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Drive-by skiing suggestions from/to DIA?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
We will be staying in Avon and taking advantage of the Heavenly season passes we bought that give us 3 free days at Vail resorts in CO. We'll be arriving into DIA around midnight on Saturday night March 3 and stay that night in a Denver area hotel. Of course, it all depends on the weather, but I'm looking for ideas on where to stop and ski that might not be too crowded on a Sunday afternoon? After which we'd drive the rest of the way to Avon.

Second question: Our return flight is late Friday night, March 9th (approx 11:30 p.m.). Any advice as to which resort would be best to try that day? Maybe we should try one east of the tunnel? Maybe Winter Park? Is parking a problem on Fridays? I'm asking about that specifically because last year we took the same late flight into DIA, stayed over in Denver that night, then on a Sunday morning drove to Steamboat. We drove past Winter Park on the way and it was crazy! Seemed like there were absolutely no parking spots left in the lots. Cars were being waved on past the resort.

post #2 of 11
The easy answer is Loveland. You drive right underneath it on I-70... and its a great spot to stop and ski. The conditions there are always great. Your other options are A-basin, Keystone, Breck, Copper, and Vail... Loveland will be the least crowded for sure.

On the return Friday, you could ski jsut about anywhere and not worry about crowds. WP isn't exactly on the way back, as its 45 minutes from I-70.
post #3 of 11
Loveland would prob be the least crowded on a Sunday and the fastest to get to. It is right off the highway. A lot of skiers will leave the mt's by 1-2pm to avoid the traffic back to Denver. WP/MJ is out of the way by 45 minutes or so each way. A-Basin, Keystone, and Breck are 15-25 minutes out of the way (each way). Copper is just off the highway before Vail pass. You will have ample time to get to the airport on Friday from any of the mt's. Either ski one you liked the most or one you didn't ski at all that week. Have fun.

Keystone also has night skiing to 9pm if you like blue groomers - Gondola ride up to keep warm after each run. (check their website, but I'm pretty sure night skiing is availabel Sunday)
post #4 of 11
we always try to squeeze in a day at copper on our "denver to where ever" trips. the skiing is excellent and the mountain is directly off the interstate. sunday should not pose much of problem with crowds either...most of the traffic will be going toward denver.
post #5 of 11
Loveland is your closest "drive by" bet, but never was crazy about the skiing there. If you've got a whole day to kill, you might as well drive the extra 45 minutes (not even that long) and go to Breck or Keystone.

OR, you might decide to just lay low for the first day up there since it looks like your lungs and the rest of you are coming from 10 feet above sea level to 9000 feet above sea level pretty quickly (or around 9600 feet at the base of Breck (and maybe even higher at the base of Loveland).

Just a thought. Also, you've got 3 days planned at one of the largest ski areas in the continental US, so you probably need to save those hams and quads anyway. Just a thought.

As to WP on the way back--US 40 (going over Berthoud Pass) is likely to be a parking lot for the 30 mile trip from I-70 to WP. Could easily take you over an hour just to get from I-70 to WP. Coming back should be a breeze since you are going against the weekend mountain crowd. If you're just in it for sh*ts and grins, drive the extra 18 miles and go to a way smaller ski area called Sol Vista (which used to be Silver Creek (which used to be Granby Ski (which is now part of Granby Ranch))). It's actually some pretty great skiing on the west side, and there should be virtually no crowds (however, kids in Grand County don't have school on Fridays). If you are really, really, really in for a packed last day, stop at Devils Thumb on the way back from Sol Vista (between Granby and WP) for dinner.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Very nice responses. Thank you all!

Kind of leaning toward Loveland for that first afternoon. As well noted by pcskier, we will need to adjust to the altitude and recover from the late night flight arrival as well, so taking it easy will be a good idea. We ain't exactly spring chickens anyway! So, maybe just save the $ and leisurely make our way to Avon.

Thanks for the reality checks about WP being a farther off I-70 than I remembered and what the morning drive up would be like. I really don't want to get into that scene.

Thinking about Copper for the last day. Haven't been there before. Looks cool from the interstate. We have been to A-Basin, Keystone, and Breck for a day each. And would consider A-Basin for the last day. But, if Copper isn't too logistically challenging, I'd like to try a new place.

Still thinking... and it seems from what you are all saying, we can play it by ear and have good, multiple options. Just wanted the opinions of the Bears!

Thanks again
post #7 of 11
Copper is easy logistically. Both driving/parking and skiing. Nice back bowls, great bump runs and long groomers.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Woo hoo! Sounds perfect!
post #9 of 11
Loveland's a great area IMHO: very reasonable, uncrowded, and varied and wide open terrain. Last time I was there the ski patrol were offering to take folks on private tours of the area. But beware of the altitude, as mentioned by pcskier, as it along with just about everywhere in Summit County is above 9,000'. Drink plenty of water..and enjoy CO!
post #10 of 11
I'd highly recommend Loveland over Keystone OR Breck... such a better feel, and the snow conditions are much better at Loveland.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thank you, guys. We are planning on stopping at Loveland Sunday afternoon on the way up. We are hoping that having spent the night in Denver will help us with the altitude. We will definitely keep hydrated and probably take it easy. Then we really like the idea of Copper for Friday, the last day, and are happy to have the whole day since our flight departs at 11:30 pm. I'm just guessing, but the rest of the week will probably be 3 days at Vail and 2 at BC. We've only been to BC once --- opening day 2005. Very little terrain was open. Just that upper beginner area, the Centennial lift and Rose Bowl lift. I'd like to see more! Actually, we were extremely dissappointed that morning and tried to make the most of the time we had there, but it was difficult to overcome our initial bad feelings. We were in the lift line before opening. About chair 10, maybe. Planning on getting to Rose Bowl ASAP. We had bought our passes from Keystone which were to give us 3 days at Vail/BC. We'll the lift opened and we were a "no go". Chair after chair after chair loaded while a VERY good staff person on a radio tried her best to work the problem while we stood there watching what seemed like millions of people get on the lift. We cried, a bit, I admit. SOOOooooo, we need to make up for that day big time!! 'Cause since then it's been ... "We should have just done a 3rd day at Vail... But you wanted cookies..." blah blah blah.

Anyway, we can't wait. I just hope Jet Blue doesn't cancel our flight Friday night. They cancelled LOTS of flights from Boston today with what? 3 inches of snow?? I think they are reacting to that major mishap at JFK that happened recently. So, now they are just flat out cancelling flights rather than risk that happening again. It's just supposed to rain on Friday.

So, 3 days Vail; 2 days Beaver Creek. Maybe Breckenridge a day instead of BC? We will have a car, but being 5 minutes from BC is nice. What's the mid-week crowd at Breck likely to be? Is that Imperial lift something an eastern skier and boarder could find something manageable from? Hummmm...
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