or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Where to go in first two weeks Feb 2015? [from Australia]
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Where to go in first two weeks Feb 2015? [from Australia]

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

I'd appreciate any suggestions, tips on a trip for my wife and I next year. Ideally I'd wait until Jan to see how the snowfall is looking and make a booking, but I can get better prices on flights (from Australia) and accommodation if we book now (eg can get 40-50% off Whistler accommodation booking by 31 Aug).

 
My wife is a mid-30s, a low intermediate, who likes tree-lined groomed runs, particularly with rollers, and is not very adventurous. I am closer to 40, an intermediate, enjoy groomed runs, but want to get better on moguls and glades. We lived in Ontario, Canada for a couple of years not that long ago and got to take quite a few trips to places like Whistler, Stowe and Vail. I struggled with the altitude at Vail on the first couple of days - we didn't stop to acclimatise - she had no problems. We thought Whistler was the best of the resorts we visited terrain and non-skiing amenities wise.
 
We would look to ski between 8-10 days out of 12 nights. We'll both do small group lessons to improve. The Whistler MAX4 lessons were perfect - full-day with no more than four students per instructor. Realistically I may struggle to get my wife out for 10 days...as she's pretty keen on ski in-out (ie limited hassle to get on the slopes), in-room movies, hot tubs, hiking/snowshoeing and shopping.  We are not very fussed about the apres-ski scene, we usually limit ourselves to a drink before dinner and an aforementioned in-house movie.
 
Reading the many, many posts on EpicSki and doing my own research, I am thinking either: a combination of Tahoe (Northstar?) and Mammoth for six nights each over two weeks driving between the two of them; or Park City (PCMR) and Big Cottonwoods (Solitude?) with a similar arrangement. Thinking is that there is heaps of intermediate terrain at these places, they should be snowsure for that terrain at that time of year (except maybe for Tahoe?) and there's plenty of things to do on the non-skiing days. I've always wanted to go to Yellowstone so another option could be Big Sky or Jackson Hole, but not sure that the smaller resort villages, or the amount of intermediate terrain would keep us entertained for that many days skiing. Typing this it just occurred to me that Aspen is probably the answer!?
 
I'll post it anyway, any advice is much appreciated - I need to show my wife I've done some due dligence on this as a trip to a tropical beach somewhere would be her preference...
post #2 of 32
Sorry if this reads like an ad, but you said it. Aspen is pretty hard to beat for the kind of couple's trip you describe if your budget can handle it. There is enough terrain variety at four nearby ski areas for 10 days of skiing. If your wife likes window shopping, nice dining, people watching, and a little bar hopping the town of Aspen will provide plenty of that and maybe even a little romance. I don't believe you'd feel the need to relocate to a second destination or get a rental car. It may not be to everyone's taste, but my wife loved the upscale ambiance of Aspen. Snowmass Village is ideal for a ski-in/ski-out condo next to tremendous intermediate ski terrain, but will require a free shuttle bus to town. Conditions should be excellent in early February with moderate crowds. Base elevations are comparable to Vail, ~8000'. All the other places you mentioned are also likely to provide a fine experience, particularly if you find a price point that makes one of them more feasible for you.
Two related articles:
http://www.epicski.com/a/colorado-road-trip-recap
http://www.epicski.com/a/aspen-mountain-co-a-pictorial
post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thanks Jamesj. Not relocating would make it simpler. I'll get cracking on quoting up some options.
post #4 of 32

From what I've read about Aspen/Snowmass, I think that's probably a better fit for you than Big Sky or Jackson Hole in terms of terrain.  The Big Sky village is pretty small.  Plenty of intermediate skiing but not too many options for food.  If you were to go that way, spending a few days in Bozeman and skiing at Bridger is worth considering.

 

President's Day is a long weekend holiday in Feb.  That could make Park City or Solitude somewhat busier.  Being easy to reach by plane is an advantage but does mean more skiers at certain times.

post #5 of 32

President's day is more than a long weekend as many school districts take advantage of the Monday holiday and make that week their winter vacation week.  That means crowds and higher pricing.  You should be OK the first 2 Weeks of Feb.  Just don't stay past President's Day.  

post #6 of 32
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tips on President's Day - I hadn't thought about holiday long weekends. I'll look at moving things forward a few days so that we don't run into the the weekend of 14/15 Feb. 

post #7 of 32

Since you’re going for 2 weeks, my advice would be to choose a ski area away from a major US city.  Doing so will reduce crowding.  By crowding I not only mean no lift lines but also that you’ll even have runs to yourself. 

 

The Tahoe and the Utah areas are nice but crowding will be a little higher.  Aspen is a good suggestion.  Big Sky would work well too and could be combined with one or more areas in MT/WY. 

post #8 of 32
You mentioned the altitude at Vail was a challenge for you. Big Sky is roughly the same altitude,but thereare things you can do to help with acclimitizing to the altitude. Diamox can be perscribed by your doctor and gets your red bloodcell count up, the down side is carbonated beverages taste odd including beer.

Both Jackson Hole and Big Sky offer good access to Yellow Stone National Park which is well worth the visit in winter. The western access is through West Yellowstone, MT about 40 miles south of Big Sky. At Jackson Hole there is a huge winter elk herd ~5,000 milling around in the refuge and if you go take a horse drawn sleigh ride out to see the elk (you will be amazed and a hero to your wife. With two weeks you could easily ski both Jackson Hole, WY and Big Sky, MT. Seeing wildlife in the winter is thrilling. It isn't uncommon to see mountain goats while skiing at Big Sky and elk, moose and big horn sheep are common in the valley.
post #9 of 32
If it were a different year, I'd recommend coming here. Lower altitude, lots of groomed cruisers, definitely some with rollers. Snow shoeing allowed via certain routes on the mountain, snowshoe tours offered in Glacier National Park. Low crowds unless it's President's week.

However, the forecast for this coming winter is not very good. Not saying there wouldn't be snow by then, but you might be stuck with groomers. Fortunately, they have added terrain in a section of the mountain that has a good microclimate and is north facing. They are saying they are glading in addition to cutting trails, so you both might be able to ski the same lift. For a multi area trip you could head to Fernie or Schweitzer from here, but they are not day trips. A day trip would be Blacktail. (More driving than it's worth to me.)
post #10 of 32

Another vote for Aspen.  Big Sky would be my next choice of the areas you mentioned and the Yellowstone suggestion is a fine one.

 

You as a regular intermediate would probably love Jackson Hole from a skiing stand point, but your wife at the low end might not.  You would both love Teton Village and the town of Jackson.

 

My wife also a low intermediate will be going to Jackson for the 3rd time this coming season but she doesn't mind skiing the same few runs all day and taking leisurely breaks (I.E. shopping in the village).

post #11 of 32

Low intermediates from Australia have much better choices than Jackson.  Snowmass (at Aspen) and Big Sky, both already mentioned, have tons of terrain in that comfort zone.

post #12 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thanks for everyone for the tips and suggestions. What is the village like at Big Sky? Their website mentions 25 restaurants and bars and 40 shops, which isn't really comparable to a place like Whistler or Vail, but would be okay for 7-8 nights I think?
 
The idea of starting off in Big Sky for 7-8 nights and going to Jackson for 4 or so with some time in Yellowstone sounds like more of an adventure than Aspen. I assume as intermediates we'd be okay for a couple of days at Jackson Hole at the end after getting our ski legs back through lessons and plenty of skiing at Big Sky?
 
Is it possible to drive between Big Sky and Jackson in winter or would we need to fly between the two? Google Maps tells me it's a 6 hour drive between the two? 
 
I am definitely going to get some acetazolamide and will drink plenty of water (and wine I suppose if beer tastes off).
post #13 of 32
The base at Big Sky is nothing great, though the skiing and scenery is amazing. Much of Big Sky (meadow village) is actually a 20 minute drive from the base. Last March we flew to Bozeman, MT, skied a few days at Bridger Bowl near Bozeman, went to Yellowstone for a day, and skied the rest of the week at Big Sky. Bozeman is a great town, with character, and good restaurants for every budget (it's a college town as well). Bridger is an amazing, lower priced ski area, especially if you are able to do a ridge tour. You have to drive there from town, though.

Aspen and Jackson are fantastic too. I was worried about going to Jackson with my beginner wife, but the ski school is top notch and they had her skiing (and enjoying) blues there in short order. There are many, many blues, though they are steeper than most other places. You also have the option from Jackson of a relatively short drive to Grand Targhee, which is not as steep as Jackson, but is amazingly beautiful and with generally more snow than Jackson. The town of Jackson is great, but note that the ski area is not in town.

If cost isn't an issue is probably say Aspen. If it isn't, you really can't go wrong with any of them and go by the easiest/cheapest flights.
post #14 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckfeet View Post
 
Thanks for everyone for the tips and suggestions. What is the village like at Big Sky? Their website mentions 25 restaurants and bars and 40 shops, which isn't really comparable to a place like Whistler or Vail, but would be okay for 7-8 nights I think?
 
The idea of starting off in Big Sky for 7-8 nights and going to Jackson for 4 or so with some time in Yellowstone sounds like more of an adventure than Aspen. I assume as intermediates we'd be okay for a couple of days at Jackson Hole at the end after getting our ski legs back through lessons and plenty of skiing at Big Sky?
 
Is it possible to drive between Big Sky and Jackson in winter or would we need to fly between the two? Google Maps tells me it's a 6 hour drive between the two? 
 
I am definitely going to get some acetazolamide and will drink plenty of water (and wine I suppose if beer tastes off).

There are plenty of ski clubs who stay at Big Sky in ski in/out lodging for an entire week.  Not the place for people who really want to go shopping, but enough variety for eating out.  Those who stay at the Huntley get a big hearty breakfast that is apparently quite good.  Booking thru Big Sky Resort is one of the few ways to get discounted lift tickets.  Can also get a 1BR condo from Big Sky reservations but should compare prices with VRBO.

 

My first trip to Big Sky I started off staying in Bozeman and skiing Bridger.  Lots to do in town.  Bridger is a great place to warm up for any level.  As a non-profit, the lift ticket and lesson prices are very reasonable.  Well worth a private or semi-private lesson with one of the Level 3 instructors.  While Big Sky and Moonlight have very good instructors as well, the cost is higher.

 

Intermediates can have plenty of fun at Jackson Hole for a few days.  If driving from Big Sky, skiing a day at Grand Targhee is worth considering.  The town of Driggs is very cute.  The Pines Motel is a very nice family-owned small motel, with an outdoor hot tub.  Several good places to eat within walking distance.

 

Assuming not driving in a blowing snowstorm, the drive from Big Sky to Driggs is about 3 hours.  The drive from SLC to Big Sky or Jackson is quite doable.  Starting a ski safari in SLC is another option to consider instead of flying to Bozeman.

post #15 of 32

I love Big Sky, but the village is one of the least developed of any destination ski resort.  The food choices are limited.  There are only a couple of places (I mean like 2 and the best of them, Buck's T-9, is a fifteen mile drive from the Mountain Village) that have good food, and night life is slim to nonexistent.  It's a place to go to ski.

 

There's one major rationale for you to consider Big Sky, however.  That is it's proximity to Yellowstone National Park.  Yellowstone is only 50 miles from Big Sky.  You could easily take 4-5 days in the middle of your stay, head to West Yellowstone, take a snow coach to the Old Faithful Snowlodge, and take in the sites of this incredible spot in it's least visited and most fantastic season:  winter.  There are various recreation opportunities arranged out of the Snowlodge, such as a photo tour (in a Bombadier snow coach -- highly recommended for both the visual features and the wildlife), snowshoeing/cross country ski tours (Canyon being my favorite, a long snow coach ride but lots of scenery in between and wildlife), and cross-country ski touring right out of the Snowlodge itself.  The thermal features are incredible in winter.  Yellowstone was the first national park in the world and for good reason.

 

Fair warning:  it's expensive to visit Yellowstone in winter and the food is good, but not great.

 

Big Sky is an incredible ski area.  The skiing is some of the best in North America.  It does have a lot of intermediate terrain.  You should also consider taking ski lessons with one of my favorite ski Instructors:  Ursula Howland who occasionally posts here as @Little Bear.

 

On the other hand, Aspen has great nightlife, great food, lots of stuff to do, the best ski school in the US, the best skiing in Colorado, and a non-stop flight from Los Angeles.

 

So, it's a question of what you want?  Great skiing, convenience getting there from Australia, and great apres ski options?  Or an adventure with far fewer non-ski amenities but the big plus of Yellowstone?

 

BTW, I wouldn't worry too much about Presidents' Day at Aspen.  It just isn't crowded (although the locals will complain about the "crowds" Presidents' Day weekend). And Big Sky traditionally hasn't had too much of an issue with Presidents' Day either.

 

Mike

post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post
 

I love Big Sky, but the village is one of the least developed of any destination ski resort.  The food choices are limited.  There are only a couple of places (I mean like 2 and the best of them, Buck's T-9, is a fifteen mile drive from the Mountain Village) that have good food, and night life is slim to nonexistent.  It's a place to go to ski.

 

There's one major rationale for you to consider Big Sky, however.  That is it's proximity to Yellowstone National Park.  Yellowstone is only 50 miles from Big Sky.  You could easily take 4-5 days in the middle of your stay, head to West Yellowstone, take a snow coach to the Old Faithful Snowlodge, and take in the sites of this incredible spot in it's least visited and most fantastic season:  winter.  There are various recreation opportunities arranged out of the Snowlodge, such as a photo tour (in a Bombadier snow coach -- highly recommended for both the visual features and the wildlife), snowshoeing/cross country ski tours (Canyon being my favorite, a long snow coach ride but lots of scenery in between and wildlife), and cross-country ski touring right out of the Snowlodge itself.  The thermal features are incredible in winter.  Yellowstone was the first national park in the world and for good reason.

 

Fair warning:  it's expensive to visit Yellowstone in winter and the food is good, but not great.

 

Big Sky is an incredible ski area.  The skiing is some of the best in North America.  It does have a lot of intermediate terrain.  You should also consider taking ski lessons with one of my favorite ski Instructors:  Ursula Howland who occasionally posts here as @Little Bear.

 

On the other hand, Aspen has great nightlife, great food, lots of stuff to do, the best ski school in the US, the best skiing in Colorado, and a non-stop flight from Los Angeles.

 

So, it's a question of what you want?  Great skiing, convenience getting there from Australia, and great apres ski options?  Or an adventure with far fewer non-ski amenities but the big plus of Yellowstone?

 

BTW, I wouldn't worry too much about Presidents' Day at Aspen.  It just isn't crowded (although the locals will complain about the "crowds" Presidents' Day weekend). And Big Sky traditionally hasn't had too much of an issue with Presidents' Day either.

 

Mike

 

A great post and I agree with Big Sky or Aspen as the top two choices. However as the Sun Peaks Ambassador, I invite you to read my "Long Time Local's Review" of Sun Peaks. We get a ton of Aussies visiting every year, who are mostly intermediates who absolutely love the place. There is enough good dining for a  2 week stay, but limited shopping.

post #17 of 32
Here is my trip report for our trip to Aspen last year. I didn't get to ski Snowmass, though, which is probably the best intermediate area. You might really enjoy Buttermilk. Empty, untracked, manageable size, lots of intermediate trails, and just enough harder trails and glades to make it a challenge.

http://www.epicski.com/t/124956/trip-report-with-photos-aspen-1-9-1-12/0_40#post_1677451
post #18 of 32

Aspen and Big Sky are still my top picks but if elevation is a big concern, you could also consider Banff. 

 

Banff (elevation 4600 feet) includes Lake Louise, Sunshine and Norquay.  The scenery, the town and the slopes are all world class.  In particular the scenery is incredible.  You could combine Banff with other ski areas in the region if desired too.  There are several nearby Canadian national parks and hot springs which offer some cool non-skiing recreation opportunities too.    

post #19 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanvg View Post

you could also consider Banff. 



 



Banff (elevation 4600 feet) includes Lake Louise, Sunshine and Norquay.  The scenery, the town and the slopes are all world class.  In particular the scenery is incredible.  You could combine Banff with other ski areas in the region if desired too.  There are several nearby Canadian national parks and hot springs which offer some cool non-skiing recreation opportunities too.    


 



Banff is a great suggestion. The remote location offers some wildlife viewing opportunities like elk and bighorn sheep. If you wanted to take a spin west on the Trans-Canada Highway Kicking Horse isn't a bad drive. The drive from Calgary to Banff is a long one at night.
post #20 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Talisman View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanvg View Post
 

you could also consider Banff. 

 

 

 

Banff (elevation 4600 feet) includes Lake Louise, Sunshine and Norquay.  The scenery, the town and the slopes are all world class.  In particular the scenery is incredible.  You could combine Banff with other ski areas in the region if desired too.  There are several nearby Canadian national parks and hot springs which offer some cool non-skiing recreation opportunities too.    

 



Banff is a great suggestion. The remote location offers some wildlife viewing opportunities like elk and bighorn sheep. If you wanted to take a spin west on the Trans-Canada Highway Kicking Horse isn't a bad drive. The drive from Calgary to Banff is a long one at night.

 

The drive from the Calgary airport to Banff is 1.5 hours on a major 4 lane highway through a wide flat valley so it is not difficult or all that long.

post #21 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post
 

I love Big Sky, but the village is one of the least developed of any destination ski resort.  The food choices are limited.  There are only a couple of places (I mean like 2 and the best of them, Buck's T-9, is a fifteen mile drive from the Mountain Village) that have good food, and night life is slim to nonexistent.  It's a place to go to ski.

 

There's one major rationale for you to consider Big Sky, however.  That is it's proximity to Yellowstone National Park.  Yellowstone is only 50 miles from Big Sky.  You could easily take 4-5 days in the middle of your stay, head to West Yellowstone, take a snow coach to the Old Faithful Snowlodge, and take in the sites of this incredible spot in it's least visited and most fantastic season:  winter.  There are various recreation opportunities arranged out of the Snowlodge, such as a photo tour (in a Bombadier snow coach -- highly recommended for both the visual features and the wildlife), snowshoeing/cross country ski tours (Canyon being my favorite, a long snow coach ride but lots of scenery in between and wildlife), and cross-country ski touring right out of the Snowlodge itself.  The thermal features are incredible in winter.  Yellowstone was the first national park in the world and for good reason.

 

Fair warning:  it's expensive to visit Yellowstone in winter and the food is good, but not great.

 

Big Sky is an incredible ski area.  The skiing is some of the best in North America.  It does have a lot of intermediate terrain.  You should also consider taking ski lessons with one of my favorite ski Instructors:  Ursula Howland who occasionally posts here as @Little Bear.

 

On the other hand, Aspen has great nightlife, great food, lots of stuff to do, the best ski school in the US, the best skiing in Colorado, and a non-stop flight from Los Angeles.

 

So, it's a question of what you want?  Great skiing, convenience getting there from Australia, and great apres ski options?  Or an adventure with far fewer non-ski amenities but the big plus of Yellowstone?

 

BTW, I wouldn't worry too much about Presidents' Day at Aspen.  It just isn't crowded (although the locals will complain about the "crowds" Presidents' Day weekend). And Big Sky traditionally hasn't had too much of an issue with Presidents' Day either.

 

Mike

 

 

Well maybe.......but I don't think you can definitively say that without bringing in T-Ride and/or CB. 

post #22 of 32
Thread Starter 
We've thought about Banff having been there twice in the summer and absolutely loving it, but the commute to Lake Louise which would be the resort with the most intermediate terrain is too long. Staying at Lake Louise is not all that appealing because there's really nothing there other than the Fairmont.

We want to go to Sun Peaks in the future as we think it will be perfect for us and our son, but the plan is to leave that for another few years until he's done at least two Australian season long ski programs.
post #23 of 32
The Post Hotel is there. Fantastic place. I believe we stayed in the K Suite twice many years ago.
post #24 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

The Post Hotel is there. Fantastic place. I believe we stayed in the K Suite twice many years ago.

The small strip mall in Lake Louise offers a tiny bit of shopping, has an excellent bakery and the upstairs restaurant and lounge offer an above average turkey club sandwich.

post #25 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckfeet View Post

We've thought about Banff having been there twice in the summer and absolutely loving it, but the commute to Lake Louise which would be the resort with the most intermediate terrain is too long. Staying at Lake Louise is not all that appealing because there's really nothing there other than the Fairmont.

The commute criticism is fair.  Keep in mind that Sunshine has a lot of intermediate terrain too and is closer to Banff.  It also requires daily driving to and from the slopes though...

 

Although I've never been, you could stay slope side at Panorama.  Panorama is about two hours past Banff.

 

Aspen and Big Sky still seem like the best fit.  If you really want to check one more, you could look into Telluride.  It's a great town with ski lifts and runs ending right next to the town.  Scenery is great too.

post #26 of 32
Thread Starter 
What's the likelihood of most/all the intermediate terrain being open at Telluride at the end of Jan/early Feb? Tony Crocker's stats on bestnow.net appear to indicate that Big Sky and Aspen are likely to be a better bet at that time of year. I've also read that Telluride can become icy and bumpy because snowfall is intermittent. Not sure how this is relative to Big Sky and Aspen?
post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckfeet View Post

What's the likelihood of most/all the intermediate terrain being open at Telluride at the end of Jan/early Feb? Tony Crocker's stats on bestnow.net appear to indicate that Big Sky and Aspen are likely to be a better bet at that time of year. I've also read that Telluride can become icy and bumpy because snowfall is intermittent. Not sure how this is relative to Big Sky and Aspen?

Honestly, trying to pick a destination based on the potential snow conditions is not worth it during mid-season.  If you were planning for late March or April, then considering snow coverage stats would be much more important.  I've been to Big Sky in late Jan or early Feb a couple times in recent years.  There was more than enough terrain and snow to keep intermediates happy for a week or two.  Even in a low snow year, lots of blues and easy blacks.

 

The three destinations you are considering are very different when it comes to access (how to get there), non-skiing factors (Yellowstone, bus system for 4 mountains, gondola to town), and lodging options.  Pick one and enjoy!

post #28 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post

the upstairs restaurant and lounge offer an above average turkey club sandwich.

Well, in that case, by all means... smile.gif
post #29 of 32
I have a sneaking suspicion that a spouse who "loves shopping" and who would really "prefer a tropical beach" would not be satisfied with the off-hill opportunities at Big Sky, Yellowstone or no Yellowstone.
post #30 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone. I think Aspen is going to end up being the way we go. I'll make sure I do a TR. Thanks again.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Resorts, Conditions & Travel
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Where to go in first two weeks Feb 2015? [from Australia]