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MCP North American family road trip. [from Australia, TR for March 2016, planning for late March 2017]

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

My wife and two kids (aged 8 and 10) jetted out of Brisbane Australia for a tour a few weeks ago.

We're all have different skiing abilities but we're all capable (I would say intermediate) - as much as you can be spending about 10 days on the slopes per year. We hit Alta, Snowbird, Whistler, Sunshine and Lake Louise and loved every minute of it.

 

Alta/Snowbird - we got bluebird conditions on one day and genuine powder conditions on other days. Totally different vibe to other ski areas we've visited. Not at all 'resorty' - but a great experience. Best snow we've had anywhere. Spent a lot of time on the Sugarloaf and Collins lifts. My son and I did a few of the black runs but we left the Baldy chutes until next time. :)

 

Whistler - completely different feel. The opposite to Alta. It was busy but the mountains are so large they cope with the crowds well. The conditions were fantastic and ski out is still possible. The kids liked this mountain the best as the love the terrain park.  Spent a lot of time on Blackcomb's Glacier and Jersey areas and in the Harmony bowl. The long blue cruisers suit us when we're all skiing together.

We noticed that a Whistler black is like a Snowbird blue in most instances. Stayed in the village and really enjoyed the end of day drinks.

 

Banff area - We skied here last year and loved it. The Rockys are such a dramatic setting. The snow was adequate but not great. They could do with a top up. Perfect for our ability though. It's all about the scenery here. The back side at Lake Louise was the place to be for us and of course the terrain parks were a hit with the kids. Sunshine was good but didn't rate as highly to us as the other hills.

 

We'll likely do another similar trip at the end of March next year to coincide with the school holidays here. Will need to pick destinations that favour spring skiing of course. Probably get the Mountain Collective Pass again so I'm thinking Aspen, Alta/Snowbird, Squaw Valley and Mammoth. We've skied Tahoe and Mammoth in the past and really enjoyed both spots. Any other MCP mountains that might suit late March? Would love to do Sun Valley and Jackson but I'm doubtful about getting good conditions. 

 

Moderator note: info added to thread title

post #2 of 18

Thanks for the trip report.  You have lucky kids! :)

 

The best source of info when planning late season family trips is the webpage by @Tony Crocker :

 

http://www.bestsnow.net/fam_ski.htm

 

You have the right idea with your list.  I have a friend who took his kids to Banff for a spring break trip and had a very good time.  Mammoth and Alta/Snowbird would be at the top of my list for late March.  Snowbird usually has a spring deal.  I spoiled my daughter early by taking her to Alta Lodge when she was 7 in April to meet up with friends.  Kids are free there in April and she loved the kid's program in the late afternoon/evening, which includes dinner without parents.

post #3 of 18

Sun Valley in late March is usually good for groomers and bumps, not much chance of powder.

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the link to Bestsnow. Very helpful. Looks like Aspen, Alta/Snowbird and Mammoth is a big chance for next year! Driving the I-70 in a rental car worries me a bit so we might have to take the train - which would limit the chance of stopping in at Arches NP on the way through.
Decisions.
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbooker View Post

Thanks for the link to Bestsnow. Very helpful. Looks like Aspen, Alta/Snowbird and Mammoth is a big chance for next year! Driving the I-70 in a rental car worries me a bit so we might have to take the train - which would limit the chance of stopping in at Arches NP on the way through.
Decisions.


My sense is that in late March, not as likely to have serious problems driving on I-70.  Let's see what @SHREDHEAD has to say about Aspen and driving.

post #6 of 18
Driving from Utah to Aspen in March should be no problem unless there is a particularly bad storm which usually blow through fairly quickly. No major passes between Grand Junction and Utah.
post #7 of 18
Don't take the train.
A rental car/suv will give you 10x the flexibility.
Don't get too hung up on a firm itinerary, follow the flow.
post #8 of 18

Finding lodging in late March is much easier than earlier in the season.  May be possible to find lodging that can be held and released without much of a cancellation fee, then have the possibility of changing plans based on weather conditions.  If staying in a motel is an option, then should be possible to make reservations that can be cancelled without any fee.

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

Don't take the train.
A rental car/suv will give you 10x the flexibility.
Don't get too hung up on a firm itinerary, follow the flow.

 

On the trip I drove from Whistler through Lillooet to Kamloops. I had to drive through a very snowy/icy mountain area in the SUV and it was a little scary (can't get winter tyres on the rental vehicles). Not really keen to go through that again. Previous trips on the 395 etc have been fine.

post #10 of 18

the route from Whistler via Liillooet to Kamloops is quite a bit shorter but can be an easier drive via Vancouver - Hope when the weather is bad.

Sounds like you had a good time come again.  

post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbooker View Post

On the trip I drove from Whistler through Lillooet to Kamloops. I had to drive through a very snowy/icy mountain area in the SUV and it was a little scary (can't get winter tyres on the rental vehicles).

Why did you HAVE to drive in a snow storm?
Perhaps because you had reservations elsewhere?
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post


Why did you HAVE to drive in a snow storm?
Perhaps because you had reservations elsewhere?


I didn't drive in the storm itself. It was the next day (or two I'd guess). For some reason half of the road had been ploughed (clean up) but they left probably 5 miles untouched.

Yes - I had reservations at the next stop. I'd like to be more flexible but leaving to go half way around the world with two smallish kids without reservations concerns me somewhat. I'll look into the option of pre-booking without a penalty. I'm sure SLC will be no dramas but areas like Aspen and Mammoth might be more difficult?

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by noncrazycanuck View Post
 

the route from Whistler via Liillooet to Kamloops is quite a bit shorter but can be an easier drive via Vancouver - Hope when the weather is bad.

Sounds like you had a good time come again.  

 

Thanks. We'll definitely be back to Canada to ski. Would love to try Big White, Sun Peaks (we called in to try snow tubing there last week and it looks great), Silver Star, Revelstoke etc.

post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbooker View Post
 

 

Thanks. We'll definitely be back to Canada to ski. Would love to try Big White, Sun Peaks (we called in to try snow tubing there last week and it looks great), Silver Star, Revelstoke etc.

 

It got so mild at Sun Peaks last week that they had to close the tube park due to sticky snow. Sun Peaks is best skied from mid December to early March.

 

Big White's well earned nick name is Big Whiteout.

 

Revelstoke has very limited runs for intermediates but if members of your family can ski easy blacks, then no problems.

 

Silver Star is only 20 minutes from downtown Vernon (pop. 40k) so there are plenty of inexpensive motels.

post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post

It got so mild at Sun Peaks last week that they had to close the tube park due to sticky snow. Sun Peaks is best skied from mid December to early March.

Big White's well earned nick name is Big Whiteout.

Revelstoke has very limited runs for intermediates but if members of your family can ski easy blacks, then no problems.

Silver Star is only 20 minutes from downtown Vernon (pop. 40k) so there are plenty of inexpensive motels.

I understand to ski the Okanagan hills we'll have to do it in January holidays. Will have to another year as I have commitments next January.
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 

A few iphone photos of the trip. Sorry about the poor quality.

 

post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

Don't take the train.
A rental car/suv will give you 10x the flexibility.
Don't get too hung up on a firm itinerary, follow the flow.


+1 to that. This is not Europe or Japan. In the US freight trains have absolute priority. Passenger train travel is generally slow and unreliable outside the Boston-Washington northeast corridor.  And yes the Arches/Canyonlands stop between Aspen and Utah is worthwhile.

 

Quote:
I'm sure SLC will be no dramas but areas like Aspen and Mammoth might be more difficult?

Mammoth's business is highly concentrated on weekends. You will have no problems midweek.  With a family it's probably best for you to stay in a Snowmass condo for Aspen.  Availability and pricing are both better than in town and you'll be ski-in, ski-out for Snowmass.  You can take your rental car into Aspen for dinners but use the excellent public bus system to ski Aspen Mt. and Aspen Highlands.

 

sbooker has a better understanding of North America snow conditions than a lot of North Americans who post here. He's looking at the right places for March and he's right about doing the Okanagan places during the January break.  He should keep Jackson in mind for January too.  Also Japan, but I'm sure as an Aussie he knows about that already!

post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post


+1 to that. This is not Europe or Japan. In the US freight trains have absolute priority. Passenger train travel is generally slow and unreliable outside the Boston-Washington northeast corridor.  And yes the Arches/Canyonlands stop between Aspen and Utah is worthwhile.

Mammoth's business is highly concentrated on weekends. You will have no problems midweek.  With a family it's probably best for you to stay in a Snowmass condo for Aspen.  Availability and pricing are both better than in town and you'll be ski-in, ski-out for Snowmass.  You can take your rental car into Aspen for dinners but use the excellent public bus system to ski Aspen Mt. and Aspen Highlands.

sbooker has a better understanding of North America snow conditions than a lot of North Americans who post here. He's looking at the right places for March and he's right about doing the Okanagan places during the January break.  He should keep Jackson in mind for January too.  Also Japan, but I'm sure as an Aussie he

Japan interests me. But........
we like to ski a few days, have a break to do/see others things and ski again. (This year we visited Zion NP, Seattle etc). It appears Hokkaido offers skiing and very little else. I understand the other areas like Honshu are possibilities but the language barrier thing concerns me as does snow reliability outside of Hokkaido. Europe will be done one day but the travel time and overall time away required are negatives as i run my own business and about 17/18 days holiday is as long as I'm comfortable with. I find Nth America for cost and convenience are great - and there's so much to see and do.

Thanks for the tip on Mammoth and weekends. I'll be sure to try to schedule mid week there.
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