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Reno vs. SLC ?

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
I'm trying to plan a 4 night / 3 day skiing and I have the option of flying into either one of these cities for a fairly good price from the East Coast. I don't know much about the resorts available in both places so I'd like to get your input so I can make a decision between the two. I was told about Alta for SLC and Heavenly for Reno. What do you think ?
Things I'm looking for "big mountain" resort, snow (we are going late march / early April), accessibility from airport and cheap overall!!! Can we rely on shuttles or should we rent a car ??? We are two going there and are advanced skiers. Any tips on preparing this trip are appreciated... thanks
post #2 of 37
Both are fantastic options. (the best 2 ski airports in the country).

Reno: I don't care much for Heavenly or South Tahoe in general. I'd recommend staying in North Tahoe (Stateline area if you are a gambler) and ski Alpine and Northstar. I don't care for Squaw much either. Inconsistent fall line, and too damn steep in a lot of places for anything but a daily shredder. If it storms, go to Northstar. I did not heed this advice, and it stinks at the other resorts in the snow. The lifts blow closed. The back side of Northstar trees are the bomb in a storm.

SLC: The bird is the best fall line lift serviced I've ever found. Lots of options (Alta, Solitude). I'd avoid PC if you are serious about the skiing. PC has lots of trails, and lots of small bowls, but not the long epic lines available in the cottonwoods.

Both can be had cheap cause SLC, and North Tahoe/ Trukee have affordable lodging since they are not "resorty." I'd buck up for the car, but SLC has PT that has great service to the resorts.

post #3 of 37
Thread Starter 
I just got an offer for an interesting option in Heavenly with a cheap roundtrip shuttle from the airport to the hotel. Once in Heavenly would I be hurting without a car or is it pretty pedestrian friendly ? I have two options for hotels one in the Casino area and one in the Gondolas Base area. Wherever those two areas are. We're not looking for great apres-ski options but proximity at least to restaurants. Would this be duable at either hotels or would we need a car ?

I'm not set on Heavenly and appreciate your input and will look into Northstar and Ski Alpine and welcome anyone else's advice or preferences.
post #4 of 37
Reno area would be great for your preferences. Besides Heavenly i would recommend squaw valley and alpine meadows since you are looking for that 'big mountain' feel. Squaw definetely has it and some intermediate slopes too. Car is definetely a must unless you plan to stay and ski heavenly your entire trip(not recommended). Snow should be good as the resorts dont close usually until late april while squaw i think opens until mid-may sometimes.
post #5 of 37
Thread Starter 
Thanks. Why wouldn't you recommend skiing Heavenly for the whole duration ? Once in Heavenly (specifically the Gondolla base area and Casino area) is it a village with restaurants and shops nearby or not ? Are there any shuttles to Alpine Meadows or Squaw from Heavenly ? I really want to avoid renting a car if all possible...
post #6 of 37

1. There is a ton of skiing at heavenly. If you live here, it may get boring after awhile, but you won't ski the whole mountain in 3 days. Aside from which, in March/April, half of squaw valley and alpine can be slop when heavenly is still firm. The other half of squaw that is firm is real steep, whereas heavenly, high up, is kinda moderate - a little mild for some advanced skiers on the more open runs, and too expert on the steepest. Whether that's good for you depends on your skiing ability and what the snow is like. However, if you're looking to get around for high steeps by southlake, you do not need a car; the bus to kirkwood is 5 bucks. You need to get up early for that.

2. The Gondola is like, 2 blocks from the Casinos. Almost the same place. It is called "stateline", and its kinda like a strip more than a "village", but its nice enough. Its not like Aspen or stuff like that. But I'm assuming you are going there to ski, not take pictures.

3. Yes, there are shuttles to Heavenly. Heavenly has four bases, and the Gondola is only one of them. You can ski around to the others, or take a ride on the shuttles if, say, you want to start or end the day somewhere else. The Gondola is real convenient. I don't think they charge at all for the heavenly buses, its 5 bucks for kirkwood, and I dunno about the bus that goes to sierra-at-tahoe but I've seen it. It takes a long time to drive around the lake to Squaw or Alpine like, 1.5 hours to get actually in the parking lot, which, at Alpine, is limited parking. I dunno the bus situation for that route.

4. As far as big-mountain feel, Heavenly is a damn big mountain, so is Squaw, and Kirkwood too. And having said all this, should anyone admit they would much rather go to SLC?
post #7 of 37
Thread Starter 
Thanks steve_s !

Presumably we are going to get there on a Wednesday midday and ski Thursday through Sunday and leave on the Monday morning. So we have four days worth of skiing. We're looking for skiing not nightlife or a dating scene. I'll make that clear. We just want to be close enough to some restaurants. When looking at SLC that was my main concern without getting a rental car. It seemed like all the budget motels in Mid Valley were kind of isolated and even getting a descent meal could turn out to be an ordeal to get to. If you are telling me that the Gondolas Base area or Casino area in Heavenly have restaurants and pedestrian life that's all I need.

Is there any advantage to getting the lift tickets with the lodging as a package ? Are daily lift tickets just for Heavenly or are there options to connect to other domains ?

If we wanted to ski one other resort on one day, what would you guys recommend that is easily accessible by shuttle ?

Thanks again!
post #8 of 37
I was in the Reno area (actually, Gardnerville) last Easter, and we skiied Kirkwood b/c it was late in the season. Apparently, Kirkwood gets more snow than most places, and since it was April that was our best bet.

My buddy had a season pass at Heavenly, so we would have gone there normally. Kirkwood was great.
post #9 of 37
Thread Starter 
does anyone know how late in the season Heavenly closes ? I'm shooting for March 31st-April 5th. How much of Heavenly should I expect to be open at that point and time if this is an average year ?
post #10 of 37
Originally posted by kelly001:
If you are telling me that the Gondolas Base area or Casino area in Heavenly have restaurants and pedestrian life that's all I need.

Is there any advantage to getting the lift tickets with the lodging as a package ? Are daily lift tickets just for Heavenly or are there options to connect to other domains ?

If we wanted to ski one other resort on one day, what would you guys recommend that is easily accessible by shuttle ?

Thanks again!
Yes, there are restaurants and stores that you can walk to from the Gondola base.

As for tickets with lodging, I assume that it's cheaper that way?
Otherwise, what's the point?

If you'd like to ski one other resort, go to Kirkwood. I suggest going there on Saturday, as Heavenly gets pretty crowded during weekends, whereas Kirkwood is relatively crowd free.
post #11 of 37
Heavenly I believe officially closes around April 22, but not due to lack of snow....around april 5th it should be 100% open. This is at least an average year, if not better, in terms of snowpak. And even if not entirely open, say, due to rain or something, there would still be a heluvalot of terrain to deal with in 3 days. When they closed last year, only half of the mountain was open, but that was due to lack of staff and business, not snow.

I think the weekend crowd issue is way overstated on heavenly....but whatever.... I dunno the issues with the lift pass/lodging combos as it depends on the lodging; I'm not sure about interchangeability per se, but some offer different resorts - or a surcharge (for Heavenly, for example, due to its convenience).

The resorts easily accessible by shuttle would be Kirkwood, for advanced skiers, or Sierra-at-Tahoe (full range of skier ability, but substantial crowds). If one other resort for a day - purely for purpose of skiing variety, and you had the time for the busride, I'd recc Kirkwood - its a haul too, I'm guessing roughly 45 minutes plus from Heavenly.
post #12 of 37
I've done both Tahoe and SLC repeatedly. If you don't gamble, it is a no-brainer. Utah skiing is much better than Tahoe(at least at intermediate and above). Longer runs, better snow, fewer crowds, Also, getting around is much easier. If you are serious that night life is irrelevant, stay in Sandy, UT - you'll be at the junction between Little and Big Cottonwood and can ski Solitude, Brighton, Alta, Snowbird in 15 minutes drive. Or, if you don't need constant double diamonds and want decent food/nightlife, stay in Park City and ski Deer Valley.
On the other hand, if you gamble, Tahoe is the only place to be.
post #13 of 37
Last week - I would have recommended Reno quite strongly. But - looks like summer has arrived early on the west coast. Temps are in the high 50s or maybe even 60s in tahoe.

I would go to SLC.
post #14 of 37
lol. Tried to warn her.
post #15 of 37
I had to choose between SLC and Tahoe. Went with SLC. Catching a shuttle to my hotel in Midvale; it's right on the bus runs up to Brighton/Solitude and Alta/Snowbird. 5 bucks R/T. Did a yahoo search of the neighborhood and it looks like there's plenty of options for food and drink. I don't mind walking a few blocks much less taking the cheap and efficient public trans. Called Canyon Sports and their shop is right on the bus routes as well, so I'll hop off, get discount lift tickets and jump on the next ride. Lodging is cheap and clean; that's all I need!
post #16 of 37
Thread Starter 
Yeah, it's pretty scary to see 60 degrees in early March for tahoe. I might of made a bad mistake but then again according to all previous years statistics there was nothing to indicate this kind of a trend. April in Tahoe is supposed to be sunny with some snow falls. Perhaps it's not as good as Lake Louise in early April but it's still a destination renowed for spring skiing. Perhaps their spring skiing will be in March this year. Would suck. :
post #17 of 37
Thread Starter 
PS: not like Alta is in a deep cold freeze at the moment either... They were in the lower 50s today...
post #18 of 37
Kelly I wouldn't worry to much. It may be 60 degrees there now but that could change in a heartbeat. Here in Park City it is also vary spring like. Still I found plenty of great skiing. It takes alot to melt down 5 to 6 foot of snow.
post #19 of 37

south lake tahoe - is a BIG village. in fact it is more of a town. if you are staying near the gondola or casino (which is really 2 blocks from each other) - there are tons of restaurants, shops, a grocery store within walking distance. There are local town buses also which you can use if you want to go to the other side of town( to visit the outlet shops for example). Most ski resort shuttles - Heavenly, sierra at Tahoe, Kirkwood and for squaw - stop near the gondola area at either Embassy suites hotel or Harrahs casino (or at both places). check out the website - they have an interesting option where you can take a dinner cruise back to south lake tahoe after skiing at squaw.

so - bottom line - no - you don't have to rent a car.

Also if i have a choice between staying at the casinos Vs staying AT the gondola base - i would prefer the later - because then i don't have to depend on the shuttles at all. But I have kids to think about and I hate walking/lugging everybodys ski equipment all over the place - even if it is just 2 blocks. 2 hotels that come to mind which would be most convenient are the marriot timber lodge and marriot grand resort. they are on either side of the gondola.
post #20 of 37

It is was 85 in bay area day before last, smashing records by 10 degrees in some stations. But hey, it was like that last march and it snowed a ton in April, it snowed 4 feet in one day in May.

The 14-day forecast is showing above normal precipitation and below normal temperatures, with a low moving across the sierra early next wk.

Sharpen those edges.
post #21 of 37
Thread Starter 
I can only hope your 14-day forecast is right... I doubt that it will be worse than the conditions we'll have her in the North East by that time...
post #22 of 37
Thread Starter 
As time goes by and still not a flake of snow at Heavenly since late February, I guess the odds are increasing daily that we will get some snow soon enough. I mean how likely would it be for a place like Lake Tahoe to have its last snow storm in late February ?

Does anyone know a good site to see an extended weather forecast for that region ?
post #23 of 37
Since I will be in the Tahoe area in early April I have also been checking the weather, which seems depressingly sunny!! It was snowing here in Edinburgh on Friday, at sea level, so no new snow in Tahoe is a bit hard to take, tho there seems to be a big base there anyway. But the forecasts I have seen suggest a change this week, tho some say "snow" and others refer to a "chance of snow" over 4/5 days after say Wed/Thurs
post #24 of 37
weather link from Alpine Meadows web site attached

dont know if it is any good but it looks "official", if that means anything !!
post #25 of 37
Thread Starter 
Yeah and most models I found today seem to indicate a chance of snow or rain while others are already predicting rain period.
I've prepared myself mentally to having no fresh snow but if it's going to rain on top of it I might have to pack a healthy dose of prozac instead of skis.
post #26 of 37
So, what would you rather have the new Lexus 430 or the Mercedes 500?

Bottom line, you can't miss with either.


ps, I go to Reno a lot and I am surprised that you can find cheap airfare. I'm going on April 4 for business and paid $340. Sometimes from Providence, with 2 stops it's $225. You can probably go to SLC non-stop but will have to make a stop to get to Reno.

SLC will probably be better connections and it's likely you can ski the morning of your return day. There is a 4:00 Delta flight that goes back to Boston that works out well.
post #27 of 37
May I poach a little of your research ASAP?

Seems that due to an unexpected twist, I'll be headed to Tahoe 3/30-4/4. I'm looking for a decent lift and lodging deal.

BTW, I'll have a car, so if you and whomever you're traveling with want to make a run to squaw or kirkwood, check in with me.

Contact me here, or by PM.
post #28 of 37
Oh, and BTW, don't stress. Conditions will be great. Even if you don't see pow, it should be excellent coverage, and suntan weatther under blue skies.

Think positive! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #29 of 37
Thread Starter 

Hope this makes it you you in time! We found the best deal straight through the website. Go to the Web Special section in Travel Arrangement section. They have deals for "Spring skiing" like buy "3 days lodging/skiing and get the 4th night/ski day for free" It's pretty flexible since at the time we booked you could select a 2, 3, 4 or 5 days package with the same free day option. Price then varies depending on which hotel you select with the package.
Only problem is that the lift tickets are for Heavenly only. But to me it was a better deal. 4 days lodging / lift tickets for $250 a piece with taxes. Couldn't find anything cheaper anywhere for this time period.

I might take you up on your offer for Kirkwood / Squaw. Depends if we have the extra cash to spend on lift tickets. Do you know of any good lift deals to Kirkwood or Squaw ? Since we already prepaid all days for Heavenly I don't want to spend too much for tickets at Kirkwood or Squaw.
post #30 of 37
Sounds good, I'm gonna check it out.

As for skiing other than Heavenly, looks like Squaw for sure, unless a snowfall gives us reason to go elsewhere. I don't know of any super deals, but I'll keep my eyes open.
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