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February Ski Trip Advice

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I am trying to plan and book a ski trip for my family this February - leaving the weekend before President's weekend and heading home on President's Day.  We are going to drive from the Portland, OR area to Utah and back and are planning on two days of driving each way, and then four nights at two different resorts.  We are certain that we went to spend four of the nights at Solitude, but I'm not sure where to spend the other four nights.  We have been to Solitude once before and loved the quaintness of the resort and lack of crowds, not to mention the conditions were great.  Also, having a car and being close to other resorts is great in theory - though we only skied Solitude on our last trip.  As far as other resorts to hit before or after Solitude, Sun Valley would be a logical stop as it is about 1/2 way between us and Utah, but I'm not sure that resort is for us.  Seems they don't get the snow that Utah gets (or even our home mountain for that matter) and it could be a bit crowded.  I was thinking that Targhee might be a good place, but I was reading that their season might be hit or miss this coming year so it's tough to plan this far out (I know, tough to predict at this time).  We could stay in Utah for four more nights I suppose, but I think eight nights at Solitude would be a bit much, and I'm not sure we'd want to stay at any of the other resorts around there.

 

Any advice on what we should do?  Or any options I might have missed that would fit into our plans?  The only other trip I was thinking is that we could head up to Canada - maybe a Revelstoke/Kicking Horse/Red Mountain loop with a cat day thrown in.  Not sure how much the wife and younger kids would like that trip though as it seems that Utah is more refined with more consistent and reliable conditions.  Plus, it sounds like it could be setting up for a blockbuster year in the Central Rockies.

 

Thanks for any input,

 

Matt

post #2 of 22

You are right that Sun Valley doesn't get the snow other places do, but it won't be crowded.

 

Nobody can tell about the snow this far out, but Targhee should be a good bet for February.

 

If you don't mind considerable extra driving, you might try Aspen (about 400 miles from SLC).

post #3 of 22

Would help to know what type of terrain at Solitude that you and the family liked the most.

 

Going over to Alta for a mid-week day is worth considering.  Brighton is different from Solitude, especially if you like trees or terrain parks.  Could stay a few nights in the Ogden Valley to ski at Snowbasin and Powder Mountain, assuming snow conditions are good.  Say 5-6 nights at Solitude, 2-3 nights in the Ogden Valley.

 

Having been to GT and Aspen based on driving to/from SLC, I don't think the extra driving to get to Aspen would be worth it.  Plus GT lift tickets are much less than Aspen/Snowmass.  Discounts can be found on Liftopia for GT.

post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bill Miles View Post
 

You are right that Sun Valley doesn't get the snow other places do, but it won't be crowded.

 

Nobody can tell about the snow this far out, but Targhee should be a good bet for February.

 

If you don't mind considerable extra driving, you might try Aspen (about 400 miles from SLC).

 

I was thinking about heading out to Colorado, but the extra driving I think would just be too much for my kids.  I think Utah will have to be the end of the line.  I think Targhee might be the best best.  Sun Valley would probably be fun to be at, but if we are taking the time and making the effort, a good chance of good snow is probably at the top of the list.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Would help to know what type of terrain at Solitude that you and the family liked the most.

 

Going over to Alta for a mid-week day is worth considering.  Brighton is different from Solitude, especially if you like trees or terrain parks.  Could stay a few nights in the Ogden Valley to ski at Snowbasin and Powder Mountain, assuming snow conditions are good.  Say 5-6 nights at Solitude, 2-3 nights in the Ogden Valley.

 

Having been to GT and Aspen based on driving to/from SLC, I don't think the extra driving to get to Aspen would be worth it.  Plus GT lift tickets are much less than Aspen/Snowmass.  Discounts can be found on Liftopia for GT.

 

My son and I like any trail with fresh snow on it.  Trees, fall line, steeps, cruisers, cliffs, chutes, doesn't really matter.  There's not much we can't make it down one way or another at most mountains.  My wife tends to stick a bit more to the groomers, though she is venturing into the powder and onto steeper runs lately.  She has the ability to ski tougher trails and varied terrain, just not always the tenacity.  None of us enjoy skiing/riding in moguls.  On our trip to Solitude my son and I enjoyed a couple hours one morning lapping the Apex lift (the trees to the skiers right as well as the fall line) after getting eight inches of fresh overnight, while my wife took runs on some of the groomed trails.  We met up later in the day and took several runs off of Eagle Express searching out left over lines.  Only took a couple runs in Honeycomb Canyon - however, that was only because it took so many chairlift rides to get up and back.  With the new lift we would probably spend more time in that area as it is a very cool area.  My girls didn't ski with us, but took lessons the entire time which they really enjoyed.  We also skied Brighton one evening which was fun and I could see the potential for that resort as well.  My family has both boarders and skiers so Alta is a no-go - but maybe Snowbird for a day.  However, if the snow is good I like the less busy resorts so we can minimize our time spent standing in lines and maximize our powder lines.  I've looked into Snowbasin and PowMow and they both seem fun, but I think we want slopeside (or at least ski town) lodging on this trip.  I am thinking GT is the ticket for our second four nights.

 

Thanks again!

 

Matt

post #5 of 22

Sun Valley is so worth it.

post #6 of 22

So is Snowbasin.

 

Mike

post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by snmhanson View Post
 

Thanks for the replies.

 

[snip]

 

My son and I like any trail with fresh snow on it.  Trees, fall line, steeps, cruisers, cliffs, chutes, doesn't really matter.  There's not much we can't make it down one way or another at most mountains.  My wife tends to stick a bit more to the groomers, though she is venturing into the powder and onto steeper runs lately.  She has the ability to ski tougher trails and varied terrain, just not always the tenacity.  None of us enjoy skiing/riding in moguls.  On our trip to Solitude my son and I enjoyed a couple hours one morning lapping the Apex lift (the trees to the skiers right as well as the fall line) after getting eight inches of fresh overnight, while my wife took runs on some of the groomed trails.  We met up later in the day and took several runs off of Eagle Express searching out left over lines.  Only took a couple runs in Honeycomb Canyon - however, that was only because it took so many chairlift rides to get up and back.  With the new lift we would probably spend more time in that area as it is a very cool area.  My girls didn't ski with us, but took lessons the entire time which they really enjoyed.  We also skied Brighton one evening which was fun and I could see the potential for that resort as well.  My family has both boarders and skiers so Alta is a no-go - but maybe Snowbird for a day.  However, if the snow is good I like the less busy resorts so we can minimize our time spent standing in lines and maximize our powder lines.  I've looked into Snowbasin and PowMow and they both seem fun, but I think we want slopeside (or at least ski town) lodging on this trip.  I am thinking GT is the ticket for our second four nights.

 

Thanks again!

 

Matt

Aah, your family can have fun pretty much at any of the ski resorts in the Rockies.  Put Big Sky, with a few days at Bridger on your list for a future trip.

 

PowMow does have some condos on the mountain, but definitely best if willing to be cook for meals because there are very few options for eating out with a family in the Ogden Valley.  Probably not the best idea for a family trip planned well in advance in terms of the chance of really good snow conditions either.

 

Since you liked staying at Solitude, GT is similar.  Not much around in the area to do besides ski.  Although the resort does have special activities for younger kids.  Another difference is that Driggs is a tiny town, as opposed to having a city 30 min away.  My impression is that the GT resort lodging is not quite as nice as Solitude.  Have heard the cheaper resort lodge rooms described as "Motel 6" with pretty thin walls.  I assume the condo units are somewhat better.  The GT beginner area is really fun.  It's completely separate so no worries about advanced skiers speeding by.  Have special areas for learning to ski trees.  Definitely no lift lines to deal with.  Only an hour drive over to JH if you and your son want to check it out for day.

 

Snowbird on a day with good visibility and no high winds so that Mineral Basin is open would probably be fun for all.  Midweek not likely to find long lines . . . assuming you aren't going right after a powder dump.

 

I'm considering a visit to Sun Valley now that it's part of the Mountain Collective Pass.  There are plenty of lodging options for a family.  Have heard good things about the town.  A downside for a mixed-ability family is that the beginner terrain and ski school is at a separate mountain.

post #8 of 22

If you have never been to Sun Valley and the  town of Ketchum you really have to go

Yes, Sun Valley doesn't get lots of snow......

It has  fall lines that are endless foe 3,200 vertical feet...nothing compares

best pace to be on a crowded FEb weekend

post #9 of 22
Since you are driving, I'd just make most of the decisions last minute. Nowadays with the Internet, you can always find accomadations last minute, often at a discount.

Sun Valley's a great place, that doesn't get nearly the recognition that it deserves.
post #10 of 22

The EpicSki Unofficial Guide for Sun Valley includes plenty of pics and descriptions geared towards advanced skiers, including lists of steeper trails.

 

http://www.epicski.com/a/sun-valley-unofficial-guide

 

Looks like fun to me . . . I like the idea that most days are sunny.

post #11 of 22

First of all, my head is pretty much exploding when you said 4 days at Solitude.  I love Solitude, but if I'm there it's worth two days max when I know what awaits me over at LCC and Snowbasin.  I don't care how bad a skier you are, if you are in Utah it is worth whatever hassle you have to go to spend some time at some of the other spots.  Utah is so unique in that there is high-quality terrain so stinkin' close to wherever it is that might find yourself.  Just take a look, you never know how much you might like Alta/Snowbird/Brighton/Snowbasin.  I would love to have 8 days in Utah...4 days at LCC, 2 days at Snowbasin and 2 days at BCC.

 

Secondly, Grand Targhee is one of the most snow-sure spots in North America.  Did you say kids?  Holy cow, GT is great for kids!  I took my boys there this past Spring Break and they had a blast.  For the price, I can't think of a better place to take a family than Grand Targhee.  Great terrain, no crowds, no hassle (other than getting there), so much fun...Niña or Niño, Grand Targhee will be just fine.

post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lofcaudio View Post
 

First of all, my head is pretty much exploding when you said 4 days at Solitude.  I love Solitude, but if I'm there it's worth two days max when I know what awaits me over at LCC and Snowbasin.  I don't care how bad a skier you are, if you are in Utah it is worth whatever hassle you have to go to spend some time at some of the other spots.  Utah is so unique in that there is high-quality terrain so stinkin' close to wherever it is that might find yourself.  Just take a look, you never know how much you might like Alta/Snowbird/Brighton/Snowbasin.  I would love to have 8 days in Utah...4 days at LCC, 2 days at Snowbasin and 2 days at BCC.

 

Secondly, Grand Targhee is one of the most snow-sure spots in North America.  Did you say kids?  Holy cow, GT is great for kids!  I took my boys there this past Spring Break and they had a blast.  For the price, I can't think of a better place to take a family than Grand Targhee.  Great terrain, no crowds, no hassle (other than getting there), so much fun...Niña or Niño, Grand Targhee will be just fine.


+1 to nearly all of the above.  These are strong Northwest skiers who will appreciate AltaBird's world-class terrain.  They are driving and so will be in Utah midweek and thus not that concerned with crowd issues.  They should stay at Snowbird (if they don't want to stay down in SLC) since they are clearly at the ability level to appreciate it.  The skiers can try a day at Alta or even a ticket upgrade for part of a day.  While they could easily spend a week or more at AltaBird without getting bored, I would agree it's logical to hit Snowbasin on an incoming or outgoing day.  I think Solitude is more interesting than Brighton, so if they want to try someplace different I would pick Snowbasin.
 

Quote:

Yes, Sun Valley doesn't get lots of snow......

It has  fall lines that are endless foe 3,200 vertical feet...nothing compares

best pace to be on a crowded FEb weekend

Yes, Sun Valley would indeed be a desirable spot for President's weekend.  You can easily ski 30+K without even trying too hard, as we did on President's Saturday of 2013.

Quote:
Secondly, Grand Targhee is one of the most snow-sure spots in North America.

In terms of consistency, probably THE most snow-sure.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 8/11/15 at 11:57am
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 

OK, thanks for the replies.  I did end up booking four nights at Solitude and four nights at Targhee.  BUT, here is my plan: We will arrive at Solitude on Sunday and stay flexible as to where we want to ski each day.  On days with fresh snow we will probably stick to Solitude/Brighton and enjoy taking fresh lines through the lunch hour and maybe even into the afternoon.  On days where it doesn't snow much/at all we will venture over to Snowbird for some more interesting and challenging terrain.  If there are any days we aren't going to be skiing we might go check out Park City, but I have no intention of skiing any of the resorts over there.  On our travel day between Utah and Wyoming (Thursday), if the forecast looks good (both the skiing and driving forecast), we might wake up early and hit Snow Basin on our way up to Targhee.  Then four nights at Targhee - where we could head over to Jackson Hole for a day if we feel inclined.  Finally, on our way home we'll be open to stopping at Sun Valley to check it out for a day or so if it works into our schedule.  I doubt we'll do all of the above, but we certainly won't be locked into skiing Solitude and Targhee every day.

 

BTW, what can we expect as far as the driving conditions?  We'll be taking Hwy 84 from the Washington/Oregon border all the way to Utah, and then it looks like primarily Hwy 15 up to Targhee before returning home on 15/84.  We have a SUV with studs and it handles the snow and ice well.  Still, if driving conditions are bad it will certainly slow us down.  Looks like almost all of the driving will be on major interstates, but not sure how many major passes we'll have to go over.

 

Thanks,

 

Matt

post #14 of 22
Quote:
On days where it doesn't snow much/at all we will venture over to Snowbird for some more interesting and challenging terrain.

Down one canyon and up the other? It really makes more sense to stay in Sandy and save $ plus halve the commute time up LCC. 

Quote:
We have a SUV with studs and it handles the snow and ice well. 

Which means you will have no problem driving up BCC to ski Solitude on fresh snow days if that's what you prefer.  For your time of 4-5 days you rate on average to have one where there there will be enough fresh snow to prefer Solitude over Snowbird.

post #15 of 22

Don't pass up Snowbasin -- it's an underutilized amazing resort!

 

Mike

post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 

I'll definitely try to get to Snowbasin.  Just kind of depends on the rest of the family, our timeline and the weather.  If we can wake up and leave early on our last day in Utah we could ski the majority of the day at Snowbasin and still get to Targhee at a reasonable time.  I think that's the only way we'll get there, though maybe if we can make a marathon drive and get to Ogden in one day we could hit Snowbasin on our way to Solitude.

 

I understand what you are saying Tony about staying in Sandy.  If it was my son and myself that would be an option.  Heck, if it was just us we probably wouldn't even make reservations and go last minute to where the snow is best.  However, with the whole family we really need on-mountain, ski-in/ski-out lodging.  I do hope to make it to Snowbird though, and I don't mind the 45+ minute drive each way between Solitude and Snowbird.  On the flip side, when we ski Solitude or Brighton we won't have to drive at all - just wake up, drink some coffee, step out the door and board the lift.

 

Matt

post #17 of 22
Do not skip Sun Valley.

I loved Solitude, but I would spend more time at Snowbasin.

FWIW if you're in the Portland area and have a season pass to Timberline or Ski Bowl, the Powder Alliance benefit include three days at Snowbasin.

Also I would recommend the Mountain Collective Pass for this trip alone, includes two days at Sun Valley, two days at Alta/Snowbird, and two days at Jackson, if you're thinking of going to Targhee.

It's not too much of a separate trip to Whistler from Portland, also on the MCP.

Adult MCP $399, kids $99. Extra days 50%. If you visit any two of the participating resorts for two days it pays for itself and any additional days are less than any discounted tickets.
post #18 of 22

agree with Snowbasin and in terms of 4 days at Solitude . . I see where one can hit it hard and not need 4 days, but then your less than a mile from Brighton which I'd equally recommend.

 

in fact, depending on cost ( agree with Tony that Sandy may save money, my spouse and I stayed at the Little America in Down Town SLC and they offered discounted tickets) one can stay in Solitude and hit Brighton with little difficulty. Ski Brighton at night as it was fun for me an wife.

 

 

have a great time!

post #19 of 22
Quote:
However, with the whole family we really need on-mountain, ski-in/ski-out lodging.

If that is true I still believe for a family of good skiers you should stay at Snowbird not Solitude.  To me this is especially true since you have already done a multi-day trip to Solitude.  I think it's a mistake for people who are just starting to explore destination resorts to lock into one of the first few they visit.   Snowbird is on nearly every advanced/expert skier's list as top 2 or 3 in North America.  Solitude is generally regarded as having good snow but awkward topography/lift layout, and is favored mainly as a place to go on big powder days for less competition.  Even in the powder Mecca of the Cottonwood Canyons, "big powder days" are only about 15-20% of the time.

post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 
Quote:
However, with the whole family we really need on-mountain, ski-in/ski-out lodging.

If that is true I still believe for a family of good skiers you should stay at Snowbird not Solitude.  To me this is especially true since you have already done a multi-day trip to Solitude.  I think it's a mistake for people who are just starting to explore destination resorts to lock into one of the first few they visit.   Snowbird is on nearly every advanced/expert skier's list as top 2 or 3 in North America.  Solitude is generally regarded as having good snow but awkward topography/lift layout, and is favored mainly as a place to go on big powder days for less competition.  Even in the powder Mecca of the Cottonwood Canyons, "big powder days" are only about 15-20% of the time.


If a family includes snowboarders is all adventurous intermediate and above, then paying the premium price to stay at Snowbird mid-season can make sense.  Assuming the budget can be stretched.  But for a family with younger kids who will be in ski school, Solitude seems like a more relaxed place to spend a few days for the parents.  Given that skiing ends by 3 or 4 in the afternoon, that leaves a lot of the day that isn't on the slopes.  The reason SLC is such a good destination for a mixed ability group is that sneaking out for a day or two to LCC or Snowbasin is a very reasonable day trip for the advanced  skiers/riders.

post #21 of 22
Quote:
 But for a family with younger kids who will be in ski school

A reread of the original post reminded me that 2 kids were in ski school.  Our big timeshare group at Snowbird included families with kids of varied age and ability for many years.  The policy was that kids were in ski school full time until they reached age 13 or level 9.  My son Adam was level 9 when he was first there at age 11, but he and the other 2 level 9 kids would sign up for one day of class together on each trip.  Snowbird's ski school is outstanding, but it's probably more expensive than Solitude's.   The only reason to prefer Solitude over Snowbird as a base in this instance is price of lodging and lessons, and that's a personal call.

post #22 of 22
Did a similar trip last year. We live south of Seattle and did GT, SLC then Bachelor on the way home. Grand Targhee was great and fell in love with the towns of Victor and Driggs. Very comparable to Solitude (my home for a year about a decade ago), laid back and easy going. I'd say stay in Driggs, heard iffy things about staying on the hill and it's an easy 20 minute drive from town. Plus the food in town was stellar! You love Solitude - I get it, I do to and am excited for the new lift to the top. When I lived there I skied all the central SLC resorts at least once. Snowbasin is great if they have snow, otherwise just push through to GT. Snowbird is a must, especially mid week. It is a WOW place to ski. Leave the borders @ the Bird and get some time in at Alta, it is such a different vibe to it than any other Utah resort. If you get bored, head down to Sundance. It is old school and authentic/natural an unlike anywhere else. And as you said above, avoid Park City unless there is an event to go see. It is too expensive for what it is and too many not good skiers there these days, which sucks cause it used to be such an amazing place to ski. Have fun at GT and climb the nipple!!
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