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Colorado Roadtrip...from Québec!

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi! My girlfriend and I (and maybe one more person) are going to do a little roadtrip to Colorado from 1rst of march up to the 12 of march....we kind of chose the roadtrip option because we like to have a car in case things are'nt good where we thought!!! I also compared the cost of taking a plane from Burlington (VT)[way better prices than Montréal airport] to Denver and then rent a car...it looks like with gas prices and my economic car it's hard to beat the flexibility of having it's own car (just in case for example a pass close and could miss the plane back...)
So the only thing we absolutely want to do is a day at Silverton so we need to reserve that in advance (how far in advance???) so we thought about roadtriping Colorado...another option could have been SLC area and then go to Silverton and back to SLC but from Québec City, we can easily go to Denver in 30hours (in two days with sleep between!!) or less but SLC is more like 36hours so it kind of add a day more going and a day more coming back....since we don't have that much time and would like to snowboard the third day of our travel we thought Denver was a better option.....
I don't like to organize everything far in advance but since it's going to be the beginning of spring break we fear that it will be crowded and the cheaper accomodation will be hard to find.....so we will make some reservation (some that we can cancel without cost...but near wolf creek we did'nt find anything like that...)
March 1rst (thursday): Québec-City-------Chicago
March 2 (friday) : Chicago---------Denver (hotwire deal hotel 30$ a night...hard to beat anywhere and almost evertime good places...)
March 3 (saturday) : A-Basin (we ordered the Gem Pass which give us 10$ off tickets at A-Basin, Loveland, Monarch that we maybe are going to try...) Go back to sleep in Denver for 30$...
March 4 (sunday): A-Basin or Loveland (depends on saturday...we also wanted maybe to try Vail but it's definitly overpriced for a single day...we didn't find any deal on those tickets...compared to telluride or crested butte that looks awsome and where we found some great discount at hotels in towns near those places....that doesn't seem to exist in Vail...PLUS it's going to be a sunday so i guess it's a zoo especially early march....)
After the snowboarding day 3h30 of driving down to South Fork....is it realistic??? I have a 2WD with good tires (X-Ice...) and probably going to buy some chains...but in Québec where there's a lot of snow(and bad roads) we never use that...of course we don't have 10 000feet passes
March 5 (monday): Wolf Creek (based on the snowfall amounts and elevation...we think it's the safest in colorado in term of snow...the terrain looks cool too...and we like the fact that it's far from major towns so less chance of crowds than summit resorts...plus it's near Silverton which is our only 'we have to be there at that date!!'
March 6 (tuesday): Wolf Creek
March 7 (wenesday): Rest day! or Wolf Creek again if it's realy good...but probably rest day considering Silverton the day after is going to ask a lot of energy.... Driving from South Fork to Silverton (if the weather is not good we won't ski for sure because we want to be sure to get to silverton....and not loose 130$ each....) Sleeping for good price in Silverton
March 8 (thursday): Silverton after....that's the hard decision...probably going to drive to Ouray to sleep there and grab some discounted tickets for Telluride if the snow is good...(do we need a reservation far in advance for Ouray early march????)
March 9 (friday): Telluride ( we wanted to try at least one bigger resort...so we'll snowboard there, walk a bit in the village, eat there and leave! The second hard decision...driving to Gunnison during the evening...2h40 according to mapquest....realistic??? if it's realy too snowy we'll take another night in ouray and go back to telluride saturday...
March 10 (saturday): Crested Butte or Monarch (if we can get some discount tickets at hotels we'll go crested butte...but it's not realy advertised on the net but i read that it's a possibility on this forum....)
sleeping again in gunnison or salida if we're chosing monarch for sunday...
is crested butte realy crowded week-ends of spring breaks???
March 11 (sunday): Monarch
March 12 (monday) : Denver-----Chicago
March 13 (tuestday): Chicago------Denver

I hope it's going to work...my only concerns are about crowds in that period, the need to reserve in advance and the driving problems.....but i'm sure overall we'll find some powder somewhere in those mountains! If you have any comments on my itinary or my questions it would be apppreciated!

Thanks and enjoy your snow (here in Québec we have a warmer than usual november...so no snow at all anywhere which is kind of weird...)

post #2 of 17
Crowds shouldn't be a problem at any of the resorts you are going to except for A-Basin and Loveland.
Wolf Creek or at least South Fork which is where I think you are staying is probably around the 4 hr mark for the drive down. A lot longer if you are dealing with snow. Still the roads are plowed so unless it's really bad you should be able to get down there.
Crested Butte give http://www.almontresort.com a call. They used to have a deal $60 a night includes your lift ticket. They are about 20 minutes away from Crested Butte. Good food at their lodge and the bar has all the booze ya need. Not sure if they still have that deal but two years ago they did. I think it still exists.

Your plan looks like a lot of driving. If it was me and I found a spot with good snow, I would just hang out there. Then again, I hate traveling all the time.

You can have everything from Spring like conditions, to powder, to crusted over ice at the resorts during that time of year. Come prepared for anything.
post #3 of 17
I think your plan is nuts!!! If there is bad weather you're going to be screwed. Many of your drives between areas after a full day of boarding are a bit too ambitious IMO. If I was going to attempt it, I would do it this way.

March 3rd Ski A-Basin. Leave about 3:00 and drive head south - don't go back to Denver. Spend the night in Buena Vista or Salida - cheap places to stay where you won't even need a reservation.

March 4th Ski Monarch all day about 90 minutes from Buena Vista or 45 minutes from Salida. Drive to Gunnison and spend the night. I like the Days Inn there for about $45 a night inc breakfast.

March 5th Ski Crested Butte all day and return to Gunnison for the night. Stay in the same room as the night before.

March 6th Day off drive to Silverton through Ouray. Stop in Ouray and swim in the hot springs pool. Give the legs a rest for Silverton. I strongly advise staying in Silverton overnight before skiing there. If the road to Silverton is screwed stay in Ouray and make the drive over red mountain pass the next morning.

March 7th Silverton. After skiing drive to Durango and spend the night there. If you aren't too beat you can even drive the extra hour to Pagosa Springs and stay there.

March 8th Wolfcreek. Return to Durango for the night.

March 9th Telluride drive to Montrose for the night

March 10th Monarch drive to Canon City for the night

March 11th Canon City to Chicago

That said, most of your drives are over VERY high passes and can get VERY nasty - not drives you'll want to be making after a full day of boarding. You'd be much better off staying in one area and having some time to relax after a day on the slopes - enjoy a beer or three etc.

If I was you I'd Drive Chicago to Colorado Springs or Canon City. The next day I'd do Monarch and drive over to Gunnison, stay for cheap there for several days and ski the Butte and Monarch. Niether one is ever really crowded. One of the best things about staying in Gunnison and doing CB is the drive is flat until the last half mile or so. It's doable even in rough weather. Shoot over to Silverton and do a day and stay in Silverton both the night before and the night after you board there. All told you'll get in seven days on snow.

Your current plan is not really workable IMO - and even my revised plan is wrought with peril. If I was a young crazy maniac I might attempt my revised plan.... I'd have contingencies in place for weather problems, however.
post #4 of 17
Driving back down to Denver to a $30/nt rathole after skiing A-basin is strange. Keep in mind that when it's snowing these roads (Loveland pass, I70, etc) close fairly often. With 2WD I think your plans are going to be largely dictated by the weather/road conditions. I'd never do a trip like that with 2WD.
post #5 of 17
If you don't want to spend the night in Summit County b/c of cost, go to Idaho Springs - motels in the 40 - 55 a night range
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
hehe....i knew my plan was a bit 'weather optimistic' but i also realized with some of your comments that the mapquest distance in high passes conditions don't mean anything!
but i also realize that for my girlfriend and I it's no problem driving 1 hour or 2 after a sknowboard day...in fact here in quebec we always do that...driving 2 hours going to the best spots free of crowds and then doing the 2 hours back (stoping in baie-saint-paul for a good microbrewery beer! ) OF COURSE i understand that the drive is a lot easier in québec because of the low altitude....
we did a long roadtrip from québec city down to san diego in june and what we liked the most is the wide array of landscape we saw (rockies, utah national parks, yosemite, yellowstone, surfing in cardiff by the sea, san francisco one day, mammoth mountain next day, we could have passed the whole month just in california) when we were in vegas (basicaly to see 'ka' cirque du soleil...we roadtriped to zion in a day and got back for the show at 9pm! and we like that kind of crazy days! but we are not that crazy during winter and this is why we are only going to book some cheap lodging in advance that we can cancel the day before if the weather is going mad or if we truly enjoy a place....flexibility is what we want but we do want it cheap so we need to look before because we going during spring break...
We want to try as much ski resort as we can but pass 2 days at some...so i changed a little bit my plan to adjust on that good point you made me realize...here's my new plan! and if we realize that there's no snow in colorado we might just go utah if it's realy better....as i said our only fixed day is march 8 (thursday) for silverton...that's it, and we absolutely want to do this one because we want at the end to be sure to have experienced good powder...we thing it's the place we have the most chance...(and yes we know that if it's too dangerous we might just be doing tree skiing but that's cool too....we just want to be sure to have a powder day during the trip!!!)

March 1rst (thursday): Québec-City-------Chicago
March 2 (friday) : Chicago---------Denver (or dillon if we find 40-50$ motel...just to avoid the saturday traffic morning that i expect!!!)
March 3 (saturday) : A-Basin ( driving down to Buena Vista or la Salida...good point that it was stupid to go back in Denver! plus we only are going to do monarch once compared to 2 times before...i imagine that after silverton i'll found monarch less stimulating....)
March 4 (sunday): Monarch ( driving to south fork after...so it's better than driving from dillon!)
March 5 (monday): Wolf Creek (basicaly for the snowfall, altitude, and less crowd factor...)
March 6 (tuesday): Wolf Creek
March 7 (wenesday): Rest day!
March 8 (thursday): Silverton (on mapquest it's 25 miles...so if the pass is open we are going to sleep in ouray...because from there telluride is 1h next mourning and we can fin half price tickets....that good...if the road is bad we are staying in silverton and decide after the plan!)
March 9 (friday): Telluride (so if i got it wright telluride isn't realy crowded even during week-ends springbreak?????...so we hit it friday...eat there, enjoy the little town and go back sleeping in ouray after...take another half price ticket and hit it again saturday if it was good...if not crested butte instead for saturday if the road are good)
March 10 (saturday): Telluride (ok....after that's the only realy long drive of the roadtrip...supposed to be 2h40 on mapquest let's say 4h so we finish at 4 in telluride, get in the car, drive 2h each....we've done so worst!!! if the road is bad we sleep in ouray and try it the morning)
March 11 (sunday): Crested Butte (after sleep midway gunnison/denver...maybe another day at crested butte...)
March 12 (monday) : Denver-----Chicago
March 13 (tuestday): Chicago------Denver

I think this one is better...less exhausting...and we have the plan B...which is if there's no snow, we cancel all rooms and go utah if there's snow there...driving wednesday to silverton.....

Thanks for your help and good advices...
post #7 of 17
The new plan is much better

Monarch is a sleeper. I think you'll be pleasantly suprised. If you are, do two days there and one at WC.

Ouray is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I have stayed in Ouray and skied Telluride several times and have never been stranded there by a storm - though it is a possibility. The drive from Ouray to Telluride is not nearly as hairy in bad weather as the drive from Durango to Silverton or Silverton to Ouray. It still has the potentail to be a real bitch! Be prepared to chain-up your car.
post #8 of 17
I've done my share of ambitious road trips. But when visiting multiple destinations, I've found in my old age that skiing/boarding at least two days at each is more satisfying even if it means skipping some stops. You get to sleep in the same room a couple nights and you get to know the ski area a little better on the second day. Got a tell you that I really love Loveland and noticed that it dropped from your list. I've never been to A-basin, but maybe that will better suit your itinerary, which has the potential to include highly rated expert terrain.
A few years ago I drove from the East coast to Colorado for a family ski trip. When we were almost home I asked each kid what they liked most about the trip. One of my teenage daughters said…Kansas! That gave me a big laugh. She had never been in the Midwest before and was strangely impressed with those hours spent driving through parts of Kansas and east Colorado that are as flat as a calm ocean.
post #9 of 17
FWIW, from Silverthorne (A-Basin) to Wolf Creek is around 4 hours on clear roads. If you swapped Taos for A-Basin, or even if you didn't, Albuquerque offers another travel option for the SW areas. It's about 3 1/2 hrs to Durango on clear roads and misses the passes. I think to Pagosa Springs is comparable. If you are considering areas like Monarch & Wolf Creek, Durango Mountain Resort (DMR)/Purgatory is worth real consideration. The views are tough to beat and can get almost as much snow as Wolf Creek in March.

I just did the loop to A-Basin and back down and it was 12 hours of driving time on excellent roads. Picking a few places, a couple days each may be more gratifying. Are you coming to drive or to ski? March is typically a big snow month in SW CO.

If I were to take your list, for efficiency I'd go: A-Basin, Monarch, Crested Butte, Silverton, Telluride (or Telluride, Silverton), then Wolf Creek & back to Denver. Note that the road from Ouray to Silverton is not for the weak hearted in a snow storm due to the shelf roads and extreme drop offs. Accessing Silverton from the south (DGO) is less severe. but can be very dicey. On a clear day (more often than not, 4:1), the views are awesome.
post #10 of 17
Originally Posted by Alpinord View Post
...Note that the road from Ouray to Silverton is not for the weak hearted in a snow storm due to the shelf roads and extreme drop offs. Accessing Silverton from the south (DGO) is less severe. but can be very dicey. On a clear day (more often than not, 4:1), the views are awesome.
As someone who has lived near Durango, let me second the above. Red Mountain Pass (the pass between Silverton and Ouray) is one of the few really dangerous passes in Colorado. Several people (including snowplow drivers) have lost their lives there in the wintertime. Be prepared to chain up, even if you have good snow tires. The southbound lane has severe dropoffs with no guard rails (there is literally no room to place them).
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
thanks again for the advices.....
MisterK you said you stayed in ouray while skiing telluride....how long is it on good conditions? and do you know an affordable hotel/motel that have discount lift tickets (how much???) looks a realy cool place...the town looks also awsome...so it's going to be our 'big resort' experience of the travel! unless some of you have some insides about vail or aspen tickets....for example i know for sure that a place sells 45$ tickets for crested buttes (even if you don't sleep there...) which is perfect price for us...i guess such discounts for only a day of skiing does not exist in vail or aspen?
And another question....how do you chain tires??? is it complicated? how long does it take to put it onS?
thanks everybody...all your comments help a lot...
post #12 of 17
post #13 of 17
It's about an hour to drive rom Ouray to Telluride in good weather.

Chains aren't that hard to put on but you'll want to practice putting them on a couple of times before you actually need them.


I don't know what the current Telluride lift ticket deal is through Ouray lodging. Call a couple of the hotels and ask. I think all f them have the same discount deal. You usually get a discount to the hot springs too. The best thing is to stay in town in Ouray so you can walk to the springs. About half the town closes down for the winter so don't expect a ton of activity! IMO Ouray is a much prettier place than Telluride, but it is VERY quiet in the winter. Heck, it's not exactly rowdy in the summer either.

post #14 of 17
Nic, have you ever driven that distance: from Quebec to Colorado? I've done it roundtrip about five times because I went to school out there... you're going to be hating yourself for not taking a plane, and I can't imagine that the little money you save will make it worth five driving days (total), and that's if you don't run into bad weather in the flyover states.

C'est ton choix, mais a mon avis, ca ne vaut pas la peine.
post #15 of 17
Originally Posted by nic_okcomputer View Post
And another question....how do you chain tires???
This is unsettling.
post #16 of 17
I'm thinking that your total driving time,one way with now weather delays,is going to be about 30 - 35 hours. I did Ottawa to Calgary in 36 hours ,a nd it took me two days to recover.Can't imagine that you're really going to feel like riding the day after a long trip like the one you are planning.You may want to head to Syracuse and see if you can find cheap flights to Denver.You'll spend a bit more cash than you want,but you'll be able to enjoy all your days in Colorado.Don't forget that the resorts in Colorado are much higher than here in the east,so it may take a day to get used to it. Have a great trip!!
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Ok ok.....first i'd like to say that i drove that same trip during end of may(leaving québec city...down to denver but we stayed a day in chicago....) and it took us 2 days....AND we snowboarded at A-Basin the day after we arrived in Denver....in fact we saw so much things during 1 month and did a lot of hiking (and snowboarding A-Basin and Mammoth in june) and were so impressed and happy that it was ok for us to drive so much....
BUT since we only are going to have 12 days down there this time we calculated that it would cost us about 500$ for the gas and the hotel rooms to get there (and we would have 4 days less to snowboard....)
i discovered the site kayak.com that searches airfaire tickets and have some stats about the average price and now for a trip in 3 weeks a ticket is 267$ includind taxes...that realy good! but we have to take the plane in Burlington, VT which is only 1 hour from Montréal where we usualy go....so it's 530$ for 2 tickets AND we will land there top shape!!!!
but we have to add the car rental...that's the problem....i took in consideration some points of view and yes i remember driving in colorado some high passes and would'nt want to do this when it's snowy with 2WD....i looked about the possibility of renting a subaru (there are all 4WD if i'm good???) and i found for 10 days about 550 (with hertz but i cannot find it today...SUV midsize is about the same price).....anybody knows better price for that??? you kind of scared me all with the roads....
but we realy want to ski 3 or 4 resorts includind absolutely silverton....but we are totaly into the storm chasing game so we only reserve our 'dream' itinary considering cancelation possibility 24h before arrival....it's the backup if everything going well...if not we'll have on the computer phone numbers of cheap hotels if we have to change or plan....but we stick we the second version (But maybe are going to pass 2 or even 3 days total at crested butte if there's some new snow....i have read some realy tempting topics about this mountain!)
Thanks again! (and if you know any inside about suv/subaru renting in denver i'd like to know it!!!)
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