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Steamboat, Jackson Hole/Grand Targhee

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Our family, 2 adults and 2 kids ages 6 and 7, has skied about 30 days in the past 3 years. We are low to mid intermediate - skied Copper and most of the blues around SLC. The groomed blues at Snowbird were our family's favorite, although my wife really liked Solitude and our 7 year-old daughter loves "easy" tree skiing - thank God for helmets.

We are considering a mid-December trip to Steamboat and a spring trip to JH/GT. We are driving and will attempt to be flexible to coincide with good conditions. I have reviewed the trail maps and posted reviews but would like specific feedback from those so inclinded:

1. Accommodations at either: we mostly ski and the kids like to swim after. We are looking for clean budget to moderately priced accommodations, but with an indoor pool/hot tub?

2. Discount lift tickets at either?

3. Expect to stay at Jackson and go to GT depending on who has snow. Does JH have enough non-traverse blue or would GT be better for our level? How does JH blue compare to Snowbird blue?
Should we expect to be able to cross Teton Pass or is it frequently closed. Although we don't have a great deal of powder experience, looking forward to GT - despite limitations, should we stay on GT side or JH side.

4. Is a trip to Winter Park on our way to Steamboat worth the time.

Thanks in advance for the help.
post #2 of 20
I'll leave the Steamboat replies to someone else other than to say Winter Park is worth stopping at if it is along your route.

Now as far as JH goes:
1)Accomodations: The only place I've stayed in JH that had both an indoor pool and hot tub was the condos at the JH Racquet Club. As I recall they were very economical (especially when you factor in the food savings versus staying in a place with no kitchen), and a 1 BR would easily be large enough for your group. The two I've stayed in both had built-in bunk beds and a sofa sleeper as well as a separate bedroom. For more budget oriented places check in the town of Jackson rather than closer to Teton Village.

2)Can't help you on discount tickets, JH is kind of like Snowbird in that a non-tram ticket is cheaper than a tram ticket. The tram services only black terrain.

3)JH's blue terrain is very comparable to Snowbird's. The runs get more difficult as you go across the mountain (trail map) from Apres Vous toward Rendevous. (i.e. the blues on Rendevous Mtn are tougher than the blues on Apres Vous Mtn.) I don't know about acreage but there seems to be more of a variety of blues at JH than at Snowbird, or at least they are spread out more evenly across the mtn and not all bunched together. If it dumps on Teton Pass you aren't going to GT that day from JH. Even for an intermediate skier (and especially for a non-pow intermediate skier), I think JH is a better resort than GT for a destination due to its size and variety.

Other: My wife is a blue skier at best and her favorite place to ski is JH. Why? JH is relatively uncrowded, and the pitches are very consistent from top to bottom. If it starts steep it stays steep, and if it starts gentle it stays gentle. There are very few steep-flat-steep-flat sections. The area around JH is also one of the most scenic in North America, Yellowstone in winter is definitely worth a visit.

Also, Steamboat is an excellent choice for a family intermediate destination. It's just been a long, long time since I've been there (darn near 20 years : ).

[ July 11, 2003, 12:16 PM: Message edited by: teledave ]
post #3 of 20
Despite having lived in Denver for nearly 3 years, I have not yet made it to Steamboat, but everyone tells me it is a great family resort, and a fun town.

My only comment is regarding Winter Park- great skiing, but it is a bit more out of the way than you may think, assuming you will be driving up I70. The turnoff to get to Steamboat is at Dillon (a few miles from Keystone, Breckenridge, or A-Basin, just past the Eisenhower Tunnel), but to get to WP you get off I70 farther east and head towards Granby over Berthoud Pass. The difference in driving times isn't too much (probably about 30 minutes), but the road over the pass is narrow and winding, a factor to consider if the weather or road conditions are bad when you come. If the driving is difficult, and you are not experienced in driving in the mountains in the winter, you may want to consider one of the other resorts as an alternative.
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback.

We will be heading out to the Tetons for a week at a ranch near Dubois. We hope to check a things out when we are there. Has anyone been to Snowy Range (near Laramie, WY). We are considering stopping on our way out next spring. The only thing we have heard so far is that it tends to be very windy.

Expect to be driving west from Denver, maybe stopping for a day at Winter Park and then up to Steamboat. I was hoping to take Highway 40 from Winter Park to Steamboat, but should I go back to I-70 and take Highway 9.
post #5 of 20
Most definitely combine Winter Park with Steamboat. Stayed at Super 8 in WP, pleasantly surprised with better-than-usual accomodations. Same deal at Steamboat, but not as nice.

Jackson Hole is our favorite (GREAT intermediates: loong, wiide, steep but steady). Stayed in Best Western in town of JH (a suite with jacuzzi and full breakfast) for $125!!!

Grand Targhee was too small, but okay for 1 day. Take a 4 hour drive to Sun valley and spend 3 days there: Steep and Long Blues all over!
post #6 of 20
cj- I always assumed that was a longer route, but looking at a map, you may be right. I would defer to someone with firsthand knowledge. Most people that I know from Denver take 70 to 9, but 40 may be just as good.
post #7 of 20
I'll chime in on this one since I have been to both Steamboat in December and Jackson in the Spring.

Steamboat - I have only been there once, and we stayed "slopeside" for 5 nights over Christmas for a fairly reasonable rate of around $200 a night at the Storm Meadows for a 2 bedroom 2 bath condo that slept 5 people. We did have a hottub, but we had to walk a few minuted to get to it. The entire Storm Meadows area has 1 pool/fitness facility, so it can get crowded too. I though 200 a night was reasonable given it was over XMas holiday and slopeside. The condo was on the left side of the mountain looking up, and offered some good views of both the valley and the mountain. I put slopeside on quotes since we could not walk to and from the slopes, but we could ski to and from the slopes via an access trail. The access trail requires natural snow to cover, so in mid-December there may not be enough natural snow to cover it. If it is not snow covered, you can walk on the footpath for about a 2-3 minute walk to the slopes. Steamboat does get more snow than most other mountains in Colorado, but due to their low elevation, it can also burn off quickly too. I'd be carefull of getting skunked by early/mid-december weather. Had it not snowed 5 feet the 3 days before we got there, and the first day we were there we could have been skunked ourselves. For discounted lift tickets, try the MeTicket. If you purchase them before Decmeber 8th, you can get a 6 day pass for only $49 a day, that is $8 a day cheaper than the 6 day pass. Can't help you with a day at WP, I've never been there.

Jackson - I'll double teledave's thoughts on Jackson's blue terrain. There may not be as much blue terrain at Jackson as there is elsewhere, but the relatively uncrowded slopes make it much more enjoyable to ski. Having been there in the spring, I should let you know that unless they have at least an average snow year, you should be on the look out for numerous dirt patches on the lower half of the mountain. During the spring, fresh snow turns to mashed potatoes very quickly at Jackson. To figure out where you want to ski, look up at the mountain, and the further right you go, the easier the terrain gets, the further left, the more steep the terrain gets. I haven't heard of any discounted lift tickets this year for Jackson, but you can always search the internet for sign up deals, where companies will offer you free lit tickets just for soliciting information via email. A friend of mine got 2 free lift tickets to Jackson that way 2 years ago. It is absolutely worth it to go to Targhee. They get more snow, and hold it later in the year, so if there are burned off areas at the base of Jackson, Targhee should still be OK. Getting accross the pass should not be difficult unless you are trying to do it in a storm. They get the pass open pretty quickly since most of the people who work in Jackson don't live there and have to drive over the pass to get to work. Last year, we were able to cross the pass a mere hour after snow had stopped falling after a 19" storm. As for accomodations, we have stayed at both Cowboy Village and the Antler Inn. I do not recomend Cowboy village as the rooms are small, and it can get cold inside the cabins. They do have a hot tub, but it can get crowded. The Antler Inn is a much better alternative, with nice rooms, a good breakfast, and a nice hot tub. The only way you will run into any sort of crowds is if tour companies happen to take a lot of people there for spring break, and you are there either the second or third week of March. Still, even though there about 500 people there for spring break 2 years ago, we did not feel crowded on the slopes or in town.

Have Fun!
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
What is a reasonable snow base for:

JH, GT, Steamboat and Winter Park. Intermediate runs - probably not a JH Tram run). Seems JH is pretty iffy in December, but Steamboat might also be a problem due to elevation.

We tried skiing in December for the first time last year (at Copper Mtn). Although the base wasn't as good as we had in the
past, good snow immediately prior and while we were there made for good conditions and then great conditions in Utah during March.

Plan on driving, despite ages of children, so we hope to be somewhat flexible on dates (and maybe location if necessary).
post #9 of 20
First of all I don't think the drive over Berthoud Pass is any worse than the tunnel or the drive over Rabbit Ears Pass in bad weather. CDOT does a good job. No drive is enjoyable if the weather is bad and there is a great deal of traffic. Don't backtrack from Winter Park to the interstate to go to Steamboat.

The skiing at WP/MJ is great and has the kind of terrain you are looking for.

Steamboat is a gem. If you want water, stay at the Rabbit Ears Motel and you are right across the street from a hot springs/fitness center. The name implies a dump, however, it is very clean and well run. It's in town and a five minute drive to the base area. I have to presume it's cheaper than the base area condos.

Who knows about conditions? Last year in December Steamboat and WP/MJ had plenty of coverage in December.
post #10 of 20

Just wanted to chime in with a couple of points than might apply here.

Winter Park and Steamboat are both great areas and deserve a visit. The trip around to Steamboat, by Sol Vista, is much easier, once you are at Winter Park; even if the weather and conditions are challenging. If you are 'hooked' on cruiser mountains, you might want to look at Snowmass. It is the one in Colorado that 'defines' the term.

Everything said in this thread about Jackson Hole is correct, but your skiing experiences will have a lot to do with your skill level. If you are an intermediate skier by choice, and have the skills to handle advanced challenges, but just choose cruising; you will fall in love with the groomers at Jackson Hole. If you are an intermediate by skill, you might find yourself challenged to the point of feeling intimidated. The first time I went, I was with a group of 250, and there were a lot of comments about the feeling that blue in 'The Hole', was often black in Colorado. I would tend to agree with that sentiment.
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses. I will look at Aspen - and hopefully be able to keep options open depending on conditions.

I would say intermediates by choice. My wife and son (6) tend to be more cautious. Except for ski school, we usually ski as a family.

I haven't looked at the Aspen area much other than to know there are 4 areas with varying skill levels and various opinions on crowds and price.

Our current interest/skill level tend towards: groomed cruisers, easy to moderate tree skiing, learning to ski powder and budget/moderate accomodations with an accessible pool/hot tub.

post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Correction to previous post. We are intermediates by skill. I should have proofread before sending. Maybe it was just wishful thinking. Our 7-year old daughter likes all the runs green/blue trees to groomed black. My wife chooses to be safe. I just hope to be able to keep up with our daughter - and retire to a location where we can snow ski in winter and water ski in summer.

post #13 of 20

Your observations of the situation at Aspen hold merit. Aspen is unique and can be quite pricey. The 4 ski areas all have very different characters, but you can ski all four of them on one pass the same day. Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass probably fit your stated desires best, with Snowmass holding a special place on the 'cruiser' list.

If you might be interested, Glenwood Springs has some pretty good deals on lodging/skiing packages. It is an easy 45 minute drive to Snowmass on a gentle grade, well maintained highway. You might want to look into some of the 'ski and soak' packages offered in association with the Hot Springs and Vapor Caves. Most of that info has links on the Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce website.

The best deals I have seen slopeside were at Snowmass. As we approach the season, they always run some specials. That pre holiday season usually has some good pricing on lifts and lodging.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
feal: Thanks for the Aspen suggestion.

If we are in Glenwood Springs, that looks like it may have flexibility for either Aspen area or Vail Valley. Is that right and is the road to Aspen well maintained for winter travel.

We are trying to keep options open depending on conditions, but will probably try for Aspen area in December/January (not the two holdiay weeks) and Steamboat in March.

Aspen: Looking at Wildwood Lodge at Snowmass and the Cedar Lodge Motel or Hampton Inn in Glenwood Springs.

Steamboat: Fairfield Inn

Criteria: budget to moderate price, pool, good cancellation policy.
post #15 of 20

Your observations on the Glenwood Springs setting are exactly what I thought the first time I went. I soon found out why few people there opt to drive I-70 over to Vail. The drive to the Aspen group is easier, and a little closer. You will have to decide for yourself if the skiing is exactly what you want, or you can opt to ski Beaver Creek or Vail(I thought Beaver Creek was a good cruiser mountain). That time of the year(around Dec 15) had better deals on skiing in the Aspen group. ...For a change of pace you can try a day of skiing up at Sunlight(Good prices, good terrain, family oriented; but no high speed lifts).

Hope you have a great trip!

post #16 of 20
[quote]Originally posted by cjbrowns:
is the road to Aspen well maintained for winter travel.

It is well maintianed but, it can have quite a bit of traffic and they don't call it "killer 82" for nothing.

We are trying to keep options open depending on conditions, but will probably try for Aspen area in December/January (not the two holdiay weeks) and Steamboat in March.

I think the key for any early season trip is flexability. If you are driving don't make any reservations until a couple days before you leave or not at all. Then see who has the best conditions and just show up. I don't think there is a resort in North America that you couldn't find a decent deal at before christmas.

Looking at Wildwood Lodge at Snowmass .

It's ok, but I think the Crestwood would be cheaper, cleaner and has better management. Plus I just don't like the guy that owns the Wildwood.

I think that any of the places you have picked would be good for a vacation, if they have the right conditions when you want to go.
post #17 of 20

Since you are trying to stretch a family budget, you might want to look into Snow Mountain Ranch in association with a visit to Winter Park. They have three large lodges that range from very nice, to something a little more than dormitory style. There are also some 30 or 40 backcountry cabins in settings that can make you feel like you just bought your own high country ranch. The cabins are generally very nice, and well equipped and maintained.

It is all run by YMCA of the Rockies. Members have priority over non-members, but there are generally many openings in off-peak periods. There is a very large cross county ski area on the ranch, and an atheltic facility with an olympic sized swimming pool. They also have a large cafateria serving the lodges and any who don't want to spend their time cooking. The drive to Winter Park or Sol Vista is pretty easy unless it's just a total blizzard. For a family ski setting, it's hard to beat for the price.

You can check it out at www.ymcarockies.org .

post #18 of 20
Originally posted by cjbrowns:
feal: Thanks for the Aspen suggestion.

If we are in Glenwood Springs, that looks like it may have flexibility for either Aspen area or Vail Valley. Is that right and is the road to Aspen well maintained for winter travel.

I drove this route last year in early February. I was actually driving from Aspen to SLC. I made pretty good time depite contruction. I don't know what project they are working on, but you might want to look at the potential for construction delays on 82 just outside Aspen. There was also a TON of traffic in Glenwood Springs. You might want to look at a hotel on the south side of town to get away from it.
post #19 of 20
Since you're driving anyway and it sounds like you have alot of flexability, why not just wait to see what areas have the best snow before locking in on a destination? That way you can't go wrong.

Without speaking of the specific times/dates you want to travel, I'll offer our experiences at the listed resorts based on your ability levels...


I guess I'll disagree with almost everybody else and say that JH would NOT be a great choice. I love the town and I love the resort but it's not the best place to take somebody who's into the blue groomers...at least not for a week. Grand Targhee is good for 2 days tops and definitely a better intermediate mountain. I do like what somebody else suggested about going to Sun Valley for 3 days...that's groomer central but their blues are blacks at most other resorts.


We've been here 6-7 times and it's a great family resort, especially if you are going to put the kids in ski school. I like the town as well. There is plenty of variety in restaurants and great shopping if wanted. When there's enough snow, there is NO PLACE BETTER for tree skiing/riding. The powder is unbelievable.


It can be pricey indeed but there are bargains to be had. We went 2 years in a row and didn't even have lodging when we landed in Denver. We bought a "Rocky Mountain News" and looked in the classifieds. There are TONS of places that have openings that they are tried to rent out at great prices. There is NO BETTER TOWN than Aspen. It sounds like Snowmass may your FAVORITE resort ever based on what your family likes.

You pretty much can't go wrong with the resorts on your list though...
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the feedback. Probably looking to Aspen in December/January and Steamboat in March if conditions look good, but won't be making any reservations until we leave (at least for early session).

However, did just get back from a trip to Tetons/Yellowstone and a ranch outside of Dubois. Family loved it - 7 year old daughter thought she wanted to hike to the top of Grand Teton and everybody loved the horses. I may have to get a second job to support our vacations.

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