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Tahoe, Whistler, Big Sky or Jackson Hole for varied skier abilities

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Looking to go somewhere in 2005 that is close to a major aiport(within and 1-2 hours) and shuttle service to and from the mountain) and if possible, no need for rental car. Would like decent snowfall of 300+ inches a year(not much to ask for) and
a variety of terrain for all levels of skiers (beginner to advanced). Nice atmosphere, not alot of crowds and good dining and apres ski activities available too. I am trying to please a large group of 14 or more, so HELP!
I want personal opinions if you have skied all of these mountains(which is a favorite) too.
Last, but not least...looking at either the end of Jan or Feb for best times to go! Wheeeww, is that enough info or what??
post #2 of 12
I've been to all of these several times (except Big Sky) so here's my 2 cents:

Whistler might be the cheapest due to the Canadian dollar. Whistler/Blackcomb also offers, by far, the most terrain for all abilities. Beginners to advanced can find plenty of terrain to keep busy for days and days. Weather can be iffy but that time of year should be okay. I've been in Feb, March and April in the past and always had the best weather in Feb and March. However, if it's raining at the base it's probably dumping up top.

Another plus about Whistler is you've got the shuttle from Vancouver and a good town where everything is within walking distance. Also with Whistler, you have the option of spending a day or two seeing the sights in Vancouver after everybody's legs turn to jello from skiing so much vertical. Oh, and Whistler has perhaps the best apres ski of the bunch.

You'd need a car if you fly to Reno and want to hit Tahoe. You could also fly to SFO and drive to Tahoe. This would afford you the option to visit the Bay Area. The actual drive to Tahoe is easy but can be awful at the wrong time of day. I used to live about 10 miles south of SFO and can say from experience if you drive from SFO to Tahoe during rush hour it can easily take 6 hours. You'll be in bumper to bumper traffic till you get east of Sacramento. Throw some bad weather in the mix and it'll be even worse.

Tahoe also offers plenty of terrain for all spread out amongst several ski areas. IMO, Whistler's better because it's all on one ticket, lodging is pretty centralized, it can be a lot cheaper and you don't need a car. Weather can suck at both Tahoe and Whistler. You can get rained on nearly any time of the year.

Big Sky and Jackson aren't very close to major airports. Jackson's airport is pretty small but larger planes do fly in. You also can get by without a car as they offer shuttle rides from the aiport to your hotel and then free shuttles to the ski area. I feel it's best to stay in town if you don't have a car because you can walk to most restaurants. However, Jackson isn't exactly the best place for beginners. Most people believing themselves advanced or expert because they can successfully get down blues and blacks in CO will be in for a surprise. Their beginner and intermediate terrain is quite lacking. If you're timid, are a newbie, or judge your skiing ability on what color run you just survived sliding down, Jackson may not be worth it. I love that place! [img]tongue.gif[/img]

I've never been to Big Sky so I can't comment. With the wide range of abilities Whistler would be a good bet. It best satisfies your requests for no rental car, shuttle service and great apres ski and dining options. Crowds can be big but they disperse fairly well. I've never really had to wait in long lines. Certainly no worse than Tahoe or Summit Co.
post #3 of 12
Big Sky has a great variety of terrain. Add in Moonlight Basin, which is right next to Big Sky, and you have over 5,000 acres accessible by lift. That total will be increasing next year if Moonlight comes through with its promised expansion. It is rare at both Big Sky and Moonlight to encounter a lift line especially on weekdays. In fact, during the work week it is rare to encounter other skiers on the same trail.

Big Sky is about an hour from the Bozeman airport and they do run shuttles to the resort. Most of the lodging is at the resort and accessible via skis. There are restaurants at the resort village plus the hotels provide shuttle service to restaurants in the surrounding area.

The main problem with Big Sky is early season snow consistency. I would hesitate to recommend someone plan an Xmas vacation or January vacation there far in advance. Anything from Presidents' Day on would be better.

PS - While in the area it is worth taking a trip up to Bridger Bowl which is 90 minutes away. It is a great ski area with a folksy atmosphere.

[ February 18, 2004, 02:56 PM: Message edited by: Rio ]
post #4 of 12
Since double postings are a bitch, I will only say Salt Lake City.

post #5 of 12
I have skied Tahoe and Whistler, like both and would recommend either to anyone, but having regard to your criteria it has to be Whistler. The downside from your list is you can get crowds especially on weekends but they are so civilised (compared to Europe)that it is not a major hassle. Also, not on your list, the base weather can be a bit iffy, but that apart it is great. Certainly for us Europeans it is also relatively cheap (particularly for food) once you get there-even though it is said to be expensive by Canadian standards
post #6 of 12
With such a large group and no rental cars I would definately go somewhere like Whistler where there is plenty of terrain for everyone and no need to shuttle or drive. Tahoe has a lot of areas all spread out which will require too many decisiona about where to ski, plus the logistics of moving 14 peeps and all their crap. Stick with a place where everyone can come and go as they please and you won't have to figure out where and when and how every single day.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all your help. Looks like Big Sky wins out. We ruled out Whistler due to the location, expense of airfare and hit or miss weather. Jackson was deemed too hard for the beginner skiers in our group, although I am still miffed about it, have to do what the majority wants. Tahoe just didn't have enough of any of what we were all looking for, though I will hit it one of these days on a solo trip.
Now, to wait til May for ABasin spring skiing!
post #8 of 12
Jackson gets a bad rap like that. No, noobs won't want to ride the tram, but there's plenty of skiing for them there.

Throw in a day trip to Targhee on the daily bus trip that runs outta Jackson, and you're set.

But whatever. Trying to organize a ski trip with 14 people and keping all of them happy is the nearest thing to impossible I've heard all week.
post #9 of 12
Hands down WHISTLER!!!!!!!!! Something for everyone both on and off the slopes.
post #10 of 12
I know too many people that got rained out at Whistler. Big Sky has great skiing on Andesite and you can wear your legs off on the high speed quad.
I think your best combination for beginner terrain etc and few people might be Targhee....plus they generally have the most snow in the country.
I just got back from Jackson and it is a blast but you have to be careful where you go....lots of BIG cliffs.
Utah probably has the best bunch of areas to choose from.....Snowbird is hard to beat with steep stuff that wont kill you like Jackson if you fall and Alta is right there..... and they usually have gobs of snow.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Like, I said. I would've chosen Jackson Hole and even mentioned Targhee and Snowking as alternatives, but this is a democratic state and the majority rules, so Big Sky, here we come!
I might make a trip to JH in Nov., Dec. however.
post #12 of 12
You'll like it..........launch yourself off the cornice at the start of Mad Wolf.......not too high but alot of fun
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