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Skiing in March on a shoestring budget? [western Canada]

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 

Hi guys, 

 

Cheapest ideas for skiing in March on a shoestring budget? 

 

Not looking for amazing accommodations or night life. Just want to ski-ski-ski. Considerations are: 

 

Price

Uncrowded

Good-excellent average snowfalls

Terrain (enjoy steeps, bowls, bumps, glades, but also cruisers... variety)

Temperature (prefer consistently 0 to -10, not much lower)

Good clinics 

Public transit to get there

Preference for Canada (sorry, border crossings aren't a treat - I'll do it if necessary)

 

Current prospects are: 

 

Red mountain

Whitewater

Silver Star

Revelstoke

Sun Peaks

 

 

 

 

Other thoughts?

post #2 of 37

When you are at Silver Star you can travel a bit south to Penticton and find Apex.  It is the least crowded place I've ever been to.  Good terrain and snow but not a lot of variety.  It has plenty of steeps, but not super steeps.  Good bumps.  Nice People. Beautiful setting.

post #3 of 37

There's another place there, hmmm, what's it's name? Wait. I got it:

 

Whistler.

 

March is way cheaper than the other months, and most of the hotels are dying for customers. Lift tickets get cheaper in the second half of the month, and conditions are usually stellar.

post #4 of 37

In B.C unless you want to pick one area only I highly recommend renting a vehicle.

Then its easy to find your wishes. A car also allows you the option to stay "in town" rather than at a resort so you should easily save enough on rooms and food to pay for it. Consider a return loop either from Calgary or Vancouver so you don't occur drop charges. Early March is better for snow late March into April can often be cheaper for lift tickets.

post #5 of 37
What about leading a Canadian contingent to the late March EpicSki gathering in Northern VT/NH? Rubbing shoulders with those guys is like a free clinic and they will show you a dang good time and provide plenty of bargain tips in the planning stage. It's hard to put a price on the free guiding you'll get, although they accept beer in trade:-) http://www.epicski.com/t/128879/new-england-gathering-interest-dates-location-etc
post #6 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by noncrazycanuck View Post
 

In B.C unless you want to pick one area only I highly recommend renting a vehicle.

 

I agree 200%.  Check into the timing of BC spring break in March, that's is a very full, very high price season for some of the resorts.  Talking with Big White last year they said occupancy rates and prices drop substantially the week after spring break (they had great package deals the following week).  If you want to go to a few hills, and it's not during a super busy time and you have a car, then you can easily find hotels and choose whatever hill has the best snow.  

 

Have a great trip!

post #7 of 37

No experience of the public transport options, though they're all served by Greyhound and have some local transit, but I've roadtripped and stayed cheaply enough in Trail, Nelson, Vernon and Revy for the places you mention.  A Red/Whitewater combo makes a lot of sense if you have a car - not really mass "family holiday" type destinations.

post #8 of 37

Sun Peaks has a $25/night ski in/out hostel.

 

Vernon has cheap motels, about a 20 minute drive to Silver Star.

 

Revelstoke has a hostel in town.

 

If you fly to Kelowna, you are then within driving range of Big White, Silver Star, dirve to or connector flight to Kamloops airport for Sun Peaks, Revelstoke, Red, Whitewater, and Apex. You can also drive to Kicking Horse or Lake Louise but beware of road closures on the Trans-Canada Hwy. through Rogers Pass so do that on the first part of your trip.

post #9 of 37

Public transit is a problem and airfare is a big expense so you might check for package deals through Skican or other companies out of Ontario. They include air, transfers, accommodation and lift tickets. Good chance they will save you $ in the long run compared to a piece meal approach. Isn't the big ski show coming up in TO soon? That would be the perfect chance to talk to tour operators.

 

Other ideas -

Calgary -> Fernie 

Airport shuttle $218 plus tax pp and stay at the Raging Elk Hostel ( not really dirt bag) in town and hitch to the hill BUT if there are two people you might just as well rent a car.

 

If you rent a car Calgary -> Castle 

Nice Hostel across the parking lot. Fernie is 2 hours away                      http://www.epicski.com/a/unofficial-guide-to-castle-mountain-resort

 

Apex is a great hill but don't go there with less than 165 cm base. Also It amazes me you can rent a car for the same price as performance skis. Weird! 

post #10 of 37

Big distances up there.  You will waste a ton of time if you don't rent a car.  I have to believe Calgary is the best gateway airport in terms of both price and availability.  I got a decent price to Kelowna from California for next February, but another recent poster had to pay $750 from eastern Canada.

 

In March altitude/exposure are important for surface conditions, and coincidentally the places easily accessed from Calgary (Lake Louise, Sunshine and Kicking Horse) are the ones best for snow preservation.  With a car you also have Castle and Fernie (my 2 personal favorites) within easy range of Calgary if conditions are good.

post #11 of 37

With the price of flights in Canada, you just can't ski Western Canada on a shoestring budget.  I can ski Denver and SLC for half of staying in Canada.  Yes, it takes a bit more driving on the front end by crossing a border to Buffalo or Detroit... but I can get my flight, lift tix, hotel, and car rental for the price of the flight alone in Canada. 

post #12 of 37
Quote:
 I can ski Denver and SLC for half of staying in Canada.

Wow.  I would have thought the big cities, Calgary and Vancouver, would have airline competition and thus more reasonable prices.

post #13 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

Wow.  I would have thought the big cities, Calgary and Vancouver, would have airline competition and thus more reasonable prices.


It's Toronto.  As I recall, we flew Buffalo to SLC for $340 all in on Southwest.  It was $650 to Calgary all in..per person. So not quite half for us but for two people you're saving $600.  Vancouver would be more than that.  Prices vary and you can get cheaper flights during seat sales to western Canada, but it will never match the prices to fly to SLC or Denver.

 

Not to mention you do customs at the border instead of at the airport and you're flying out of Buffalo that has maybe 100 people in the airport versus Toronto which has perhaps 20,000 people.  I've stood in the customs line at Toronto for 30 minutes in the past..tiresome.

post #14 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

Wow.  I would have thought the big cities, Calgary and Vancouver, would have airline competition and thus more reasonable prices.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott43 View Post
 


It's Toronto.  As I recall, we flew Buffalo to SLC for $340 all in on Southwest.  It was $650 to Calgary all in..per person. So not quite half for us but for two people you're saving $600.  Vancouver would be more than that.  Prices vary and you can get cheaper flights during seat sales to western Canada, but it will never match the prices to fly to SLC or Denver.

 

Not to mention you do customs at the border instead of at the airport and you're flying out of Buffalo that has maybe 100 people in the airport versus Toronto which has perhaps 20,000 people.  I've stood in the customs line at Toronto for 30 minutes in the past..tiresome.

 

Also, once in SLC, you're staying in a Sandy/Midvale hotel for peanuts if you use priceline or hotwire.  Car rentals are dirt cheap, and tickets are reasonable in the ski shops.  Plus, you can ski on travel days.

 

In Canada, it's taxed so heavily... and there are only 2 airlines.  I just booked Southwest from Detroit to Denver for $239CN which includes baggage.  We'll get to Denver in the evening and stay in a priceline special.  Then we'll hit Copper (2 for 1) on our way to Glenwood Springs where we have yet another priceline deal. From there, ski Aspen two days (we'll take a hit there), and then hit Loveland on the way back (using their 4-pack).  That'll cost about $750 for the whole trip.  We probably could have gone cheaper if we stuck with a Copper or Winter Park 4-pack and skied there everyday, but we like variety, and want to check out Aspen.

post #15 of 37
But, the OP, @Metaphor_, said
Quote:
Preference for Canada (sorry, border crossings aren't a treat - I'll do it if necessary)

Didn't say why, but there could be reasons for this.
post #16 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

Big distances up there.  You will waste a ton of time if you don't rent a car.  I have to believe Calgary is the best gateway airport in terms of both price and availability.  I got a decent price to Kelowna from California for next February, but another recent poster had to pay $750 from eastern Canada.

 

In March altitude/exposure are important for surface conditions, and coincidentally the places easily accessed from Calgary (Lake Louise, Sunshine and Kicking Horse) are the ones best for snow preservation.  With a car you also have Castle and Fernie (my 2 personal favorites) within easy range of Calgary if conditions are good.

 

Last December one of the US airlines started direct flights from LAX to Kelowna, aimed directly at southern California skiers.

post #17 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post
Also, once in SLC, you're staying in a Sandy/Midvale hotel for peanuts if you use priceline or hotwire.  Car rentals are dirt cheap, and tickets are reasonable in the ski shops.  Plus, you can ski on travel days.

 

Totally.  As opposed to paying $20 for "spaghetti and meat sauce" in Lake Louise.  In case anyone is interested, the bulgoki and kal-bi at the Esso station snack bar kills and it only costs $10! :D

post #18 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

But, the OP, @Metaphor_, said
Didn't say why, but there could be reasons for this.

 

They did say that- but since you can't do Western Canada on a shoestring budget, the OP has no choice.

 

Here in Southern Ontario, I know many casual skier / boarders who've ventured west and everyone stays in Canada.  They look at me with 4 eyes when I tell them I go to SLC every year (except this year- I'm going to CO).  

 

I don't know why everyone does this... they have no problem crossing borders to go to Florida, Vegas, or just across bridge to shop in Buffalo.

post #19 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post
 

 

They did say that- but since you can't do Western Canada on a shoestring budget, the OP has no choice.

 

Here in Southern Ontario, I know many casual skier / boarders who've ventured west and everyone stays in Canada.  They look at me with 4 eyes when I tell them I go to SLC every year (except this year- I'm going to CO).  

 

I don't know why everyone does this... they have no problem crossing borders to go to Florida, Vegas, or just across bridge to shop in Buffalo.


Yeah exactly.  People fly to Vegas for a weekend...  WTF?  And the people are unfailingly hospitable in all the ski areas I've been to in the States.  So refreshing from the GTA where apparently we're wonderfully nice and friendly.  :dunno

post #20 of 37
Quote = JoeSchmoe:

Here in Southern Ontario, I know many casual skier / boarders who've ventured west and everyone stays in Canada.  They look at me with 4 eyes when I tell them I go to SLC every year (except this year- I'm going to CO).  

 

I don't know why everyone does this...

It works the other way too.  I'm continually amazed by how few Americans there are on my annual interior BC road trips. 

Quote = Scott43:
And the people are unfailingly hospitable in all the ski areas I've been to in the States.  So refreshing from the GTA where apparently we're wonderfully nice and friendly. 

Nothing to do with country.  It's the big city vs. ski resorts. Applies to US, Canada, France, etc.

post #21 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

It works the other way too.  I'm continually amazed by how few Americans there are on my annual interior BC road trips. 

It makes sense to me. Why pay $500+ for flights AND a border crossing when you can stay home for much less for a largely equivalent ski experience.

The only thing is that I'd say the scenery is nicer north of the border.
post #22 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post


It makes sense to me. Why pay $500+ for flights AND a border crossing when you can stay home for much less for a largely equivalent ski experience.

The only thing is that I'd say the scenery is nicer north of the border.

 

The greatest thing that about skiing in the western Canada Interior, compared to Whistler and the great American resorts is the complete lack of people. Most days at most western Canada resorts if you are skiing single it is difficult to find someone to share a chairlift ride.

 

Lift tickets and rental skis are cheaper than at the major US resorts and for Americans the expensive flights into Canada can be avoided by flying to Spokane or Seattle. So lots of Americans are missing out but on the other hand if they came to the western Canada Interior to ski in really big numbers than the main reason for going would be lost.

post #23 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post

The greatest thing that about skiing in the western Canada Interior, compared to Whistler and the great American resorts is the complete lack of people. Most days at most western Canada resorts if you are skiing single it is difficult to find someone to share a chairlift ride.

Lift tickets and rental skis are cheaper than at the major US resorts and for Americans the expensive flights into Canada can be avoided by flying to Spokane or Seattle. So lots of Americans are missing out but on the other hand if they came to the western Canada Interior to ski in really big numbers than the main reason for going would be lost.

Have you skied SLC? Other than a 5 minute or so wait to get out of Mineral Basin one time, I've never waited more than a minute between the Bird, Brighton, Solitude, and Snowbasin.

Lift tix at the SLC rental shops are cheaper too. And the higher sales taxes generally offset any exchange savings.
post #24 of 37


Skiing Western Canada on a shoestring budget.

 

As previously stated hostels are the way to go, also if you are alone you may meet some locals to ski with you.  I have ventured into BC many times and have never seen any great deals in March.  March is a busy time on weekends and holidays.   Google up canadian holidays and avoid, expecially "family time/vacation week".  Driving East to West or viceversa is time consuming and at times rugged, driving N to S or vice versa is easy with good roads.Sign up on the web for BC online tourist stuff and you will start getting some deals on lodging etc. but if you want to travel cheap as you stated then google all the towns and look for the cheap places.  Have skied Whistler, Red, Whitewater, Fernie, Panorama and Kimberly and heli and cat skied, some great skiing, great powder but canada isn't cheap, especially compared to No. Idaho.

post #25 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete No. Idaho View Post
 


Skiing Western Canada on a shoestring budget.

 

As previously stated hostels are the way to go, also if you are alone you may meet some locals to ski with you.  I have ventured into BC many times and have never seen any great deals in March.  March is a busy time on weekends and holidays.   Google up canadian holidays and avoid, expecially "family time/vacation week".  Driving East to West or viceversa is time consuming and at times rugged, driving N to S or vice versa is easy with good roads.Sign up on the web for BC online tourist stuff and you will start getting some deals on lodging etc. but if you want to travel cheap as you stated then google all the towns and look for the cheap places.  Have skied Whistler, Red, Whitewater, Fernie, Panorama and Kimberly and heli and cat skied, some great skiing, great powder but canada isn't cheap, especially compared to No. Idaho.

 

B.C.= Bring Cash

post #26 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post


Have you skied SLC? Other than a 5 minute or so wait to get out of Mineral Basin one time, I've never waited more than a minute between the Bird, Brighton, Solitude, and Snowbasin.

Lift tix at the SLC rental shops are cheaper too. And the higher sales taxes generally offset any exchange savings.

 

I've skied Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, Snowbasin and while they where not crowded when compared to Vail's Colorado resorts or Whistler, they where still way busier than the Canadian interior resorts, weekends at the Calgary area resorts excepted.

 

I never said that skiing in Canada is cheaper, just some lift tickets and rentals, so the motivation to ski in Canada is if you want to get away from the crowds.

post #27 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post
 

 

I've skied Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, Snowbasin and while they where not crowded when compared to Vail's Colorado resorts or Whistler, they where still way busier than the Canadian interior resorts, weekends at the Calgary area resorts excepted.

 

I never said that skiing in Canada is cheaper, just some lift tickets and rentals, so the motivation to ski in Canada is if you want to get away from the crowds.

 

 

Avoiding crowds is something I have done for over 30yrs, midweek and non-holiday.  Interior BC is a great place to do this.  Quality of experience is priceless.

post #28 of 37

Two things I try to avoid buying once I cross the border from the Glorious People's Republic of Alberta to BC:

1) Booze

2) Gas

 

Luckily, my truck has a 1000km range and can carry a lot of beer.  But seriously, if this is purely a financial or economic argument then just stay home or go where ever the cheapest deal is.   But....there's lots of fantastic skiing all over the continent and it's a fun experience to go check it out.  Some of the best ski trips I've had didn't 'make sense'.  You take a trip, go on an adventure, and you's takes yer chances....

 

Have fun, ski lots.

post #29 of 37

I once got stopped by RCMP somewhere around the Frank Slide and given a bit of interrogation as to whether I'd been on a beer run to Alberta

post #30 of 37
I looked at flight costs from East Canada (Halifax) to Kelowna a week or two back on speculation. Flights to Lima Peru were cheaper. I can get to Denver, SLC, LA cheaper than I can get to Kelowna (1100 taxes in, kid you not). I'd love to ski B.C. and will someday but gonna have to do a bit more pre-planning with the piggy bank for next year.
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