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Tahoe mountains vs Vail vs. ??

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hi,

We've skiied several of the mountains in Colorado (Aspen, Snowmas, Aspen Highlands, Steamboat, Winter Park). We liked them all. Winter Park was probably the best but hard to get to.

Over the last few years we've been going to Utah and skiing the Canyons. Flights are reasonable, snow is great and most mountains are less then 40 minutes form the airport. Also, the Canyons have great terrain, loads of high speed lifts, and over 3500 skiable acres with little or no lift lines during our President's Week ski week.

We we're looking for a ski resort that would give us most of what we get at the Canyones. I was thinking about Tahoe (not sure what mountains) or Vail. I was wondering what the lift lines are at both places during president's week?

I've been to Vail and loved the skiing but went off peak so lines were not bad at all. We were also thinking about Tahoe but I'm afraid that the snow will be wetter than Utah/Colorado and that there may be lots of long lines being close to Reno. Any advice would be appreciated.
post #2 of 20
You may want to consider Mt. Rose. While it isn't the biggest mountain in terms of acreage or vertical, there's some fairly varied terrain and if you're good enough, the Chutes should provide you with some good thrills. What it really has to offer is no crowds. Mt. Rose seemed like mostly a locals mountain and I can't remember ever waiting more than 30 seconds to get on a lift.

The one caveat though is that Mt. Rose is not a full ski resort. It's a ski area, and you'll have to find somewhere to stay, probably in Reno. The drive from Reno itself is very easy with clear roads and if you don't feel like driving there's shuttles that depart from several different casinos everyday to take you up to Rose. As an added bonus, there's also a few shuttles that run down to Heavenly and west to Squaw and Northstar, so if Rose can't keep you interested, one of those places probably can.

Adam
post #3 of 20
Tahoe's lines are not caused by proximity to Reno, but to the Bay Area (and to a lesser degree, Sacramento and the Great Valley).

What do you like about the Canyons' terrain?

Sierra snow does tend to be considerably wetter/denser than Utah or Colorado -- hence the Sierra Cement moniker. In my opinion, it's not necessarily better or worse, but different. Sierra Cement sticks to everything, including lines that would be unskiable elsewhere. If you've watched ski movies that include shots of Squaw, chances are you've seen the results. But if you're looking for blower powder above all else, Tahoe will not be the place for you. (Of course, during Presidents' Week, the only way you're likely to find that anywhere is if you go beyond lift-served terrain.)

That said, Tahoe has certain advantages. First, if you love steeps, you will probably be quite happy. Second, without knowing where you live, I assume that it's a lot closer to sea level than a mile up. Base elevation at Alta is about the same as peak elevation at, say, Alpine Meadows. Acclimation to altitude will be easier in Tahoe. (For that matter, it'll be still easier in, say, the Pacific Northwest/British Columbia.)

Nonetheless, if I were flying somewhere for a week, I'd probably choose Utah. (Although I hate the Canyons, so go figure.)
post #4 of 20
Like you, I like exploring new mountains. Definitely Vail is a winner at any time, but look into Sun Valley, ID and Whistler, BC. Oh, and Mammoth, CA. CanĀ“t go wrong with these.
post #5 of 20
Too bad exchange rates are so bad. Growing up in the East, we eventually decided that rather than go West for Presidents' Week break, we'd head someplace where they didn't have that vacation -- namely, to the Alps.
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinedad View Post
Too bad exchange rates are so bad. Growing up in the East, we eventually decided that rather than go West for Presidents' Week break, we'd head someplace where they didn't have that vacation -- namely, to the Alps.
The change in exchange rate is just a drop in the bucket. The premium of traveling and skiing President's Week in the US is more than that difference!

If you go cheap, the difference is minor. But if you go 5*, yes, a 10% change in exchange rate is a 10% of a pretty big chunk: a pretty big change!

I went east over the pond last season, though NOT during President's week. That's when we get the big dump in northeast! I did better than my buddies who went west. And I got lucky with the snow as well. Never seen so much snow in my past!
post #7 of 20
Interesting that you found few lift lines at The Canyons during Pres Week. I haven't been there since is was called Park West. There were no lines back then for sure.
Just my opinion, but best ski areas in CA are usually ranked 1 Mammoth, 2 Squaw, 3 probably Heavenly or Kirkwood
Other than Kirkwood I'm not sure you'd find any of them with low crowds during Pres Week.
Seems like small crowds is one of your highest priorities. Big Sky/Moonlight in Montana always scores well in that department and it has grown/connected into a very large ski area.
post #8 of 20
Just did a couple trips to tahoe and then vail this year and both have +'s and -'s. Unless you are goin to a non-"big name" resort (which isnt a bad idea) there are gonna be lines during pres. weekend.

Are you goin for just the skiing or both the skiing and experience (apres)?

Assuming you are flying from the EC, colorado is a much quicker trip than tahoe, and for just a weekend that alone might make ur decision. As far as the mountains go.....it all depends on snowfall. this year was bad for tahoe and there was barely any snow. if u like the canyons, i would just go back to utah. the flight maybe another hour but its only 30 min up the canyon to get there, making a long weekend trip go longer.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
We live in the East and are both advanced skiiers liking moguls, steeps, and trees. I'm not too worried about flight times as much as the time it takes to get from the airport to the resort. Vail has Eagle which is great if you can fly into it. We were lucky the first time we went to Vail and was able to land. If we get stuck in Denver it's a few hours by car if the roads are clear. Vail is always rated one of not the top resort in N. America so I would think that it gets very busy during president's week. Can anyone tell me what the lift lines are like at Vail during president's week? Is it comparable to Tahoe?

We also sometimes take a day trip on our ski vacations. When we went to Utah we also drove through the Canyons and hiked in the desert. It was very cool. Tahoe has the Redwood Forest in driving distance so that is why it's on our radar plus the lake and we've never been there. For those of you who haven't been to the Canyons lately may want to give it another try. They have opned up several new areas, have mostly high speed lifts and no lift lines. We never waited more then 10 minutes for a lift and usually it was a much less. I'm from NY so I don't like waiting in lines (: If we were to go to Tahoe what resorts would you suggest?
post #10 of 20
Many of the Tahoe resorts have their lower level passes blacked out on Presidents weekend, so that helps to keep the crowds down. I'd say the Mt Rose is going to be the least crowded, with Homewood, Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl, and Kirkwood being more crowded but tolerable. Lines at Heavenly are usually very concentrated at the Sky, Comet and Dipper lifts, with the Olympic, North Bowl, and Canyon being less crowded, and Motts Canyon will be empty unless its a powder day. President's day crowds tend to be very concentrated everywhere on lifts serving intermediate and beginner terrain. Squaw Valley, Northstar and Sierra seem pretty crowded on this week, although there is almost never a line at Northstar in the Lookout Mtn area.

Redwoods are a long way out, but could be combined with a tour of Hwy 1, San Francisco, Napa etc. If you only want a day trip, I might suggest the El Dorado or Placer County foothill "Gold Country" for some wine tasting, or the gold rush historical areas in Placerville, Coloma or Nevada City. Just being in the Tahoe basin gives you lots of alternatives to skiing, even in winter, including boat cruises, hiking, snowshoe or x-country, snowmobiling or just touring. There is a lot to do, and most folks are just aware of the casino scene.
post #11 of 20
We skied Alpine Meadows last Presidents' Weekend. Lines weren't horrible, as they had every lift on the hill turning.
post #12 of 20
I suspect Vail will be less crowded than Tahoe on that weekend. The whol of San Francisco Bay area will be skiing at Tahoe while Vail will only have what the hotels can hold. There's little "local" population to jam up the lifts.

I've never skied Vail. So I'm only guessing there. But I did ski Tahoe area many, many times. Believe me, even Mt Rose lines gets long on President's day. Heavenly was totally mad.
post #13 of 20
If you have never been to Tahoe.............GO TO TAHOE!


words cannot describe it and like everyone said, there is tons to do (and casinos at night because everything shuts down early).

you seem to be good skiers so you will find what lifts are less crowded. my only mistake when i went there was only gettin one day in at kirkwood and the rest at heavenly. next time, i will book my room/townhouse and figure out lift tickets when i get there. heavenly is a must but do that on the least crowded day you can (maybe friday) and hit up kirkwood, squaw or any of the others that are so close. buses shuttle to most of the other resorts and i dont think i even had to pay. just figure out what the weather is doing when u get there and figure it out then.

Vail is Vail...........always good.
post #14 of 20
Steamboat.....
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
I've been to Steamboat. Great tree skiing..........Not too crowded either.
post #16 of 20
I read the original post as skiing for the entire week, not just President's weekend. If so, and you're willing to drive some, you have lots of options at Tahoe. Heavenly, Northstar and Squaw are most crowd sensitive, so best done midweek. Mt. Rose, Sugar Bowl and Kirkwood are usually still manageable on the peak weekend days. Alpine Meadows falls in between. Biggest issue IMHO with both Squaw and Alpine is traffic. If I can get there before breakfast, I'm usually OK even on weekends if all the lifts are running.
post #17 of 20
Also, it should go without saying that one of the smartest things you can do, regardless of where you end up deciding to ski, is to try to hook up with one or more Bears (or Maggots) who frequent your chosen hill. Locals know how to maximize even a holiday weekend.
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by traderfjp View Post
We've skiied several of the mountains in Colorado
Spelling "skied" with two i's is something that may keep the Canadian border guards from letting you into the country, so Tahoe might be your best bet.
Very unfortunate.
post #19 of 20
I love Vail - great mtn, great atmosphere, etc. but it's almost always crowded - vacation week or not. The only way I can handle it is to get 1st lift and be ready for the gates to open for bowl access. Problem with that is becoming that the #21, #37 & #39 lifts are starting to get really, really crowded on the weekends
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by traderfjp View Post
Hi,
I've been to Vail and loved the skiing but went off peak so lines were not bad at all. We were also thinking about Tahoe but I'm afraid that the snow will be wetter than Utah/Colorado and that there may be lots of long lines being close to Reno. Any advice would be appreciated.
I've always thought of Colorado as being the compromise between Utah and Tahoe. Utah has great odds on great snow, OK odds on good weather. Tahoe has great odds on having great weather, and OK odds on good snow. Colorado is in the middle of the two, good odds on having good weather, good odds on having good snow, and the village is cool.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GPAUL
Like you, I like exploring new mountains. Definitely Vail is a winner at any time, but look into Sun Valley, ID and Whistler, BC
To complete the circle, Whistler has good odds on bad weather and good odds on bad snow, but the terrain is amazing.

For what it's worth, I've taken weeklong vacations to Tahoe (3Xs), Utah (2Xs), Whistler (3Xs) and to Colorado (a quick count is 8 trips, probably more), and I wouldn't hesitate to go back to any of them, except maybe Crested Butte.
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