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First Trip out West (Suggestions)

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I decided to take our first trip out west skiing. We normally ski in PA, so this will be a real treat for my family. This is only our second year of skiing, but I would consider my family strong intermediate skiers/snowboarders.

I plan on heading out west around 11/18 and coming back around 11/28, but my travel dates are a little flexible as my kids are on break from school. I am looking for some suggestions that won't break the bank, as we are on a somewhat limited budget. We don't need alot of advanced terrain, as we are still learning. If I book the airfare soon, I can still get some good deals, so any suggestion on places to go and possible lodging would be helpful. We don't need nightlife, as the kids are only 8 and 10, even though I like a drink or two every now and then.

I can provide any other info if needed.
post #2 of 19
I guess I'd look for best conditions at this point. Who has the snow? Utah has the best deals for access, lodging, terrain, etc, but that's just my opinion.
post #3 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by River Hill View Post
I decided to take our first trip out west skiing. We normally ski in PA, so this will be a real treat for my family. This is only our second year of skiing, but I would consider my family strong intermediate skiers/snowboarders.

I plan on heading out west around 11/18 and coming back around 11/28, but my travel dates are a little flexible as my kids are on break from school. I am looking for some suggestions that won't break the bank, as we are on a somewhat limited budget. We don't need alot of advanced terrain, as we are still learning. If I book the airfare soon, I can still get some good deals, so any suggestion on places to go and possible lodging would be helpful. We don't need nightlife, as the kids are only 8 and 10, even though I like a drink or two every now and then.

I can provide any other info if needed.

Most of the areas have great pre-season deals. You'll need to check on opening dats and snow conditions. I will suggest 2 places:

1. Squaw Valley, CA This has a rep as an expert playground but it also has some great beginner adn internediate terrain that is unusual because it is up high on an Alpine meadow that you reach via cable car. The views are spectacular. Intrawest also just recently built a new village at the base with really nice accomodations and shops and restaurants. It's easily accesible, fly to Reno or Jet blue to Sacramento and drive.

2. Aspen/Snowmass, CO. Stay in Snowmass and ski Snowmass but visit Aspen. Great cruising and a great town. I fact there is no better ski town than Aspen. Make sure to take a ride on the Ultimate Taxi. You can fly to Eagle/Vail and drive or Jet Blue to Denver and drive or fly right into Aspen.
post #4 of 19
Hey RiverHill,
I made my first trip out West last year and totally enjoyed it. It's amazing how long the runs are out there and the scenery is just great You and your family will absolutely enjoy it. I went to Alta (Utah) and had a blast, but you mentioned snowboarders, and they're not allowed there.

I'm going to be heading to somewhere in Colorado in early Dec with some boarder friends. I feel CO will be better with the snow in the early season this year compared to UT. But I'm very inexperienced out West, so take that with some salt.

We're going to book our flights first (21 days in advance usually gets you a good deal) and being early season, we're going to wait a little maybe 2 weeks or a week before the trip to finalize the destination based on snow. I think A-Basin and Loveland are winning out right now with their massive dumps.

With little kids, I'm sure others will chime in on which resort is most friendly. I think Steamboat comes to mind....
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
I know I am looking to go early this season. I just checked out Snowmass, but it looks like they don't plan on opening until 11/23. I guess it will come down to who will be open and your guys great suggestions of course.
post #6 of 19
I'd suggest Loveland -- relatively inexpensive, has good coverage, snowmaking, etc. The Summit County resorts will also be open. It is quite early, so the amount of terrain will be limited anywhere you go -- and crowds will be most likely large on the weekends, so please don't judge Western skiing on the basis of very early conditions.

Mike
post #7 of 19
It's true that it will be early season. The only problem with Loveland will be lodging - there is none at the base, closest is either Dillon/Silverthorne on the West side of the Eisenhower tunnel, or Georgetown about 10 miles away. There should be bargains in Summit County in, especially, the Dillon/Silverthorne area. In addition to Loveland, A Basin, Keystone, Breckenridge and Copper Mountain should be open, but the amount of terrain open anywhere in the state could be limited that time of year.

Winter Park is also someplace you might consider. It will be cheaper than Christmastime or latter in the year, and tends to get more early season snow than some other resorts.

For Eastern intermediate skiers, I would recommend Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain, or Winter Park, which have a fair amount of bluish greens and greenish blues. Copper Mountain has the advantage of the blues and greens being geographically separated from the advanced terrain.
post #8 of 19
Wolf Creek will be great by then. They opened the earliest in their history and they are skiing on natural snow. Great intermediate runs because, with some notable exceptions you have to work to get to, the mountain has a moderate pitch. Cheap and lots of fun. Fly into Colorado Springs, CO and stay in South Fork or Farmington, NM and stay in Pagosa Springs.
post #9 of 19
I believe you can fly into Durango from most of the same places that serve Farmington. Farmington gets a fair amount of flights because that's the center of the natural gas industry in the states, all the large oil companies have large operations' centers there.
post #10 of 19
Right now, I would think that Colorado is a no brainer. They already have record early season snowfall, large snowmaking capacity and resorts that are actually open!

I would book flights into Denver and get a rental car for the duration of your stay. Booking your entire stay up front may be a little cheaper and easier, but if you’re a little adventurous, I would wing it. This time of year room rates are extremely negotiable, especially for walk-ins.

You could do the Tour De Colorado. Start with a couple of days in Summit County and then go wherever the snow is best. I would try one of the resort towns further away from Denver over Thanksgiving weekend to avoid any crowds.

Aspen opens on the 23rd with the women’s World Cup, so town will be rocking.
post #11 of 19
Currently, the San Juans aren't doing as well as mid and northern CO (like last year : ). The idea of renting a car and following the snow will give you the best flexibility and choice. Durango carriers are Delta (SLC), United (Denver) & SW (Phoenix). For less than the cost of the Denver to Durango leg, especially with a family, you could rent a car and enjoy the tour. (Hear that United Express!!) Montrose, Gunnison and Grand Junction are other western slope options.

Purgatory/Durango Mtn Resort (DMR) is a very good family option and occasionally, like Wolf Creek can get some major Thanksgiving dumps.

(You definitely don't want to go to Telluride first, if there is snow as it will ruin the rest of your trip at 'other' areas. )
post #12 of 19
You basically have 2 options for this time of year and price: Colorado and Utah.

Colorado- Breckenridge, Keystone, and Copper are all nearby and will provide you with some good intermediate terrain, long cruisers, etc. The snow out there right now seems to be top notch for this time of year. I'm not sure about CO's prices, but you can fly to Denver pretty cheaply, at least compared to SLC.

Utah- this is where we go all the time. For the places open during your time there, Snowbird, Alta, Solitude, and Brighton will have good snow, but they are not as cruiser friendly, however, Brighton and Solitude have a good amount of cruisers compared to Alta/Snowbird. You can go here cheaply and stay in Sandy. Unfortuantely, DV won't be open then, but they have some great cruisers.
post #13 of 19
For my money, I LOVE Alta and Snowbird. They have by far the highest snowfall in November, so you will have the most coverage and acres to explore. Depending on your comfort level in powder, I would say go there. Bare in mind that the snow in Utah is much lighter than anywhere else, so it won't be as taxing on your legs.

Here is a link giving the average monthly snowfall in the Utah resorts if ungroomed isn't quite your comfort level.
http://www.utah.com/ski/snowfall.htm
And here is Copper...couldn't find any all inclusive Colorado sites.
http://www.coppercolorado.com/mounta...tics/index.htm
post #14 of 19
Buy a condo in Colorado.
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by cabrown317 View Post
Bare in mind that the snow in Utah is much lighter than anywhere else

Sorry, but that's not true. "Greatest Snow on Earth" is a marketing slogan, it's not factual.
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by cabrown317 View Post
Bare in mind that the snow in Utah is much lighter than anywhere else, so it won't be as taxing on your legs.
This has to be a top ten classic quote. OMG! ROTFLMAO!
post #17 of 19
I've heard that the powder in South America is lighter, but in the USA, nothing in the pacific northwest is going to compare, and lately they've had warmer temperatures and been getting hammered with rain. Squaw and Mammoth can get great snow every now and then, but more often it's heavy...not nearly as low in water density. I've been to Jackson, and their snow was twice as heavy. My aunt has skied Steamboat, Copper, Vail, Breck, Keystone, Telluride, ok basically every mountain in Colorado, and said Utah powder was lighter. The East coast doesn't really have powder, and if we do it's usually slushy. So the only place in the US that I can think of that could give Alta or Snowbird a run for their money is Taos, which I unfortunately never experienced. But please tell me if I'm wrong and where you think has better snow in the US so I can add it to my things to do list.
post #18 of 19
hey sometimes you do get really light snow back east. Depends on the weather - cold == lighter snow usually.

But yeah the conventional wisdom is that Utah has the famous snow because of the Great Salt Lake or something. But then Steamboat supposubly has Champagne Powder too.

Who knows? Are there any true scientific studies on this? You got me. All I know is the snow's usually pretty good in UT or CO whenever I've been.

btw - they get wetpack in UT - check out the avvie sites like http://www.avalanche.org/%7Euac/ past reports. They get all kinds of complex snow conditions (meaning slushy to lightest of light, windpack etc)
post #19 of 19
I'm not sure about wet pack, but when I will give Utah one criticism. The "Fresh" snow is amazing. But because of the feet of it they get, skiing the ungroomed can often get extremely difficult a few days later when the sun bakes it. I remember we went to ski Mineral Basin in Snowbird a couple of days after a 3 foot dump, and it was one of the more taxing days of my life, especially because mineral basin has some serious sun exposure. Wish we hadn't had an interlodge the first day and a half that trip...cost us a day of fresh and gained us a day of crud.
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