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Alta, Deer Valley, or Snowbird? [early season family trip, beginner/intermediate]

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I'm going skiing with my family in December before Christmas. We have all been skiing before but are still not the most advanced skiers. We typically stick to Blues and Greens. We have only been to New Mexico and Colorado but would like to try Utah skiing. I love the feel of the Colorado resorts, Aspen and Breckenridge especially. I'd like the same thing but would like to also keep with a resort that is friendly to beginner and intermediate skiers. Any suggestions??

post #2 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillarynoelw View Post
 

I'm going skiing with my family in December before Christmas. We have all been skiing before but are still not the most advanced skiers. We typically stick to Blues and Greens. We have only been to New Mexico and Colorado but would like to try Utah skiing. I love the feel of the Colorado resorts, Aspen and Breckenridge especially. I'd like the same thing but would like to also keep with a resort that is friendly to beginner and intermediate skiers. Any suggestions??


Welcome to EpicSki!  When you were at Aspen, did you ski mostly Snowmass and Buttermilk?  Has everyone in your family had some lessons?

 

Of the three you listed in the thread title, Snowbird would not be a good idea.  I personally like Alta for any ability level.  I started skiing there long ago as an intermediate and have friends who started there as beginners when they were older adults.  My daughter loved Alta as an intermediate and advanced skier.  My impression is that Deer Valley is quite fun for Green/Blue skiers, however it's hard to predict how much terrain will be open before Christmas.

 

Check out this Beginner Zone thread for other ideas:

http://www.epicski.com/t/146380/which-resort-has-the-easiest-greens-a-beginner-zone-question

post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 


Welcome to EpicSki!  When you were at Aspen, did you ski mostly Snowmass and Buttermilk?  Has everyone in your family had some lessons?

 

Of the three you listed in the thread title, Snowbird would not be a good idea.  I personally like Alta for any ability level.  I started skiing there long ago as an intermediate and have friends who started there as beginners when they were older adults.  My daughter loved Alta as an intermediate and advanced skier.  My impression is that Deer Valley is quite fun for Green/Blue skiers, however it's hard to predict how much terrain will be open before Christmas.

 

Check out this Beginner Zone thread for other ideas:

http://www.epicski.com/t/146380/which-resort-has-the-easiest-greens-a-beginner-zone-question

When we went to Aspen we only skied Snowmass. Should we consider Buttermilk as well? We have each taken lessons. Thank you for the help! I will check the link you posted. Are there other resorts we should be considering instead of the three I listed?

post #4 of 24
Skied all three places on multiple occasions last winter. Certainly, Park City would provide you with a comparable town-at-base-of-slopes experience like Breck or Snowmass/Ajax. Alta typically has better early season conditions than the others, but no town life. Having said that, PC and DV both have extensive snowmaking capabilities and are not exactly slouches for natural snow. At that time of the year you should have no problem making last minute reservations with little penalty. I'd wait until a couple weeks before trip and then start looking at hard whether you stay up at a lodge beside Alta and enjoy the get-away-from-it-all atmosphere or can go to PC and get full resort vacation experience.
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesj View Post

Skied all three places on multiple occasions last winter. Certainly, Park City would provide you with a comparable town-at-base-of-slopes experience like Breck or Snowmass/Ajax. Alta typically has better early season conditions than the others, but no town life. Having said that, PC and DV both have extensive snowmaking capabilities and are not exactly slouches for natural snow. At that time of the year you should have no problem making last minute reservations with little penalty. I'd wait until a couple weeks before trip and then start looking at hard whether you stay up at a lodge beside Alta and enjoy the get-away-from-it-all atmosphere or can go to PC and get full resort vacation experience.

Thank you for the help! We would like to plan the trip ahead of time for financial purposes so we wouldn't be waiting until closer to time. Do you think it would be unwise to plan a trip to Deer Valley?

post #6 of 24


To reinforce/expand on what @Jamesj said, Dear Valley and Alta are two very different places. A DV/ Park City trip would be more like a city vacation where an Alta trip would be more like a national Park trip. PC gives you shops and restaurants galore, hub-bub and activity. Alta gives you peace and seclusion. Both are fun trips, just need to choose which type you want. For my money, the rugged beauty of Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC), where Alta and Snowbird are, is much more appealing than Park City, but both are great choices.

 

You didn't say how long you are planning on staying. If you have several days it would be easy (if conditions warrant) to drive to the other side and spend a day seeing what the other is all about. A little recon work for future trips.

post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillarynoelw View Post
 

 I love the feel of the Colorado resorts, Aspen and Breckenridge especially. I'd like the same thing but would like to also keep with a resort that is friendly to beginner and intermediate skiers. Any suggestions??

OK, if that's what you want then Park City is a no-brainer, as Alta doesn't have ANY of that kind of feel whatsoever.

 

You can find a place to stay in Park City that will be close to the attractions, whereas, if you actually stay at Alta you won't have anything of the kind. Driving from the closest "civilization" (Sandy), you'll have a 20-40 minute ride, and if there's a storm you might not be able to get up as they close the road for avalanche control, AND they'll be a LONG line up of powder hounds you'll have to deal with who take no prisoners on a powder day.

 

People seem to be putting in their personal preferences without looking at what YOU want (I'm a Snowbird fanatic just FYI).  Given a desire for an Aspen / Breck type experience for lower level skiers, Park City (including PCMR and Deer Valley) is the only reasonable answer.

post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by H2OnSnow View Post
 


To reinforce/expand on what @Jamesj said, Dear Valley and Alta are two very different places. A DV/ Park City trip would be more like a city vacation where an Alta trip would be more like a national Park trip. PC gives you shops and restaurants galore, hub-bub and activity. Alta gives you peace and seclusion. Both are fun trips, just need to choose which type you want. For my money, the rugged beauty of Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC), where Alta and Snowbird are, is much more appealing than Park City, but both are great choices.

 

You didn't say how long you are planning on staying. If you have several days it would be easy (if conditions warrant) to drive to the other side and spend a day seeing what the other is all about. A little recon work for future trips.

We only plan on staying 5 days so i'm not sure that'd be an option. Thank you for the input! 

post #9 of 24

PC's suffered poor early conditions the last few years. 

 

If you don't have an Epic Pass, I'd skip all of the VR resorts.

http://www.epicski.com/t/144965/park-city-warning

 

Go to Alta and stay in a lodge.

post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by snofun3 View Post
 

OK, if that's what you want then Park City is a no-brainer, as Alta doesn't have ANY of that kind of feel whatsoever.

 

You can find a place to stay in Park City that will be close to the attractions, whereas, if you actually stay at Alta you won't have anything of the kind. Driving from the closest "civilization" (Sandy), you'll have a 20-40 minute ride, and if there's a storm you might not be able to get up as they close the road for avalanche control, AND they'll be a LONG line up of powder hounds you'll have to deal with who take no prisoners on a powder day.

 

People seem to be putting in their personal preferences without looking at what YOU want (I'm a Snowbird fanatic just FYI).  Given a desire for an Aspen / Breck type experience for lower level skiers, Park City (including PCMR and Deer Valley) is the only reasonable answer.

Thank you so much! Should we be concerned with Deer Valley since it will be so early in the season?

post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillarynoelw View Post
 
When we went to Aspen we only skied Snowmass. Should we consider Buttermilk as well? We have each taken lessons. Thank you for the help! I will check the link you posted. Are there other resorts we should be considering instead of the three I listed?

 

Yes, the next time you go to Aspen it would definitely be worth checking out Buttermilk.  It's much smaller than Snowmass but has a complete range of terrain, from very easy long greens to fun blacks that are not groomed that are okay for an adventurous intermediate.  My friend who is a cautious intermediate really likes Buttermilk.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hillarynoelw View Post
 
We only plan on staying 5 days so i'm not sure that'd be an option. Thank you for the input! 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hillarynoelw View Post
 
Thank you so much! Should we be concerned with Deer Valley since it will be so early in the season?

 

What dates are you thinking about?  Before Dec. 15 or before Dec. 22?  One difference between Deer Valley and Park City is that the altitude there is quite a bit lower than Alta or even Solitude/Brighton.  However, for early season there is a lot of snowmaking going on in Dec in order to get the groomed trails ready for the holiday season.

 

As for spending a day at Alta, it's really quite easy from DV or Park City.  There is a day bus so don't even need to drive.  Stay over on the Albion side (Sunnyside, Sugarloaf lifts) and you'll have a good time.  Note that Alta and DV do not allow snowboarders, which is a bonus for people who are sticking to groomed trails.

 

My friends and I love to stay at Alta Lodge during late season.  True for the advanced skiers and the intermediates.  But definitely not the place to go if your group likes to shop or head out and walk around to check out the local bars and restaurants.  More like being on a small cruise ship where everything is covered so you don't have to think at all.  Expect to decide which dessert sounds better. ;)

 

If you are curious about the lodges at Alta, check out this thread:

http://www.epicski.com/t/125833/alta-lodges

post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillarynoelw View Post
 

Thank you so much! Should we be concerned with Deer Valley since it will be so early in the season?

 

It could well be problematic regarding snowfall that early on. It could be good, it could be not-good. The last few seasons it's been not-good for natural snow, but they have to try very hard with snowmaking with the Christmas holidays shortly thereafter.

 

That early in the season there's no problem making last minute reservations, and airfares are cheap up to about the 17th of December, so you may want to see who's getting the goods before committing yourself. I often do that and just see who's getting bombed then chase after it.

 

For sure Alta/Snowbird SHOULD have better potential due to their elevation, but you're going to be sorely disappointed if you want the Aspen/Breck type experience.

post #13 of 24
A lot of very good points have been made about snow quality early season between PC and LCC.

I will simply add that based on your description as blue/green skiers, In LCC, I'd caution you that snowbird in my experience skis much more difficult than its rated. I found a few gray hairs on my head after leading my cousin's 8 year old around snowbird for a day. The family survived, but I think alta (at least for the first few days) would have been the better option.
post #14 of 24
Deer Valley will be the best option for your group of the choices you listed and the preference for a ski town atmosphere.
post #15 of 24

Another vote for DV.

post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by tromano View Post

Deer Valley will be the best option for your group of the choices you listed and the preference for a ski town atmosphere.

 

To the OP - Just be advised that Deer Valley itself has no "town", the town is Park City from which Park City Mountain Resort (PMCR) or Deer Valley are about the same distance (not much) away, although you can ride a chair from the middle of Park City into PMCR..

post #17 of 24

Early in the season is a crap shoot for conditions everywhere......At Alta we didnt get hammered with any decent snow until right around 12-15, about 3 days after i told my brother to forget about a xmas trip to Utah!  the skies opened with about a 40 inch storm if my memory serves ,and then it was on! be alot more terrain for your levels at DV but Alta certainly has enough to keep all level of skiers happy.

post #18 of 24

I'd be hesitant to make advance bookings for an early season trip to Park City or Deer Valley because they don't have great reputations for early snow.  I remember when we went to Targhee at Christmas a couple of years ago we bumped into a couple of families who'd driven from Park City because there was no snow (or not much) there.

 

As Snowfun said, elevation is a factor here.  DV and PCMR are both under 7000 feet, while Alta is 8500.

 

Another Utah option worth a look is Solitude which has Brighton right next door and both are at about 8000 feet and have plenty of non-scary terrain (more blues than greens tho).  It doesn't meet your criteria of having a town, but it's a great place for a skiing focused family holiday.

post #19 of 24

I'm a PC local and after reading the suggestions I'm thinking Solitude would be worth a look. Depends on your family. Kids? Solitude has a petite but elegant base area with nice condos and is a local family favorite. (Deer Valley bought them recently and good things are happening) There's plenty of blue and green terrain and it gets about the same snowfall as Alta & Snowbird. I'm thinking early season... Deer Valley, unlike Park City, opens a week or more later because they don't do the WROD thing (white ribbon of death- two or three crowded, icy trails, usually open at Thanksgiving...) They will have as much terrain as possible open. But the Cottonwoods simply get more snow, and earlier because they're 1000' higher and, being on the west face of the Wasatch, get the brunt of the storms. 

     I used to recommend staying in Park City and renting a car (airport taxis are expensive so renting is a no brainer) then skiing wherever the snow is best, but with the advent of huge surcharges for single day tickets (thanks Vail Park City) multi day tickets at the same resort seems like the way to go. Also, I'd look for packages that include lift tickets. There should be a lot of early season deals. We used to stay at the Cliff Lodge at Snowbird on the early bird discount and ski Alta, just up the road. (last year $87 a day adult). 

 

   Bottom line, for your level I'd suggest Alta or Solitude for the best snow, Deer Valley for the town and amenities. As was said above, Deer Valley is a white glove hotel experience, almost Alpine urban if that makes any sense, with luxury mansions and condos lining many of the runs, still very beautiful.The Cottonwood resorts are in National forests with craggy peaks and breathtaking vistas. It's hard to believe that just down canyon is a city. They feel miles away. Either way, have a ball. We love it here.

post #20 of 24
Originally Posted by marznc View PostMy friends and I love to stay at Alta Lodge during late season.  True for the advanced skiers and the intermediates.  But definitely not the place to go if your group likes to shop or head out and walk around to check out the local bars and restaurants.  More like being on a small cruise ship where everything is covered so you don't have to think at all.  Expect to decide which dessert sounds better. ;)

 

 

@marznc what's up with the talk about Alta wanting to change their vibe?  I guess to a more PC/DV/Vail type atmosphere?  A new main street with shops and restaurants.  Someone even thru out Gucci and Bogner type stores.   Probably just to add some flavor.   Charging by the car load to drive up 210?  Parking fees coming for most places that don't charge already. Is Alta going to evolve or are people maybe getting a little concerned too soon?

post #21 of 24

I have been in the same situation as the OP-needing to plan an early December ski trip, while it is summer.  I opted for Deer Valley, and was not disappointed.  

 

Prices are reasonable in early December, the place is very uncrowded, and they do an excellent job of snowmaking.  As has been pointed out, there are no WROD at DV.

 

DV also would be a place most similar to Aspen or Breck.  Impeccable customer service at DV.  For someone skiing green and blue runs, there should be enough trails open to keep such skiers occupied for five days.

 

Alta is a great ski resort as well-but does not sound like the vibe the OP is looking for.

post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike78 View Post
 
Originally Posted by marznc View PostMy friends and I love to stay at Alta Lodge during late season.  True for the advanced skiers and the intermediates.  But definitely not the place to go if your group likes to shop or head out and walk around to check out the local bars and restaurants.  More like being on a small cruise ship where everything is covered so you don't have to think at all.  Expect to decide which dessert sounds better. ;)

 

 

@marznc what's up with the talk about Alta wanting to change their vibe?  I guess to a more PC/DV/Vail type atmosphere?  A new main street with shops and restaurants.  Someone even thru out Gucci and Bogner type stores.   Probably just to add some flavor.   Charging by the car load to drive up 210?  Parking fees coming for most places that don't charge already. Is Alta going to evolve or are people maybe getting a little concerned too soon?


Sounds like the rumor mill is going full force.  From what I know of the planning study being done by the Town of Alta, I think talk of Vail or DV level shopping is silly.  The "main street" plan just doesn't cover enough territory.  Nor does the plan include adding lots of new rooms.  What will change more is how Alta looks during the summer.  One goal is to have more year round business.  I gather parking is a bigger issue during the summer hiking season than during the ski season.

post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike78 View Post
 

 

@marznc what's up with the talk about Alta wanting to change their vibe?  I guess to a more PC/DV/Vail type atmosphere?  A new main street with shops and restaurants.  Someone even thru out Gucci and Bogner type stores.   Probably just to add some flavor.   Charging by the car load to drive up 210?  Parking fees coming for most places that don't charge already. Is Alta going to evolve or are people maybe getting a little concerned too soon?


definitely been rumors of putting up tolls to the cottonwood canyons. was crazy crowded up there a couple weeks ago when i went hiking by Brighton

post #24 of 24

There's been lots of talk about traffic, my favorite idea is a light rail (as it were) with a tunnel up the canyon & through the mountains to Park City. I'd hop a train to Alta in a heartbeat. I think that's another thread...Last season wasn't bad at all, I don't remember ever being in line (traffic) long enough to regret that third cup of coffee... 

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