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Trying to take a ski trip, don't know where to go. [from Philadelphia during Christmas holidays]

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

So I have been trying to plan a ski trip from Dec 26th 2015 - Jan 2nd 2016. I live near the poconos and ski east coast ice all winter. Most trips I take are to the north east, Killington and such but want to go somewhere more special this year.

 

I am on a budget and need to do this with that in mind, I would need to be around $3500 for the hotel/Airfare/lift tickets.  I would love a ski in/out with lots of vertical and challenging terrain. This is for me and my 15 year old son who has been skiing better then me anymore. Spent two weeks in July skiing in Virgina on snowflex.

 

I have been looking at Colorado resorts, like Aspen Snowmass. Utah like Alta, Wyoming like Jacksons Hole, and Canada like Whistler.

 

Whistler has some good deals for early buys and looks promising, but getting there from Philadlphia looks difficult?

 

Is there other options I am missing?

post #2 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReeferBen View Post
 

So I have been trying to plan a ski trip from Dec 26th 2015 - Jan 2nd 2016. I live near the poconos and ski east coast ice all winter. Most trips I take are to the north east, Killington and such but want to go somewhere more special this year.

 

I am on a budget and need to do this with that in mind, I would need to be around $3500 for the hotel/Airfare/lift tickets.  I would love a ski in/out with lots of vertical and challenging terrain. This is for me and my 15 year old son who has been skiing better then me anymore. Spent two weeks in July skiing in Virgina on snowflex.

 

I have been looking at Colorado resorts, like Aspen Snowmass. Utah like Alta, Wyoming like Jacksons Hole, and Canada like Whistler.

 

Whistler has some good deals for early buys and looks promising, but getting there from Philadlphia looks difficult?

 

Is there other options I am missing?


As you can imagine, that's the most expensive time in terms of plane fare.  Is there any possibility of getting out west for a few days right before Christmas?  Lift lines would also be shorter.  Is this the first trip out west?  Can you give examples of favorite runs in the Poconos or Killington?

 

In general, late Dec is essentially early season in terms of snow so Grand Targhee is a better bet than Jackson Hole.  GT is also less expensive in terms of lift tickets.  But not much to do but ski.  JH is okay for any ability but advanced skiers get the most bang for their buck.  Possible to get to either driving from SLC.  Alta is my favorite ski area out west but would probably be more crowded than Aspen/Snowmass during Christmas week.

 

Added a tag for Christmas Vacation.  Look under Topics Discussed (right hand column) and click on the link to see a list of relevant threads.

post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the quick reply! My sons favorite run on killington was outer limit, so we do that run a lot. I like anything steeper, faster, but love to play around in bumps. The poconos really have limited challenge and we play around all day wherever we can, trees, w/e.

I have to be home for other family before Xmas but maybe I could swing leaving before Xmas but would be tough.
post #4 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReeferBen View Post

Thanks for the quick reply! My sons favorite run on killington was outer limit, so we do that run a lot. I like anything steeper, faster, but love to play around in bumps. The poconos really have limited challenge and we play around all day wherever we can, trees, w/e.

I have to be home for other family before Xmas but maybe I could swing leaving before Xmas but would be tough.


Probably not worth pushing the idea of going before Christmas.  Once you do this trip, there will probably be interest in a repeat.  Might as well figure out options that work within the week after Christmas.

 

Sounds like any place out west would be fun for you and your sons.  Take a look at the other threads and come back with specific questions once you narrow the choices down a bit.  Every family situation is a little different.

 

For an idea of snow conditions in Dec, check out this webpage:

http://www.bestsnow.net/fam_ski.htm

post #5 of 29
Salt Lake is probably your best option to keep things inexpensive. Lodging in the city can be very affordable but you will need to get a way to the mountain. If you look into it I bet there is a hotel right next to a bus stop that you can use to get up in the canyons.
post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by raisingarizona View Post

Salt Lake is probably your best option to keep things inexpensive. Lodging in the city can be very affordable but you will need to get a way to the mountain. If you look into it I bet there is a hotel right next to a bus stop that you can use to get up in the canyons.

Traveling to ski snowflex for two weeks in the summer is pretty hardcore.  Good news is you've got a full week together.  Father and son means you probably don't need fancy restaurants and lots of night life, so the idea of staying in SLC suburbs is a reasonable cost saver.  AltaBird and SolBright are known for a high chance of good early season snow conditions.  If you wanted to do four of the nights slopeside in the Brighton Lodge that might be one of your most affordable options, but you'd probably have to reserve early to get in there for that super prime time frame.   

http://www.brightonresort.com/stay/lodging/

 

Another possibility is to buy a pair of preseason affordable four packs of lift tickets to Loveland ski area, fly to Denver, stay at Georgetown Mtn Inn (not slopeside: http://www.georgetownmountaininn.com/ ), fill out the week with a day or two at nearby Arapahoe Basin with tickets from Liftopia.  Both are likely to have some of the best early season conditions in the US.

 

I'm sure there are any number of good plans and destinations, have fun.  Here is a page by Tony Crocker highlighting resorts known for good early/Christmas snow conditions, it might give you food for thought:  http://www.bestsnow.net/  Click through to articles on early season.  If you have trouble finding it try google:    top early season resorts crocker

post #7 of 29

Snowmass would be a great choice, except Christmas on your budget would be difficult.

 

Flights will be cheaper on Christmas and New Years Day, maybe you can book later in the day?

I'd probably recommend SLC, but DEN flights are cheaper and it has directs on Southwest.

I'd be booking flights soon!

post #8 of 29

For the budget... Minus transportation.

 

Consider a town like Leadville Colorado.  Reasonable prices, for both and food.  Short distance (30-50 Miles) to large resorts.  A couple of smaller ski areas (Cooper and Monarch) within 60 minutes driving.  You will want an ALL WEATHER Vehicle. 

 

Wherever you chose to ski/ride there will be limited terrain.  Most step terrain won't be open without snowmaking or exceptional heavy snow.

 

Problem is your time frame.  Everyone will be jacking the prices for the holidays.  Not many ways to beat holiday pricing.

 

Hostels/dorms may be an option.  Silverthorne http://www.summitpeakslodge.com/, Leadville http://www.leadvillehostel.com/, Breckenridge http://www.thebivvi.com/

post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ali pine View Post
 

For the budget... Minus transportation.

 

Consider a town like Leadville Colorado.  Reasonable prices, for both and food.  Short distance (30-50 Miles) to large resorts.  A couple of smaller ski areas (Cooper and Monarch) within 60 minutes driving.  You will want an ALL WEATHER Vehicle. 

 

Wherever you chose to ski/ride there will be limited terrain.  Most step terrain won't be open without snowmaking or exceptional heavy snow.

 

Problem is your time frame.  Everyone will be jacking the prices for the holidays.  Not many ways to beat holiday pricing.

 

Hostels/dorms may be an option.  Silverthorne http://www.summitpeakslodge.com/, Leadville http://www.leadvillehostel.com/, Breckenridge http://www.thebivvi.com/

 

There's no reason to stay in Leadville when there are places like Snowshoe in Frisco. I've stayed there over Christmas and it was 80$ a night. Throw in free breakfast and a bus stop right in front of the hotel and it's a pretty decent deal. You could do the summit county area by taking Rocky Mountain Express  and then not need a rental car. The big catch with Summit county is the crowds and Lift ticket prices.  

 

SLC would probably be the best bet depending on the resorts you go to you might be able to balance the more expensive plane tickets with the cheaper lift tickets.

post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies. I've been looking at Grand Targhee but worry that the terrain won't be very challenging? Looks like lodging and airfare would come to around $3200 and another $800 in lift tickets. I could swing that but now you all gave me some other options to think about. I also looked at whistler that had some early buy deals but getting there looks like a hassle. I am gonna try to price out some of the other options mentioned here when I get home today.

For those that went to grand targhee is it more of a intermediate style place?
post #11 of 29

Don't dismiss flying out of Newark, if you are in the eastern PA area like the Lehigh Valley. I also second SLC because of the amount of options both in resorts and lodging plus you can get direct flights and even ski the same day you arrive (usually free). 

post #12 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReeferBen View Post
 

I would love a ski in/out with lots of vertical and challenging terrain. 

The trouble with skiing in December is that there isn't usually enough snow to open up the "vertical and challenging terrain."

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by ReeferBen View Post

Thanks for all the replies. I've been looking at Grand Targhee but worry that the terrain won't be very challenging?

For those that went to grand targhee is it more of a intermediate style place?

So the alternative, in December, is to go where the snow is.  Grand Targhee has a well-deserved reputation for consistent early-season snow.  Steamboat has a similar reputation, but also a similar reputation with respect to terrain.  

 

That time of year, though, you have to pick consistent snow over other factors if you're going to drop that kind of coin.

post #13 of 29

Ben:

 

Whistler's an amazing place and should be on everyone's bucket list.

But I wouldn't go at Christmas.  Whistler's a busy place and weather there is extremely variable.

When the alpine is closed, everyone is funneled to the same lower lifts and the resulting lift lines are the biggest I've ever experienced.

You can hire a guide/instructor to cut lines, but that's another expense.  Yes, it's a hassle to get there from the east.

 

 

Grand Targhee would be good and you can do a day or two at Jackson to increase the difficulty.  It's probably not cheap to fly into JAC though.

post #14 of 29

Consider Mont Saint Anne and Mt.Tremblant for a new adventure. You may want to hear from someone else who has been to either place recently- It was years ago when I skied them and loved them both. Back in the day you could expect a little better natural conditions at Mont Saint Anne and further into the Winter was great for both places.

You might want something with more vertical drop but both are great resorts. Price and travel should be less costly than out West.


Edited by da-cat - 8/4/15 at 12:34pm
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReeferBen View Post

Thanks for all the replies. I've been looking at Grand Targhee but worry that the terrain won't be very challenging? Looks like lodging and airfare would come to around $3200 and another $800 in lift tickets. I could swing that but now you all gave me some other options to think about. I also looked at whistler that had some early buy deals but getting there looks like a hassle. I am gonna try to price out some of the other options mentioned here when I get home today.

For those that went to grand targhee is it more of a intermediate style place?


Since you asked, I added a tag link to the EpicSki Grand Targhee resort page (under Topics Discussed in right hand column).  Scroll down on the resort page to get to the list of related threads.

 

Check out the video in this post from early Dec 2014.  You decide if these look like intermediate skiers.  Of course, who knows exactly when the snow will start falling in earnest in Dec 2015.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/130700/yeah-this-just-happened-at-the-ghee#post_1800543

post #16 of 29

X-Mas to NY is not only expensive for airfare, but lodging as well- you'll need to book in advance and pay a lot for ski-in/out.  

 

While you can certainly get good conditions, Feb & March are more reliable.  Of course if this is the only time you can go, then it will likely still beat what you would find back east.

post #17 of 29
Quote:
So I have been trying to plan a ski trip from Dec 26th 2015 - Jan 2nd 2016.
Quote:
I am on a budget and need to do this with that in mind

This is a contradiction in terms, precisely the worst time of the entire season for cost of airfare, lodging and lift tickets.

Quote:
The trouble with skiing in December is that there isn't usually enough snow to open up the "vertical and challenging terrain."

This is usually true also.

 

Doesn't your son have a spring break?  Some of the eastern states also have a February break.  Either of those time frames should have priority over Christmas week for a destination ski trip.  I am the author of the http://www.bestsnow.net/fam_ski.htm  article referenced above.  If you are already skiing the other school holiday week(s) and still want Christmas in addition, the Salt Lake and Targhee suggestions above are the most reasonable.  

post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 
I understand, the problem is I can get off work easy at Xmas time and not so much latter in the year.

Looks like I am gonna do Grand Targhee, gonna do a little more research but seems to have been a great suggestion. I will let you all know how it works out.
post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReeferBen View Post

I understand, the problem is I can get off work easy at Xmas time and not so much latter in the year.

Looks like I am gonna do Grand Targhee, gonna do a little more research but seems to have been a great suggestion. I will let you all know how it works out.


There is a neat little family owned motel in Driggs called The Pines Motel.  The town is tiny, so easy walking distance to several restaurants.  The lodging at the resort is . . . well . . . cheap but not that impressive.

 

Or you could stay in Jackson and take the day bus over to GT for a few days.  Plenty of inexpensive lodging in town.  The drive from SLC is not bad.

post #20 of 29
Thread Starter 
What about skiing 6 days at targhee? Are we gonna be bored after a few days? Not sure if mixing it up would be better or if 6 days at Targhee is good? It's our first time skiing outside the east coast...we can do 6 days at killington and be plenty entertained but they have nice terrain parks for my son.
post #21 of 29
Targhee is a great place to go and is bigger than a lot of people seem to think, and there is some nice advanced terrain, plus some killer hike-to terrain. It's also pretty wide open and you can ski most of the terrain in between designated trails. It would be great for at least three-four days. Jackson is an hour away so you can mix it up between the two.
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReeferBen View Post

What about skiing 6 days at targhee? Are we gonna be bored after a few days? Not sure if mixing it up would be better or if 6 days at Targhee is good? It's our first time skiing outside the east coast...we can do 6 days at killington and be plenty entertained but they have nice terrain parks for my son.


Targhee does have a terrain park as I remember.  Since you haven't been out west before, worth going over to JH for a day at least.  It's a straightforward drive thru the pass when there isn't snow on the road.  Plus worth walking around Jackson town center before heading back to Driggs.

 

GT has 2500+ acres with 1892' vertical when everything is open.  I think only about 500 acres are ever groomed.  In comparison, Killington has about 1000 acres with 1645' vertical according to mountainvertical.com .

 

Paging @HarkinBanks .

 

If you fly into SLC and rent a car, certainly possible to ski a couple days in SLC along with 3-4 days at GT.  If you make hotel reservations that can be cancelled, then do not have to decide until snow conditions are more obvious.

post #23 of 29
Quote:
GT has 2500+ acres with 1892' vertical when everything is open. I think only about 500 acres are ever groomed. In comparison, Killington has about 1000 acres with 1645' vertical according to mountainvertical.com .

That's interesting. Just shows how you can't trust statistics. On the Snow, our sister site, claims


GT has 2000 acres with 2270' vertical when everything is open. I think only about 500 acres are ever groomed. In comparison, Killington has about 1509 acres with 3050' vertical according to onthesnow.com .
post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post
 
Quote:
GT has 2500+ acres with 1892' vertical when everything is open. I think only about 500 acres are ever groomed. In comparison, Killington has about 1000 acres with 1645' vertical according to mountainvertical.com .

That's interesting. Just shows how you can't trust statistics. On the Snow, our sister site, claims


GT has 2000 acres with 2270' vertical when everything is open. I think only about 500 acres are ever groomed. In comparison, Killington has about 1509 acres with 3050' vertical according to onthesnow.com .


I tend to check mountainvertical for "true vertical" that I'm guessing is more consistent when comparing ski areas.  OnTheSnow tends to use stats provided by the marketing folks for individual resorts.  Pretty sure GT will have more ungroomed terrain with far few people than Killington during Christmas week in any case.  OP has never been out west and is worried about getting bored.

post #25 of 29
Quote:
Looks like I am gonna do Grand Targhee, gonna do a little more research but seems to have been a great suggestion. I will let you all know how it works out.

Targhee is the only resort with a 100% reliability record for Christmas week.  Nonetheless I would recommend you fly into SLC (more competitive air prices as well) and rent a car.  The drive to Targhee or Jackson is about 5 hours.  I would not reserve lodging far in advance:

1) Salt Lake is a big city and won't fill up.

2) Jackson has 10x as much summer as winter tourism and won't fill up either.

3) Targhee only does 160K skier visits, astoundingly few for a mountain with that size and snow quality, so I don't think Driggs will fill up either. 

 

Jackson's early season snow record is pretty good.  In at least half of Christmas weeks you will be very pleased with the skiing there, though you will probably see a few serious lift lines.

 

Wyoming snowfall can be reduced somewhat in El Nino years.  If Utah has a lot more snow, you want to have the flexibility of staying there instead of driving up to Wyoming.  As noted by Marznc, you could also divide your time.

Quote:
I understand, the problem is I can get off work easy at Xmas time and not so much latter in the year.

You have a kid who is an avid skier, this is not a one-shot problem.  My son Adam was a strong skier by age 7 and we had taken 14 spring break weeks by the time he graduated from college.  One year at work they didn't let me take off that week, so I found another position in the company.  Going forward you should let it be known that spring break (or February if he has that) week is your top vacation priority.  During the time Adam was in school we skied 2 Christmas weeks and both were quite unpleasant in terms of crowd issues.

post #26 of 29
Not sure what info the OP is looking for about GTR.

Will he & his son be bored with 6 days at GTR over Christmas? All depends on snow quality & quantity. If we're under a high pressure for 7 days, then there won't be much to ski. Fresh refills daily? Then all 2500 acres will be their playground.

A better question would be can one ski 6 days of 35,000' each day?

If someone is coming all the way from the east coast to GTR, I would recommend at least 1 day at JHMR and then maybe 1 day in the town of Jackson itself. Why travel that far and not see Jackson?

Realize that Christmas Week is the most expensive and busiest week of the year for GTR. But GTR has deals all over the place.

Tony Crocker & Marznc have it nailed. Haven't skied with Tony, but I've skied with Marnc several times at GTR showing her how to work the mountain.

Yes, GTR has been labeled a "Fogged-in Bunny Hill" and its nickname is "Grand Foggee". But with clouds, come snow. 500" per year on average. And as far as GTR having no steeps, just do a search on the InnerTube for "Grand Targhee Freeride Comp" as see what you come up with. Terrain that most on this forum would never ski.

Anyway...

OP ask away.

Cheers

HB
post #27 of 29

Where has your son expressed wanting to go?

post #28 of 29

I have only skied Grand Targhee once and while it is a great place it is rather intermediateish.  Were I do to that trip on a budget I think I would fly to SLC and drive as others have suggested.  I would also make it more of a ski safari and stick around SLC for a few days.  Then I would base myself in JH and ski there as well as GTR.

 

Someone mentioned Quebec with Ste. Anne and Le Massif nearby.  There is, I believe a better chance for good conditions there and Quebec is a beautiful place to be that week.  The mountains are not uncrowded though.

post #29 of 29
Thread Starter 

Just wanted to give a thanks for the advise from the EpicSki posters.

 

Just got back from the ski trip with my son. We skied Grand Targhee for 4 days and Jackson Hole for 2 days. Both of us had an amazing time and will remember the trip for years to come. Despite my out of shape ski legs and torn meniscus I got in around 22k of vert a day before the pain in my knee got the best of me. My son did a few runs alone so he could go fast and a bit more wild. I torn the meniscus after I booked the trip and had two Doctors look at it and both said the meniscus tear and pcl tear were the only damage.

 

Anyhow I loved Grand Targhee and honestly liked it more then Jackson Hole. For one the lifts had no lines, longest I waited was less then 5 minutes. Secondly the crowd on the mountain was so minimal you could shred all over and find some untouched pow stashes even 4 days+ after the last snow. We had blue bird days all 6 days of skiing. Grand Targhee had nice bowls, fast groomers, good off-piste runs, little jumps all over the mountain my son loved, and some really nice quality snow all over the resort.

 

My son on the other hand liked Jackson Hole more, I bought him the movie paradise waits for xmas and when he was watching it he saw Tim Durtschi's segment at JH and that may have influenced him a bit. He love the fact that they had so many lifts, all over the mountain, the tram, the gondola. He admitted the snow wasn't as good, lift lines were worse although the longest we waited was probably 20ish minutes for the tram. We did realize the more mid mountain lifts you hit the more you could lap the place. My son liked the more wild terrain, the rock jumps all over the mountain, the glades, the bowls (were I fell into a tree well and had to have him help me out lol), He liked the longer runs, and faster runs.

 

That said at Targhee we didn't do any of the double blacks and also didn't do any at JH. I thought that the rating system at JH was more similar to what I was used to on the east coast. The double blues was something new to me and probably would be blacks on the east. The Blues were about the same as an east coast blue at JH but some of what GT has as blues would be blacks in the east IME. I know that some of you said that GT was a more intermediate mountain and they did have a lot of the intermediate stuff but also had some pretty serious terrain, even the good, bad and ugly runs had large vertical drop ins were you would need to do a 10' vertical drop to get into them, if you coasted in from the top you could avoid that but as they are marked there was quite the drop in, not sure if that is the norm for those runs. The park at GT was cut and maintained perfectly, after we were there a few days they redid the whole thing and because of the lower traffic it stayed nice for my son all day. But they only have one park and it is limited to a few features. JH only had a small poorly maintained and cut park while we were there, and 2 of the burton stash parks, I am sure from what I have seen that JH has much nicer parks when they have the snow.

 

Over all we had a blast at both places and really was a new experience for us both, can't wait to start planning next years trip to somewhere new. We are dong killington at the end f the season and will be skiing local all winter but going out west sure was an adventure worth taking.

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