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Best Ski Area in NA

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I'm relatively new to the forums, so I'm sure this has all been argued before. In any case, I'd like see some healthy debate about where the EpicSki forum readers think the best ski area in North America is. I haven't been many places, so I'd like to see some frank discussion on where to plan my next (and the next, and the next...) year's winter vacation.

Possible regions that come to mind are:

-Summit County
-Utah
-Banff/BC Interior
-Tahoe
-Whistler-Blackcomb
-Pacific NW
-Southern Colorodo

...to name a few.

Basically, I'd like to see variety of terrian vs snow quality vs vertical vs lifts etc... I don't care about accommodations, nightlife and all that other jazz, just the best mountain experience I could have in a week. And I know that the Pacific Coast didn't have a good year, so lets assume everyone is having an "average" snow year.
post #2 of 29
Mr. schmoe:

Follow think I think its covered here
http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=27128
MTT
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
I don't care that much if the place is near an airport. Thats what they're getting at in that thread.

As well, I'm not talking about specific resorts, I'm talking about regions where there could be more than one resort in the same general area.
post #4 of 29
Look into the B.C. interior and Alberta. Lots of great skiing with less glitz and lower prices than the big resorts. You can drive from ski area to ski area easily and get plenty of fantastic skiing. I did it this year and didn't break the bank because I stayed in cheap motels instead of pricey digs. You have to drive a bit more, but you save lots of money that way.

Areas to check: Sun Peaks, Silver Star, Big White, Fernie, Kicking Horse, Red Mountain, Mt. Norquay, Sunshine Village, Lake Louise

I missed more than I listed. Try http://www.skiresortguide.com/canmap.cfm for information on these and many more places.

Have fun.
post #5 of 29
There are numerous criteria to deal with in a comparison of this nature. I find that I like areas with 'loads' of mixed terrain, and the best quality of snow in the comparison. Many here compare resorts based on quantity of snow, but I prefer to state my own preferences based on the quality of the snow on the surface the majority of days of the season. ..For that reason I exclude all areas recieving west coast cement, although they can make excellent vacation destinations, and always pose the opportunity for mother nature to make the event something special.

My rankings would be:

1. Banff-LakeLouise-Golden, Ca.
2. Aspen Group, Co.
3. Park City, Ut
4. Summit County, Co.
5. Vail-Beaver Creek, Co.

A sleeping candidate for this list is the ongoing effort to build Jumbo in the glaciated wilderness near Panorama.
post #6 of 29
http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...ighlight=aspen
http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...ighlight=aspen
Above are couple threads offering variety of favorable opinions of various N. American ski areas. You could find similar threads by searching resorts and travel forum.
If money was no object I'd favor Aspen area, if thrift was an issue I'd recommend SLC area.
Both regions offer lots of terrain variety at many different ski areas, generally good conditions, and interesting resort towns (Aspen and SLC=Park City).
Another thought, though not a region of five or ten ski areas: Jackson Hole ski area alone for one week would provide a lot of vert, variety, and challenge. Side trips to Grand Targhee (for a shot at skiing deep powder) and Yellowstone Park (for a snowmobile tour) would add to the fun.

I've never been to Whistler/Blackcomb. I guess those two alone constitute a "ski region" because of so much ski acreage, but I'm a little leery of the reports of rainy weather. For W/B regulars, is there a month when rain is almost unheard of?
post #7 of 29
10 top reasons to ski SLC/Park City:

10. incredibly easy to get to/from resorts. The most skier friendly airport in the world.
9. range of accomodations - inexpensive motels, house rental, resorts with amenities (e.g. heated pools), what ever you want.
8. weekdays are empty during non-holiday weeks, and crowds can be avoided even during busy times if you choose your resorts right.
7. Discount lift tix at Canyon Sports (not just for locals), or even Costco!.
6. range of eating options, from cheap (but good) Mex to hi-priced gourmet (Grappa) and everything in between.
5. Variety (in no particular order): Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, Brighton, Canyons, Park City, Deer Valley, Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, Sundance - all within a max of 1.5 hrs driving.
4. Among the most challenging lift-served terrain in NA.
3. and plenty more within a short hike.
2. Deep bases make for reliable spring skiing. The only ice is in your margarita. (Yes you can get them in SLC).
1. And if you are there during the not infrequent powder dumps, you will have the best skiing of your life.
post #8 of 29
"The Best Ski Area in NA?"

The one I happen to be skiiing on that day.

Cmon they are all good, and nobody can throw more resort stats at you than me, (well maybe tony crocket can) My point is if I am skiing a good day at one place I do not say damn I wish this was the best place this sucks.

Seriously though seems like Jackson Hole would be tough to beat for an expert skier if we are talking one mountain.

Alfonse
post #9 of 29
The definition here is a bit nebulous, but it seems to be quality and variety of skiing within a compact region. If so I wholeheartedly agree with drb on the choice of SLC.

I like interior B.C. and Alberta too and I'm up there at least once a season. But there's no way you can call it one region. There's the Okanagan group (Big White, Silver Star, Apex, plus Sun Peaks 2 hours away), Banff (Louise, Sunshine, Norquay), Red Mt/Whitewater and Fernie/Castle. Each of these is 4 hours minimum drive from any of the others and climate zones are also different. Panorama and Kicking Horse sort of link the Fernie to Banff drive, so that makes a nice circuit trip (which I've done twice) if you have at least a week. Calling this one region is like calling Colorado/Utah/Wyoming one region.
post #10 of 29
-Summit County>> like everywhere has everything, but more appeal for intermediates
-Utah>> good reasons W it has the rep 4 the world's best snow + terrain 2 match
-Banff/BC Interior>> main resort in Banff LL has fab snow but not much of it
-Tahoe>> 1st trip to NA...I'd stick to experiencing Rocky Mountain powder - were the term evolved!
-Whistler-Blackcomb >> see comments for Tahoe
-Pacific NW >> see comments for Tahoe
-Southern Colorodo >> for 1st visit, tends to be stronger balance of piste as well as powder snow runs (the hot spots in Wyoming and Utah are best in new snow - less main stream pistes relative to Colorado)

Hope this helps
Powdercat
post #11 of 29
The new fatter all-mountain skis have transformed West Coast powder skiing. The latter is a better powder skiing experience now than your typical Colorado 6-inch storm of light and dry where you go right through it and ski on whatever is underneath on any slope with a decent pitch. Southern Colorado is awesome if it gets a run of major snow like last January, but that is a rare weather pattern.

If the snow is dry you need a lot of it to get a true powder experience. Thus the Intermountain high snowfall areas like Cottonwood Canyons, Tetons and Selkirks have the greatest chance of providing that experience.
post #12 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker

I like interior B.C. and Alberta too and I'm up there at least once a season. But there's no way you can call it one region. There's the Okanagan group (Big White, Silver Star, Apex, plus Sun Peaks 2 hours away), Banff (Louise, Sunshine, Norquay), Red Mt/Whitewater and Fernie/Castle. Each of these is 4 hours minimum drive from any of the others and climate zones are also different. Panorama and Kicking Horse sort of link the Fernie to Banff drive, so that makes a nice circuit trip (which I've done twice) if you have at least a week. Calling this one region is like calling Colorado/Utah/Wyoming one region.
I agree with the gist of your response, but feel the real definition of a ski region is if the local establishment considers the distances sufficiently close to provide day trips for visitors. ...That being the case, your summation of the Banff regional skiing option would have to include Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, Norquay, Kicking Horse, Panorama, and Nakiska. Considering what is currently available in this area, and what is in planning(Jumbo and Kicking Horse expansions); I submit this area is right in the same league as the SLC option, with the additional benefit of sightseeing and wilderness experiences unavailable in the surrounding Salt Lake City area. ....It does most certainly come down to what a person expects from a skiing venture.
post #13 of 29
The new fatter all-mountain skis have transformed West Coast powder skiing. The latter is a better powder skiing experience now than your typical Colorado 6-inch storm of light and dry where you go right through it and ski on whatever is underneath on any slope with a decent pitch. Southern Colorado is awesome if it gets a run of major snow like last January, but that is a rare weather pattern.

If the snow is dry you need a lot of it to get a true powder experience. Thus the Intermountain high snowfall areas like Cottonwood Canyons, Tetons and Selkirks have the greatest chance of providing that experience.

Tony funny you should mention that! The day after you left Mammoth , I skied 8 inches of freshies, but it was so heavy that it gave the same speed control as 3 feet of Alta powder. Pretty crazy. And the powder magic is all about going almost straight down a really steep pitch, isn't it! It's truly insane when Mammoth gets 3 feet. Imagine barely making turns in a 40+ degree chute, and barely puttering along.
post #14 of 29
Well put DRB.
you hit all aspects of a ski vacation.
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe
I'm relatively new to the forums, so I'm sure this has all been argued before.
Yes it has.

See that link up at the top of the page that says 'Search'? Hit it.. c'mon.. you know you want to. *yawn*
post #16 of 29
Am I the only one around here that sees this 'chastisement' of newcomers as something we don't need.

I have been around here almost as long as anyone else and have seen many issues hammered to death time and time again; but I do realize that newcomers are often interested in the information, and would like to see healthy discussion they can take part in. ...This continual 'referral' to using searches for information is definitely having a detrimental effect on board interaction.

Maybe we should have a posted list of categories that have been beat to death!?! ....I think not!

..Maybe the 'old farts' around here need to back off when newbies try to start a dialogue, and let things flow in a natural manner. -- I don't think there is a person on the board who enjoys being pointed out for not having 'searched' before posting. There is no hard and fast rule on this option, and inferences to such things might be best used as helpful hints, rather than corrective remarks.
post #17 of 29
When I see a question on a "rehashed" topic, I think the courteous thing to do is reply with the URL of the appropriate thread rather than make the newcomer search for it.
post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfonse
"The Best Ski Area in NA?"

Seriously though seems like Jackson Hole would be tough to beat for an expert skier if we are talking one mountain. Alfonse
--Most variable and challenging vert in the Lower 48
--Beaucoup glades, cliff bands, bowls, cirques, couloirs and chutes.
--Plenty of great cruisers
--Highest lift-serviced vertical drop in Lower 48
--Avg. of 450" per year of dry "cowboy powder"... yeeee hawww!
--7500 acres of "outside the ropes" terrain
--Rarely a lift line (excl. holiday weeks).
--Fewer wussy posers than any big mountain I have ever been to.
--Cover the hole in your pants with duct tape and get thee to Wyoming.

The Real Deal... Jackson Hole

Hank
post #19 of 29
All these questions do is get people into a pissing match... CO vs CA vs UT vs WY and so on. Everyone has their favorite mtns, and in each of our minds we all think we know what the "best" is. Pure statistics wise, its probably JH or Whistler. However, that doesn't mean a specific person would like those. It all depends. Heck, I could ski in the trees all day on Saturday and then on Sunday ski the steep cliffs- and each of those characteristics are better at different resorts. It all depends on what you're looking for my man.
post #20 of 29
And on top of that... even though I live in CO and ski Summit and SW Colorado all the time, from first hand reports and what I've seen, I'd have to say Utah is probably the best area for skiing- terrain and powder heaven baby.
post #21 of 29
Good point Harry,

But there are some distinct points associated with demographics and logistics each planner must take into account. I can see how east coast vacationers appreciate the compact nature and convenience afforded by areas in Summit County, Co., Salt Lake City, Utah, Lake Tahoe, Ca., and Whistler; ....but that convenience comes at another tradeoff. -- Crowds!!!

I have a problem with trying to associate the quality of a ski trip in an area with millions of people in residence and easy access to millions more, to an area that requires a little more effort to reach and provides excellent services and skiing with few of the inconveniences associated with heavily crowded areas.

People all deal with these puzzles in different ways, but I always keep the 'people' factor at the forefront of my personal recommendations. ...Mother Nature and Lady Luck have a lot to do with most ski vacations and their success, but I have never experienced an effective way of eliminating crowds and the problems associated with them. Those who have developed coping mechanisms for these annoyances are to be commended, but I doubt a first time visitor will have much success in enjoying ski areas requiring additional 'people' skills to effectively avoid problems associated with crowded regions.

Bottom Line -- I feel more comfortable reccomending a ski region requiring an hour or two of travel between resorts and airports, than reccomending regions with millions of people in residence and easy access to millions of others in crowded areas. My feeling is that the quality of the skiing experience will be different in ways significant enough to make the extra effort worth it.


P.S. --- The above comments do not apply to persons interested in the social aspect of skiing. Some are interested in skiing from a social perspective, and those areas with compact logistical situations will certainly have an advantage.
post #22 of 29
Utah.
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by feallen

Maybe we should have a posted list of categories that have been beat to death!?! ....I think not!
and things change
a few years ago I would have said Alta,
now I would say Jackson hole
post #24 of 29
Bottom line: you have try as many of them as you can and decide for yourself. Happy trails.
post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoback Hank
--Most variable and challenging vert in the Lower 48
--Beaucoup glades, cliff bands, bowls, cirques, couloirs and chutes.
--Plenty of great cruisers
--Highest lift-serviced vertical drop in Lower 48
--Avg. of 450" per year of dry "cowboy powder"... yeeee hawww!
--7500 acres of "outside the ropes" terrain
--Rarely a lift line (excl. holiday weeks).
--Fewer wussy posers than any big mountain I have ever been to.
--Cover the hole in your pants with duct tape and get thee to Wyoming.

The Real Deal... Jackson Hole

Hank
Sorry, but I just can't get past the snow quality thing (Same goes for W/B, BTW). I don't care if the place offers up some of the finest terrain around, the aspect affected snow conditions are too big a drawback. GT, higher up and on the other side, offers a better experience in my opinion.

Powdr
post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Powdr
Sorry, but I just can't get past the snow quality thing (Same goes for W/B, BTW). I don't care if the place offers up some of the finest terrain around, the aspect affected snow conditions are too big a drawback. GT, higher up and on the other side, offers a better experience in my opinion.

Powdr
What? You some kind of snow wussy? Real skiers love to ski anything, just ask any of us who ski on either coast. Heavy crud, rain, and ice makes you tough!

All kidding aside, I like to ski in all kinds of conditions. Most days out are great by me. Certainly champagne powder is wonderful, but great terrain with heavier snow can be just as fun. Each to their own.
post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by pheft
What? You some kind of snow wussy? Real skiers love to ski anything, just ask any of us who ski on either coast. Heavy crud, rain, and ice makes you tough!

All kidding aside, I like to ski in all kinds of conditions. Most days out are great by me. Certainly champagne powder is wonderful, but great terrain with heavier snow can be just as fun. Each to their own.
As a matter of fact, yes

I moved to Utah for just that reason. I've spent far too much time in the Sierra's "powder" to have any further reason to ski anywhere else but the Wasatch. Well, maybe I'll ski other places, but not *live* there. Shudder.
post #28 of 29
It's difficult to say which resort or which area is the best. We have some very good choices in NA.
I've been going to Utah for 6 or 7 yrs and have always loved it. Now however, after having been to all of the SLC area resorts several times, I am looking for other places to go. Last year, Winter Park, Steamboat and Jackson Hole were all just great. And although Vail and Beaver Creek have what you say you are not interested in (shopping & night life), the ski experience is very good.
Haven't been to Canada, so I can't comment on that, yet!
Have fun skiing.
post #29 of 29
Jackson Hole's SE exposure is indeed its major flaw. But the impact is minimized by going there in January, which also has the highest average snowfall. Anytime later than mid-February is really shooting crap, as it will only take a couple of sunny hours to screw up the surface conditions.
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