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Early January: Denver vs. Salt Lake

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I've been reading through threads to help me narrow this choice, but I'm hoping to get a little more guidance. I'm planning an trip for the first week of January, right after the holiday skiers head home.I picked up skiing again 2 years ago, after 20+ years off, and the only place I've skied out west is Northstar. I'll be starting the trip with my teenage son, who is an advanced intermediate snowboarder, and my non-skiing wife will join us later for the weekend. I was looking at Breckenridge, since the town will have more for my wife to do, and we could take advantage of the EpicPass before she arrives. But I've read so many comments about how brutal January can be in Denver, that I'm looking into Park City instead. The transportation costs are pretty equal. (Denver is a cheaper flight, but it will cost more to shuttle to the resorts.) I don't want to get more than 2 hours from the airport, since my wife's trip is pretty short. I should add that I'm at the low 6 level now, but trying to make improvements. I stick to the groomers now, and compared to New York, conditions that a western skier would find terrible, I'm usually thrilled with. Any advice? I could push this back to later in January, if it's better. Thanks!

post #2 of 8


Do you have to commit yet or can you wait until about a month before trip to see how early season is developing?  When are you going buy your airfares?  Some years UT starts better, some years CO.  Breck is not a bad choice and should have a decent to more than decent amount of terrain open.  I finally skied there last year for the first time, for approx seven days and it was great.  The high elevation will have you sucking wind, but also results in great snow preservation/conditions.  And the town is fun and accessible.  Everything else being equal late Jan will usually mean better conditions everywhere than early Jan.

And though Breck can be windy I wouldn't say UT will be much balmier in Jan.  Go for a full week if you can and take a day off in middle.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks James. The only reason I'm looking to book airfare now is to lock into a lower price. I could probably wait it out and see what happens in the next month. Or if it starts to creep up I could book a flight to Denver, and then just choose a resort as we get closer. At that time, it should be easy to find lodging. I also just found out that the end of January is no longer an option, due to a business trip. MLK weekend is still an option, but I was hoping to avoid that crowd.Your point about January being cold either place is well taken.

post #4 of 8

Don't forget how high Breck is. A significant number of visitors will have some form of altitude sickness.


Also I would say that PC will have more attractions for a non skier and that should tip the balance.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

I wasn't even considering altitude sickness. Thanks for the heads up. Tahoe is the highest I've skied, so I have no idea how I or my family would handle it. Might be best to avoid Colorado. It will be a short trip for my wife and she won't have much time to adjust.

post #6 of 8

Altitude is an issue in Breck. Doable, but if not much time to acclimate, it will be a factor in how enjoyable the trip is. In my experience, especially at night.

post #7 of 8
Originally Posted by Maui Steve View Post

Altitude is an issue in Breck. Doable, but if not much time to acclimate, it will be a factor in how enjoyable the trip is. In my experience, especially at night.


I really struggled with the Altitude at Copper and Loveland on a quick weekend trip 2 years ago.   I had a hell of a time trying to get to sleep at night staying in Dillon...   Maybe slept 4 hours a night.  Woke up many many many times each night out of breath.

post #8 of 8

I also have a non-skiing wife and kids who take ski / board lessons, and we've been to both.  I prefer Park City for the following reasons:


1. Larger town, more shopping / dining options, outlets - more things to keep the wife entertained.

2. Easy drive to Park City from SLC airport.  The road is good, usually clear, much safer (big deal for me since we dont practice winter driving in So Cal).  I did not drive from Denver to Breckenridge / Keystone (took a shuttle), but the road was much longer and way more challenging.  I saw cars sliding off the road, getting stuck, driving very slow, etc.  From what I've heard, traffic from Denver got a lot worse in recent years. 

3. Can access both PCMR and Canyons using EPIC pass.  I like both resorts - good variety of nice blue runs, never had to wait in a lift line long (unless the lift was stopped due to some issue).  The resorts made sufficient snow to ski groomers, even though there was way less snow than normal by early Jan these last 3 years.

4. Usually milder weather in Park City.

5. In recent years, they built lots of slope-side condos / timeshares at the Canyons.  We were able to rent a very nice 1br for about $300 / night right near the lifts, but there are also much more expensive and upscale options available. The Canyons base looks very nice and modern. PC also has many lodging options, both less and more expensive.  Less expensive options will involve driving / taking city bus.

6. For us - convenient morning flights from LA to SLC and evening flights back to LA.  I'd usually do a few hours of night skiing at PCMR on the night of arrival, and ski the morning on the last day.


I liked more a couple of things that Breckenridge has over PC - beautiful mountains / scenery and a more "authentic" feel of the town (but with fewer dining / shopping options as a result).  I like the Main St. in Park City as well, but its a bit too "touristy".


For me, the actual skiing was a wash between PCMR / Canyons and Breckenridge.


As a result, we've been to Breckenridge / Keystone once, and go to PC almost every year.  In early January 2016, we are going to Solitude to break the routine a bit and to save some $$$ on ski school for the kids.


Also, in late January, PC has Sundance film festival.  The town is overrun with the movie industry folks and lodging gets crazy expensive.

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