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Advice for Western ski trip

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I want to make a trip out West next year for skiing and was hoping for some advice on which of these locations would be best. The times I might have free to go are over MLK weekend in Jan, early Feb or early March. I currently ski at an advanced beginner level but am hoping by the time the trip rolls around I'll be more towards intermediate. In the event that I have to go over the MLK holiday I figured a more remote location would be better to avoid crowds, so it came down to Telluride, Crested Butte or Steamboat. Which of these locations would be better under my circumstances--are they all likely to have a decent amount of snow in mid January? If I don't have to go over a holiday (don't have to worry about crowds), I am also considering Park City or Snowmass.
Thanks for any advice.
post #2 of 21

Going out West

Miramar from Mass. Colo good/Tahoe/SLC all good or great skiing, also crowded on holidays. You didn't say if your're alone etc. so just a little different viewpoint ffrom me. I skied Tahoe 30 yrs, have skied SLC etc. If you don't want crowds and you're an advanced beginner you'll only be using max 20% of these mountains and fighting crowds. Come to Northern Idaho and you can ski with no crowds, much better snow than Tahoe, cheaper prices and a lot friendlier people. Take a look on line: Schweitzer Mountain at Sandpoint Idaho, 49 Degrees North Washington, Mt. Spokane Wash, Silver Mountain Idaho in Kellog and Loookout Pass Ski Area 25 min from Silver on the Idaho/Montana border. Any of these areas have way more terrain than you could use. Lift Tickets range from $25 to $49.As an example you can ski Silver Mt. on/during Christmas vacation and the longest lift line might be 1 minute. Ski magazine ran an article on Silver Mt., in Jan 03 "one of the 3 best ski areas in America that you've never heard about" Anyway if your motivation is good snow, no crowds, fair prices etc. use the internet to look these areas up. If you have other reasons to go WSest i.e., friends etc. go to one of the bigger areas and take your VISA and your patience.
post #3 of 21
If you are looking to avoid MLK weekend crowds skip Steamboat and Park City. Any other time both would offer you a great first taste of the West. Idaho could be a good choice over that busy Holiday weekend. Another Idaho Resort that is really in Wyoming is Grand Targhee. Nice relaxed place with excellent snow. Then there is the newest ski resort in the US. Tamarack.
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well, I think Idaho is a little too isolated for me. I travel alone and was looking more for a combination of good skiing and easy access to a "real town" hence the Crested Butte, Telluride, and Steamboat ideas. Plus Colorado offers easier and more numerous connecting flights/ease of getting to. . . .
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Miramar
Well, I think Idaho is a little too isolated for me. I travel alone and was looking more for a combination of good skiing and easy access to a "real town" hence the Crested Butte, Telluride, and Steamboat ideas. Plus Colorado offers easier and more numerous connecting flights/ease of getting to. . . .
What about Mammoth? I know the mountain itself is isolated, but isn't there a village type area at the base?
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Miramar
Well, I think Idaho is a little too isolated for me. I travel alone and was looking more for a combination of good skiing and easy access to a "real town" hence the Crested Butte, Telluride, and Steamboat ideas. Plus Colorado offers easier and more numerous connecting flights/ease of getting to. . . .
If you're looking for ease of getting there, unless you have your own plane, Telluride, Crested Butte and Steamboat are probably some of the more difficult resortsto get to in CO. Telluride does have wonderful beginner and advanced terrain, don't know about intermediate. Crested Butte is known for its expert terrain, i didn't particularly like the intermediate terrain there, but it's been a while since I sought that stuff out.

I honestly don't think you can do better for lots of intermediate terrain than Vail. And last year they gave great discounts for early bookings. It has tons of variety, good ski school, pedestrian friendly ski town, good restaurants, etc. easy shuttle service from the airport. It's a bit pricey, but worth it (ok i can hear you guys - as long as you're not looking for steep stuff, which you are not.) Or you could go for one of the Utah resorts near Park City like the Canyons which is reputed to have great intermediate terrain and you can't beat the access from SLC airport.
post #7 of 21
For ease of access you can't beat Utah. Vail isn't bad but will cost more. I've been all over yet return to Utah 2x a year every year. You don't even need to rent a car. We stay at the Residence Inn Marriot near the bottom of the canyon. They will drive you to the Big Cotton Wood Canyon bus stop where you can head up to Alta, Snowbird, or the Big CC resorts. Or you can stay near Park City and hit all those areas. Best deal INMHO.
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Miramar
I want to make a trip out West next year for skiing...I currently ski at an advanced beginner level
Any reason you want to go on such a vacation? Groomers are groomers.

Maybe it would be worth going somewhere like Heavenly where there's something to do other than ski.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
In reference to the above post, I'll explain why I want to go on such a trip. Travel is a big part of my life and to me this trip will be as much about travel, the mountain scenery, atmospheric town as it is about skiing. You're right- I could just stay home and ski NH or VT, but I wouldn't be seeing or experiencing anything different than what I can see anyday.
post #10 of 21
Aspen/Snowmass won't be crowded anytime, has a ton of good terrain for you and is relatively easy to get too. Plus the town totally kicks ass.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Miramar
In reference to the above post, I'll explain why I want to go on such a trip. Travel is a big part of my life and to me this trip will be as much about travel, the mountain scenery, atmospheric town as it is about skiing. You're right- I could just stay home and ski NH or VT, but I wouldn't be seeing or experiencing anything different than what I can see anyday.
Perfect. I just wanted to make sure you weren't one of the delusional people who occasionally appear on this forum and think that one trip to a western state will have you appearing in the next TGR movie.

Well, pick a cool mountain town and have fun. I'd recommend Aspen, Tahoe area, Jackson, Steamboat or Crested Butte.
post #12 of 21
I have to agree with the two previous posters and suggest Aspen. The town is awesome. I go to Telluride every fall and find it to be one of the most beautiful parts of Colorado. Of course I drive there, so I can stay in Dolores and get more sightseeing in . When you add the skiing into the equation I think you can't go wrong with Aspen.
post #13 of 21
A Thought just came bubbling to the top. Combine your ski trip with the Epic Academy, that is being held in Aspen next season. Not only will you get to have that ski town western mountain experience. You will meet some great people Plus you will move your skiing up a notch or two. A total win,win,win situation. No I don't make a commission on the deal.
post #14 of 21
For scenery and great towns Crested Butte and Telluride are better than Steamboat. Aspen is ritzy and fun, but not the local town feel that CB and Telluride have. CB has good intermediate and beginner terrain, not much advanced intermediate however. Aspen Highlands has good intermediate and advenaced intermediate and Snowmass does as well.

About getting to the areas - CB, Telluride and Steamboat are one flight from Denver. CB into Gunnison then a shuttle to CB (30 minutes). Telluridea airport is tiny and can oftne be closed secondary to snow or high winds. Can take a shuttle from DIA to Steamboat = 3.25 hours or so. Aspen's airport is also small and often shut down, so many fly into Eagle/Vail and drive. I would favor Telluride or Crested Butte from your reason noted above.
post #15 of 21
Telluride and Crested Butted are both good choices. They have lots of intermediate cruising runs and small crowds, with the Butte being less crowded but ususally colder. Both of these areas also have lots of snow making for the easier runs, so even if it is a slim winter you should have plenty to ski. Telluride has more happening and is easier to get around since you ski right from the mountain village or town and have the free gondola between them. The Butte is a smaller town, much mellower and less glitzy with the mountain village and town separated by about 5 miles. It is also usually condsiderably cheaper.
post #16 of 21
In Crested Butte they have a great shuttle running from Mt into town from 7 am to 11pm. Easy to get from town to mt and vice versa. If you like to rent a house check out VRBO.com (vacation rentals by owner). I find nice houses on that site. (oops - never mind I see you travel alone up above)
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD
Aspen/Snowmass won't be crowded anytime, has a ton of good terrain for you and is relatively easy to get too. Plus the town totally kicks ass.
DITTO, in spades! And don't forget Beaver Creek/Vail...
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpdad
For scenery and great towns Crested Butte and Telluride are better than Steamboat. Aspen is ritzy and fun, but not the local town feel that CB and Telluride have. CB has good intermediate and beginner terrain, not much advanced intermediate however. Aspen Highlands has good intermediate and advenaced intermediate and Snowmass does as well.

About getting to the areas - CB, Telluride and Steamboat are one flight from Denver. CB into Gunnison then a shuttle to CB (30 minutes). Telluridea airport is tiny and can oftne be closed secondary to snow or high winds. Can take a shuttle from DIA to Steamboat = 3.25 hours or so. Aspen's airport is also small and often shut down, so many fly into Eagle/Vail and drive. I would favor Telluride or Crested Butte from your reason noted above.
You can fly to Steamboat....Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden is about 30 mins from the ski area, and their is a shuttle (alpinetaxi.com) to the mountain.
post #19 of 21
As I said "CB, Telluride and Steamboat are one flight from Denver"
post #20 of 21
I have skied all 3 areas, and my rec is according to the following

Terrain-wise for low-intermediate: Telluride has great terrain off of chairs 10, 4, 5, parts of Prospect Bowl and See Forever. Crested Butte is good too -- Keystone, Paradise, East River are good. Steamboat might be too much -- the Sunshine area is good, but most areas might be a little more difficult.

Scenery: Telluride by a landslide. European Alp-like scenery -- jagged peaks, waterfalls, opean powder fields with a great Victorian town at its base. Crested is quite pretty too. Steamboat is in a rolling valley that is nothing special for the West.

Affordability: Steamboat has lodging at all budget levels. Crested Butte has a few reasonable options, but it's not cheap. Tellurde is the most high-end.

Ease-of-use: Telluride does not require a rental car (as long as you are staying in the Mountain Village core or town of Telluride). One of the few pedestrian freindly ski places in the US. Crested Butte and Steamboat are separated by about 3-4 miles of road between their towns and ski mountain.

Travel/Access: They all are not easy!

Snow: Steamboat. The NW part of CO gets more snow in Jan/Dec than SW CO. However, all beginner/intermediate skiing will be well-covered by Xmas at all areas. It's the expert terrain that is questionable in January.

Politics/Vibe. ??? Telluride and Crested Butte are more liberal mountain towns. They both have leftover hippies, few chain stores, little sprawl, and yoga studios. Steamboat is a bit more conservative -- with a WALMART and more sprawling development.

Frankly, I would choose Telluride given all your considerations.
post #21 of 21
"Travel is a big part of my life and to me this trip will be as much about travel, the mountain scenery, atmospheric town as it is about skiing. You're right- I could just stay home and ski NH or VT, but I wouldn't be seeing or experiencing anything different than what I can see any day."

Might I suggest expanding your area sightly. You said you wanted to ski out west and with that statement, including "mountain scenery" and "atmospheric town", you would be missing out if you didn't include Whistler as an option.

Flying into Vancouver and taking shuttle to Whistler is easy as pie, you would be skiing on the 2010 winter Olympic hill, the town is awesome, tons of intermediate skiing, some of the most dramatic lift access skiing I have ever seen (that you can ski as an intermediate) and the scenery . . . well it is simply breath taking. This is a huge ski area with two separate mountains connected by gondolas and your lift ticket works on both. Lots of well groomed runs on both hills and options to expand with your advancing abilities. Canada doesn't celebrate MLK, so the crowds should be less than a US hill and the lodging is diverse in style and price.

Don't forget Montana and Oregon either. Big Sky is a really cool mountain with incredible views. The town situation is not as grown up as Whistler, but still plenty of options.

In Oregon you could ski Mt. Bachelor, just outside of Bend, Oregon. Bend is a really cool town that offers lots of lodging and entertainment - incredible brewpubs. If you wanted you could ski multiple areas in Oregon. Fly into Portland, rent a Subaru. Drive to Mt. Hood (only an hour drive from Portland). Stay at historic Timberline Lodge for a night or two and you have access to Timberline and Mt. Hood Meadows. Then drive to Bend (about two hours) and ski Mt. Bachelor. You are pretty much assured good snow in February and each of these locations have plenty of intermediate skiing with outrageous views in the Cascade Mt. range. Crowds will be minimal with a high chance of no lift lines at all.
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