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Powder/off piste in utah

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Gday

I am planning a trip to the States probably in late january '08.

I think i have narrowed it down to alta/snowbird for two weeks of skiing.

My question, is this ski locality the best for powder/back country/tree skiing - this is really what i love and do not get here in melbourne.

I have been told to go to fernie and red mountian in canada or jackson Hole Wyoming, but from what i have read, alta is primo.

Keep in mind i have to travel half way round the world to get anywhere, so i really want to make the right decision here.

Any comments.

Many thanks
post #2 of 27
Alta is primo but Snowbird has better terrain. Anyway they are interconnected, so no doubts here. Plus you have a great chance to visit the nearby places like Snowbasin, Brighton, Powder Mountain, Solitude. The last two are the least crowded, so enjoy!
post #3 of 27
Alta/bird is a great place - it's also not too far to take a trip to Solitude/Brighton or Park City/Canyons.

You're in for a great couple of weeks!
post #4 of 27

search the threads here and tgr

there are a lot of good tips. several instructors chime in. bushwackerinpa has loads of good pics.
post #5 of 27
If you have two weeks you really can't go wrong coming to Utah. Others have noted that you will have about 10 resorts to choose from, all are within an hours drive of each other.
Since you said something about Jackson Hole. It is only a few hours easy drive up The Interstate from Salt Lake City. I would plan at least two days in Jackson Hole / Grand Targhee. Here is how i would do it. get up early pack your Car drive up to Snowbasin. Knock off skiing a little early from skiing snowbasin and head north on Interstate 15. I would say from Ogden it will take about 4 hours to get to Jackson. You could get into your room by 8 or 9 pm. You would have time to get a bed or two see some of the town and still get some rest for a day on the Mountain. You may want to stay two days at Jackson or give Grand Targhee a try. I happen to really like GT. There is excellent tree skiing and the mountain gets a lot more snow then JH. GT does not have the over all pucker factor of JH still I think the place is a lot of fun and so far I have never seen it crowded.
post #6 of 27
OK, the difference between Fernie/Red and Alta/Snowbird is you WILL have to get up early to get your chance of fresh powder in Alta/Snowbird while there'll be nobody to compete with you in the interior of Canada.

Basically, Alta/Snowbird is much more developed and better known than those new resorts in Canada so there'll be a bit of a crowd. But keep in mind in the states, there's rarely those hour long wait for the gondola as in some of the resorts in the Alps (except the gondola in Snowbird CAN get crowded).

The plus side of Alta/Snowbird is, well, they're well developed. Easy to get to, easy to get away from if you want to ski another resort. More facility, more night life. Huge terrain in the Salt Lake area with nearly 10 resorts closely clustered together.

If you go to Fernie and get lucky with the snow, you'll have a great time. But if the snow doesn't cooperate, you're kind of stuck. If you're even THINKING of Canada, I would do Banff instead. With the Salt Lake area, you can drive up to Jackson Hole, down to Brian Head and east to Aspen etc.

Hey, one year I went to Deer Valley for spring skiing and the snow was so so. I ended up going hiking the Arches in Moab! Wouldn't change a thing!
post #7 of 27
I vote with Utah49. Coming from as far as Oz for 2 weeks, I'd try to ski both Alta/Snowbird and Jackson/Targhee.

For Canada I believe Red/Fernie is preferable in January due to more snowfall while Banff is better in late season due to cooler weather and better snow preservation.
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 

Utah and jackson hole

Thanks for the replys

I have made my decision to go to utah and was ready to sign the dotted line and stay in snowbird at the clifflodge for two weeks but decided against it. I heard there is nothing to do on mountain at alta/snowbird with little or no village/nightlife.

So my mind has shifted a little to jackson hole to give us some variety.

What do you guys think about one week jackson hole one week alta/snowbird. Is this a good mix. or are we better off just spending all our time in just JH or Alta/snowbird. Any suggestions for quality accom in JH.

Also is it realistic to drive to jackson hole from alta/snowbird, how long does it take.

Many thanks.
post #9 of 27
One week at JH and one week at Alto/Snowbird is a good combination. The drive takes a good part of a day though.

I suggest you sign up at Snowhead.com and ask the question there.

It may seem odd to ask question about US in a UK forum. But we Americans do our ski holidays differently than the rest of the world. What is "nothing to do" or what is "quality accom" is different from different prospective.
post #10 of 27
Alta/Bird - has better snow than Jackson Hole but they lack on the terrain alittle compared to Big one up north. The terrain at snowbird is still my second favorite resort, add the snow and its my favorite place but I maybe a bit biased

Jackson Hole has the gnarliest terrain I have skied so far, but the snow due to being south facing and lower elevation doesnt stay as nice as long, if they get fresh powder who cares though? Also the town of jackson is a really cool little hang out spot, still nothin like what I hear European apresski is like.


Both places have neighbor resorts where the terrain isnt as gnar and everything is alittle more mellow, but you can expect to find more powder at the lesser know resorts.

Grand Targhee although I was plague by the same dry spelll that I had jackson hole the snow was actually still wintery in section and the views alone IMO are worth one day there.

Next to Snowbird and Alta up BCC(40 mins from the cliff) you have solitude and brighton, brighton is flat enough to make it boring but solitude has just enough pitch to be fun in huge powder days. Noone goes there the lifts are slow, the terrain layout is funky, and you will be able to find TONS OF snow.

I have never been to these places but Powder Mountain and Snowbasin are again uncrowded expansive ski area where powder snow could be more plentiful than the LCC resorts. The wildcard is Deer Valley which I hear is awesome in the tree cause the clients there like to stick to the groomers.

I would be glad to ski with you at any off the 4 Cottonwood resorts if you catch me on a rare day off. shot me a PM a couple weeks before you come.
post #11 of 27
There are awesome trees at the bird and alta. But, But, But... I have found that resorts at lower elevations seem to have more trees, more species, and tighter lines in the glades. Only skied UT a few times but my impression was that the park city areas had much tighter glades and more variety in the tree skiing options than the cottonwood canyon areas. I really liked the tree skiing at Deer Valley and the Canyons when I was there. I really like the trees at Alta and Snowbird too. Try both and decide for your self.
post #12 of 27
For tree skiing, there are many places that top Snowbird or Alta. Solitude in the next canyon to the north immediatly comes to mind. That said, you can ski powder all day (and possibly the next and the day after that) at Alta if you know where/when to go. After a good storm, the High T is usually open. Then the Backside and Ballroom/shoulder a little later. Then maybe Supreme Bowl in the afternnoon or the next day. Then Castle after that. People that say Alta gets skied out by noon either don't know thier way around or are unwilling to put forth a little effort to ski powder. Unless you have your routes wired, you'll probably get more action at Solitude.
post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the detailed replys, this forum rocks!

WE have finally decided on where we are going to spend our trip, which is to spend just over two weeks in Jackson Hole.

I was pushing for spltting the trip up into two, one week jackson one week alta/snowbird, but my mates are lazy and couldnt be bothered moving all our gear for the transition. Especially considering we are coming from OZ which is a trek in itself.

The reason for the backflip was that a good mate of mine who has skiied everywhere, told me that alta/snowbird has NO nightlife, something that i didnt mind untill i realised we would be there for a while and I wouldnt mind getting out sometimes.

So we are spending two weeks at the teton mountain lodge in teton village and from what i hear, the terrain in JH is right up my alley, lots of stuff to launch off. And apparently jackson town is a bit of fun.

Anyone want to encourage me that we are making the right decision to just go to JH (and GT for a few day trips).

Also if we go into jackson for a few nights out, how do we get back to the village at 3-4 in the morning, i cant imagine crawling 10km in your winters, maybe ours but -20????????

Thanks for all the info.
post #14 of 27
In fact - I will strongly discourage you from spending 2 weeks in Jackson hole.

1. jackson hole very frequently goes thru 2/3 week periods of low/poor quality snow conditions. you get stuck in one of those periods - you are hosed. IN alta/bird - although it is possible - it is fairly rare to be stuck for
2 weeks with bad quality snow.

2. Food/entertainment - if you think apres at alta/bird is bad in the evenings - teton village is worse. point is - in both places - I would strongly recommend staying in downtown for many reasons. accomodations are significantly cheaper, apres is significantly better, and in both cases - slopes are no more than 30/45 minutes away by car.
post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty View Post
In fact - I will strongly discourage you from spending 2 weeks in Jackson hole.

1. jackson hole very frequently goes thru 2/3 week periods of low/poor quality snow conditions. you get stuck in one of those periods - you are hosed. IN alta/bird - although it is possible - it is fairly rare to be stuck for
2 weeks with bad quality snow.

2. Food/entertainment - if you think apres at alta/bird is bad in the evenings - teton village is worse. point is - in both places - I would strongly recommend staying in downtown for many reasons. accomodations are significantly cheaper, apres is significantly better, and in both cases - slopes are no more than 30/45 minutes away by car.


CAn anyone else corroborate this story, i would seriously consider changing my plans if i get a bit more of a consensus here.

Thanks for the heads up marty
post #16 of 27
Fint, here's my take on things...

I definitely agree with Utah49 and others who recommend you split up the trip between Jackson & Salt Lake.
Apart from the Mangy Moose (as much fun as it is) there's not a lot of nightlife at the mountain in Jackson -- some very nice restaurants, but the village is pretty small. Downtown Jackson is fun for an evening or two, but the cowboy shtick would probably bore you after that, and frankly the town is starting to get a little chi-chi.
None of which is to say that nightlife is going to make you jump up and howl at the moon in Salt Lake City.
The Snowbird base offers basically about as much choice as the village at Jackson Hole. There are some good restaurants in downtown SLC, but you're going to have to accept that it ain't New York/San Francisco/Sydney.
I'll be taking some mates to SLC in February for about eight days, and our plan is to rent a condo along Wasatch Drive, near the entrances to Big & Little Cottonwood Canyons (see Google Maps), stock up on beer & wine at the state-run liquor shop on Ft. Union and talk trash around the fireplace. We'll head over to Park City one or two evenings -- some good eats & drinks to be found there -- and hit a restaurant or two downtown. Our hard core trio -- two advanced skiers & one semi-advanced boarder -- have been to both Jackson & SLC, and we give SLC the edge in snow & terrain variety.
If we were going for longer than eight days, we would definitely split it up. The suggestions on doing a day at Powder Mt. and then driving up to Jackson for a few days, with a side trip to Targhee, are spot on.

If you really don't want to move around too much, over two weeks you'd have a lot more variety and likely more powder in Salt Lake, staying down along Wasatch Drive to make it easy to get up either canyon.

Whatever you decide, hope you get tons of fresh snow, have a great time and everyone gets home safe with terrific memories.
post #17 of 27

Trip

Fint. Jackson Hole and almost all of Montana had pretty poor snow for 06-07. Considerations: JH you can also ski Targhee and Big Sky. Utah you have a vast choice of ski areas. Some of the best snow in the world and somewhere in the Park City complex there is night life. Look up Park City on the web and see the choices of partying. If you're in Utah and want to go to JH do it, or if the snows poor or whatever, drive to tahoe 11 hour drive. Better options after flying that far. Since you have to plan in advance (I understand spent 5 week in Australia in 98 skiing etc.) leave your options open. Example: l week Alta/Snowbird, 1 week Jh or Tahoe, Colorado etc.
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete No. Idaho View Post
JH you can also ski Targhee and Big Sky.
You can ski SLC as readily from Jackson (or the other way around) as you can ski Big Sky from Jackson. There's a big difference between the quick hour or so to Targhee vs the drive to Big Sky...

(also, no driving through the park in winter - which people seem to get confused about since the various map systems seem unaware of seasonal closures of this sort)
post #19 of 27
Let's put things in perspective. In a bad year, JH will have 300 inches of snow -- which is more than some colorado resorts get in a good year. There will be rocks, some hardpack, and perhaps some wonderful corn. In a normal year, the snow in JH will not trail Alta and Snowbird by too much.

The terrain at JH is much gnarlier than that in LCC. Plus, there is a wide variety and amount of terrain out of bounds that is accessible from the area. You are unlikely to have warm temperatures in JH at the end of January -- it is often well below zero (fahrenheit) in January, although inversions generally mean that the upper slopes are much warmer.

Utah is not guaranteed to have snow either. And generally when JH is without snow, so is Utah. Utah gets more consistent dumps, but JH generally more often than not has deep dumps, and the skier traffic is much less than Utah.

While it is possible to go a couple of weeks without snow at JH (as it is in Utah, by the way), generally the north facing slopes still have good winter snow on them. I skied steep and deep camp a couple of years ago when it had not snowed in 3 weeks and the temps were in the 50's (it was March), and the north slopes (Tower 3 chute, Paintbrush, Toilet Bowl, North Woods, etc.) had good winter powder.

Personally, I would split the trip between Utah and JH. You'll get the best of both that way. But I would not come all the way to America and miss JH - you'll regret it if you do.

Mike
post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fint View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty View Post
2. Food/entertainment - if you think apres at alta/bird is bad in the evenings - teton village is worse. point is - in both places - I would strongly recommend staying in downtown for many reasons. accomodations are significantly cheaper, apres is significantly better, and in both cases - slopes are no more than 30/45 minutes away by car.
CAn anyone else corroborate this story, i would seriously consider changing my plans if i get a bit more of a consensus here.

Thanks for the heads up marty
Let's put things into some prospective: SLC is a city, Jackson Hold is a village!

And Sbnowbird base is just that, a base village. So is Teton village. Neither will thrill you. I'm not sure anyone wants to spend an entire 2 weeks in either one without going out. I wouldn't.

I can't answer the snow condition and I suspect you've got all your historical data, which as the saying goes "past forformance is no guarantee for future return"!

Yes, it's a long trip to come from Australia to America. But it really depends on your mindset. I would say, what's one more move of a few hundred miles after flying 20,000!!! (OK, when I went to Australia for two weeks, I spend one in Melborne and one in Sydney! )

One last (but important) point to ponder: you say your mate is too lazy to do the "extra" travle with the SLC/JH "split" plan, and you decide you rather spend all 2 weeks in JH. So, how do you plan to get to Jackson Hole itself WITHOUT going to SLC first??? ::
post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 
Well, it turns out we booked for two weeks to JH on the 25th of jan. There was a majority vote conerning splitting the trip up and i was the minority. So JH for the entirety it is. Im still happy with that, as i have heard so many good reports about the place i think it would be impossible to have a bad time there.

Just quickly, how far is it to big sky and how do we get there.

Many thanks for all the responses.

Any other advice re JH would be appreciated.
post #22 of 27
It is about as far to Big Sky as it is to SLC. And while I have not done that drive in well over a decade, my recollection is that it'll probably involve much worse road conditions than the drive to SLC. As I mentioned before, you can't go through the park that time of year.

Targhee is a different story, The Targhee Express from JH gets you day transportation and a lift ticket at a great price.
post #23 of 27
Regarding Jackson, have you found Bob's guides here yet?
post #24 of 27
Thread Starter 
I have found bobs rundown of the JH experience. Im assuming you mean the huge post that lists everywhere to ski.

Anotherthing i realised is that JH is so big and apaprently would take a long time to ski all its terrain that going there for two weeks is not such a bad thing.

Im still pumped to ski it, ive heard so many good things about it, im sure i will be able to fill 14 days with all the experience i have both heard and envisaged!!
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fint View Post
I have found bobs rundown of the JH experience. Im assuming you mean the huge post that lists everywhere to ski.
There are two of them. A beginner and an advanced one. Priceless. Yell if you can't find both (They really should be stickied or something)

Definitely plan on a couple or 3 days at Targhee. The snow there can be just great. Especially in the north facing trees. Folks seem to have fun at Snow King as well...
post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by So, how do you plan to get to Jackson Hole itself [B
WITHOUT[/b] going to SLC first??? ::
Well we fly in from the UK via Minneapolis and there are several other gate ways for international flights with connections to JH.
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fint View Post
I have found bobs rundown of the JH experience. Im assuming you mean the huge post that lists everywhere to ski.

Anotherthing i realised is that JH is so big and apaprently would take a long time to ski all its terrain that going there for two weeks is not such a bad thing.

Im still pumped to ski it, ive heard so many good things about it, im sure i will be able to fill 14 days with all the experience i have both heard and envisaged!!
hey, Fint.

I hadn't been paying any attention to this thread until now, so I'm sorry about not jumping in earlier.

Since you've already made your decision, I shouldn't pile on with my own recommendation that you split the trip. I really do think that would be the best choice and a one-day changeover in the middle of the trip really wouldn't be that big a deal.

Here's what you should do... come to Jackson Hole, ski a few days, then join me for a sojurn down to the Wasatch on Feb 1-3 for the EpicSki Gathering, then come back up to Jackson for the remainder of your visit.

In any case, considering that I spend roughy 14 weeks a winter skiing this resort and never get tired of it, I'd say that you'll not get bored skiing here for two weeks. I completely agree with the suggestions about spending a few days at Targhee and I also think a road trip up to Big Sky would be great fun for you if we have a big snow winter.

You'll really like the Teton Mountain Lodge - it's a very nice hotel and extremely convenient to the ski hill. BTW - the Mangy Moose saloon at Teton Village is WAY more entertaining than any nightspot at Alta/Snowbird.

So make sure you pm me when you're getting close to your arrival dates. I'd be happy to make a few turns with you to help give you a better feel of the mountain.
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