or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Wolf Creek March 12-17th - what to expect crowd wise?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Wolf Creek March 12-17th - what to expect crowd wise?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

We are a group of 11 driving to Wolf Creek from Texas for the week of Spring Break.  Can someone give me an idea of what to realistically expect crowd wise for the mountain/lift lines & rental lines?  We will have 4 adults & 5 kids skiing and will primarily stick to the green & maybe a few blue runs.  Last year a few of us skied Breckenridge President's day weekend so we saw some pretty big crowds but the lift lines really weren't that bad once the morning moved on.  We also skied Snowmass & Buttermilk last Spring Break but really didn't have much in terms of crowds or lines.  Just trying to set expectations ahead of time especially since a few in our group will be brand new skiers. 

 

Also, we are staying on the Pagosa Springs side of the pass.  All of us will have four wheel drive vehicles but will we also need snow chains?  How often does this side of the pass get shut down?

 

Thanks in advance for any info you can provide!

post #2 of 17

Don't go there then, it's full of Texans on spring break.:D

I think you can get snowed in at WC into May this year.

post #3 of 17

DO NOT RENT AT THE SKI AREA. The rental line will be nuts during Texas Spring Break. Rent from one of the several shops in Pagosa.

 

Get to the ski area early as the parking lots will fill and parking down at the snowshed sucks.

 

Crowds will not be Presidents at Breck bad, but it is the peak time of the year. The bunny hill lift will have long lines. Raven will typically have a 2-5 minute line-maximum. EXPECT LOTS OF LIFT STOPPAGES because many of your Texas brethren have no idea how to load a lift.

 

The pass is very well maintained in winter and rarely closes. This year the pass closed on both sides over Christmas for the first time I have seen- and it took 2 days to clear the West side. Large storms will close the West side for avalanche mitigation. Closures are generally announced the night before and CDOT tries to get the pass back open by 9:00 AM, but they can't always do that. 

 

We are closing in on 300" YTD and the el-nino storm track is just getting going, so be prepared. 4 wheel drive is nice, but do you have all season tires or "Texas tires" designed for non-freezing conditions? I've seen lots of Texas 4x4's stuck because they have tires that weren't intended to ever see snow.

 

Another thing to note is the limited grooming at Wolf Creek. Pull up a trail map. Your groomed runs any given day (outside the bunny hill) are Kelly Boyce, Bunny Hop, Charisma, Powder Puff, either Muskrat Ramble or Alberta Flats, Tranquility, and Summer Day, Glory Hole, and Navajo Trail get groomed once every 3 days (1 each night).  For a 1600 acre ski area, that is a tiny amount of groomed terrain. The good news is most of those intermediate trails are going to be accessible to a green skier, the bad news is you get 6 freshly groomed runs to choose from- can you enjoy that for 5 days? Can your group ski powder?

 

Purgatory is a mountain a lot better suited to beginning skiers. About 80% of that mountain gets groomed. It is benchy, so greens can have steep sections, but I'd recommend that mountain to Wolf for a group of beginner/low intermediate skiers.

post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for the information, it is very helpful and I'm relieved to hear that the lift lines wait might only be 5 minutes top, we can definitely handle that.  We will only be skiing for 3 days total so I'm thinking that we should be able to entertain ourselves with the limited groomed trails okay.  But, we have considered skiing at Purgatory as well so I'm glad to know there are more beginner options over there and will look at the trail map from there. 

 

Both of my sons learned to ski/snowboard last year in Breckenridge when a big storm came through so we were skiing on powder most of the time.  My youngest & I who were both on skis and really enjoyed it but I will say that my oldest who was on a snowboard did get somewhat frustrated with the combination of flat green runs and lots of powder.  The others in our group have only skied one time before and had a not so great experience skiing on ice most of the time so powder skiing will be completely new to them.

 

I was already considering renting our equipment in Pagosa in order to avoid the crowds so I will go ahead and plan on that.

 

Thanks again for your information.  At this point we have already booked lodging in Pagosa Springs so we are going to make the best out of our skiing adventure and go from there. 

post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by lreves View Post
 

Thank you so much for the information, it is very helpful and I'm relieved to hear that the lift lines wait might only be 5 minutes top, we can definitely handle that.  We will only be skiing for 3 days total so I'm thinking that we should be able to entertain ourselves with the limited groomed trails okay.  But, we have considered skiing at Purgatory as well so I'm glad to know there are more beginner options over there and will look at the trail map from there. 

 

Both of my sons learned to ski/snowboard last year in Breckenridge when a big storm came through so we were skiing on powder most of the time.  My youngest & I who were both on skis and really enjoyed it but I will say that my oldest who was on a snowboard did get somewhat frustrated with the combination of flat green runs and lots of powder.  The others in our group have only skied one time before and had a not so great experience skiing on ice most of the time so powder skiing will be completely new to them.

 

I was already considering renting our equipment in Pagosa in order to avoid the crowds so I will go ahead and plan on that.

 

Thanks again for your information.  At this point we have already booked lodging in Pagosa Springs so we are going to make the best out of our skiing adventure and go from there. 

 

Cool. I do think you can have fun, but go in with your eyes open.

 

The resort infrastructure is going to be maxed out and stressed. This includes things like parking, the ticket window, lodge space, lessons, rentals, etc. Wolf has pretty good lift infrastructure and lots of terrain served by not a ton of lifts, so it is easy to find uncrowded areas once you get on the mountain. The on mountain experience should feel just fine, but do EVERYTHING to streamline getting yourself up there.

 

Ski and Bow Rack in Pagosa is a pretty well-run rental operation. I don't know about pricing and quality of rental gear, but they are the most knowledgeable ski shop in Pagosa, run by a master bootfitter. 

 

Base Camp lodge (next to the Raven lift) is much less crowded than the main lodge- and it is sack lunch friendly. It has cubbies and places to stash bags, so I would recommend using it (it will be busy in the week in question, but you should be able to find a table and stash a bag). If you need to buy food, I recommend eating at Ravens Nest at the top of the Raven Chair. They have a grill downstairs and a pizza operation and bar upstairs. The food is good and the prices are superbly affordable for ski country- a generous slice of pizza and a microbrew will leave you with enough out of an Andrew Jackson to tip your waiter. The food at the main lodge is good, but will be PACKED. 

 

I would also encourage you to use your Wolf trip to get off the groom. The real appeal of the ski area is the vast expanse of tree skiing off the Alberta chair, You can get your feet wet with tree/powder skiing off of Pitch's Gate and Serendipity, which are VERY mellow tree runs with a short steeper pitch at the end. Flim Flam and S'Wonderful off the Elma chair are short, accessible, and mild tree runs as well. Don't be suckered into going skier's right of the Alberta Chair as there is no terrain for your group over there. Coyote Loop is long, flat and requires hiking, and all of the terrain off of that "blue" run is not accessible to your group. 

post #6 of 17

On the other hand, Wolf Creek during Texas spring break is the wildest party at a ski area you can find.

post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by dakine View Post
 

On the other hand, Wolf Creek during Texas spring break is the wildest party at a ski area you can find.

 

 

This gives you a representation of the experience. It isn't so much "YEEHAW! HOLD MY BEER AND WATCH THIS!!!!" although there is some of that- it is just a lot of people on the mountain with low skills and no practical knowledge on how the whole skiing thing is supposed to work.

 

Lots of people dropping and failing with equipment, falling over, sliding backwards uncontrollably, falling in lift lines, deciding to EXIT lift lines once in line, not knowing how to queue and fill chairs, not clearing the unload, screwing up the loading process (one that happens with amazing frequency is a group of skiers will follow right on the tails of the group in front of them, leaving 8 people trying to load a quad). As you can see, the number of people isn't really that much of a problem- but that of "institutional knowledge" of how to navigate a ski area is. It does get pretty grating- because so much of the problem seems avoidable- "if you could just...."

 

The above would probably happen if any massive group of first timers visited a single mountain to the extent that they dominated the scene (I am not aware of any other ski area where TX invasion happens to this extent)- and they just happen to be from Texas. One thing I notice DOES seem be be a "Texas thing" and that is a propensity to get WAY overterrained- as long as that terrain is underneath a lift. A Hallmark of Texas invasion is that expert terrain underneath the lift gets mobbed by people totally lacking the skills, and there is usually a steady progression of toboggan rides. In many season this has real adverse effects to the snow because rampant sideslipping scrapes the terrain to rock. Meanwhile expert terrain not in view of a lift is deserted. I think it has to do with bragging rights- either skiing the lift line so their buddies can see them, or so they can claim that they skied the "gnar" on subsequent lift rides.

post #8 of 17

Well, Texans may not know skiing but they sure can party.

And some of them are quite fetching and friendly too.

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for this video, it actually puts my mind at ease in terms of what to expect crowd wise.  This doesn't seem all that bad compared to the crowds we experienced President's Day weekend at Breckenridge (including waiting close to two hours to get through the ski school registration process) last year.  No one in our group really has any desire to get overterrained, just want to go and have fun and not hurt ourselves :-)  I will definitely go into the trip just expecting delays due to the number of things you mentioned above and just try to roll with it. 

 

Thanks also for the recommendations for some of the trails for us to try (and for the food recommendations).  I know my older son would really love to try some tree skiing at some point so hopefully we can give some of these a try before the end of our trip.  It's so nice to have some first hand experience/recommendations before going into our trip so I appreciate everyone taking the time out to comment. 

post #10 of 17

It will be crowded that week, if you can ski over far left on the mountain (Alberta chair) you won't have to worry about the crowds. 

post #11 of 17

Bumping an old thread.  What week(s) do you see this Texas spring break crowd?  I had a small group that was thinking of coming March 18-22.

post #12 of 17

March 12-17th is the main Texas Spring break week.

 

The following week that you mention should be drastically fewer. Certainly the overlapping weekend of March 17-18 willl be pretty busy.  I'll defer to the experts for any more specifics.

post #13 of 17

Thanks.  I actually live in Texas as well (and I do know how to ski and carry my gear - no Texas suitcase here! :D), but I don't have kids so spring break has no meaning to me.  I also didn't realize the whole state got a break at the same time, I figured it varied by school district.

 

The lift line in the video scares me off the most.  I prefer to go to remote places with little crowding (Telluride, Big Sky, Jackson Hole, etc.).  It really surprises me that a place as remote as Wolf Creek attracts so many from Texas.  I figured they would either drive to NM, or hop a flight to Denver or SLC.  This seems to be an interesting phenomenon.

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post
 

DO NOT RENT AT THE SKI AREA. The rental line will be nuts during Texas Spring Break. Rent from one of the several shops in Pagosa.

Is there a shop in Pagosa you recommend?  I'll be renting demo skis so I'd prefer to rent at the base in case I want to swap at all during the trip.  I'd be skiing Sat 3/19 - Mon 3/21.  That means picking up skis either Fri evening or Sat morning on the tail end of the busy week.  Will the crowds still be an issue?  I'm assuming so, Saturdays are usually busy.

post #15 of 17

Just to be clear, I have not been to Wolf Creek specifically but I am monitoring this thread, as we were originally considering going to WC for our spring break. 

 

But I can answer some of your other questions.

 

You are correct that the spring break dates are up to the individual school districts and universities.  That being said, many of them pick the same dates for logistical reasons, especially in large cities like Houston, with multiple districts all nearby.  Many staff members may work for one district but live in another so their own children attend a school in another district. So if one school district selects a different week for Spring break, they have very unhappy staff and logistical nightmare.  I suspect even many of the universities select the same date for the same reasons.  Personally I WISH we didn't all have the same spring break because flights are always so much more expensive and too many places crowded because all the same week.  But I understand that reasoning.

 

I agree that Saturdays in general are pretty busy and with the end of Spring Break, could still be on the high side.  However, many families especially the ones that drive would probably be departing by Saturday.  I agree, we like to be able to swap them out right there at the base too, so especially if you make reservations, probably okay.

 

Also, I think WC is just known for such awesome snow and is still drivable from TX for those trying to keep costs down. 

 

Good luck.  I would love some updates from those of you going to WC during and end of this Spring break week, as we might consider it for our trip next year.

post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by PJS32000 View Post
 

Thanks.  I actually live in Texas as well (and I do know how to ski and carry my gear - no Texas suitcase here! :D), but I don't have kids so spring break has no meaning to me.  I also didn't realize the whole state got a break at the same time, I figured it varied by school district.

 

The lift line in the video scares me off the most.  I prefer to go to remote places with little crowding (Telluride, Big Sky, Jackson Hole, etc.).  It really surprises me that a place as remote as Wolf Creek attracts so many from Texas.  I figured they would either drive to NM, or hop a flight to Denver or SLC.  This seems to be an interesting phenomenon.

I only get out to JHMR about once a year, but in each of the last five years or so, they haven't suffered for visitors.

post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for the information and input.  We had a great time skiing/snowboarding at Wolf Creek.  Although we were not fortunate to get the snow that most of Colorado got this week we still had lots of fun.  The place was definitely packed and maxed out but we never had to wait in line more than 5-10 minutes at the ticket window or lift lines.  On our last day we spent all of our time skiing some of the easier blue runs off the Treasure Chair lift and it was much less crowded than the right side of the mountain and so much fun.  We would definitely go back to Wolf Creek again.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Resorts, Conditions & Travel
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Wolf Creek March 12-17th - what to expect crowd wise?