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1st Family Trip to CO, where to go?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hello, looking to put together a family trip for my wife, daughter (10) and myself to CO the 1st week of April. Currently considering Breckenridge or Steamboat. Never been to either, I've been to Vail, Beavercreek, and Winterpark, but I'm looking to try Breckenridge or Steamboat with the family for I want that western ski town family friendly place. We're not hard core skiiers, blues and blacks without moguls or cliffs, but I would like them to get a taste of skiing in the Rockies.

We're from New England and usually stay away from the big resorts here, such as Killington or Sunday River and tend to prefer smaller places like Bretton Woods.

So I'm leaning towards Steamboat for it appears to be a little smaller than Breckenridge, but since I've never been to either I really don't know.

I don't want to end up in some college party town with my family nor do we want some super trendy shopping spot like Vail.

Breckenridge is appealing for the shorter drive after flying from Boston to Denver, but concerned the hustle and bustle of it's downtown could be too much?

My assumption is that the rockies got so much snow this year that the difference between Breckenridge and Steamboat conditions is neglible, but then again, never been, don't live there, so I don't know. I would appreaciate any advice from folks who have experienced both in Spring conditions.

Any recomendations and/or other suggestions?

Thanks
post #2 of 22
That time of year I think you'd have a beeter chance at good snow conditions at Breck than Steamboat. Also, staying in Breck provides an easy chance to ski some other pretty good resorts in close proximity.

As far as the town, I'd don't think you'd go wrong with either.
post #3 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dpski
My assumption is that the rockies got so much snow this year that the difference between Breckenridge and Steamboat conditions is neglible, but then again, never been, don't live there, so I don't know. I would appreaciate any advice from folks who have experienced both in Spring conditions.
I would not assume that.

February was very dry and the last week it's been very warm. (The low last night at my house was 36). Our snowpack is now only "normal" or maybe even slightly less than normal. I skied Sunday and it was pretty much the worst conditions I've seen. The upside is that we didn't wait more than one minute in line all afternoon.

We need snow REALLY bad. I'd bet the lower elevation Colorado areas are close to having brown spots on some of their runs. The snow in my yard was 5 feet deep and now grass is showing in spots. But I'm on hilliside facing west. The ski area (Breck) still has plenty of snow it's just frozen slush today.

Steve
post #4 of 22

Steamboat

Last year I took the family, wife, 11 yo girl, 12 yo boy, to Steamboat the last week of March. We had a great time and they want to go back next season. We put the kids in all day lessons and they learned a lot - it really showed in the skiing locally this year.

The advantage of Steamboat is it's far enough from the front range that it is not as crowed on the weekends. Also, it's one of the lowest ski mountains in CO so the altitude adjustment isn't quite as bad. They tend to get a lot of snow in late March, early April and the conditions will be very good if it snows.

OTOH, Steamboat is one of the first ski areas to close in CO. The lower part of the mountain, Thunderhead Peak on down, can be heavy mashed potatoes in the afternoon. If it doesn't snow it can get pretty sketchy that late in the season.

Last year I rode the gondola up, skied the top all day and rode the gondola down at the end of the day. Steamboat got 50"+ of snow that week, so the skiing was great. It's a really nice town and there is lots to do. Checkout the mineral hot springs, both the one in town and the one out of town.

Given the choice - I'd go to Steamboat, but that's just me.
post #5 of 22
I just got back from a week at Breck. I spend at least a week there every year.
Wife, son and his family (wife, 14 yo son, 11 yo daughter).

Things I enjoyed:
We skied together everyday, I would take a few hours to venture off to the difficult stuff, and meet back with them later.
The mountain has something for everyone and you can move around the large area with ease.
The people and facilities (including town) are pleasant. There seems to be more emphasis on customer service everywhere this year. The only rude people I ran into were "other" visitors.
As someone else mentioned in was warmer than usual but there was nice light snow on the top of Peak 7, now easily accessed by the new lift.
You also have other large ski areas close by if Breck doesn't suit you.

Things I didn't like:
Lines on the weekends : . They do move fast though, very good at keeping all the chairs full. In the past I've gone to Loveland on the weekends.
The new lift and grooming have changed (mucked-up) the Chair 6 area. This was one of my favorites.

I like Steamboat too- just not worth the added travel, no other (large)areas nearby, more difficult to move around the mountain with a group, the bottom gets messy when it gets warm.

You never know what you'll get, especially in April. Hang the map up and throw darts
post #6 of 22
Since I work for Breckenridge I'll put in another vote to come visit us! But seriously, Breckenridge (the town itself) or another town in Summit County may be a good bet. You're in range of 4 ski areas in the county (Breck, Keystone, Copper, A-Basin), two "real town" downtowns (Breckenridge and the slightly smaller Frisco), a lot of restaurant choices, and lots of music, theatre, and nightlife for all ages.

Staying in Frisco is often cheaper than in Breck itself, and it's just 9 miles down the road to get to Breck by car or by our free bus system. Also Dillon (where I live now) and Silverthorne may have relatively affordable lodging, and they're right off the Interstate. Just about 90 miles exactly from the airport to Dillon. When I still lived in Boston and was coming out here part-time on weekends, I got real used to that Friday night drive leaving DIA at 11 or 12 and getting up here about 1.5 hours later. The extra hour and a half or so up to Steamboat might be a bit annoying.
post #7 of 22
I think the biggest difference in April will be altitude. Steamboat is way lower than Breck. It will definitely get slushier than Breck in April. I think the base of steamboat is about 6500 and the base of Breck is like 9200.
post #8 of 22
I just got back from Steamboat. I went for two days by myself to do a little "advance recon" for a family trip next year. We'll definitely be going next year. Nice mountain, plenty of terrain for the intermediates, nothing was particularly expensive, lots of good ski-in ski-out accomodation choices. Plenty for non-skiers to do. No car needed, fly right to Steamboat and take a quick shuttle.

It was warm on March 1 and 2 however. By April it could be sloppy. This would make for a great spot for a family trip but I'm going to consider this a good mid-season resort.
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 

snow vs lift lines

Thanks for the replies;

Sounds like pros & cons for each;

potentinally better snow at Breckenridge at this time of the year.

How about lift lines? I'm hearing that the 1st week of April is school vacation week in CO, is that right? Would Breck be a zoo because of that? I'm guessing Sunday would be busy, but how about Mon, Tues, Wed?
post #10 of 22
There aren't ever lift lines during the week. Even during spring break around here, you won't wait in line. Maybe a minute or two at the base, but that'll be it.
post #11 of 22
Take a look at the "Let's Go Colorado II" thread in meet on the hill planning. You might be interested.

Wife and I spent a week in Breck 8-14 Jan and it was fantastic. we rented a car, but once we got to our lodging we only used it once to go to Keystone. Plenty of terrain for all abilities and a town where you can walk to almost everything you might need. I haven't been to Steamboat and I'm sure you would enjoy it, but for the 1st week of April I've got to believe the much higher base altitude of Breck is a huge advantage. I'll be out there 1-8 April and it looks like off & on Snow for a week starting tomorrow
post #12 of 22
We were at Steamboat last year around the 1st week of April. The first few days we wished for snow and the next 2 days we got dumped on with at least 24 inches! The powder was just awsome! We're heading out 3/22 this year for a week. The snow has been just amazing out there this year. It is our favorite place to be. Spring skiing can't be beat. It is true that the base can get a bit messy with the warm weather but all you have to do is hop on the Gondala and you're all set.

You can't beat the people, the town, the ski school or the slopes for the best vacation in Colorado...my vote is STEAMBOAT!
post #13 of 22
I work for Vail and have skied them all.

Steamboat is the better family mtn of the 2. Easier to get around, family orientated, less touristy than BRECK.

IMHO, simply better skiing.

Have a great vacation!
post #14 of 22
btw, storm warning for the mountains and front range beginning today
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maui Steve
I think the biggest difference in April will be altitude. Steamboat is way lower than Breck. It will definitely get slushier than Breck in April. I think the base of steamboat is about 6500 and the base of Breck is like 9200.
This is a great point about the altitude difference. I have been to both Steamboat and Breckenridge in the first week of April in the past. Of course, I can't predict what the weather will be like this April, but the slush factor was much higher at Steamboat when I was there. Breckenridge snow was in great shape, where Steamboat turned very slushy almost all the way to the summit (though, it was nice to be warm). I have since been back to Steamboat, but it was earlier in the season. That late in the season, I'd go to Summit County.

But the real bottom line is that I have never had a ski trip where I didn't have fun. I'd imagine you'll have fun no matter which resort you pick!
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by lennyblake
btw, storm warning for the mountains and front range beginning today
The snow's here! Started maybe 45 minutes ago here in Dillon...ahhhhh!
post #17 of 22
Quote:
SugarCubeQuote:
Originally Posted by lennyblake
btw, storm warning for the mountains and front range beginning today


The snow's here! Started maybe 45 minutes ago here in Dillon...ahhhhh!
It started here several hours ago, like 4 am or so. I bet we have 10 or so new inches in town .

Late season in Steamboat can be a gamble, high winds can shut down the gondi, a cloudy day can mean ice on the whole mountain, and we can go weeks without snow. But we can get 24" dumps any day of april... too bad the ski area closes by the 10th or so. Last year it snowed several feet after the ski area closed, it was sad
post #18 of 22
Altitude and north exposure are the keys for snow conditions in spring. Steamboat, though it gets lots of snow, has both low altitude and bad exposure (SW) relative to the rest of Colorado. Breck has the altitude but exposure is mainly east.

I recommend Aspen or Copper + A-Basin in your situation. Crested Butte and Telluride belong on this list, but Telluride is in the southern drought zone this season and CB is a fairly small mountain if you're not comfortable with the "surprise around every corner" expert terrain of its North Face.

Rereading your original post I vote for Copper as your base. You also have the option of trying several other close by areas if you like.
post #19 of 22
Well, Telluride just got over a foot, so maybe the drought is ending...
post #20 of 22
I live in houston, so i get direct flights daily to steamboat. I don't know way I'm posting this; maybe I'm trying to make myself feel better about not living in salt lake. If you are flexible, why not try Utah? They have better conditions and many of them are familly friendly. And last, but not least, accessibility.
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker
Altitude and north exposure are the keys for snow conditions in spring. Steamboat, though it gets lots of snow, has both low altitude and bad exposure (SW) relative to the rest of Colorado. Breck has the altitude but exposure is mainly east.
I very much respect your snow work. But I tend to think that in the spring when the sun is high in the sky there isn't much difference between eastern and northern aspects. Most all of Brecks difficult terrain faces either south or north and there's a HUGE difference between them. But the north and east facing terrain seems very similar on a warm spring day.

I also do a lot of late spring backcountry stuff and in my experience the eastern aspects hold snow almost exactly like the northern aspects.

Steve
post #22 of 22
Took the family to both places. My wife loved Breck but the kids and I liked Steamboat more. A great place to stay is the Eagle Creek Lodge. Newer place and very nice.

Can't help you with the weather. We go every year in Feb during our winter break.
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