (newbie ski patroller) are comfortable on some steeper stuff but stuck mostly to the blue runs at Big Sky, interested in expanding limits this year. My daughter (12, skier) and wife enjoy long cruisers more.  

 

Options:

1. Bridger Bowl/Big Sky (stay in Bozeman like we did last time, 2-3 days at each area)

2. Colorado (have an invite to stay with friends in Ridgway ~45 min from Telluride, probably ski 2 days somewhere like Copper/Snowmass/Steamboat on Dec. 24-25, then go to Telluride for 3-4 days)

3. Somewhere near Salt Lake City (maybe Alta or Canyons)

4. Grand Targhee (maybe best chance of good snow/powder this early in the year)

 

I am sure we would enjoy Bridger/BS again, and would likely be the cheapest overall and shortest driving.  Would be nice to see friends in Ridgway, but sorta worried about the crowds closer to Denver for the first couple of days.  SLC options might be good if it snows a bit more.  Not sure about lodgings near Targhee, and maybe not much to do other than ski.

 

So, I would love some overall advice as well as current condition reports (snow quality might tip the balance). I know it is a ton of driving, but we are prepared for that. Oh, and I know it would be better to go later, but we are constrained by school schedules and mandatory shut-down at work for me.

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 21
Have you been to Ridgeway? It's a pretty nice place and Colorado is skiing well already.
Take your friends a really nice gift!
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks Shred. Never been to Ridgway. Skied at A-basin a few years ago, but never went further west. Glad to hear conditions are good in CO now. Have you skied at Telluride this year?
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Oops, just noticed you are from Chicago. Saw in another thread you are leaving today to ski in CO. Hope you have a great trip!
post #5 of 21

You are correct that there isn't much to do at Targhee besides ski.  The resort lodging does try to provide some activities for kids.  Driggs is a cute little town with a few good places to eat.  Staying there for a couple nights would be good for the overall budget.  I liked The Pines Motel a lot when my friends and I stopped by for a day to check out Targhee for the first time on the way from SLC to Big Sky.



If conditions are good, Snowbasin seems like it would fit your families skiing interests. Plenty of long cruisers as well as places for more adventurous runs. Lodging in Ogden and food would be relatively inexpensive and not really that far a drive.

post #6 of 21
Whitefish, six hours north of Big Sky, has a cute town, TONS of snow (we're 100% open), is pretty cheap, and has a ton of cruisers. Relative to other places, our holiday lines are pretty low. In fact, our all time record day last year - of course at Christmas - was 7200 people, spread over 3000 acres.

Our snow quality right now is primo, like mid winter. And we don't have many huge rocks that need covering here, so the five foot base means a lot of the early season stumps and trees are already covered even though we only opened four days ago.
post #7 of 21

This might be a little off topic, but where did you get stats like the one below?  It would be really cool to compare ski areas...

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

 In fact, our all time record day last year - of course at Christmas - was 7200 people, spread over 3000 acres.
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by BTMac View Post
 

Colorado (have an invite to stay with friends in Ridgway ~45 min from Telluride, probably ski 2 days somewhere like Copper/Snowmass/Steamboat on Dec. 24-25, then go to Telluride for 3-4 days) .... Would be nice to see friends in Ridgway, but sorta worried about the crowds closer to Denver for the first couple of days. 

 

Easy choice.  The snow in Colorado is fantastic right now.  Southern CO, including Telluride, is even better.  Telluride is an amazing mountain and some of the best scenery anywhere.  Your kids will also love a trip to the hot springs in Ouray, and you get to see your friends.

 

Crowds near Denver shouldn't be a problem until the 26th.  The masses in Denver (including me) are too busy getting ready for xmas to ski much until after the holiday, and many travelers spend xmas at home then head skiing.  I'd consider driving to Denver and sleeping there, ski Copper, drive to Glenwood (hot spring pool too!) or Aspen to sleep, ski Snowmass, then drive to Ridgeway either after skiing or preferably the next morning during daylight.

 

This map is really all you need to know about snow conditions:

http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/gis/images/west_swepctnormal_update.png

post #9 of 21
Skiing in Aspen today was fantastic!
post #10 of 21

The map above clearly shows southern Colorado being better than northern, so visiting the friends in Ridgway is not a bad idea.  I wouldn't go near any of the places close to Denver unless it's before Dec. 26.

 

Sibhusky is probably right about Whitefish.  Its sector is only 117% on that map but Fernie just across the border is loaded with snow.  They are 2 hours apart; you should consider visiting both. 

 

Targhee is an excellent choice too.  Jackson needs some but not a huge amount more snow to be worth your time if you go there.

 

In Utah Alta is decent and Brighton/Solitude are OK.  It's going to take a lot of snow to bring the other Utah areas up to speed by Christmas.

 

If you've seen weather forecasts, nothing is expected in Utah or Colorado for at least the next week.  The farther north you go the more favorable the near term snow forecast.

post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanvg View Post

This might be a little off topic, but where did you get stats like the one below? It would be really cool to compare ski areas..
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

 In fact, our all time record day last year - of course at Christmas - was 7200 people, spread over 3000 acres.

I live here. It's in the paper all the time. Plus I look at press releases on the web site. Gotta keep my Locals Guide up to date!

1467478_10152045872137488_1888707008_n.jpg
Edited by sibhusky - 12/12/13 at 11:03pm
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Whitefish, six hours north of Big Sky, has a cute town, TONS of snow (we're 100% open), is pretty cheap, and has a ton of cruisers. Relative to other places, our holiday lines are pretty low. In fact, our all time record day last year - of course at Christmas - was 7200 people, spread over 3000 acres.

Our snow quality right now is primo, like mid winter. And we don't have many huge rocks that need covering here, so the five foot base means a lot of the early season stumps and trees are already covered even though we only opened four days ago.

Was it entirely necessary to twist the knife with that second paragraph, having already stabbed with the first? wink.gif At least I have a bad cold and can rationalize that if we had great snow here I wouldn't be able to take proper advantage.
post #13 of 21
I would do the Telluride option. Telluride's snow is not this good this time of year very often.
post #14 of 21
Oh by the way. Telluride is unbelievable pretty. In the evening on the gondola coming from Mt. Village to Telluride reminds me of Mary Popens above town. Great memories. You would love it.
post #15 of 21

The snowfall map is very interesting, but keep in mind it is based on "average snowfall."  The Wasatch by SLC in Utah is in the 100% range, while SW Colorado is in the 150% range, but they both have approximately the same amount of snow.  With a few exceptions, most of the areas in the Rockies from Southern Colorado to Wyoming are in the 100" YTD range.

post #16 of 21
You're saying that CURRENTLY they have 100 inches? That they've RECEIVED 100 inches (date they started counting would help with that one), or that NORMALLY they have 100 inches by now?

All that chart shows is how much better or worse than usual by this time that areas are doing. Certainly doesn't tell you how good it IS unless you also have the data for what is the norm.
post #17 of 21

The average annual snowfall for  Alta is 560" while the average at Telluride is 309", so a map that shows current snow compared to the average is misleading if you do not factor in the average annual snowfall for each location. Both areas of the mountains (Wasatch and San Juans) have received around 100" so far this season, which equates to 100% and 150% of their respective average amounts for this time of year.  From my experience the "base" claimed by most ski areas are monkey numbers, but the YTD snow is generally a good indicator of what to expect, except in cases where some place gets an early dump followed by an extended warm spell that melts it all.  The point I was trying to make is that despite the 100% vs 150% on the map, the amount of snow on the slopes and the skiing at both parts of the Rockies is currently very similar.

post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all of the good input folks.  That snow map is interesting.  The nice thing is it looks like there are tons of great options this year.

 

Unfortunately it looks like the logistics are not working out for Telluride.  Turns out our friend's place is not available until the weekend after Christmas, which does not work well for us this year.  My wife and daughter really want to go to Bozeman again, so I think that is where we will end up.  Bridger is apparently in excellent shape now (~30" new in the last week, 100% open) and we did not get to see much of that last time.  Would love to hit Whitefish or Targhee too, will have to see how much extra driving everybody is up for.

post #19 of 21
Bridger replaced the old red double with two new lifts. Should make it an even better place for intermediates.
post #20 of 21
Quote:
The average annual snowfall for  Alta is 560" while the average at Telluride is 309", so a map that shows current snow compared to the average is misleading if you do not factor in the average annual snowfall for each location. 

Correct, that's why Alta is doing decently.   Contrary to what some marketing directors want you to believe, other areas in Utah do not get as much as Alta, and some of them get a lot less.  I would be avoiding those "a lot less" areas during Christmas unless there is a radical turnaround in the current weather pattern.  Also, when the other places suck, some of the people staying there come around to Alta and make it more crowded, which is not something you want to see during Christmas week.

 

Given the ability profile of the OP and his family, Whitefish is a far better mountain for them than Bridger.  They could even take the train there from MSP.

post #21 of 21

If they are desperate for "more variety" and don't realize it, Whitefish is actually pretty close to Schweitzer (4 hours), Fernie (two hours), Missoula SnowBowl (3 hours), Blacktail (1 3/4 hours), and Turner (2 3.4 hours).  Not as close as Big Sky and Bridger maybe, except for Blacktail.  However, if they took the train, they couldn't do the touring to other places.

 

However, given their interest in long cruisers, I think they could be happy here the whole week.  Toni Matt, Inspiration, Big Ravine, Hellfire, all fit that category.  And each of those actually has alternatives as you follow them just to mix things up a bit, such as Corkscrew, Around the World, the three forks on Inspiration.  The list goes on.  

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