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American Cultural Ski Trip

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I am half-considering taking my family of four to the US for a ski holiday. Top-ranked skiing, luxury accom, gourmet meals and nightlife, are secondary. We go to Whistler all the time. We are looking for a US western destination that fully captures the flavour of the wild west spirit of the region. If it happens to have fabulous skiing, so much the better! Don't care too much about seamless air connections as long as we can get there in a long day from Vancouver. Was considering Steamboat, Jackson Hole, or Telluride, but open to suggestion. Any input is welcome. Thanks!
post #2 of 12

You'll have to define your vision of the "real wild west" before we can make some recommendations. At first reaction is to suggest Sun Valley, Idaho. You might consider Aspen, CO, or Jackson Hole, WY also. All three can provide big vertical, authentic "resorts", and a certain "wild west" edge. During mid-season, Sun Valley offers uncrowded, great skiing for all levels of skiers with cruisers, bumps, and bowls. My favorite glade skiing can be found at SV also.
post #3 of 12
Steamboat, what more could you ask for, there was ranching in the yampa valley and Steamboat Springs was founded well before the existance of the mountain itself. Its a real western town
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hey, Sun Valley! Forgot about that place. Have heard great stories.

The US has a distinct culture, though it's one many Americans may not even take notice of, as its part of daily life. Perhaps it's a better question for non-Americans to answer. It's not about skiing at all; there are plenty of very worthy ski areas closer to home here in BC at half the price & no air travel. Looking for something very, well, American. Hard to put your finger on it exactly. Can't really describe Canadian culture either, except that I realize how different it is each time I go to the US.
post #5 of 12
I'm probably going to catch a lot of flack for this but it seems to me that the "Real Wild West" is largely a fiction created by novellists and film writers and a fantasy maintained by millionaires who buy those gorgeous ranches. Anyone who has been in a cowboy bar will attest that there other characters out there as well who work to maintain the image. None of this makes the genre any less facinating or appealing. Bear in mind that the writers and filmmakers who discovered and, to some degree, invented, all this were artists in their own right. In keeping with this thought I wonder if the most appealing location might be that which most redenbles a carefully crafted set piece. I've never been there but Robert Redford's Utah resort sounds as if it might well fit the bill. It is supposed to have been very well done. I wouldn't wish to miss Jackson Hole, if I were you, with it's "Mangy Moose Saloon" and the "Million Dollar Cowboy Bar". Certainly mining and ranching used to be done in Aspen and vicinity but it's current flavor, while outrageous and curious, is not what I would describe as the "Real West".

If western history is what you're after, why not visit Taos where european settlement was already in place, in the context of a much older culture, before the Pilgrims ever stepped ashore in Massachusetts? The skiing there is also great.
post #6 of 12
JR, of the three places you mention, I've only been to Steamboat and love it. I think Durango is a sort of similar place, with a lot of Colorado history accessible within a short drive and an excellent, non-overrun mountain (two, if you count Wolf Creek).

If you do decide on Steamboat, absolutely make sure you go out for a sleigh-ride dinner - I think you might find a lot of what you are looking for.

And I'll throw this in out of the blue, Stateline, Nevada, skiing at Heavenly, will give you an extremely authentic American experience, exposure to all sorts of people, and with a car, access to some terrific scenery, many ski areas, and other non-skiing tourist-type activity.


[ December 28, 2002, 07:48 PM: Message edited by: Flopping Carp ]
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for advice, all. I guess we're searching for the "The Great American Ski Area", with ordinary people with honest hospitality (or even lack of it), rather than a Hollywood cowboy show. So far, sounds like Steamboat wins, but I've also heard of smaller NE areas that could fit the bill too. Might not get there this year, but will plan for next. Thanks again, and a happy new year to all.
post #8 of 12
Originally posted by JR:
I guess we're searching for the "The Great American Ski Area", with ordinary people with honest hospitality (or even lack of it), rather than a Hollywood cowboy show.
If that's what you're looking for, be sure to skip the larger, more famous areas.

For history, hospitality, and uncrowded slopes, it's hard to beat Sugar Bowl, CA. If you ski there midweek, you will have the slopes to yourself. You can stay at the 1930s Sugar Bowl Inn and walk to the lifts, if you can get in. If not, you can stay at the historic Truckee Hotel (built in the 1850s) and drive or take the shuttle to Sugar Bowl. The Sugar Bowl web site is reporting a base of 120 inches today, with more to come.

The Sugar Bowl web site

The Truckee Hotel Web Site
post #9 of 12
If you want the western experience don't go to a big name resort. Instead, go to a bunch of smaller resorts. Western Montana is full of them. It would require renting an SUV and driving from place to place but the experience would be worth it.

If you don't want to drive much consider the Tahoe area. It is not as remote as Montana but it does have numerous resorts, each with their own personality.
post #10 of 12
I have an idea of what you are looking for.
Don't bother with New England, You will be disappointed with the skiing. Go directly to New Mexico for an amazing time. Taos, Ski Santa Fe and Ski Apache at Riudoso will fit the bill. Should be cheaper than Colorado. Great people, great food and great skiing. The western culture is very strong in Riudoso. Ranchers sporting sidearms in a strange little artisan town.
post #11 of 12
Ski Apache would be a bit of a hike from northern New Mexico. I recommend a four-area trip:

Arrive in ABQ, warm-up day at Santa Fe, continue on to Angel Fire, then Taos, and finally, hit Pajarito on the way back to the airport.
post #12 of 12
If you don't mind a little extra driving, Ruidoso (and it's neighbor Cloudcroft) are actually worth the trip. It's a really neat little town - lots of Indian influence. You can get beautiful cabins/homes to rent very cheap. Check with any of the realtors in town - there are a lot of summer homes that get rented out by the day. Views are wonderful (you can see White Sands down in the valley from many points up in the mountains.) The skiing at Ski Apache isn't bad when they have the snow, there are sleigh rides through town, and ranches and such that do horseback tours of the mountains and things like that as well that might add to your "American West" experience.
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