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Beginner Question - Best place for beginner in Utah or Colorado?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I'm a 44 yr old southerner and I have only skiied twice at Winterplace & Beech Mtn in WVA and NC. I enjoyed it but both trips were during holiday weekends and the slopes were crowded, narrow and icy so my ability to really learn to ski was severely limited. My 15 yr old son is a beginner/intermediate and we are planning a trip west to experience real skiing. I need wide, gentle slopes to learn on and gain some confidence and I need a place that will not break the budget. I would like to avoid big crowds if possible also. I have read good things about Deer Valley, Breck, Alta, and Keystone. I would really appreciate some wisdom on these and any other recommendations. Also, any wisdom about how to save $ would be great. Thanks and I love this web site.

Perry
post #2 of 29
A begiiner can find good instruction anywhere there is an incline nd some snow to slide on . You have no need to find a huge huge resort to get guidance. Weren't the N.C. resorts the first to open?
The snow is more plentiful in the West and is much softer . Colorado is getting dumped on big time now and has had snow the longest. That's where I would go .There are many to choose from and the biggest wouldn't necessarilly be the best for you.
post #3 of 29
There are lots of variable in your question -- like how far from the airport, do you want to stay close the mountain or in town, will you rent a car, air fares and so forth.

I would steer you away from the large resorts. They can be overwhelming. Keystone is nice and Bridger Bowl in Montana is a smaller area that is worth considering.
post #4 of 29
Copper has the best learning terrain I've seen in recent years.
post #5 of 29

I second Copper

Quote:
Originally Posted by ant View Post
Copper has the best learning terrain I've seen in recent years.
Ditto, every time we go somewhere new, I just want to go back to Copper the next time out. Maybe its because of the familiarity, but it's definitely worth a close look for you.
post #6 of 29
I think Breckenridge has some of the best beginner/intermediate terrain in Summit. Most of the blue runs seem to be on the easier side, which is a confidence builder. On top of that, it is extremely popular with Southerners. It always seems like you are running into someone from Florida or North Carolina in the hot tub. Could be the atmosphere, Breck tends to have a little more of an imagined ski town feel to it, and certainly better nightlife than Keystone or Copper. From what I have seen, Southerners like to party as much as they like to ski.

As regards Utah, I'd lean towards Brighton, Sundance, Deer Valley or even Park City. Alta is a little tougher and the beginner terrain is more limited. For a first timer in Utah I would stay in SLC and rent a car, it would be fairly easy to hit several areas and figure out what you liked.
post #7 of 29
Go to Copper and hook up with SSH.: If he doesn't teach your clan he can recommend someone nice to help you skill up
post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies. I have read some posts that say Copper is too crowded. Is that real or imagined? Also, I'm going with my 15 yr old son so nighlife is not required. Thanks and keep them coming.
post #9 of 29
Ski on weekdays if you can to avoid the crowds.
post #10 of 29
CO- Copper, Keystone, Breck
UT-PC, Canyons, DV, Solitude
post #11 of 29
Copper has all of their beggining terrain on the right so there is no hastle with skier's cutting through. As you get better Timberline lift is right there for you to try out some blue's. Great place to learn. You will also have an easier time finding discount lift tickets for Copper. PM me if you want some ideas on where to find a deal on 4 day Copper Lift Tickets.

Breck has great learning terrain and the town is great.

What ever you do travel on the weekend and ski on the weekdays to avoid the crowd. I have found the crowds to be less at Copper, but I am not a local so maybe someone else would like to comment.

If you want to save a little dough stay in Frisco and the drive or short bus ride will be easy from there. Frisco has a Wal-Mart and lots of eateries. Barkely's usto be good but I havent eaten there in a while.
post #12 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemsontiger84 View Post
Thanks for the replies. I have read some posts that say Copper is too crowded. Is that real or imagined? Also, I'm going with my 15 yr old son so nighlife is not required. Thanks and keep them coming.
Listen Tigger, the great state of Colorado is blissfully devoid of your ilk.

After you've paid for a handful of recruits I'm not sure you can afford a trip to Colorado....But if it's in the budget, I have a few suggestions:

* Copper is crowded, but is manageable if you avoid the "big" weekends like MLK and President's weekend, as well as spring break in March.
* Copper and the Summit Co mountains are up VERY high. As a flatlander and a beginner, I might suggest you acclimate to both skiing and the high country at a lower elevation. Steamboat is a great choice in Colorado, as is Slowmass for beginners. In Utah, you get even a 1k feet or more lower in base elevation at Deer Valley/Park City. I love Brighton and Solitude, but the dumpings there can make skiing for a beginner more challenging. I'd opt for the groomed tracks in PC or DV if I were heading to Utah.

Just my 2 cents.
post #13 of 29
I hate to douse your engines, and I admit that my response may not necessarily be what you are expecting, but perhaps you should consider being familiar with your local resorts and ski there first for an entire season before going out to the wild west. At least that's what I would do. The first two years my daughters and my wife started skiing we were going twice a month to the local resorts. These were not small ones mind you (hunter, wyndham, catamount, jiminy, camelback) but regardless of size of resort they only ended up skiing in the widest and flatest of all greens. And this was after they took many many hours of private ski lessons and classes. I was planning a trip early on to Lake Tahoe but I figured if they were going to ski in Tahoe's widest and flatest green run then it would not have been worth the trip and cost.

Obviously if cost is not an issue for you and you would rather ski the whole day in Deer Valley's Success run (which is Deer Valley's most beginner trail) instead of a similar trail in your local resort then forget everything I wrote above.

Toward the end of my girl's second season, we went on a trip to the wild west and all the preparation, lessons, classes paid off and they were able to at least ski more than just the flatest green runs Deer Valley had to offer. Had they had only three or four ski sessions before Utah, then it would not have been worth all the expense to go to Utah.

But that's just me being dirt poor, practical and a Virgo.
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemsontiger84 View Post
Thanks for the replies. I have read some posts that say Copper is too crowded. Is that real or imagined? Also, I'm going with my 15 yr old son so nighlife is not required. Thanks and keep them coming.
Compared to winterplace and Beech, I think you'll find "crowded" is a realative term. I should know I used to work at Beech.

BTW. Go GAMECOCKS!!!
post #15 of 29

Head West

Head west you wont regret it.

Copper is fine, the town is kinda lacking.
Winterpark there are good deals to be found and plenty of greens and blues.
Park City is great for everything awesome town!

Good Luck!

BTW
"Crush those Wild Cats Tigers!!!"
post #16 of 29
Colorado 'cause nothin's steep there
post #17 of 29
While I would normally tell you that I teach the best beginner lesson in the state of Colorado, my resort does not really have the variety of beginner terrain that would keep a vacationer happy for a week's ski vacation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tito View Post
Head west you wont regret it.

...
Winterpark there are good deals to be found and plenty of greens and blues.
P...
Second Winter Park. The Discovery Park area is the best beginner area in Colorado, hands down. It is served by it's own high speed quad, with an additional 2 fixed grip chair lifts, plus 2 pomas and 3 magic carpets. It is fantastic learning terrain. Epicski's Rusty Guy is a fantastic instructor of adults and teens. It is all beginner terrain, completely separated from the more advanced parts of Winter Park.
post #18 of 29
Winter Park. Great ski school, plenty of gentle wide open terrain, lots of variety, and plenty of harder stuff if you progress. Also, it is close to Denver and deals can always be found.
post #19 of 29
I learned at Ski Cooper near Leadville. Nice, small area (almost impossible to get lost) with inexpensive lift tickets and a good never-ever ski/rental/lesson package. If you're up to it after a few days, Copper is just over the hill about 25 miles away. Of course, the nightlife in Leadville isn't the greatest, but you'll probably be wiped out the first few days anyway...

I guess the real question is, what do you want to do other than ski? If the answer is "nothing", then you should probably go somewhere small like Ski Cooper or Loveland.
post #20 of 29
Those are good suggestions, Jrbd. IF you want a bigger resort, then I 3rd Winter Park. Great beginner terrain that is totally segregated from the zooming masses and isn't stuck at the bottom of the mountain. Great ski school wtih good lesson/rental packages for beginning skiers. And the town is not so expensive. there are deals to be found. It can be crowded on holiday weekends, but not as crowded i bet as keystone or vail.
post #21 of 29
Yep, forgot about Winterpark. Move that to the top of the list for Colorado unless you want some night life.
post #22 of 29
Here's a contrarian point of view. Consider going to Grand Targhee in WY. Unusually reliable snow, a great little ski school, and across the board bargain prices. Their beginner terrain is not huge - but is almost perfectly laid out. You can probably hire an instructor for you and your kid for not much more than group lessons elsewhere (and they'd be almost free considering the all-in bargain picture). Consider 3-4 half days in the AM and then rest or play in the afternoon. George Mosher has been on the "top 100" instructor list several times - as have a couple of their other instructors. I believe they are all still there.

Nightlife is close to zero, but if you are really there to learn to ski - and want to do it at better than fair prices, it is tough to beat. Plus, if you make fast progress and want a tiny taste of off-piste. Targhee is generally considered to be in the top ranks in the country for snow quality (although, like anywhere, you never know what mother nature will dish out for your trip)

It is one of the least crowded ski areas in the country - amazingly so considering the snow quality...

Fly in to ID falls...
post #23 of 29

that's easy!

>I need wide, gentle slopes to learn on and gain some confidence and I need a place that will not break the budget. ... I would really appreciate some wisdom on these and any other recommendations. Also, any wisdom about how to save $ would be great.

twice you mention $$$, so the answer is quite easy, Utah. Flying to SLC is as cheap as anywhere, likely cheaper than Denver, certainly less than adding another CO commuter flight. Staying in Utah is VERY likely to be cheaper, you can stay at Midvale La Quinta for $55-65/night, which includes breakfast, if you want to save a few bucks more, You Can, try priceline or ask more questions. You will loose out on a ski country atmosphere, but your hotel will be full of skiers very willing to talk skiing!

You will also save on lift tickets, which are about $50/day in Utah for 4 resorts with the best snow in the U.S., it will be a little more to ski in the Park City resorts. As far as terrain, either CO or Utah will suit you just fine. Ski town atmosphere - I give that to Colo. Also note: from many places in US you can arrive in SLC about 10:30am and be skiing by 12:30, for real! Resorts are less than one hour drive from airport, compared to 3 hour drive in Colorado, (although much of it is picturesque for an easterner). Same for way home, in SLC you can ski to 2pm and catch 5p flight home, i've done it many times.

Also note, most of the SLC resorts get about 60% more snow than the Colo resorts, so the conditions are likely to be much better, although you probably don't need to ski on a powder day at this stage of your skiing.

But on the other hand, I read that there are 4x as many skiing trips made to Colo as to Utah, so I guess I don't have to worry about hurting the Colo ski industry, obviously someone likes it out there.
post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowbirdDevotee View Post
compared to 3 hour drive in Colorado,
It takes 1:45 from my house in Breck to DIA.
post #25 of 29

Come see us in Breck!

As viking kaj mentioned, Breck is a good choice if you're thinking CO. Breckenridge has lots of good learning terrain, and quite a few EpicSki Bears who teach at our Ski and Ride School (including yours truly), including (at least) one of our ski school supervisors.

Also Breckenridge is (pardon me while I slip into advertising-speak) "The Perfect Mountain Town" (TM). After you finish barfing from the ad-speak, the reality is the town is great, with lots of shops, cafes, a theatre company, music, lots of fun stuff. Since we're owned by the same company as Keystone (Vail Resorts), you also can ski Keystone on your lift ticket. If you buy a multi-day pass, which you probably would coming out for a ski week, you can even do a day at Vail (about 35 miles away).

If you decide to hit Utah instead, that's a good choice too. You can go sample a lot of areas. I'll second the recommendation about Brighton - it's a old-style feeling "ski hill" with a great ski school and lots of friendly staff.

If you do want the "ski town" feel along with the ski vacation, not just the on-hill experience, then probably staying in SLC won't give it to you. Park City would be more like it if going to UT. As would Breckenridge (with slightly less glitz than Park City). Or really anywhere in Summit County - a suggested up-thread, staying in Frisco, which has an old Main Street feel while convenient to Copper, Breck, and Keystone by quick drive or free bus, can save some money. (Well maybe not staying "anywhere" in Summit County - Silverthrone motels are probably cheap but I like to think of it as our little piece of New Jersey in the mountains - gotta put the strip malls somewhere.)

Our colleagues/competitors over at Copper have some great instructors too, lots of them who post here at epic and some who already jumped in on the thread. One of the nice things about Summit County is that you can sample several areas. Also true about the SLC area.

One other place you might like, though it depends on how you'd be getting there and how expensive the trip might be, is Whitefish, Montana, Big Mountain. Whitefish is a great western town and Big Mountain is not at all crowded. Lot of varied terrain, including a lot of good intermediate stuff. If you want to make an adventure out of it, the trip there on Amtrak on the "High Line" route which takes you right into the center of Whitefish is an interesting way to get there. (Interesting = "great rail journey" or "absolute horror and waste of time" depending on your opinion of rail travel).
post #26 of 29
All of the suggestions above are very good however coming from the East Coast myself and sea level (fla) I would underscore you looking for some of the lower elevations, preferably sleeping under 8000 feet. For Colorado Steamboat would satisfy that and most of the Utah destination. Vail might also qualify. The Summit County destinations are great but high. Everything else aside, you can't go wrong where ever you wind up. Good Luck.
post #27 of 29

Keystone?

My overall experience is limited ... but I have high regard for learning at Keystone for these reasons:
1. Learning area and beginner lifts from the River-run area are located at the top of the mountain. As far I as I can tell this is unique(?). It makes for a great view while taking lessons, much better than the parking lot view most learning areas have!
2. Gondola takes you to the top so you don't have to ride a chair up as a beginner (especially good for snowboarders)
3. Excellent instructors - the ones I've had there have been first rate with good all-day or half-day lesson schedules.
4. Toward the end of your lesson at the top of the mountain, most instructors will ski down the long green runs to the bottom with any of their students who are interested while giving instruction along the way. Makes for a great experience with long and varied terrain with almost no time wasted riding lifts over and over again for short runs.
Just my .02!
post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Powdr View Post
Colorado 'cause nothin's steep there
cmon' man, although we all know Utah is steeper in general, CO has its' share of steep too..prickin' barbs at CO once again..sheesh:
post #29 of 29
I am origanally from the East Coast

There is a huge amount of value to Cyclist has to offer. A trip every few weeks to your local skid row will improve you both enough to really enjoy all Colorado or Utah is going to offer you.

If you are both strong enough to do some turns without having to worry about going over the "precipice of death" or into some wood, then you will both enjoy it more.

Day one will be spent wandering the ski town or perhaps in Denver 5k feet is better then 0. Drink all the water you can while you are here.

Ask yourself, are you physically fit enough, to ski 3~5 days without a break from 9ish~4ish? 6 hours less break per day. The physical demands will be strong for several days. We want to you to come back again. Not break yourselves in the process.

No matter what location you pick, enjoy yourselves. Pre-training and lessons will go a long way towards that enjoyment.

Jim

PS... I like 1)WinterPark 2)Copper 3) Keystone for you locations.
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