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Advice needed on a February Park City/Alta trip

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone, I'm planning a ski trip for 7 guys the first week of February 2016. I've never skied Utah, and I think I need some advice some people more experienced than me.

 

Travel Logistics:

 

Flying into SLC on Wednesday, skiing Thursday/Friday/Saturday, and flying out Sunday.

 

I have reserved a condo in the Red Pine lodge in Park City, which I'm told is walking distance to one of the Canyons Gondolas.

 

Our background:

 

The main group consists of 3 intermediate, blue/black skiers. For reference, our trip last year was to Steamboat in ICY conditions, but we had a blast cruising all the blue groomers, taking on some "steep" (for us) blacks, going over some occasional bumps, and especially trying out some of the tree runs by Sunshine lift. This year we have 4 new skiers also with us. I am unsure of their exact ability level, but I'm told most haven't skied in years and some prefer to stick to greens.

 

We aren't huge on the "skiing night life" but do enjoy the ski town atmosphere. Our ideal night is probably a casual dinner somewhere, followed by some beer at the condo and a hot tub.

 

The Dilemma:

 

My original plans were to ski Thursday at Park City, Friday at Alta, and Saturday at Park City, but I'm starting to wonder if we should just stick to Park City all three days?

 

Mostly, I'm a little unsure about the LCC drive. I have reserved a minivan, but I doubt it has AWD and who knows what kind of tires the rental car agency uses. While I lived in Denver for 2 ski seasons, I can't say I ever enjoyed driving I-70 on during weather. I won't lie, the thought of transporting 7 people in potentially sketchy conditions makes me nervous. The idea of paying for a shuttle was met with minimal enthusiasm from my group. And I feel like I need to make the decision now so we can hurry up and buy our lift tickets.

 

Pros & Cons:

 

Pros of 3 days at Park City:

-Convenience. Could walk to the lift every day. Eliminate the early wake up and a potential 50+ minute mountain drive each way.

-Park City terrain may be more conducive to the intermediate/beginner ski group we have.

-Even the main group of guys likes getting lots of runs in and despises poling. Not sure what the group will think of Another Long Traverse Again.

-We stayed very busy for 3 days with Steamboat's 3,000 acres last year... 7,000 at Park City should be plenty.

-Could even look into ditching the rental car entirely? Not sure if this is worth the only $80 per person savings.

-3 day pass to one mountain may be cheaper? I'm an epic passholder so it definitely would for me.

 

Cons of 3 days at Park City:

-Miss what I'm told is one of the best mountains in the world. (Alta)

-May be kicking myself if there's bad conditions at Park City while Alta is getting a foot of snow.

-Could get bored?

 

So I threw a lot of details around there in an attempt to make this a little more interesting than the stereotypical LCC vs. Park City thread. If you're still with me, I greatly appreciate it and would love to hear your thoughts.

post #2 of 16

I  hear ya.

 

Assuming good overall conditions I would stay put.  PCMR and Canyons together is huge with perfect terrain and town for your group.  

 

Should it dump in LCC and not at Park City then you can easily drive down to SLC and pick up the bus to Alta at one of the hotels in Sandy. Getting there from Park City is a straight and flat drive out to I-80 and then superhighway down in to Salt Lake.  No mountain roads.  Not nearly as hairy as I-70.  I have driven both in snow storms and I agree with you about 70.

post #3 of 16

For only 3 nights, you should just stay at the Canyons and enjoy the combined resort.  There is a huge amount of terrain available for your ability level in Park City and the convenience cannot be matched.  

 

I've visited the Red Pine Lodge when friends were staying there.  They are not ski-in/out.  I believe they are distant enough from the lifts that you'll be waiting for the shuttle to take you back and forth.  Not that big of a deal, but the walk may be too long depending on which condo unit that you get.

 

By the way, I think that the traverses at Alta will not only be uncomfortable for the intermediate skiers but they will also not appreciate the terrain that the traverses take you to because of the difficulty level.  And if you only stay on the groomed trails at Alta, I think that the resort starts to feel somewhat small.

 

All the more reason to simply enjoy Park City.  There is also plenty of expert and advanced terrain at PC as well. 


And of course, the night life in the Old Town section of Park City will be really enjoyable by everone in your party.


Edited by Marathoner - 12/22/15 at 10:09am
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crank View Post
 

I  hear ya.

 

Assuming good overall conditions I would stay put.  PCMR and Canyons together is huge with perfect terrain and town for your group.  

 

Should it dump in LCC and not at Park City then you can easily drive down to SLC and pick up the bus to Alta at one of the hotels in Sandy. Getting there from Park City is a straight and flat drive out to I-80 and then superhighway down in to Salt Lake.  No mountain roads.  Not nearly as hairy as I-70.  I have driven both in snow storms and I agree with you about 70.

 

Thanks for the info. Is there much of a price difference between purchasing tickets in advance vs. waiting to make a last minute decision? Right now liftopia.com and alta.com ticket prices are the same, just wondering if they or PCMR increases prices the longer you wait.

post #5 of 16

PCMR is now owned by Vail and Vail is committed to pushing the season EPIC passes.  As a result, you will not be able to purchase discount passes online on sites like Liftopia.  Any discounts in physical locations near Park City that you do find will be relatively small.  My recommendation is to simply buy the passes on the PCMR website ahead of time to get the best price.

post #6 of 16

As much as I like Alta, for your group there is little reason to venture out of Park City for such a short trip.  No one will get bored.  The combined acreage with Canyons is over 7000 acres.  Even if the group can only handle 30% of the terrain, that should be plenty.

post #7 of 16

Agree with the others that there's no need to leave Park City.  The dump they got and are getting out of the current storm should nearly set up the base depth for the season.  PC is a fun town so just enjoy.

post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by crank View Post                
Should it dump in LCC and not at Park City then you can easily drive down to SLC and pick up the bus to Alta at one of the hotels in Sandy. Getting there from Park City is a straight and flat drive out to I-80 and then superhighway down in to Salt Lake.  No mountain roads.

While you are on I-80 between Park City and SLC (elevation ~4,300), you go over Parley's Summit at elevation 7,120 so it's not flat. Even though it's gradual and Interstate, it is a big hill and can have snow and ice and bad weather.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by jgiddyup View Post
 

Agree with the others that there's no need to leave Park City.

Snow Basin, an hour and 15 minutes North, is a good reason for a group of intermediates with a car to leave for a day. Also watch the weather as Park City will get spring conditions way before Alta and other Cottonwood canyon resorts.

post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyplush View Post
 

Hi everyone, I'm planning a ski trip for 7 guys the first week of February 2016. I've never skied Utah, and I think I need some advice some people more experienced than me....

A few thoughts...

 

If you happen to be flying Alaska Airlines, do take advantage of free skiing Thursday at Snowbasin (and you'll need to register in advance): http://www.visitogden.com/ski-ogden/snowbasin-ski-free-promotion , It's hard to imagine any scenario where it'd be worth passing up those 7 free lift tickets. It's about an hour drive, based on my experience (Google Maps says 1 hour 3 min. without traffic).

 

On the Canyons side at Park City, there are a few green runs down at the bottom, and a couple more up at the top of the Gondola. That's it, and the more advanced skiers aren't going to want to stick to just those spots all that long. If, after the first day, it turns out that one or more of the group really isn't feeling comfortable skiing blue runs, it's well worth considering alternatives. Driving or taking the bus over to the main Park City base, or else heading to a different resort.

 

I'd argue that Powder Mountain has the best, most extensive green and easy blue terrain in the Wasatch. All the lifts serve an assortment of terrain, which means you can ride up together, split up to try different runs, then meet again at the bottom of the lift. It should also have the advantage of being pretty uncrowded, which might make it a good choice, particularly on your Saturday. But it's something like an hour and a half drive each way.

 

I haven't seen PCMR change their advance price on single-day tickets until midnight the night before. Which means there's definitely no reason to commit to buying single-day tickets very far in advance--instead, wait and see what the conditions are like. On the unlikely chance that Park City gets a freak rainstorm right before you arrive, you'll want that flexibility. You do get a slight discount if you get a two- or three-day ticket, but you definitely don't need to commit to that this far in advance, and it might very well be worth the flexibility to just pay the daily rate.

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the info guys. Right now I've decided to plan for all 3 days at Park City. If the conditions aren't good, we may drive to Snow Basin or Powder Mountain, or bus it to Alta, but 3 days at PCMR is most likely.
post #11 of 16

Looks like Alta got rid of the half-price first-day lift ticket program, which would have been the main reason I'd have recommended going there. That said, the drive up LCC need only be intimidating in situations where it dumped feet overnight and there might be closures and crazy traffic or days when it's snowing all day and the conditions will be slick. Other than that, they typically do a good job of clearing it, and it's a pretty straightforward ride. 

 

Your best bet is to wait it out and make a game day decision around conditions. If Alta's getting bombed and PC's not, it may be worth doing a park n ride. If it hasn't snowed in days, and there's little to no powder in PC, you might still find some nice powder at Snowbasin or Powder. I'd personally do PC first, and if you're happy with conditions and terrain options, I'd just stay, unless some other mountain gets hammered with a storm that misses PC. As has been said, plenty of terrain and fun for a short trip. 

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by crank View Post                
Should it dump in LCC and not at Park City then you can easily drive down to SLC and pick up the bus to Alta at one of the hotels in Sandy. Getting there from Park City is a straight and flat drive out to I-80 and then superhighway down in to Salt Lake.  No mountain roads.

"While you are on I-80 between Park City and SLC (elevation ~4,300), you go over Parley's Summit at elevation 7,120 so it's not flat. Even though it's gradual and Interstate, it is a big hill and can have snow and ice and bad weather."

 

Yeah, the bolded just isn't true. 

 

 

post #13 of 16
For your 3 day situation, best to probably stay in Park City. Also ski Deer Valley. Early Feb. snow will be good, no worries about that. One thing to realize though.......the 7,000 acres at Park City is a big PR thing but misleading. That's the total, it's still 2 areas connected by a mandatory gondola ride. The ride isn't long, but know they're two very different areas. Both are good mountains but I think too many of the Canyons' runs are too narrow. The drive to Alta / Snowbird is 50 minutes, and little cottonwood is a steep slow narrow canyon road. In a good dump it can be grim. Definitely rent a vehicle with 4WD, you'll be glad to have it. The 7 miles or so from Park City to Hiway 80 is FLAT....from the Canyons it's about 3 miles. On Hiway 80 going west there's a grade up to the summit then a long grade down to Salt Lake.
post #14 of 16

I don't think you should worry about buying lift tickets for the 3rd day now unless you are going to get a substantial savings by doing so. 

For your group, the PC resorts will have all the skiing you need. 

Most of the time you don't need 4WD to get to Alta, but on the good days you do. So just don't worry about the days when PC could have 4" and Alta 12".

And it would be a good day in PC anyway.

What you will be missing is the alpine scenery at Alta. 

Another concern.  If there is no snow for 3 wks and very warm weather before your trip, after skiing PC for 2 days you might think it worth a day to take an easy drive to Alta. 

As mentioned, Snowbasin is another good option, and it's great for any level skier. 

post #15 of 16
I would stick to PC.  You could ski a different resort there each day if you wanted and still leave tons undiscovered.  It'd be far more simple logistically, and your more beginner members will have an easier time skiing familiar terrain through the trip.  If it were just your original group I might suggest keeping it as an option, since the canyon drives will be fine unless it dumped the night before or is actively snowing, but personally I would see everyone having a better time just staying in the PC area.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the info guys. Just thought I'd provide an update: We took the advice and stayed in Park City. We ended up skiing Canyons on day one, Park City on day two, and Deer Valley on day three. The group was more advanced than I anticipated and we all enjoyed skiing blues and blacks all day.

 

At Canyons we really liked the Iron Mountain Express area and had a fun time skiing some good snow near the Dreamscape and Dreamcatcher lifts.

 

We didn't get to explore as much of Park City as we'd like due to starting our day at the Red Pine Gondola and having to travel over, plus some lines on the Silverlode lift. Really liked the McConkey's area though; powder monkey was a great little out of the way tree run. Lapping the King Con Express was probably my favorite part of the day. Only regrets were not being able to make it to Payday Express or Crescent Express.

 

Deer Valley seemed like a mountain built for us. Long blues and blacks with easy lift access. Bald Mountain was full of amazing cruisers with a chance to dip in and out of the moguls and even a couple tree chances. Stein's Way in the morning was simply unbelievable; breathtaking views and a fun consistent pitch. Amazing run. Favorite part of the day though may have been finding an unmarked powder stash tree run right off the start of the Bandana run.

 

Overall we liked Deer Valley the best for its lap-ability of long blues and blacks, short lift lines, and the best views. It was one of my favorite days of skiing ever. I was slightly disappointed in Canyons as most of the runs seemed shorter and quickly flattened out into cat-walk style traverses. Park City was fun but a little bit crowded. A great trip overall, thanks for all the help.

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