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Next Week - Sun Valley vs. Snowbird/Alta vs. Big Sky - Where to go?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Mornin'.  

 

First time poster here.  As everyone knows life in the PacNW has sucked moderately to greatly over the past few months if you're into snow.  I live in Bend, OR, and while Bachelor has been relatively "lucky" this winter, I still want to try something different.  I decided to take next week off and head east to ski somewhere new for 3 or 4 days within a 12-13 hour driving radius (sounds great now, I may regret the driving part later).  I'll be going alone, so I couldn't care less about the apres-ski atmosphere - I just need somewhere to buy good local beer.  That being said, I've narrowed down the options to SLC/Snowbird/Alta, Sun Valley or Big Sky, MT.  

 

SLC (around 11 hours) would be the cheapest hotel-wise and have the most variety of places to go, but I know they've been warmer than even central Oregon has been.  I went to PCMR and Deer Valley last February, so this time I'd probably do two days at Alta/Snowbird and a day at Snowbasin.

 

Sun Valley is closest (if 8 hours is close), yet expensive re: hotels and seems a bit glitzy for what I'm looking for.  While Idaho has been cooler than Oregon, conditions appear to be hit or miss due to the lower elevation (albeit with lots of snowmaking) and it is smaller than the others.

 

Big Sky is the furthest at about 13 hours, but I could make a loop and head there via Spokane and return via Boise with only an hour difference in drive time.  Obviously it's the largest, but is the extra time spent getting there worth it?

 

I'd consider myself a "blue diamond" skills wise, and honestly prefer long cruisers, but don't have any problems with The Cirque and Cows Face at Bachelor.  I moved here from Washington DC a few years ago, so honestly I'm still happy with anything that has over a 2,000 vertical regardless of snow conditions.  I've wavered dozens of times in the past few days about which route to take and where to go, and was wondering if anyone had any strong feelings either way

 

Thanks,

 

Chris

Bend, OR

post #2 of 10

Jackson fits the bill, and you have Targhee as well. 

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

I was thinking about that, but we're going to do Jackson next January for a bachelor party.  Thanks though!

post #4 of 10
Fwiw, there is good local beer here in SLC but if it's on draft or at the grocery store it will be 4% abv. You can get higher gravity beers at the liquor stores or restaurants.
post #5 of 10

Tough call but I'd go to Alta/Bird on Saturday. Of your choices, this has the best chance for a decent amount of fresh. Any decent airfare prices from Redmond to SLC?

post #6 of 10
I think this year, the weather plays to Sun Valley's strengths: sunshine, grooming and consistent fall line skiing. It's a spectacular skiing experience, just without powder 😉

There are reasonably priced hotels as well, I stayed at the Tyrolean Lodge right near the River Run base for about $100/night.
post #7 of 10
Hotels in SV are not generally expensive. There's not even a luxury hotel there. Try calling the resort to see if you can get a ski/stay package; basically you ski for free with this. There are 2 Best Westerns that shouldn't be more than $139, and the Tamarack is probably less. Motels 11 miles down valley in Hailey, even less. Also, SV is not glitzy. It has that rep but it's not Aspen or even Telluride. There are plenty of local hangouts that are fun so if you go, just ask.
post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by nautachris View Post
 

I'd consider myself a "blue diamond" skills wise, and honestly prefer long cruisers. . . so honestly I'm still happy with anything that has over a 2,000 vertical regardless of snow conditions.  

Chris:

 

When I read the part quoted above I would have suggested Sun Valley as an option even if you had not identified it.  If you like long cruisers and are not that concerned with soft snow it has few peers in North America. 

 

However, I live and primarily ski in Utah and really like Big Sky also so I think you have identified some good choices.  But, the shorter drive time also favors Sun Valley (once in Sun Valley it is about a 5 hour drive to Big Sky and just a little less to Salt Lake if you are unhappy at Sun Valley).

 

We just returned from a our annual long weekend in Sun Valley so I can comment on what we experienced (which is pretty much the same from trip to trip).  Except for a few south faces, the mountain is open and skiing well.  There is not a lot of snow but Sun Valley doesn't really need much snow to ski well.  We had two warm days and one slightly cooler day and Baldy skied well each day.  On the warmer days, Christmas Ridge and the bowls softened into some really nice springtime skiing in the afternoons.  Most of the other runs stayed firmish with a few (but not too many) slick spots.  The only thing we were deprived of was there was little if any good bump skiing except in Christmas Bowl during the warm afternoons since some of the other options didn't soften up enough to be enjoyable (and I am nursing a wounded knee from a fall a couple of weeks ago).  My kids really like Dollar Mt. (the separate beginner/park hill) also so we spent part of each day there but there is no big need to go there if you are not interested in the half pipe or terrain parks.  By the way, don't ignore the greens on Baldy since most would be graded intermediate at most other mountains.  Depending on the day, the temperature, and the snow conditions, the bowls will either have some of the best skiing on the mountain or some of the worst. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DesiredUsername View Post

I think this year, the weather plays to Sun Valley's strengths: sunshine, grooming and consistent fall line skiing. It's a spectacular skiing experience, just without powder 😉

There are reasonably priced hotels as well, I stayed at the Tyrolean Lodge right near the River Run base for about $100/night.

 

I echo the recommendation of the Tyrolean Lodge (Best Western) and have stayed there four of five times.  It is old and nothing fancy but well located and has friendly employees.  You should be in the $110 to $130 per night range. The Best Western Kentwood is nicer and newer but the normal price premium is not worth the upgrade IMO.  Christy319 is also dead on when she suggests contacting Sun Valley directly because there ski and stay packages are often a compelling value when you factor in what you will pay for a lift ticket (also check liftopia).  The Wood River Inn and AmericInn in Hailey are also good options (you may want to check to see if the Travelzoo promotion at Wood River Inn is available) but I would stay in Ketchum/Sun Valley unless it was a significant savings.
 I

post #9 of 10

1st choice:  Jackson Hole.  Preview things for the big bash next January!

 

2nd choice:  Sun Valley, provided you consider any off-piste skiing you get to be a bonus, not absolutely expected.

 

Have fun!  I'll be in SV the following week.  Leave some pow!

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the ideas and info!  At this point I'm thinking SLC - if they get any of the expected snow this weekend - followed by Sun Valley due to convenience sake.  I only have from Tuesday-Saturday, so only three days of actual skiing.

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