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Best Resort for Mid March 2016: Very Mixed Group (No True experts)???? Help!

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 

I have a group that is looking for their first western Mountain experience./

 

It'll be: 1 Strong Intermediate 55 year old Dad.

           2. Two Teenage gunners (aggressive, but medium skills based on Small eastern Sliding: 1 is a snow boarder, One a Skier).

           3. 30 Year old couple, intermediate at best skiers with middling levels of fitness.

 

They are looking for a real deal western resort experience, that is, a name mountain, notably different from what we have back east with off mountain options (and money is a bit of a concern).

 

They are going mid march of 2016.

 

My Suggestions were:

 

1. Steamboat

2. Snowmass

 

and dark horse 3rd:

 

3. Solitude (delivers on terrain, cost and crowds, but maybe not on other aspects).

 

What else should be in mi???  They don't have passports and want to stay in the Continental US, and I was looking 'southerly' due to El Nino.  (Telluride is probably too hard and too much, Taos, just too hard).  I thought maybe Batchelor if the snow lines up.....

post #2 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liam View Post
 

I have a group that is looking for their first western Mountain experience./

 

It'll be: 1 Strong Intermediate 55 year old Dad.

           2. Two Teenage gunners (aggressive, but medium skills based on Small eastern Sliding: 1 is a snow boarder, One a Skier).

           3. 30 Year old couple, intermediate at best skiers with middling levels of fitness.

 

They are looking for a real deal western resort experience, that is, a name mountain, notably different from what we have back east with off mountain options (and money is a bit of a concern).

 

They are going mid march of 2016.

 

My Suggestions were:

 

1. Steamboat

2. Snowmass

 

and dark horse 3rd:

 

3. Solitude (delivers on terrain, cost and crowds, but maybe not on other aspects).

 

What else should be in mi???  They don't have passports and want to stay in the Continental US, and I was looking 'southerly' due to El Nino.  (Telluride is probably too hard and too much, Taos, just too hard).  I thought maybe Batchelor if the snow lines up.....

 

Steamboat makes sense to me.  Always makes sense to @Finndog.

 

Since you included Snowmass, why not Park City?  Are you thinking PC would be too crowded in March?

 

If they don't mind driving, Solitude could be fun.  Ski mostly there and Brighton.  Maybe a day trip to Park City.  Or perhaps Snowbasin if snow conditions are good and it's a blue bird day.  The views from the Snowbasin lodges are a fun tourist attraction by themselves.

post #3 of 65

My favorite mixed group mountains out West are (1) Telluride and (2) Snowmass.  Both are big names and give you everything you want in a western mountain, but neither is going to be cheap.  Other great options (which would not be as expensive) are: Grand Targhee, Copper Mountain, Winter Park, Snowbasin, Park City, Steamboat.  I haven't been to Big Sky, but hear that it would also fit the bill.

 

One thing to add about Telluride being "too hard"...it's not.  While it may have some of the best expert terrain anywhere, it also has some of the longest gentle rollers for beginners and tentative intermediates.  It's why it's my favorite western mountain to recommend for beginners or mixed ability groups.

 

While I like Solitude, it "feels" pretty small compared to the other places mentioned.

post #4 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liam View Post
 

I have a group that is looking for their first western Mountain experience./

 

It'll be: 1 Strong Intermediate 55 year old Dad.

           2. Two Teenage gunners (aggressive, but medium skills based on Small eastern Sliding: 1 is a snow boarder, One a Skier).

           3. 30 Year old couple, intermediate at best skiers with middling levels of fitness.

 

They are looking for a real deal western resort experience, that is, a name mountain, notably different from what we have back east with off mountain options (and money is a bit of a concern).

 

They are going mid march of 2016.

 

My Suggestions were:

 

1. Steamboat

2. Snowmass

 

and dark horse 3rd:

 

3. Solitude (delivers on terrain, cost and crowds, but maybe not on other aspects).

 

What else should be in mi???  They don't have passports and want to stay in the Continental US, and I was looking 'southerly' due to El Nino.  (Telluride is probably too hard and too much, Taos, just too hard).  I thought maybe Batchelor if the snow lines up.....

 

PM SENT

post #5 of 65

"Snowmass" was the first place to came to my mind as well.  "True expert" stuff -- i.e., the Hanging Valley and the Cirque areas -- are a small part of the resort   Aspen is not exactly what I would call "budget friendly" though.

 

Big Sky (below the tram at least) has oodles of intermediate and "easier" advanced terrain.  There is nothing outside of skiing there though.

 

What about the whole Summit County / Vail area of Colorado?  The Back Bowls of Vail are accessible to advanced intermediates.  Everything about them is "not the east".  Plentiful lodging in the Silverthorne area, cheap flights into Denver, etc.

 

I've never been there, but I've heard that Heavenly (South Lake Tahoe area) is paradise for intermediates.  If El Nino comes through, they might (finally) get out of their winter snow drought.

post #6 of 65
Thread Starter 
I think my other hesitation about telluride is the 'getting there' factor that adds to cost (and the cost)!

March seems late for targhee (I did a March Jackson targhee trip...wasn't the best, though I've did a January one as well and it was the best). Big sky probably has the same benefits and drawbacks of telluride, but I'd think El Niño makes this a great year to zero in on southern Colorado.)

I never like park city, though the town is great...
I haven't been to snowmass telluride or the boat, but they do all seem like winners in this category. Mid march isn't to late for the boat?
post #7 of 65

Solitude is a good choice for what you are looking for and you have the added option of going to Brighton for a day as well, which is just up the road a bit from Solitude.  Utah ski trips can be done really cheap as well.  Airfare is a cheap as you are going to get going out West and there are plenty of inexpensive lodging options around Salt Lake City.

post #8 of 65

Disregarding the fact that this trip involved young kids, it's a great trip report from early March 2015 about a first time ski vacation to Snowmass that included beginners and intermediates.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/133555/snowmass-trip-report-family-with-young-kids-2-27-15-3-8-15

post #9 of 65

When you say "name mountain" does that mean something their non-skiing friends and co-workers would recognize?  I think that disqualifies Solitude.

 

For ease of access and the chance of cheap flights you can't beat Denver with Summit County or Salt Lake.  

Vail or Aspen a bit more of a drive.  Actually even Southwest Colorado is "only" four or five hours from Denver.  Driving over a non-interstate pass would add to that not-the-east experience.

post #10 of 65
Thread Starter 
Kevin,

I've been to Heavenly a number of times (and tahoe in general)....it's intermediate terrain is good, but it is also the most uncomfortably crowded terrain I've ever skied (and yes, I am comparing it to VT notables on a weekend). I've always thought Heavenly has wonderfully underrated (and little used!) expert terrain-and doing laps on the Face in the late day spring sun is, well, heaven-but this group won't be able to sample those attributes.

Summit county...yeah, I guess it's in the mix, though somehow Steamboat/ Snowmass or even Big Sky seem like better choices.

I should reiterate, I am not going on this trip..I've been asked to help a friend plan a trip. I think most places that I've skied aren't the best for his interests.

Liam
post #11 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

When you say "name mountain" does that mean something their non-skiing friends and co-workers would recognize?  I think that disqualifies Solitude.

Yes, that is exactly what he means...and you are probably right about Solitude.
post #12 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Disregarding the fact that this trip involved young kids, it's a great trip report from early March 2015 about a first time ski vacation to Snowmass that included beginners and intermediates.

http://www.epicski.com/t/133555/snowmass-trip-report-family-with-young-kids-2-27-15-3-8-15

Reading that reminds me why I've been itching to set up my own family trip to Snowmass. Nice share, thanks!
post #13 of 65

Don't overlook  B.C. and Alberta resorts. Canadian dollar is at .76 US at the moment. Best value for US tourists in years.

There are a lot of choices which fit your requirements perfectly. Mid march is usually still prime up here.

Look into the added logistics or extra flight costs from your start point to resort before deciding    

post #14 of 65

OP mentioned passports/ staying in US in first post.

post #15 of 65

@Liam : forgot to ask how long this trip would be?  What time of year or is that a bit flexible?

post #16 of 65

For a couple of off the wall counter ideas, I'd look at Crested Butte, that part of CO gets nice late season snow and although the mountain has a reputation for its expert skiing, there is plenty to keep beginners and intermediates happy, plus the town is really fun or Santa Fe, which should also benefit from El Nino and is a great place for your mix of skiers.  Can't find a better place in the US spend you non skiing time than Santa Fe.

post #17 of 65
Thread Starter 

Yeah, Stateside skiing only (I had mentioned the exchange rate to my bud, but he and his crew are passportless and not interested in remedying that).

 

The Group wants to Go for 6 days, with 5 days of Skiing.  Travel Sunday, then ski.  I think mid march is a firm date.

 

I have skied Crested Butte and I have spent a week there mountain biking as well.  Town is great, Mountain is unique, but I I don't think the mountain matches what they are looking for, at least not as well as some other mountains.  And, they'd like to book out several months ahead...Crested Butte, el nino or not, is just a tad too variable in it's year to year snowfall (it was pretty lean last time I was there, and it was in March).  But it's certainly an interesting suggestion.

post #18 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liam View Post
 

I have a group that is looking for their first western Mountain experience./

 

It'll be: 1 Strong Intermediate 55 year old Dad.

           2. Two Teenage gunners (aggressive, but medium skills based on Small eastern Sliding: 1 is a snow boarder, One a Skier).

           3. 30 Year old couple, intermediate at best skiers with middling levels of fitness.

 

They are looking for a real deal western resort experience, that is, a name mountain, notably different from what we have back east with off mountain options (and money is a bit of a concern).

 

They are going mid march of 2016.

 

My Suggestions were:

 

1. Steamboat

2. Snowmass

 

and dark horse 3rd:

 

3. Solitude (delivers on terrain, cost and crowds, but maybe not on other aspects).

 

What else should be in mi???  They don't have passports and want to stay in the Continental US, and I was looking 'southerly' due to El Nino.  (Telluride is probably too hard and too much, Taos, just too hard).  I thought maybe Batchelor if the snow lines up.....

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liam View Post
 

Yeah, Stateside skiing only (I had mentioned the exchange rate to my bud, but he and his crew are passportless and not interested in remedying that).

 

The Group wants to Go for 6 days, with 5 days of Skiing.  Travel Sunday, then ski.  I think mid march is a firm date.

 

I have skied Crested Butte and I have spent a week there mountain biking as well.  Town is great, Mountain is unique, but I I don't think the mountain matches what they are looking for, at least not as well as some other mountains.  And, they'd like to book out several months ahead...Crested Butte, el nino or not, is just a tad too variable in it's year to year snowfall (it was pretty lean last time I was there, and it was in March).  But it's certainly an interesting suggestion.

Oh yeah, you did say mid March.


Here's a slightly nutty suggestion . . . fly to SLC, ski/board at Park City for warm up.  Remember you said they wanted to go some place that lots of people (not necessarily skiers) have heard of.  Drive to JH, ski a few days, back to SLC for the flight home.  Two well known destination resorts in one trip. :D

 

Note that my thinking assumes it's possible for this group to drive 6 hours after skiing until 2:30 or so.  Told you it was a nutty suggestion.

 

Can stay in a motel in Jackson and enjoy the town in the late afternoon and evenings.  Bonus to booking a motel is that if the group decides to stay in the SLC area instead, easy to cancel at the last minute.

 

What about Sun Valley?

post #19 of 65

Snowmass, Steamboat, and Big Sky are all good suggestions.  I'd throw Keystone and Copper in the mix.  Breck might work, but the spring break crowds might also be a bit of an issue.

 

Mike

post #20 of 65
Thread Starter 

Fun Idea, but they'd never do it. Too much logistics.

 

Also, Jackson in March isn't so great, especially since they be skiing a lot of the lower (South east) facing 2000ft.  It might be more intermediate friendly than Snowbird....but there's an awful lot of that mountain they'd never ski...and that terrain is the real reason to ski Jackson.

 

I've spent a few days in Sun valley...classic mountain, but again, it's one of the 'lower snow total' destination areas, I'd be leery of a long range book out for Sun Valley.  Though, it's a great resort.

post #21 of 65

A few more thoughts about some of the places mentioned...

 

Steamboat is lower in elevation than Snowmass, Telluride, Copper and is likely to have some freeze/thaw issues in March.  It is also a favorite spring break location and can get crowded with huge bottlenecks for the morning gondola ride up and very crowded runs over in Wally World (Sunshine lift area).

 

While Jackson Hole can be especially vulnerable to freeze/thaw in March, Grand Targhee not so much.  I also would never recommend Jackson Hole for anything less than strong intermediates on up as that mountain is steep and offers very little for beginners and timid intermediates.  Low cost, great terrain for all abilities, good snow (even in March), and no crowds, Grand Targhee is hard to beat.

post #22 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liam View Post
 

I have a group that is looking for their first western Mountain experience./

 

It'll be: 1 Strong Intermediate 55 year old Dad.

           2. Two Teenage gunners (aggressive, but medium skills based on Small eastern Sliding: 1 is a snow boarder, One a Skier).

           3. 30 Year old couple, intermediate at best skiers with middling levels of fitness.

 

They are looking for a real deal western resort experience, that is, a name mountain, notably different from what we have back east with off mountain options (and money is a bit of a concern).

 

They are going mid march of 2016.

 

My Suggestions were:

 

1. Steamboat

2. Snowmass

 

and dark horse 3rd:

 

3. Solitude (delivers on terrain, cost and crowds, but maybe not on other aspects).

 

What else should be in mi???  They don't have passports and want to stay in the Continental US, and I was looking 'southerly' due to El Nino.  (Telluride is probably too hard and too much, Taos, just too hard).  I thought maybe Batchelor if the snow lines up.....

 

 

I would probably knock Solitude and Bachelor off the list (though it doesn't sound like Bachelor is in the running anyway).

 

 

I really like Solitude, but I actually like that it is not a big name resort with the associated big village and crowds.  The village is nice and intimate, but not very much apres ski activities.  I could see the teens and maybe the adults getting bored after a while.

 

Bachelor is a great mountain, but can get pretty stormy and the top half is often closed.  There is no village at the mountain and you stay in Sunriver or Bend about 20 miles away.  Bend is a great city with plenty to do, but not really a true ski town.  I just don't think Bachelor would tick the boxes for the ski resort experience they are looking for.

 

I think a good idea could be to stay in the Park City area for the big name resort experience, but maybe try to hit several different resorts.  Park City should be among the easiest and least expensive resorts to get to and there are plenty of lodging, dining, shopping and other options for apres skiing.  Within striking distance they'll have Park City, Solitude, Brighton, Powder Mountain, Snowbasin and even Snowbird if anyone is up for a challenge towards the end of the trip.  Add Deer Valley and Alta to that for the skiers.  Instead of going home and saying they skied one particular resort they could list off three or four big name resorts where they skied.

post #23 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liam View Post
 

Fun Idea, but they'd never do it. Too much logistics.

 

Also, Jackson in March isn't so great, especially since they be skiing a lot of the lower (South east) facing 2000ft.  It might be more intermediate friendly than Snowbird....but there's an awful lot of that mountain they'd never ski...and that terrain is the real reason to ski Jackson.

 

I've spent a few days in Sun valley...classic mountain, but again, it's one of the 'lower snow total' destination areas, I'd be leery of a long range book out for Sun Valley.  Though, it's a great resort.


Sun Valley is always good in mid-March, although there are better places if they are looking for powder.

 

If cost is an issue, it is hard to beat SLC. Stay in a budget motel, rent a car and have a choice of a number of areas.

post #24 of 65
Quote:
 I've spent a few days in Sun valley...classic mountain, but again, it's one of the 'lower snow total' destination areas, I'd be leery of a long range book out for Sun Valley.

Sun Valley is the only place I will book ahead anymore, because they have the best snowmaking anywhere, and I know that at the very least the groomers will be in good shape and I'll be able to have a great time. That is more than I can say for any other destination I've been to, where if conditions are poor (and they usually have been in CO and UT for me) it's been a choice between nasty off piste and icy/rocky groomers. Is your group good enough to have fun in a powder day anyway?

 

Sun Valley has great ski/lodging packages that make costs very reasonable. That said, the US Alpine Championships are there from March 23-26, so unless they want to watch racing that might not be the best time to go.

post #25 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Miles View Post

 

If cost is an issue, it is hard to beat SLC. Stay in a budget motel, rent a car and have a choice of a number of areas.

Agreed.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liam View Post

They are looking for a real deal western resort experience, that is, a name mountain ...

 

I think it comes down to whether they want to plop down in one location and stay there, or explore a bunch of different areas.

 

If the preference is one area, I recommend Beaver Creek. Sure it's not cheap, but neither is Snowmass. Staying in Avon would reduce costs a bit. It has loads of intermediate terrain, and smaller crowds.

Steamboat is also a good choice.

 

For multiple areas, consider SLC (PCMR, Solitude, Sundance, Brighton, Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, etc.)

As mentioned, also consider Summit County (Breck, Copper, Keystone, A-Basin, Loveland)

 

Personally, I'd go out of my mind skiing just one place with so many good options, but maybe that's just me.

post #26 of 65

If they are not attached to the idea of a major name recognition resort, consider Schweitzer.  Great terrain (not so much gnarly with cliffs, nor a lot of green area, but a lot of varied blues and blacks, with some nice gladed runs), no crowds, much less expensive (lift tickets as well as lodging on the mountain as well as in Sandpoint), easy drive from Spokane airport.

 

I think one of the reasons that more people don't consider Inland NW resorts that they have to connect through SLC or Denver to get to Spokane, and maybe dismiss the idea in favor of the more well-know resorts in UT and CO.  But if they want less expensive and less crowded, it's a great option.  I've had just as much fun skiing at Schweitzer as anywhere else I've gone.    

 

Bachelor is another that might fit the bill, especially for later in the season due to elevation and snow preservation. 

post #27 of 65
Quote:
Steamboat makes sense to me.

Not in mid-March with the SW exposure. If it's not snowing you will have widespread melt/freeze conditions.  This goes double for SE-exposed Jackson in addition to the ability mismatch.

 

I love the inland Northwest resorts but they are nearly all low altitude and not heavily north exposed, so mid-March is not the right timing for them.

 

Snowmass is an excellent choice in terms of terrain, snow and avoiding crowd issues if you can fit it in your budget.

 

I would not stay in Solitude for a week, but if you stay in Salt Lake you'll save big $$$ on lodging and the ski shop lift tickets and be able to sample a wide variety of ski areas.  I would not stay in Park City that late in the season as most of the intermediate terrain will be in melt freeze mode if it hasn't snowed recently.

 

Telluride is a lot better for intermediates than it used to be now that a couple of the chair 9 runs are on the grooming rotation. I haven't skied Revelation but it's clearly not too steep for intermediates.

 

Taos is highly expert weighted. The intermediate trails are very good but there aren't all that many of them.  Consider only if you want to do the Ski Week lesson program there.

 

Bachelor is an excellent fit for your family's ability range.  It's high altitude for the region and less El Nino sensitive than the Northwest areas farther north.   Mammoth is at least as good (better for experts), slightly favored by El Nino, and mid-March is prime season for both.

 

I would avoid Vail/Summit County during spring break weeks.  Yes Beaver Creek would be fine, but when visiting that region you want to hit some of the other places too.

 

Sun Valley and Targhee are reasonable choices for March, but not as good as Snowmass, Salt Lake, Mammoth, Bachelor and Telluride.

post #28 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post
 

 

 

Big Sky (below the tram at least) has oodles of intermediate and "easier" advanced terrain.  There is nothing outside of skiing there though.

 

+1 on Big Sky, including the limitation.  No real night life if that's what you mean by off mountain options - a couple bars and some pretty good restaurants, but no real party scene.  

 

If what OP meant by off mountain is lodging, they have that - condos and some hotels down the hill that are much less expensive.  Best thing to do is look at the lodging options to see if price meets needs.

 

I've skied big sky several times, and definitely sounds like a good fit in terms of terrain - before the tram it was considered one of the best places for intermediate skiing, and still has loads of options in the range OP asked about.

post #29 of 65
Quote:
I've skied big sky several times, and definitely sounds like a good fit in terms of terrain - before the tram it was considered one of the best places for intermediate skiing, and still has loads of options in the range OP asked about.

Most of that intermediate terrain is on the low intermediate side.  For the OP's description, none of the Lone Peak runs (serious terrain with fall consequences) are appropriate.  Not a great situation for the

Quote:
Two Teenage gunners (aggressive, but medium skills based on Small eastern Sliding: 1 is a snow boarder, One a Skier).
post #30 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 
Quote:
I've skied big sky several times, and definitely sounds like a good fit in terms of terrain - before the tram it was considered one of the best places for intermediate skiing, and still has loads of options in the range OP asked about.

Most of that intermediate terrain is on the low intermediate side.  For the OP's description, none of the Lone Peak runs (serious terrain with fall consequences) are appropriate.  Not a great situation for the

Quote:
Two Teenage gunners (aggressive, but medium skills based on Small eastern Sliding: 1 is a snow boarder, One a Skier).


I disagree.  Have been to Big Sky for a week with intermediates and they had a very good time.  While I could ski Liberty off the tram my first time at Big Sky (about five years ago), it was a stretch.  I liked that ski week so much I went back the following season.  Even if someone can't ski down from the tram, it's fun to go up for the view on a blue bird day.

 

Plus there is Moonlight Basin, now part of the same lift ticket.  After all, the place is huge.  If a group of intermediates start with the free host tour on the first day, I'm sure they would find plenty of terrain to keep them happy all week long.  If they rent a car and were willing to do a day trip to Bozeman and/or Bridger, that would be a bonus.  Bozeman is a city, but the downtown definitely has a western feel.  Not at all like walking around a New England town.

 

Whether or not it's worth the extra expense of flying to Bozeman, that's another question.

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