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Where to ski to see majestic mountains out West (for intermediate east coast family)?

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 

We are a Connecticut family with a 5 and 7 year-old who have skied for three seasons and love it, and we are hoping to take our first ski trip out west this season. I've enjoyed reading several threads here on EpicSki with great advice on mountains and resorts for families, but very few of them mention the scenery. One reason I'd like to take my kids skiing out west is that this would give them a taste of the majesty and grandeur of the rockies and other mountains out west, something they haven't experienced. I didn't start skiing until I was on the east coast (though I skied once at Mammoth and once at Heavenly pre-kids). As a kid, though, I went on several summer hiking trips in Colorado and I want my kids to experience some grand mountain scenery.  So I'm hoping that some EpicSki members could point us to some mountains that combine great skiing for families with young intermediates with truly impressive and grand mountain vistas.

 

To provide a bit more context, my 7-year-old son and 5-year-old girl are comfortable on all the blues on the Vermont mountains they've skied (including Jay Peak, Okemo, Mt. Snow, and some other places). Since we also have a 9-month-old who won't be skiing this winter and who would probably be with a parent not skiing on that particular day, it would be nice to ski somewhere with ski in/ski out lodging (or at least lodging very convenient to the lifts) so that the entire family can rendezvous at lunch. Also, we'd probably need to be reasonably close to a major airport. So I think that Telluride, Crested Butte, Aspen, and Grand Targhee (to name some examples) would be off the table. Finally, we'd like a place with good ski school for the 7 and 5 year-olds, and ideally good childcare so my wife and I can drop our (then 1 year-old) off for one day to enjoy at least a day skiing together. As for timing, it might need to be the first week of January, though mid-March is another possibility. 

 

In addition to the general call for suggestions that give special emphasis to the scenery, I have some more specific questions on that front. First, how does the scenery at Utah's premier mountains compare to some of the options in Colorado? Is Utah as impressive? Second, it sounds like Steamboat would be a great family mountain, though I get the sense that the scenery may not be as dramatic as the Summit County mountains. Is that accurate?

 

Thank you in advance for thoughts and suggestions!

post #2 of 44
When they get a little older, I'd say come here. As it is, early January can be darn cold in Montana that week. We're a good family area, low crowds. For meet ups, the fact that the two most popular lifts converge at the Summit House is ideal. Depending on your budget, you can get lodging adjacent to the Beginner slopes or right in the Village at Morning Eagle or Alpenglow. However, like I said, early January CAN be super cold. Not always, but I'd think 8 years old would be a bit hardier.

For a look at the scenery, take a gander at my website (in my signature).

We're close to our airport, but it's not a "major airport". It's a low stress airport. 😁. A block or less to your rental car, no traffic, all of three gates. Some direct flights, but none from Connecticut or New York. The absolute antithesis of Newark (which used to be my airport before I got some sense and moved here).
post #3 of 44

You've narrowed it down by eliminating Targhee, Telluride, and Aspen.  I'm curious about Heavenly.  You've been there pre kids.  Didn't you think that was spectacular in the scenery department?  Honestly, for me, I think that is pretty darn good scenery.  Certainly better than Copper or other places near by.   Of course subjective and just my personal taste.  I guess I'm looking at it from the skiers point of view and heading down a run.  Maybe that's not the viewpoint you are looking for?  

 

I really need to make it to Whitefish.

 

I can post some pic's of the views surrounding Copper if you like just to give you some Summit County view.  Some would be from winter and some from summer.

 

:popcorn

post #4 of 44

Welcome to Epic.

 

Good plan for you and your family. Most larger western resorts have a pretty darned good view; they are in some of the nicest mountain ranges in North America. But all things are relative. Here is a picture I took with a cell phone at Crystal Mt, WA, Not a spot I would recommend for your needs though.

 

 

 

For scenery Jackson Hole is close to the top of the heap. In the Wasatch Park City is probably the weakest (and it is still pretty good) Summit County is pretty much all great (Copper Mt is the area that comes to mind there for your needs). Google the areas you are interested in and hit the "Images" tab and you will get some pretty good examples. 

 

Enjoy your search.

post #5 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike78 View Post

You've narrowed it down by eliminating Targhee, Telluride, and Aspen.  I'm curious about Heavenly.  You've been there pre kids.  Didn't you think that was spectacular in the scenery department?  Honestly, for me, I think that is pretty darn good scenery.  Certainly better than Copper or other places near by.   Of course subjective and just my personal taste.  I guess I'm looking at it from the skiers point of view and heading down a run.  Maybe that's not the viewpoint you are looking for?  

I really need to make it to Whitefish.

I can post some pic's of the views surrounding Copper if you like just to give you some Summit County view.  Some would be from winter and some from summer.

popcorn.gif

I certainly did think Heavenly had darn good scenery! I'm not sure why it hasn't registered on my radar screen of possibilities for our trip. Perhaps because I've been focusing on places near "major" airports for purposes of cost and fairly direct connections, though maybe flying into Reno isn't more difficult than Salt Lake City in that regard; and perhaps I'm overestimating the cost/convenience advantage of big cities nearby. Thank you for putting Heavenly on the radar!
post #6 of 44

One of the cool things about Copper is that there is a saddle near the top where you can look over the other side (it's spectacular) and then take green and blue runs all the way back down.  Great spot for spectacular scenery.

post #7 of 44

jspsj, Welcome to EpicSki.

One of my greatest memories as a parent was our first trip to Colorado, Summit County. The kids were 7 and 10, we drove out from Milwaukee and by the time we got to Denver they were pretty restless. Once we got into the foothills they were glued to the van windows and couldn't believe what mountains really looked like. At least your kids have seen Vermont mountains.

Summit county fits your description perfectly. The scenery is wonderful and there is also the mountain town atmosphere a little over an hour from DIA. You also get to go thru one of the highest, longest alpine tunnels in the world to get there. Free shuttle bus service and three ski areas to choose from, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Copper make it a great vacation destination. A-basin is also there but it's better for kids who ski on their own and there is no accommodation.

As previously mentioned, Copper is almost all ski-in, ski-out, but no real village. Keystone has similar ski-in, ski-out accommodations and a great ski school for the kids plus day care for the little one. But again no real village.

Breckenridge is a real mountain town. A huge ski area, terrific ski school and day care that may even get the 1 YO out playing in the snow. Also, all kinds of ski-in, ski-out accommodations from hotel to high end condos. Free shuttle bus service gets you all around town because you have to take the kids for ice cream on main street.

Then a little farther west there is Vail. The village might be purpose built but it sure does look like a real European mountain town. The skiing is fantastic, Blue Sky Basin is one of my favorite places to ski. There is a free shuttle to get you around if you choose a lower cost condo or hotel that is not ski-in, ski-out. But, if the budget can stand it there are some great ski-in, ski-out properties. There is also shuttle service from Summit County to Vail.

Regardless of where you decide to go don't be surprised if mom gets more ski time than she thought possible. The day cares are geared to keeping the little ones happy while mom and dad ski which keeps them happy. I've seen ski school groups getting off the gondola with half the kids sucking on their pacifier. 

Wherever you go just enjoy the kids having fun in a mountain wonderland.

BTW, our kids are now 28 and 31 and we still go out west together.

post #8 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

When they get a little older, I'd say come here. As it is, early January can be darn cold in Montana that week. We're a good family area, low crowds. For meet ups, the fact that the two most popular lifts converge at the Summit House is ideal. Depending on your budget, you can get lodging adjacent to the Beginner slopes or right in the Village at Morning Eagle or Alpenglow. However, like I said, early January CAN be super cold. Not always, but I'd think 8 years old would be a bit hardier.

For a look at the scenery, take a gander at my website (in my signature).

We're close to our airport, but it's not a "major airport". It's a low stress airport. 😁. A block or less to your rental car, no traffic, all of three gates. Some direct flights, but none from Connecticut or New York. The absolute antithesis of Newark (which used to be my airport before I got some sense and moved here).


To be honest, I don't think I'd ever hear of Whitefish. But it looks like an amazing place for families, with views of Glacier Natl Park to boot! I'm definitely intrigued. Thanks for the recommendation.

post #9 of 44

How do you eliminate Aspen and then still consider Steamboat?   Aspen's airport has 100 more flights a week and is only three miles from town vs 28 for Steamboat.

Snowmass has more ski in/out accommodations and one of the best ski schools in the country.  Most of the full service condo complexes will pick you up at the airport for free.

 

Regardless of where you go, mid March is probably preferable.   January can be cold anywhere, with little kids and wives, it can be problematic.

post #10 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post
January can be cold anywhere, with... wives, it can be problematic.

 

To put it mildly, that's a bit presumptive. 

post #11 of 44

For my .02, there are some challenges with your goals. Many of the UT and CO ski area have nice, but not spectacular mountain scenery. Some with the best scenery are not near major airports. The ones that make family logistics easiest may or may not have great scenery or be near major airports. And so on.

 

All things considered, I'd at least take a hard look at Aspen and Targhee. Otherwise, it does not get much easier or better than the Park City areas for what you are describing. 

post #12 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post
 

How do you eliminate Aspen and then still consider Steamboat?   Aspen's airport has 100 more flights a week and is only three miles from town vs 28 for Steamboat.

Snowmass has more ski in/out accommodations and one of the best ski schools in the country.  Most of the full service condo complexes will pick you up at the airport for free.

 

Regardless of where you go, mid March is probably preferable.   January can be cold anywhere, with little kids and wives, it can be problematic.

From where he is flying, it'll be at least $100 more per ticket to Aspen as opposed to Hayden.  DEN being quite a bit less than both.

 

January being colder than March anywhere is true.  Little kids usually don't like really cold (not than anyone does) and will be wanting to cut it short and go inside.  Problem with mid-March though is that you have to be willing to deal with large crowds due to Spring Break. 

post #13 of 44

Oh, FWIW, Targhee has a great kids' school area. Lots of cool kid oriented terrain (eg the eyeball forest). And a dedicated warming cabin for the kids at the base of that part of the mountain. Very "small" vibe in terms of the numbers of kids, ski school size, etc.

post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by jspsj View Post
 

We are a Connecticut family with a 5 and 7 year-old who have skied for three seasons and love it, and we are hoping to take our first ski trip out west this season. I've enjoyed reading several threads here on EpicSki with great advice on mountains and resorts for families, but very few of them mention the scenery. One reason I'd like to take my kids skiing out west is that this would give them a taste of the majesty and grandeur of the rockies and other mountains out west, something they haven't experienced. I didn't start skiing until I was on the east coast (though I skied once at Mammoth and once at Heavenly pre-kids). As a kid, though, I went on several summer hiking trips in Colorado and I want my kids to experience some grand mountain scenery.  So I'm hoping that some EpicSki members could point us to some mountains that combine great skiing for families with young intermediates with truly impressive and grand mountain vistas.

 

To provide a bit more context, my 7-year-old son and 5-year-old girl are comfortable on all the blues on the Vermont mountains they've skied (including Jay Peak, Okemo, Mt. Snow, and some other places). Since we also have a 9-month-old who won't be skiing this winter and who would probably be with a parent not skiing on that particular day, it would be nice to ski somewhere with ski in/ski out lodging (or at least lodging very convenient to the lifts) so that the entire family can rendezvous at lunch. Also, we'd probably need to be reasonably close to a major airport. So I think that Telluride, Crested Butte, Aspen, and Grand Targhee (to name some examples) would be off the table. Finally, we'd like a place with good ski school for the 7 and 5 year-olds, and ideally good childcare so my wife and I can drop our (then 1 year-old) off for one day to enjoy at least a day skiing together. As for timing, it might need to be the first week of January, though mid-March is another possibility. 

 

In addition to the general call for suggestions that give special emphasis to the scenery, I have some more specific questions on that front. First, how does the scenery at Utah's premier mountains compare to some of the options in Colorado? Is Utah as impressive? Second, it sounds like Steamboat would be a great family mountain, though I get the sense that the scenery may not be as dramatic as the Summit County mountains. Is that accurate?

 

Thank you in advance for thoughts and suggestions!


Welcome to EpicSki!  You've gotten some good advice so far.  Since you put your question in Family Skiing, thought it might be helpful to reference a recent thread about traveling with a baby.  Less of an issue with a 1yo, but still something to consider since you are coming from relatively low altitude.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/147259/advice-low-altitude-trip-in-march-family-trip-intermediate-first-big-mountain

 

I started taking my daughter out west when she was 7.  We did spring break trips to Alta.  From a weather standpoint, the longer days and warmer weather in March would be more fun for the kids than early Jan.  Although if they are happy skiing in VT, probably cold won't be an issue.  One my coldest ski trips was to Stowe.

 

From the viewpoint of someone who grew up in NYC and first saw the Grand Tetons at age 6, the scenery around Lake Tahoe is pretty impressive.  If staying at Heavenly, on a clear day a trip to Homewood for the views could be fun for the older kids.

 

Is this a once in a lifetime trip for the kids?  Or do you hope to take them again before the older ones are in middle school?

post #15 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
 

 

To put it mildly, that's a bit presumptive. 

 

Probably, but more often than not, true.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by breilly View Post
 

From where he is flying, it'll be at least $100 more per ticket to Aspen as opposed to Hayden.  DEN being quite a bit less than both.

 

January being colder than March anywhere is true.  Little kids usually don't like really cold (not than anyone does) and will be wanting to cut it short and go inside.  Problem with mid-March though is that you have to be willing to deal with large crowds due to Spring Break. 

 

Perhaps, but Hayden, Den or just about any other airport, you'll be paying for a RT shuttle or a rental car and at many properties in Aspen, you won't.

Plus there aren't really any lines here, period.

post #16 of 44

First week of January, Targhee and Jackson Hole tend to be brutally cold.  

 

Steamboat fits most of your goals, except for the scenery part.  While it's pretty good, I'd put Telluride and Targhee way past the 'Boat.  Your best bet might be SLC, make a choice of the ski areas there.

post #17 of 44

Have you considered Canada?  We live in NYC and skied Banff last March.    

  • The scenery in the region generally, and at the Sunshine Village and Lake Louise ski areas, cannot be beat.  Good chance of seeing wildlife as well.
  • Easy drive from Calgary airport, with nonstop flights from New York.
  • Surprisingly cheap, especially at a very favorable exchange rate for US travelers.
  • Cheap, luxurious, family-friendly accommodations (particularly in town of Canmore).  Full kitchens (and BBQs) are the norm.
  • Lots of things to do other than ski.
  • Sunshine in particular is a great family ski area, where most lifts converge to a central area, and there are green or blue groomed trails available from every lift.
  • Much lower elevation than Colorado, so no fear of altitude sickness ruining your vacation.

 

In the US, I would recommend:

  • Big Sky / Bridger Bowl (nonstop flights to Bozeman, MT from Newark).  Spectacular scenery and can make a side trip to Yellowstone to see hot springs, bison, etc.  Bozeman, MT is a great town with terrific restaurants.  Bridget Bowl, the local ski area, has terrific intermediate terrain (and some very hairy expert terrain), fantastic scenery, and cheap prices.  
  • Jackson Hole.  Nonstop flights to Jackson, great ski school, terrific town, and unparalleled scenery.
  • Targhee.  Really isn't a bad drive from Idaho Falls airport or even Jackson airport.  Views to the western side of the Tetons.  Not much else going on there, though.  
  • Winter Park, CO.  Easy family vacation with reasonable prices.  Not a bad trip from Denver, and can even take train.  Very cool experience going to high alpine altitude on Panoramic lift.  Very high base area though, so altitude sickness can be a problem.  
post #18 of 44

Altitude is definitely a major factor for People from Connecticut and the cold in January can be brutal on anyone let alone young kids. I suggest March instead. Something major to consider is Kids ski free at Steamboat and the airport is extremely close. If scenery is that important and a close airport you really cannot beat Salt Lake City areas (Park City, Canyons, Snow Basin, Alta, Snowbird, any of them.  Alta does not permit snowboards!  and Park City is joined to the Canyons with a lift ).  You can be skiing within 40 mins.  As for altitude, try some Ginko- biloba.  Start a couple weeks before you go...one in the morning and one at night.  Do some research before you go and avoid the areas with high altitude base areas.  Salt Lake is a good bet since the valley is around 3000 ft. and you can get acclimated easier.

post #19 of 44

I've skied at a lot of places out west, also am from the East.

 

The strongest memories I have of being blown away by scenery was at Alta.  It felt like being in the Alps.  There are a few resorts in the area to ski.  The Canyons for example is a very good and very varied mountain.  Alta has plenty of blue terrain, so skiing there at least once would definitely have that effect.

 

My preference for skiing tends to be Colorado, and the scenery and mountains are plenty impressive there.  Honestly you can't really go wrong, but the memory of Alta is a very strong one from the scenery point of view.

post #20 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by jspsj View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

When they get a little older, I'd say come here. As it is, early January can be darn cold in Montana that week. We're a good family area, low crowds. For meet ups, the fact that the two most popular lifts converge at the Summit House is ideal. Depending on your budget, you can get lodging adjacent to the Beginner slopes or right in the Village at Morning Eagle or Alpenglow. However, like I said, early January CAN be super cold. Not always, but I'd think 8 years old would be a bit hardier.


For a look at the scenery, take a gander at my website (in my signature).


We're close to our airport, but it's not a "major airport". It's a low stress airport. 😁. A block or less to your rental car, no traffic, all of three gates. Some direct flights, but none from Connecticut or New York. The absolute antithesis of Newark (which used to be my airport before I got some sense and moved here).


To be honest, I don't think I'd ever hear of Whitefish. But it looks like an amazing place for families, with views of Glacier Natl Park to boot! I'm definitely intrigued. Thanks for the recommendation.

It used to be known as Big Mountain. 3000 acres.
post #21 of 44

All good input above. I am a little unsure as to why Aspen is not in the running. True, flying in to Aspen airport would be somewhat more expensive per ticket. One fact which may tip in favor of Aspen, which I learned in a thread a few months back, is that Aspen has a parents' lift ticket. Apparently either parent can use the ticket, assuming the other is baby sitting. I don't have any direct experience with it, but as far as I know, such an offering is unique. 

post #22 of 44
Thread Starter 

Thank you to many posters for some very helpful information. I’ve got a lot of tips here to think about. Perhaps I was too quick to assume that a “major airport” would be important for us; while smaller airports may add a leg to the flight and be cheaper per ticket, they also may be closer to the ski destination, as some posters pointed out. So I may look into Aspen area mountains (for example) as some suggest. And I’ll also read up daycare offerings and base elevation/acclimatization. And the parent ticket thing at Aspen could be really helpful to us.

 

I definitely hope that this trip out west will be the first of several over the next many years, so hopefully I will be able to make good on more than one of these recommendations!

post #23 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by jspsj View Post
 

Thank you to many posters for some very helpful information. I’ve got a lot of tips here to think about. Perhaps I was too quick to assume that a “major airport” would be important for us; while smaller airports may add a leg to the flight and be cheaper per ticket, they also may be closer to the ski destination, as some posters pointed out. So I may look into Aspen area mountains (for example) as some suggest. And I’ll also read up daycare offerings and base elevation/acclimatization. And the parent ticket thing at Aspen could be really helpful to us.

 

I definitely hope that this trip out west will be the first of several over the next many years, so hopefully I will be able to make good on more than one of these recommendations!


One of the best trip reports was by a father of three boys who found a way to take the family to Snowmass for a spring break trip.  He also originally thought the costs would be too high.

 

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

 

To make it easier to find related threads, I added a few relevant links.  Look under Topics Discussed.  When you get to an EpicSki Resort page, scroll to the bottom for a list of related threads.

 

Let us know as you narrow down the options.  Lots of good choices.

post #24 of 44

Coming from an East Coaster, the most majestic mountain scenery out West will be found at Aspen, Alta, Telluride, Jackson Hole, Sun Valley, and Lake Louise..

The least scenic places are Park City/Canyons, Breckenridge, Copper, Beaver Creek, and Steamboat.

 

You asked about Summit County: very high but the mountains are worn and boring. The Elks (Aspen) and San Juans (Telluride) are far more impressive.

As for Utah, I fully agree with SkiMangoJazz: Alta can't be beat for that high alpine Alps-like feeling. It's incredibly beautiful. Less than 10 miles away, Park City looks like a barren desert on one side and wimpy foothills on the other. It just lacks that alpine feel.

 

I would vote for Snowmass but if you really need to be close to a major airport then Alta makes the most sense.

post #25 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by jspsj View Post
 

We are a Connecticut family with a 5 and 7 year-old who have skied for three seasons and love it, and we are hoping to take our first ski trip out west this season. I've enjoyed reading several threads here on EpicSki with great advice on mountains and resorts for families, but very few of them mention the scenery. One reason I'd like to take my kids skiing out west is that this would give them a taste of the majesty and grandeur of the rockies and other mountains out west, something they haven't experienced. I didn't start skiing until I was on the east coast (though I skied once at Mammoth and once at Heavenly pre-kids). As a kid, though, I went on several summer hiking trips in Colorado and I want my kids to experience some grand mountain scenery.  So I'm hoping that some EpicSki members could point us to some mountains that combine great skiing for families with young intermediates with truly impressive and grand mountain vistas.

 

To provide a bit more context, my 7-year-old son and 5-year-old girl are comfortable on all the blues on the Vermont mountains they've skied (including Jay Peak, Okemo, Mt. Snow, and some other places). Since we also have a 9-month-old who won't be skiing this winter and who would probably be with a parent not skiing on that particular day, it would be nice to ski somewhere with ski in/ski out lodging (or at least lodging very convenient to the lifts) so that the entire family can rendezvous at lunch. Also, we'd probably need to be reasonably close to a major airport. So I think that Telluride, Crested Butte, Aspen, and Grand Targhee (to name some examples) would be off the table. Finally, we'd like a place with good ski school for the 7 and 5 year-olds, and ideally good childcare so my wife and I can drop our (then 1 year-old) off for one day to enjoy at least a day skiing together. As for timing, it might need to be the first week of January, though mid-March is another possibility. 

 

In addition to the general call for suggestions that give special emphasis to the scenery, I have some more specific questions on that front. First, how does the scenery at Utah's premier mountains compare to some of the options in Colorado? Is Utah as impressive? Second, it sounds like Steamboat would be a great family mountain, though I get the sense that the scenery may not be as dramatic as the Summit County mountains. Is that accurate?

 

Thank you in advance for thoughts and suggestions!


1. Sunshine Village - with 5 year old and beginner Dad:

On mountain Lodge Ski-in/ski-out is nice, but for a family staying in Banff, 30 minutes away better plan. Just plan to be off the mountain by the last Gondola, around 5 pm but this is 8 years ago, things may have changed

 

2. Views to die for : Lech-Zurs, Austria with a just turned 6 year old and terminal beginner Dad (This is East but those views are forever) Ski-in/ski-out everywhere

 

3. Alta, early season, January, with a seasoned 6 year and novice Dad oh well Ski-in/Ski out by and large, but nothing else , lodges very Euro, very cozy:

 

 

4. As Aspen-Snowmass was mentioned, now 11 year old and a Dad who can maybe hack it on skis a bit; it really is a spectacular place, clips are Highlands, Snowmass and Ajax:

 

You can't miss with any of these and well, Whistler-Blackcomb if you like, non-stop flight time to Vancouver same as SLC (diff is 10 mins to 15 mins sometimes in your favor, widebody trans-pacific jets and the winds and shape of the Earth help). No place in the Americas like Whistler Blackcomb, though January snow is iffy.

post #26 of 44

A trip to Whistler Blackcomb is always epic. For me it is a 8 1/2 hr. direct flight.  Done it twice now.  Nothing has ever compared.  A hotel with a swimming pool is essential for getting the kinks out at the end of a day.

post #27 of 44

You can't really go wrong, but Snowmass sure comes to mind first with me for what you are looking for.  Great intermediate terrain and some awesome scenery up high.  Fine slopeside village with lodging at several price points.  Take the family for a short hike up Burnt Mtn for a great intermediate side country run called Long Shot.

 

More Snowmass pics:  http://www.epicski.com/a/snowmass-co-a-pictorial

 

If you decide to do Utah I'd suggest Alta.

post #28 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by jspsj View Post

 

In addition to the general call for suggestions that give special emphasis to the scenery, I have some more specific questions on that front. First, how does the scenery at Utah's premier mountains compare to some of the options in Colorado? Is Utah as impressive?

 

For the mountains near Salt Lake with slopeside lodging, I'd say Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude, and Sundance all have scenery more impressive than any of the areas within a couple hours of Denver. Park City and Deer Valley are probably in about the same league as many of those Colorado areas, although some of the impressive views tend to be big sweeping views of the valleys, rather than mountains all around.

 

Another destination worth considering... Mount Hood is really spectacular, with amazing views of the Cascades. Sometimes the cloud cover is beneath the ski areas, providing awesome scenery even if it's raining or snowing below. It's close to the major Portland International Airport, and the Timberline Lodge is ski-in ski-out and oozing with character. For your ski-together day(s), you could drive to Mount Hood Meadows (around a half hour each way) since they have infant care available. Both areas have quite a bit of intermediate terrain available.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jspsj View Post
 

Thank you to many posters for some very helpful information. I’ve got a lot of tips here to think about. Perhaps I was too quick to assume that a “major airport” would be important for us; while smaller airports may add a leg to the flight and be cheaper per ticket, they also may be closer to the ski destination, as some posters pointed out...

 

On the flip side, I'd say there's a real advantage to a nonstop flight, especially in early January. It's a near-certainty that somewhere in the lower 48 is going to be hit by weather delays, and the numbers of people traveling over the holidays will cause rippling delays, cancellations, and bumped passengers. Logan and the NYC airports have a lot of direct flight options, if either's a reasonable starting point. If you really want to fly from BDL, though, I'd say Denver makes more sense than connecting somewhere else. Booking something like Hartford-Denver-Aspen means, in a pinch, you could rent a car and drive that last leg, although I don't get the impression this is necessary too often.

post #29 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by jspsj View Post
 

We are a Connecticut family with a 5 and 7 year-old who have skied for three seasons and love it, and we are hoping to take our first ski trip out west this season. I've enjoyed reading several threads here on EpicSki with great advice on mountains and resorts for families, but very few of them mention the scenery. One reason I'd like to take my kids skiing out west is that this would give them a taste of the majesty and grandeur of the rockies and other mountains out west, something they haven't experienced. I didn't start skiing until I was on the east coast (though I skied once at Mammoth and once at Heavenly pre-kids). As a kid, though, I went on several summer hiking trips in Colorado and I want my kids to experience some grand mountain scenery.  So I'm hoping that some EpicSki members could point us to some mountains that combine great skiing for families with young intermediates with truly impressive and grand mountain vistas.

 

To provide a bit more context, my 7-year-old son and 5-year-old girl are comfortable on all the blues on the Vermont mountains they've skied (including Jay Peak, Okemo, Mt. Snow, and some other places). Since we also have a 9-month-old who won't be skiing this winter and who would probably be with a parent not skiing on that particular day, it would be nice to ski somewhere with ski in/ski out lodging (or at least lodging very convenient to the lifts) so that the entire family can rendezvous at lunch. Also, we'd probably need to be reasonably close to a major airport. So I think that Telluride, Crested Butte, Aspen, and Grand Targhee (to name some examples) would be off the table. Finally, we'd like a place with good ski school for the 7 and 5 year-olds, and ideally good childcare so my wife and I can drop our (then 1 year-old) off for one day to enjoy at least a day skiing together. As for timing, it might need to be the first week of January, though mid-March is another possibility. 

 

In addition to the general call for suggestions that give special emphasis to the scenery, I have some more specific questions on that front. First, how does the scenery at Utah's premier mountains compare to some of the options in Colorado? Is Utah as impressive? Second, it sounds like Steamboat would be a great family mountain, though I get the sense that the scenery may not be as dramatic as the Summit County mountains. Is that accurate?

 

Thank you in advance for thoughts and suggestions!

I am surprised, nobody even mentioned Keystone, where you can " SKI LIKE A KID AGAIN". Its very family friendly and runs good kid ski school. I have Epic pass, so I rarely go to those ski resorts that not owned by Vail, so I can only compare the resorts that I frequently ski.

 

The two resorts in eagle county, Vail and BC are more famous and high end, the facilities are very nice, and the scenery is decent, however, since it is a family trip, the expense is huge and honestly, in my opinion, it doesn't worth the price.

 

Breckenridge, Keystone and A. Basin are better options, I would say. Breckenridge has a great town with much cheaper option, lodging and dining, comparing to Vail and BC, and they have so many peaks, that I enjoy the idea to ski them one by one to have different view of Rocky mountain. Keystone is better,  since they have night ski, so it will be the only ski resort that you can enjoy sunset, it is very nice, and the slopes are less crowded, so it will become your kids' playground. The best part for holiday seasons, the slopes will be the best place to watch the fireworks. It is amazing. Then A. Basin,  apparently, it will not be considered very family friendly, since the zuma bowl and north/east peaks are almost off-piste. It is the highest ski resort in US, I mean where is the better spot to overlook the mountains.

 

I know when we are discussing which resort is the best to go to, there is no decisive answer ever. Luckily the great rocky mountain has the beauty that wherever and whenever you go, you will be able to see. I don't think any of the resorts, Vail, BC, even those I am not very familiar with, would ever be a bad choice for your family trip. But I think Breckenridge/ Keystone/A. Basin, especially Keystone should be considered.

post #30 of 44
Thread Starter 

OP here. I wanted to give an update after receiving all of this great information and advice. (Thank you!) These opinionated comments were exactly what I was looking for, and I hope to be able to act on some of the suggestions here over the coming years! My plans shifted a bit when I learned that my wife would have Christmas to New Years off (she's a pediatrician), and when we then decided to fly to visit her family in Amarillo, Texas over the holidays. Given the expense of this trip (way more than flying most other times of year), I decided that it made sense to try to combine our ski trip out west with our holiday vacation plans. This meant probably choosing somewhere that is easy to combine with a trip to Amarillo, either by short and affordable flight or car. Basically, it narrowed our choices to Colorado/NM.

 

As it turns out, flying to Denver was way cheaper than flying to Amarillo or anywhere else in the region. So even though I was leaning to Utah (one of the Cottonwood canyons) when thinking about a dedicated ski trip, our current plan is for me to fly to Denver on December 20th with my two skiing kids, and then after skiing in Summit County for three days, drive a one-way rental back to Amarillo to meet up with my wife and almost-one-year-old daughter for Christmas. We'll split the drive into two legs on two days (Friday evening the 23rd and the morning of the 24th).

 

So, it'll just be me and my 7 and 5 year olds. I'm currently thinking that we'll stay in Frisco on the bus route and ski in Copper. I gather Copper might be less crowded than Keystone or Breck. I'll probably ski the first and last day with my kids and have them in group lessons the middle day. I realize there are some risks to the plan: 1 adult + two young kids can present challenges, even if they are good travelers and avid skiers; there is a potential for altitude issues; etc. But I am used to skiing with both kids last year (when we had a newborn), and it should be at least a bit easier as the kids get older. If for some reason one or both of the kids can't/don't want to ski all three days (if they aren't feeling well, for example), I won't be heartbroken. After all, we'd be spending the money to fly out west this time of year anyway, given our Christmas plans.

 

So, what do people think? Is it foolish to stay in Frisco to save $$ rather than staying on the slopes? Is Copper for some reason a less advisable choice given our situation than somewhere else?

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