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Where to go out west this season [flying from Chicago, lower budget]

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

My wife and I are looking for the best place for the 2 of us to go (possibly some friends) for the 14/15 season. We've done the past 3 seasons at Vail / Beaver Creek and are looking to branch out a bit (plus my brother's moved, so our free lodging/lift tickets moved as well).  We're trying to decide between Utah, Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Baker, or returning to Colorado (probably doing Breck or Steamboat). Our main issue is budget. We'd like to get a trip done for under $2500 for the two of us (5-6 day trip). Unfortunately, even Utah is pretty expensive airfare from Chicago and averages about $500 whereas Denver is usually always $200 or less. Any suggestions on what might be cheapest? Are Big Sky or Jackson any cheaper than the places I mentioned?

 

Thanks all!

post #2 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by ldevries View Post
 

My wife and I are looking for the best place for the 2 of us to go (possibly some friends) for the 14/15 season. We've done the past 3 seasons at Vail / Beaver Creek and are looking to branch out a bit (plus my brother's moved, so our free lodging/lift tickets moved as well).  We're trying to decide between Utah, Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Baker, or returning to Colorado (probably doing Breck or Steamboat). Our main issue is budget. We'd like to get a trip done for under $2500 for the two of us (5-6 day trip). Unfortunately, even Utah is pretty expensive airfare from Chicago and averages about $500 whereas Denver is usually always $200 or less. Any suggestions on what might be cheapest? Are Big Sky or Jackson any cheaper than the places I mentioned?

 

Thanks all!

Jackson and Big Sky are going to be significantly more expensive to fly into. I know your said you were trying to go cheap but what kind of accommodations are you willing to take?  

 

you could take the CME for $132 per person round trip and than stay at the Snowshoe motel for about $70 a night, it's not fancy but is clean and safe. There is a bus stop right in front and the bus system runs all over summit. No need for a rental car.

 

Your still going to pay a lot for tickets though Breck's around $100 a day per ticket if you can't get any discounts. Abasin is more reasonable    

Utah also has a bus system that can be utilized but I have never used it. Utah also has significantly more reasonable lift ticket prices so the extra cost of flight may balance out. I would think that you would prefer a rental car in Utah as well. You can save on lodging by staying in SLC if you'r willing to drive about 30 mins 

post #3 of 34

Welcome to EpicSki!

 

I'm not super knowledgeable about some of the places on your list, but I have recently visited Steamboat for a summer visit and am pretty eager to make a winter trip. 

 

Hope others with some local knowledge or travel knowledge to your proposed areas will chime in soon. 

post #4 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by ldevries View Post
 

My wife and I are looking for the best place for the 2 of us to go (possibly some friends) for the 14/15 season. We've done the past 3 seasons at Vail / Beaver Creek and are looking to branch out a bit (plus my brother's moved, so our free lodging/lift tickets moved as well).  We're trying to decide between Utah, Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Baker, or returning to Colorado (probably doing Breck or Steamboat). Our main issue is budget. We'd like to get a trip done for under $2500 for the two of us (5-6 day trip). Unfortunately, even Utah is pretty expensive airfare from Chicago and averages about $500 whereas Denver is usually always $200 or less. Any suggestions on what might be cheapest? Are Big Sky or Jackson any cheaper than the places I mentioned?

 

Thanks all!

Welcome to EpicSki!  What type of terrain do you two like to ski the most?  If you flew to Denver, how would you get to the Colorado ski area of interest?  Rent a car or take a shuttle?

 

Starting in Chicago, not too much reason to fly past the Rockies to go to Mt. Bachelor.  Big Sky is definitely not a budget destination.  Can get cheap lodging in town for JH, but if willing to stay in motels then might as well fly to SLC and check out the ski options there first.

post #5 of 34

Checking in from the PNW here.  Welcome to Epic.  

 

Have not looked at flight costs but our areas could fit what you are looking for.  We have 4 pretty awsome areas and you could probably toss a rental car in and catch at least 3 on your budget.  The chances are pretty good you will get snowed on. 

You would be doing some driving: Crystal (a large resort size mountain without a real village, for hard core skiing you could spent your whole trip there) is the only one with lodging.  

North Bend would put you at Alpental (good for a day).

Stevens Pass has Levenworth about 45 minutes to the East.  

Baker is the one farthest away but they do get to claim the most snow, everybody else is only get about 600"/year.  

 

Weekday tickets will be in the $60/day range. Motels are pretty reasonable and the roads are good; you won't be in snow till you start up the passes.  

 

Not too many people choose this, it is just too popular.  

 

Enjoy where ever you choose.

post #6 of 34

Though I live in CA, I have found in the past couple of years that Winter Park is my most cost effective choice.  It has world class terrain to please everybody, from easy greens to sphincter puckering steeps. And don't forget Mary Jane has some of the best bump runs anywhere. For another thread last year, I totaled up all the North America resorts I've been to in the last 25 years, and came up with 28. Winter Park is definitely one of my top 5 choices. (Never skied east of the Mississippi, so I've missed out on Steaux :rolleyes)  Take the ORD-DEN plane tickets you mentioned above, add about $130 pp round trip on Home James shuttle service (No compelling reason to have a car, though taking the resort bus to the Safeway can eat up more than an hour), find a condo deal on vrbo.com (I have been renting an efficiency condo for $70/nt), get a $400 season pass for one of you (http://www.winterparkresort.com/tickets-and-passes/season-passes.aspx) and use the included $69/day vouchers for the spouse (carefully check out all the other cost savings associated with a pass, like 10% off meals at the resort and discounts at resort owned shops, and you will agree that a season pass is a total no-brainer for even a week's stay) (You can do even better if you can buy a child or teen pass: then two adults can split the ten vouchers. Again, read the pass benefits very carefully) and I think you will come in well within your stated budget. Winter Park may not have the cachet of some of Ski Magazine's top 10, but I guarantee that you will have a great ski trip. The only downside I can think of is a general lack of night life, but my ski trip modus operandi is: ski>hot tub>eat>sleep>repeat. YMMV if that does not describe your style.

post #7 of 34

The best way to find a realistic budget and options is just call the resort.  For steamboat, go to the site, http://www.steamboat.com/

 

call the resort and discuss your needs. there are other housing options and such but for the most part, they have the best deals that can be grouped with airfare, lodging, lift tickets and rentals.  At least you will know a realistic cost.  They did just start their winter fares program I would call soon.  ALL airfare to Steamboat (HDN is the airport code) is expensive.  The best way to consider the cost is to look at the cost to fly into DEN and then either rent a 4x4 (don't rent a FWD) or look into getting a shuttle. Its a solid 3+ hours up on clear pavement. It can be a very slow trip if the roads are bad or no trip up at all if the passes are closed. You don't need a car in Steamboat, there is excellent transportation,

 

About the airfares, Steamboat often promotes flight rates that dont exist. I have notified them of this but they still advertise rates for direct flights for instance from Newark/NY  EWR to HDN that dont exist and substantially below the real rate.  So my advice is to call them up and discuss the options if you find an issue with the rates, please file a complaint with Steamboat.  

 

All that said, please come up and visit us. Steamboat offers a unique opportunity with so many things to do than just skiing for the whole family. Its still a real town unlike towns like Vail. It has delivered great powder when so many other resorts have gone dry or get lower snow totals.  I am hoping to be a mountain ambassador this season but even if not, I would be happy to give you a unofficial tour.  

post #8 of 34

I won't comment on your budget or flights, etc.  What I noticed is that your list of possible places looked a bit shotgun.  Mt. Bachelor and Mt. Baker are like two ends of a wide spectrum; completely different in most ways related to actually skiing.  If you really like one of them you probably would have problems with the other.  Make sure you do your research for more than just cost.

 

Have a great trip.

post #9 of 34

Look into the Big Mountain.  reasonable lift tickets prices and if you look on the internet, you can find condo's in downtown with full kitchens quite close to the free bus that hauls you up to the ski hill and near all the downtown fun and nitelife.

 

you can rent a locker in the old base area that holds at least 2 pair of skis for like $7 bucks a day and just haul your boots back and forth.

 

I know it wasn't on your short list, prices of flites can be expensive, but I believe its worth looking into.  I must admit, I'm kinda partial to the bigs myself, so I'm biased.

 

dave 

post #10 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by ldevries View Post

My wife and I are looking for the best place for the 2 of us to go (possibly some friends) for the 14/15 season. We've done the past 3 seasons at Vail / Beaver Creek and are looking to branch out a bit (plus my brother's moved, so our free lodging/lift tickets moved as well).  We're trying to decide between Utah, Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Baker, or returning to Colorado (probably doing Breck or Steamboat). Our main issue is budget. We'd like to get a trip done for under $2500 for the two of us (5-6 day trip). Unfortunately, even Utah is pretty expensive airfare from Chicago and averages about $500 whereas Denver is usually always $200 or less. Any suggestions on what might be cheapest? Are Big Sky or Jackson any cheaper than the places I mentioned?



 



Thanks all!


 



Here is a fun trip for two that is not glitzy, but five days good skiing, decent motel, and very inexpensive. All prices are a rough guess:
2 airfares to Chi-Den: $500
2 four-packs of lifts to Loveland: $275
2 lift tics to A-Basin from Liftopia: $125
5 nights Georgetown Mtn Inn: $500
One week economy car rental from E-Z: $150 (last week of Feb per travelocity)
Total not including food: $1550*

*Add ~$300 to upgrade to an SUV from Enterprise. Still leaves over $600 for dining out.
post #11 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by ldevries View Post
 

Unfortunately, even Utah is pretty expensive airfare from Chicago and averages about $500 whereas Denver is usually always $200 or less. Any suggestions on what might be cheapest? Are Big Sky or Jackson any cheaper than the places I mentioned?

 

Thanks all!

 

 

$500 is about right for SLC, but you'll be hard pressed to get you and your luggage into DEN for $200 this year.  Probably closer to $300.   Still, with a budget of only $2500, $400 is significant.

Southwest is currently only booking up to January 4th.  I would wait till after labor day,  book SWA into DEN during one of their fare sales and reserve the cheapest car available. 

Wait to book any lifts or accommodations till a month or so out.  Probably some combination of Winter Park, Loveland, Copper and Summit County will probably offer the most economical trip.

 

I see Jamesj beat me too it again!

post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcdave69 View Post

Look into the Big Mountain.  reasonable lift tickets prices and if you look on the internet, you can find condo's in downtown with full kitchens quite close to the free bus that hauls you up to the ski hill and near all the downtown fun and nitelife.

you can rent a locker in the old base area that holds at least 2 pair of skis for like $7 bucks a day and just haul your boots back and forth.

I know it wasn't on your short list, prices of flites can be expensive, but I believe its worth looking into.  I must admit, I'm kinda partial to the bigs myself, so I'm biased.

dave 

Seriously? You're pushing Whitefish with the forecast we're currently seeing for this winter?

t06.2c.gif

p06.2c.gif

Personally, I don't push people to come here if I think they will be unhappy. It does not benefit the resort to have people come, be disappointed, and then trash us on the Internet.

Last winter was the year to come. Check back in 15-16 or the one after.

Also, I don't think they'd be able to enjoyably do the trip on $2500 for two people. Air and lifts would be close to $1400, even with Costco tickets. Then you've got lodging and meals and airport to ski area transport. Definitely doable, but tight.
Edited by sibhusky - 7/17/14 at 10:32am
post #13 of 34

It’s hard to make a recommendation without more about what’s important to you:

  • What did you like/dislike about Vail/BC
  • Rank the following in terms of importance: nightlife, snow, terrain, crowds, easy travel, etc.
  • What type of skiing do you enjoy?  (blue goomers, moguls, glades, steeps, etc.)
  • Do you mind driving 30-45 minutes to skiing everyday? (one way to reduce lodging costs)

 

I lived in Chicago for years and always do my trips on the cheap.  A few thoughts:

  • Look up flights to remote airports.  Surprisingly, I’ve often found flights cheaper to Bozmen (Big Sky) than SLC. 
  • Bachelor & Baker are generally considered non-destination ski areas.  Reasons might be long travel, lack of nearby lodging, heavy snow, etc.  I’m sure they can still be a lot of fun but go in with the right expectations.
  • VBRO has some great deals on condos, especially if you share a condo with friends.
  • FWD cars are typically fine in most regions if you’re comfortable in snow. 
post #14 of 34

my mistake, thought the poster's "main issue was budget."

post #15 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcdave69 View Post

my mistake, thought the poster's "main issue was budget."

It's always the main issue, until they get home and remember it. Then it's whether they enjoyed themselves.
post #16 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmoliu View Post
 

Though I live in CA, I have found in the past couple of years that Winter Park is my most cost effective choice.  It has world class terrain to please everybody, from easy greens to sphincter puckering steeps. And don't forget Mary Jane has some of the best bump runs anywhere. For another thread last year, I totaled up all the North America resorts I've been to in the last 25 years, and came up with 28. Winter Park is definitely one of my top 5 choices. (Never skied east of the Mississippi, so I've missed out on Steaux :rolleyes)  Take the ORD-DEN plane tickets you mentioned above, add about $130 pp round trip on Home James shuttle service (No compelling reason to have a car, though taking the resort bus to the Safeway can eat up more than an hour), find a condo deal on vrbo.com (I have been renting an efficiency condo for $70/nt), get a $400 season pass for one of you (http://www.winterparkresort.com/tickets-and-passes/season-passes.aspx) and use the included $69/day vouchers for the spouse (carefully check out all the other cost savings associated with a pass, like 10% off meals at the resort and discounts at resort owned shops, and you will agree that a season pass is a total no-brainer for even a week's stay) (You can do even better if you can buy a child or teen pass: then two adults can split the ten vouchers. Again, read the pass benefits very carefully) and I think you will come in well within your stated budget. Winter Park may not have the cachet of some of Ski Magazine's top 10, but I guarantee that you will have a great ski trip. The only downside I can think of is a general lack of night life, but my ski trip modus operandi is: ski>hot tub>eat>sleep>repeat. YMMV if that does not describe your style.

 

I like that Winter Park plan.  Also consider doing the same at Copper, as the pass prices and vouchers for additional tickets are pretty much the same, and tickets at either will be way less than Breck and Steamboat.  To go cheaper, the Loveland/A-basin option outlined by @Jamesj is great, but you need to make sure they meet your needs as they are not resorts and are mostly above tree line. 

 

You can compare the Copper and Winter Park pass products and the fine print easily here:

http://skicolorado.com/ 

 

Another nice option is a four pack.  You can buy a new WP four pack online for $199, but can only renew a Copper four pack online.   That might be cheaper than a pass+vouchers, so do the math.

 

Finally... I've lived and skied in Colorado my whole life and skied probably 80% of my days at Copper and Winter Park.   I choose them over the other front range areas each year and continue to be happy doing so!

post #17 of 34

There are a few, IMO, key bits of info you failed to provide.  In my mind/experience the following info is helpful in rough order of importance:

 

1. Are you flexible with your dates or do you need to go during a typical holiday week where discount flights and lodging are more difficult to find?

2. Are you hauling your equipment or will you be renting?

3. Is 5 or 6 days your entire trip time or your non-travel days and, if non-travel days, can you ski every day for 5 or 6 days?

4. Do you prefer to dine out every meal (hotel room is OK) or would you prefer to save $ by cooking most/many of your own meals (condo is necessary)?

5. Are you willing to take chances with the weather for driving (compact/standard rental) or do you need an SUV to make sure you can get through?

 

I'm a big Summit County, CO fan because our family of four, typically with at least one friend, prefers to do our ski weeks as inexpensively as possible.  We haul our own equipment rather than rent, buy the Epic Local pass to cap our lift costs and give us access to 3 mountains (Breck, Keystone, A-Basin) in Summit and 2 mountains (Vail, BC) in Eagle.  We're not backcountry skiers so that range is more than enough challenge for us.  We rent a condo and cook for ourselves and stock our own beverages in the fridge.    

 

For flights, Southwest is generally significantly cheaper to Denver than any other airline I've found - especially if you are hauling your own gear.  Free on Southwest, small fortune on everyone else.  If your not hauling your own gear - you will rent - that makes other airlines available to you for finding, perhaps, lower flight prices.  SLC is more expensive than Denver but, again, SWA is cheapest especially if hauling equipment.

 

I don't know SLC but for renting (or buying used) equipment Summit County, especially in the Frisco-Dillon area has so many shops that it would be hard for me to believe you could find cheaper rentals most other places.  

 

You can find pretty decent prices on 4 or 5 lift packs for most places in Summit.  There's some people here on the board who can tell you how to get great deals if you have points on the proper grocery/gas affinity cards.  We use Epic Local pass - we make two trips a year anymore and the break even is just short of 5 days, we'll ski 9 or 10.  There are other deal just as good or better, we like that one.

 

We've had good luck renting 2 and 3 bedroom condos in both Frisco and Breck for $800 - $1800 for 7 or 8 nights using VRBO (www.vrbo.com) or Summit Vacations (www.SummitVacations.net)

 

We've used both CME (if 2 or more people you can probably rent a compact for the same price) to get from DIA to wherever we were staying and the Summit Stage to get around between Breck/Frisco/Dillon and Breck/Keystone.  Very workable for shopping and skiing.  Not as fast as driving yourself, and depending on where you stay you may need a bit of a hike to a stop, but free (tip the driver).   Having driven from DIA to Breck/Frisco in some serious snow I don't take the chance on compacts.  We've always got 4 or more people and a half-ton of equipment so I just go SUV and bite the price bullet.  They are significantly more expensive over a week.  But one trip I-70 was closed and we had to go round and over Hoosier Pass (and a couple other passes) in a significant snowstorm and would have quit if I'd been in an ordinary sedan - 4WD was a must for me.  The locals get around but I'm not a local.  

 

Hope that helps if Summit County CO is in your plans.  Breck is enormous anymore and despite what many on the board say, my non-holiday week(end) experiences have been great as far as lift lines go.  

 

Food at the grocery stores and adult beverages at the liquor stores are comparably priced for us NY Metro area people and probably for you CHI metro area people.

post #18 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by tball View Post

 

You can compare the Copper and Winter Park pass products and the fine print easily here:

http://skicolorado.com/ 

 

Another nice option is a four pack.  You can buy a new WP four pack online for $199, but can only renew a Copper four pack online.   That might be cheaper than a pass+vouchers, so do the math.

 

Yes, sorry I didn't include that. Prior to the upcoming season, the four pack had to be purchased in person at the resort pre-season, so this is a new wrinkle. The thinking would include two packs, and $50/day is a killer deal however you cut it. Assuming that the included vouchers could be parlayed into four additional days for each adult, the week's needs would be covered at a net cost way better than the walk up price. WP has some kind of tie in with Liftopia IIRC, but the lowest advertised price is almost never available, and the pre-purchased ticket(s) lock you in to a specific date, if I remember the fine print correctly. 

post #19 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Knucklehead View Post
 

We've used both CME (if 2 or more people you can probably rent a compact for the same price) to get from DIA to wherever we were staying and the Summit Stage to get around between Breck/Frisco/Dillon and Breck/Keystone.  Very workable for shopping and skiing.  Not as fast as driving yourself, and depending on where you stay you may need a bit of a hike to a stop, but free (tip the driver).   Having driven from DIA to Breck/Frisco in some serious snow I don't take the chance on compacts.  We've always got 4 or more people and a half-ton of equipment so I just go SUV and bite the price bullet.  They are significantly more expensive over a week.  But one trip I-70 was closed and we had to go round and over Hoosier Pass (and a couple other passes) in a significant snowstorm and would have quit if I'd been in an ordinary sedan - 4WD was a must for me.  The locals get around but I'm not a local. 

 

Do you really tip the driver? I have never seen anyone tip them and I have used summit stage a lot. I mean nothing wrong with it for sure but it's certainly not expected thing.

 

Also what other passes did you drive over? Hoosier is the only pass between Breck and Denver going that way. It certainly can get sketchy though I have yet to see them close it even in very considerable storms.

 

VRBO is a good idea but the cheap housing gets snatched up quick so if you plan on going that route I would do it soon.

 

If your willing to make the 3 hour drive from Denver to Steamboat I would have to throw out flying into ABQ and going to Wolf Creek or Taos as options for a cheap trip as well. Wolf Creek is a pretty interesting resort and gets the most snow in Colorado. Stay in Pagosa Springs which has several inexpensive hotel/VRBO options and lift tickets are cheap there. The full walk up price is around $60 and depending on the day/ your group affiliations (i.e military or other) tickets can be had for as little as $35.

 

Taos is a very cool Mountain/Town again relatively inexpensive lodging options and ticket prices around $60. If you aren't  going to ski the full 5 or 6 days taking a day in Santa Fe is also well worth it especially if you like history or art.

post #20 of 34

Yeah, I tossed a couple $ to the driver.  Bad habit I picked up somewhere.  Probably would stop if I were a regular.   Re: the "other passes", it was the one and only time I drove that route (so far) and it was a white knuckle experience that included a full 360 that reminded to pull the 4WD lever.  When I have to downshift to go up a long windy bit and keep downshifted to go back down another long windy bit, all the while wondering how that tanker semi in front of me can possibly pull it off, I call that a "pass".  Perhaps they weren't worthy of names by CO standards but the females in the vehicle had colorful terms for them.   I just clenched my teeth, bent the steering wheel, and kept quiet.  

 

The better values on VRBO and even Summit Vacations do disappear early.  We booked in July-August, normally.

post #21 of 34
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice all.  I agree that the resorts listed above are a very wide range.  We're really not picky about big resorts vs. townie resorts or even terrain. We can usually find what we like and have no problem lapping runs, especially if its not a busy day.  The good news is it looks like at least one brother is staying the season in Avon again, so that's a bit of a help, although free (and even discount) lift tickets are becoming harder and harder to get for Vail/Beaver Creek. I think we'll probably do what we did last year and buy one season pass and buy buddy passes as I try to make 3-4 trips out each year.  Thanks again for all the advice!  I'd love to branch out in the coming seasons, but its hard to pass up free stuff in Vail!

post #22 of 34
Thread Starter 

And just after typing all that, I did just get my Kayak alert e-mail telling me tickets from Chicago to SLC are down to $200 and tickets to Denver are down to $130.  Usually that means Spirit which I avoid, but just thought I'd pass it along!

post #23 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by ldevries View Post
 

And just after typing all that, I did just get my Kayak alert e-mail telling me tickets from Chicago to SLC are down to $200 and tickets to Denver are down to $130.  Usually that means Spirit which I avoid, but just thought I'd pass it along!

 

Each way?   

post #24 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post
 

 

Each way?  

 

 

Round trip on Frontier for early Feb. Went up by $10 today, but still only $222 to SLC, $150 to Denver

post #25 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by ldevries View Post
 

 

 

Round trip on Frontier for early Feb. Went up by $10 today, but still only $222 to SLC, $150 to Denver

 

 

Those are good fares.  You do know that Frontier is now owned by Spirit and your chance of actually getting to Denver for that price is slim.

post #26 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post
 

 

 

Those are good fares.  You do know that Frontier is now owned by Spirit and your chance of actually getting to Denver for that price is slim.

Yeah...I did check their website last night and they still claim $25 for 1st checked piece and include boot bag and ski bag as one.  I'm still planning on holding out for a Southwest sale...

post #27 of 34

$100 to gate check an oversized carryon!  Buyer beware, you know they'll be looking.

 

 

  SWA starts selling thru March 6th on August 4th.  Hopefully they'll match some of the fares.

post #28 of 34

Southwest has always worked for me (flying from NJ). I have been to Utah 4 times and Steamboat once, Southwest always worked out to be the cheapest. First time I used them I opened up a Southwest credit card and got 2 roundtrip airfare tickets when I did. This year we are going back to Steamboat for 7 days over Christmas and I was able to use Southwest points to book 2 roundtrip fares ( We have 4 in our family). Shredhead posted the August 4 above for fares through March 6, just book that day for the cheapest price as they go pretty quick then a higher tier of pricing starts.

 

Finndog, Ok if I hit you up for some tips on Steamboat!!!

post #29 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post
 

 

If your willing to make the 3 hour drive from Denver to Steamboat I would have to throw out flying into ABQ and going to Wolf Creek or Taos as options for a cheap trip as well. Wolf Creek is a pretty interesting resort and gets the most snow in Colorado. Stay in Pagosa Springs which has several inexpensive hotel/VRBO options and lift tickets are cheap there. The full walk up price is around $60 and depending on the day/ your group affiliations (i.e military or other) tickets can be had for as little as $35.

 

Taos is a very cool Mountain/Town again relatively inexpensive lodging options and ticket prices around $60. If you aren't  going to ski the full 5 or 6 days taking a day in Santa Fe is also well worth it especially if you like history or art.

 

Wolf Creek's tickets are among the cheapest in Colorado, and definitely the cheapest when you consider it is much larger than any of the other Colorado locations with tickets in that price range.  It gives you the best chance in Colorado to ski powder, and (more importantly in my eyes) the lack of crowds means that it is easy to not only spend all day skiing untracked lines, but even into the next and the next.  Assuming the sun hasn't wrecked it, if you are willing to hike, you can always find fresh lines.

 

However, this is assuming your group consists of advanced skiers that are ok with skiing trees.  Wolf Creek has very limited groomer terrain, both in amount and quality. An intermediate groomer skier will find 2 decent runs (Tranquility and Charisma) with the rest of the groomed terrain being very, very flat.  I can't recommend the ski area to somebody looking for long cruisers, they just aren't here.

 

One also has to be prepared to drive.  There is no lodging on the pass. One stays in Pagosa or South Fork, 25 and 20 minutes from the ski area on either side of Wolf Creek Pass. South Fork is closer to the ski area and closer to Taos, but is much smaller and has very limited dining and nightlife options. It is a summer resort town that mostly shuts down in the Winter.

 

Taos is great and is a lot more well-rounded. Snowfall can be a concern, but the incoming El-nino should help matters.

 

A Wolf Creek/Taos trip could be the budget trip of a lifetime as long as one is looking for a no-frills experience.


Edited by anachronism - 7/22/14 at 3:59pm
post #30 of 34

Check out this site for packages to Utah.  I've never used them but the prices seem very reasonable. 

 

http://www.utahstate.com/ski-bum-55

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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Where to go out west this season [flying from Chicago, lower budget]