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Vail at Thanksgiving

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone

I am from the east coast and never skiied out west. We are a family with 2 boys. I heard great things about Vail. We are going to Whistler in beginning of April, but can't wait that long to go skiing! So we are thinking of going to Vail at Thanksgiving. I am anxious to drive around to the other close by places too.

Any advice?

post #2 of 15
Don't. You have to experience Vail when all the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin are open. Chances of that happening at Thanksgiving? I'd say pretty slim, unless we have a phenomenal early season. We had a record-breaking early season last winter - I don't remember exactly when they opened the Back Bowls, but if I recall correctly, as of November 23, only Game Creek Bowl was open.
post #3 of 15
Originally Posted by faisasy View Post
Don't. You have to experience Vail when all the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin are open. Chances of that happening at Thanksgiving? I'd say pretty slim
I agree with faisasy, you could plunk down a ton of money and wind up with MUCH less than 100% of the resort open...seems like a big gamble. Colorado's snowfall is way to inconsistent to commit to a ski vacation that early in the season.
post #4 of 15
Of course, it looks like the constraint is when the kids are out of school. In that case, there are many options in CO that you might consider.

As Faisasy indicated, it isn't likely that the back bowls at Vail will be open. Of course, the real question is what type of terrain will you be looking for? While the bowls are unlikely to be open, often there is good coverage with a good bit of terrain open at Vail by Thanksgiving -- especially since they tend to open late and save the snow.

In addition, Steamboat, Winter Park, Loveland, Copper, and the Aspen areas can be reasonable bets for early season colorado skiing -- although all will be most likely early season skiing.

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all your help.
I forgot to mention that we are beginner/almost intermediate skiers. Would it matter if bowls are open? Aren't they for black diamond/expert skiers?
post #6 of 15
You should pick an area that is likely to have a good amount of terrain open that is suited to your level. the problem is that much of the green/blue terrain is often low on the mountain, and unless there is snowmaking, there is a good chance that the snow elevation may not have dropped sufficiently to give coverage. Also, you want to be sure that you are not picking a resort that has masses of people all vying on the "white ribbon of death" -- I'd stay away from Keystone and Breck, as a result.

Someone else may have a better view on whether Vail's green/blue terrain is likely to be open by Thanksgiving. Beaver Creek may be another option, along with Winter Park, Loveland, and Steamboat. Weems, how about Snowmass?

post #7 of 15
If it's a great early season (like last winter) then there will probably be a decent amount of green/blue terrain open with minimal crowds. If it's not a great early season, (like the winter before), then even the blues/greens will be limited -- at Copper that year there were only a two or three runs total open with mostly man-made snow on Thanksgiving. And the trails were absolutely packed.

It's just too early to tell how the snow will pan out over the next month and a half. Is it possible for you to wait until say mid-November before making any firm plans? Last season we'd already had some great dumps by early to mid November and knew that we'd have good skiing by Thanksgiving. Keep any eye on the snow reports and run statuses on the various ski area websites.
post #8 of 15
I guess my real question is, if your whole family is beginner/intermediate, why do you feel you have to go out west? A trip local, or even to NE may be cheaper, and offer more terrain for the whole family to enjoy.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Boy, everyone is so helpful on this forum!

I already made the plans and, "ullr" I love your comment on why I feel I have to go out west, b/c people keep insisting I'm not really skiing unless I go out west. I don't agree, I would ski every weekend and cannot fly out west every weekend, so I would still ski at the local places here.

I do have lots of travel TIME constraints with kids sports obligations, and even if we don't get to ski in the best possible conditions, I think I would enjoy Vail and the town and to drive around to other Vail resorts. I could check them out to see if I want to visit again someday.
post #10 of 15
Originally Posted by VaSkier111 View Post
Boy, everyone is so helpful on this forum!
Can't tell if you're being sarcastic, but if you don't mind spending time on non-skiing activities, you can find things to occupy yourselves beyond just skiing.

If the snow is bad and the mountains only have one or two trails open, hit a different mountain each day - that'll keep things interesting. My friends from the East Coast came out west for the first time at Thanksgiving a few years ago - even though the conditions were crap (by CO standards - only two trails with man-made snow), they had a blast. So it's all relative.
post #11 of 15

Alternate suggestion

Vail is about 30-45 minutes west of the other main Colorado resorts and over another high pass. If you go to Vail, you should probably stay at Vail. I would suggest two other options. But I heartily endorse your decision to ski out west. I like Whitetail, but it's completely different out west. Probably the biggest difference is the lower humidity, so the snow doesn't melt/freeze like it does here, and just seeing the mountains from the airport will be fun for the kids.

1. Ski in Utah instead of Colorado. All of the resorts are closer to the airport and to each other, the passes aren't as high and it's just easier to get around; and you could actually stay in Salt Lake City instead of at a Resort (but Park City, Canyons, and Deer Valley are all right next to each other if you wanted to stay in Park City).

2. Stay in Dillon/Silverthorne and then you can sample Keystone, Breckenridge, or Copper, and drive over to Vail one day (but you get to choose which day/weather to go over the pass). Simce Keystone and Breck are owned by Vail, you can even get special deals that include one day at Vail. Dillon is just past the Eisenhower tunnel, so you only have one pass to go over, to Vail is another (although not likely to be a problem in November).
post #12 of 15
Originally Posted by VaSkier111 View Post
I already made the plans and, "ullr" I love your comment on why I feel I have to go out west, b/c people keep insisting I'm not really skiing unless I go out west.
Yea, they are wrong....................................
post #13 of 15
Gandalf, we out here in CO think Vail Pass is a small hill. In reality, unless we are having a major snowstorm (and I do mean major), VP is not much to worry about -- it is realitively low, not very steep, and easy to shoot over to Summit County.

post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'm not being sarcastic when I say people are helpful on this forum. Everyone's comments are helpful.

I really want to go to Utah on day. That will be next year! I've heard nothing but great things about it!

Thanks gandalf for telling me about Dillon, a friend JUST mentioned it yesterday.

I do want to stay in Vail, I picked a ski in/out condo and as faisasy says, even if 2 trails are open, I still may enjoy it! I had a hard time picking a place to stay in Vail. I like as a #1 priority - walking to lift is as minimal as possible for convenience, but then it has to be new, clean and a resort like a 4 or 5 star. I had a hard time finding a place that met all this criteria, so I settled for convenience. ( any recommendations, please tell me, I'm about to book Lions Square this afternoon)

I definitely will drive around to the other resorts, as our lift tickets work for the other resorts - my next question is which ones do you recommend?

We have 4 skiing days, so I try Breckenridge? Keep poor ski conditions/man made hills/ and beginner/intermediate runs in mind.

Gosh, I'm so excited, I can't believe we are going in 5 weeks!!!!
post #15 of 15
Can't help much with lodging (since I make day-trips mostly). Skiing-wise, your Vail lift ticket will work at Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breck, and A-Basin only, but not at Copper or Loveland. Just go wherever there are more trails open and where there's more snow.

Haven't been to Breck much, so can't help you there (although you should definitely spend an evening in the town -- an historic, albeit touristy, western town - a must-do on your first western trip).

Early season, Keystone's River Run (which funnels everyone down to the base) can get REALLY crowded and icy especially later in the day. My friend banged up his knee late in the day there trying to navigate the crowds and the sheet of ice.

I would recommend a day at Loveland, especially if Chair 2 is open -- you'll get a taste of high-alpine, above-treeline skiing (greens and blues) that you won't get that early in the season at most other places. Very little crowds, which is another bonus.

Don't know how A-Basin is early season.

Copper usually tries to open two or three trails total by Thanksgiving. Long blues and greens.

In most places you'll find that the runs are in pretty good condition early in the day -- smooth groomed. As the day goes on, it'll get bumpy and icy due to traffic at most places.

Of course, we could get lucky and have another great early season and then you'd have your pick!
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