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Need advice for Utah ski resorts in December

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
Hello,

this year I decided to spend the extra cost to fly from Orlando to Salt Lake City. Last year the flights to Denver were cheaper, and I decided to go with a Winter Park, Colorado deal instead. This season however, due to hearing so much good info on Utah skiing (from this forum), I intend to fly to Salt Lake City even if I get better deals elsewhere again. My ski vacation will be the beginning of December, on a Monday through Friday trip... right before the crowded holidays.

Here are how my priorities rank:

1) I like uncrowded mid-level groomed terrains that are waiting to be carved with Atomic SL:11.... Slopes that have no powder, no rocks, no mud, no slushy snow (like a 7Eleven slurpy)! Exactly like you see in the first few lines of pictures here:
http://images.google.com/images?hl=e...-8&sa=N&tab=wi
The sound under your ski should feel like you are on a train that's changing railroad tracks!

2) Trails as long as possible

3) Possible night skiing as well. I am willing to ski from 8am to 10pm if possible.

4) Cheapest lodging possible, with some form of transportation ride to the ski resorts. I don't really know if it is cheaper to sleep in Salt Lake City and ride a bus to the resorts daily, or if I can find a better deal in the mountains, closer to the ski resorts. Utah transportation: http://www.rideuta.com/ Car-rental is pretty much out of the question... the last thing I want to try is drive in an unfamiliar territory on zig-zag icy roads.

5) I prefer trying several resorts instead of one resort for 5 days. When I was in Reno, two years ago, the hotel provided transportation choice to 3-4 different resorts daily... that was great! So, I've heard good stuff about Deer Valley and Alta, but I see they are not too-close to each other.... If there is no convenient transportation between all the resorts on a daily basis, then I might have to settle with one resort for 5 days.

I might be willing to reverse priority 4 and 5 as well. Thanks.
post #2 of 35
Although Utah *can* get tons of snow in Nov/Dec, it still will be early season. Keep that in mind. Most resorts, even if there is good snow, will have only part of their mountains open. Some thoughts:

- Alta will have the most snow and best coverage of any of the resorts.
- Deer Valley does not open until Dec. 8th.
- The PC resorts and Snow basin have the most snowmaking coverage and will be fully cranked up by then to get ready for Xmas.
- Deer Valley and PCMR probably have the best grooming (if you are into that kinda thing)
- None of Utah resorts have long uninterrupted verticals. The Wasatch is more glacial with series of ledges and bowls. That said, Snow Basin has some of the longest, good pitched vertical around.
- PCMR and Brighton offer night skiing.
- Only cheap lodging is in SLC/Odgen. Slopeside is much more.
- UTA works for LCC & BCC, but not for the PC resorts. Once in PC, there are free buses everywhere (all three resorts) and you wont need a car.
post #3 of 35
Thread Starter 
Actually I am fine with groomed mid level slopes.... They don't have to be straight vertical.

I'll start looking for Priceline deals that include Air+Hotel... as long as the hotel provides transportation to the different resorts. I think the big hotels (which Priceline should be affiliated with) should have some type of transportation to the resorts.
post #4 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesX521 View Post
Hello,

this year I decided to spend the extra cost to fly from Orlando to Salt Lake City. Last year the flights to Denver were cheaper, and I decided to go with a Winter Park, Colorado deal instead. This season however, due to hearing so much good info on Utah skiing (from this forum), I intend to fly to Salt Lake City even if I get better deals elsewhere again. My ski vacation will be the beginning of December, on a Monday through Friday trip... right before the crowded holidays.

Here are how my priorities rank:

1) I like uncrowded mid-level groomed terrains that are waiting to be carved with Atomic SL:11.... Slopes that have no powder, no rocks, no mud, no slushy snow (like a 7Eleven slurpy)! Exactly like you see in the first few lines of pictures here:
http://images.google.com/images?hl=e...-8&sa=N&tab=wi
The sound under your ski should feel like you are on a train that's changing railroad tracks!

2) Trails as long as possible

3) Possible night skiing as well. I am willing to ski from 8am to 10pm if possible.

4) Cheapest lodging possible, with some form of transportation ride to the ski resorts. I don't really know if it is cheaper to sleep in Salt Lake City and ride a bus to the resorts daily, or if I can find a better deal in the mountains, closer to the ski resorts. Utah transportation: http://www.rideuta.com/ Car-rental is pretty much out of the question... the last thing I want to try is drive in an unfamiliar territory on zig-zag icy roads.

5) I prefer trying several resorts instead of one resort for 5 days. When I was in Reno, two years ago, the hotel provided transportation choice to 3-4 different resorts daily... that was great! So, I've heard good stuff about Deer Valley and Alta, but I see they are not too-close to each other.... If there is no convenient transportation between all the resorts on a daily basis, then I might have to settle with one resort for 5 days.

I might be willing to reverse priority 4 and 5 as well. Thanks.
you sound like no fun to ski with...but if you want to drop the wimpy carvers and do some real skiing I am at Alta/bird and would be glad to ski with you. I can pretty much promise you, after skiing with me you like groomers anymore.

Snowbird has the longest trials but just look at my avatar from mid of december all that pesky snow might get in your way.

Why dont you go ski at killington or something?

the only thing that makes utah skiing better than colorado is the amount of snow we get.....so I would actualyl suggeest not coming here.
post #5 of 35
Thread Starter 
I am affraid to ski on powdered snow... I don't know what's below the powder, since nothing has gone over the top to groom it.... It could be a rock or a hole. My skis are not for powder too.

What does "groomers" mean? Groomed or ungroomed. I think I'm missing the point of what you tried to say.

Killington is on the plans for the future. But can Killington's snow compare to Utah's?
post #6 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesX521 View Post
I am affraid to ski on powdered snow... I don't know what's below the powder, since nothing has gone over the top to groom it.... It could be a rock or a hole. My skis are not for powder too.

What does "groomers" mean? Groomed or ungroomed. I think I'm missing the point of what you tried to say.

Killington is on the plans for the future. But can Killington's snow compare to Utah's?
sry wont like groomers

you looking for basically shitty snow, so killington has better snow for you than utah. In utah its very possiable on somedays there are no groomers...especailly at alta/bird. Maybe at Gaper DV they groom every powder day but then again that resort is viewed amoung the locals here as the worst place to ski in the wasatch.


On powder scared? really come? maybe you dont know how, makes you nervous but scared? I am willing to show you how, promise you; you will love not skiing groomers, if you are willing.

Again in utah it can and sometimes will snow alot of snow each day, if you willing to not be afraid of change come to utah. If you want to stick to your icey groomers go to killington best icey groomers anywhere.

truthfully i should be telling to go to DV and enjoy yourself but you may friend are misguided skier and I am here to change that.
post #7 of 35
I also prefer my groomers mud free. If you promise you are just going to ride groomers, I guess its ok, we will let you come to UT. You would probably love Deer Valley. Its all groomed.

Also a warning. If you do come here beware of the powder snow. Its often deep and hard to ski. If you fall you might be totally submerged. And it often hides rocks, snakes, sticks, pointy stuff, and even mud! BOOOOOOOO!!! Stay away! If you do come to UT take Bushwacker up on his offer, skiing with him will give you a new perspective on well skiing.
post #8 of 35
I think the Park City resorts have what you want, but early December the conditions could be a little iffy, and if they are, the skiing will be better in the Cottonwoods. If you are a complete cruiser, then maybe Alta and Snowbird are not the places for you. Snowbasin has the best cruising in utah, but that is a day trip thing if you have a car. I would sleep in Salt Lake at a downtown hotel, that way you can head to either the Cottonwoods or Park City depending on your pleasure and the weather. you can hop a bus everyday, but it is a hassle, and i think the $30/day on a cheapo rental car i smoney well spent, if you can't afford that, pick up a different hobby.
post #9 of 35
Jamesx521,

I would be leery if I was you to go to Utah. Can't you see you aren't good enough for them folks. They probably wouldn't even let you off the plane.
post #10 of 35
think you are misunderstanding bama boy, because many of us DO got to utah because we think it is the cheapest place to ski. $52/day lift tickets, $60/nt with breakfast hotel rooms, even public busses if you prefer to schlep it. And best thing, is I usually ski 1/2 day on the way in and out.

Just trying to give good advice about the bus run. I've been skiing utah for >20 yrs and have been on those buses, and if you think waiting in lines, making all those stops, and god help you if it snows and everyone is trying to get on the same time. Buses are better left to locals, or maybe experienced travelers who know their way around a bit. I am just trying to give sensible advice, rentals cars, even the cheapest, are much better and well worth the value if you value your time whatsoever. Do I have to check Orbitz for you?

SLC is a great choice for cheap early December skiing, I am heading there myself Dec 6-9.
post #11 of 35

Ut

UT isn't known for groomers, unless you're talking Deer Valley, which is not a cheap place to ski (and you're looking for cheap). And you're comparing it to Killington? Solitude/Brighton are easy to get to w/the city bus (stay in Sandy and be sure to get a discounted pass from the hotel), but, again, if you don't like powder (huh?!), then maybe you should find another state.
post #12 of 35
Snowbird,

I thought your advice was great and comes from someone with experience. Bushwakers also and I'm sure he's a great instructor. But comments like

"if you can't afford that, pick up a different hobby."

and

"you sound like no fun to ski with...but if you want to drop the wimpy carvers and do some real skiing I am at Alta/bird and would be glad to ski with you."

just came off to me as condescending towards someone who just asked for some advice; not critique on his company, his hobby choices, or his version of what fun skiing is to him.

I apologize if I read into it something that wasn't there (as is done so many times with e-mail and print).
post #13 of 35
Jamesx521,
I would seriously consider the PC area if I were you. Snowbasin probably has the best runs that you are looking for but at that time of year you are usually surrounded by loud snow guns. The upside to Snowbasin is the runs are long and you can try out the olympic downhill which is usually groomed and will push you. Powder mountain has night skiing but I have no idea what the conditions will be like at that time. The Ogden Valley area will probably be the least crowded but you will have to pay for Transportation. IF you stay in PC you can ski DV, and PC in the evenings all by city bus.
Good luck to you.
post #14 of 35
Thread Starter 
If I try a car-rental, this might be on the news the following day:
Florida tourist killed, plunging with a rented car off a mountain cliff, trying to find his way to a ski resort in heavy blizzard conditions

I am probably a 1-2 months away before I decide and purchase the vacation deal. I am not in a rush to make decisions yet. Also Priceline and the other vacation selling websites don't have any deals yet, since it's 3 months away from the season.

Is Alta the one with the amazing scenery... that looks like the Swiss Alps? I might actually want to go to that one just for that reason. How about not necessarily groomed snow, but at least some well-formed trails... or is everything in Alta just powder?
post #15 of 35
James,
The roads are really not bad at all. It is mostly interstate to the PC area and the roads to Snowbasin and Powder Mountain are pretty good. The LCC and BCC roads are well maintained.
Rent a 4WD and go as slow as you need to.
post #16 of 35
James,

Ignore the barbs about your lack of affinity for powder. It's all in good fun. You've got some conflicting priorities though:

1) groomers and cheap public transportation - best place PC resorts (PCMR, DV, Canyons) for both. But the tradeoff is that the lodging costs will be higher if you stay in PC. PC has limited night skiing.

2) cheap lodging - SLC or Sandy or Heber. But then you'd probably want to rent a car. The buses would be a real pain. I wouldn't worry about driving in the snow. They keep the roads pretty clear most of the time. Try for a 4wd if you can just in case.

You've got to weigh the options and make some choices.

Alta is indeed the place with the great scenery. It's not all powder. It does have groomed runs and some of them are quite nice. I highly recommend it no matter what type of skier you are. But no snowboarders allowed.

Solitude is one canyon over from Alta and it has some wide, groomed runs. Brighton is right next to Solitude, is a great mountain for all types of skiers, and has night skiing.

Go to skiUtah.com and look at the map of the area. It shows all the resorts and their relative proximity to the cities (SLC, PC, Ogden, Heber, Provo) and each other.

My personal advice, given what you've stated as priorities...stay in PC, use the buses to go to PC, DV, and the Canyons, and try to find some transportation 1 day for a trip to Alta.
post #17 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by bamaboy View Post
Jamesx521,

I would be leery if I was you to go to Utah. Can't you see you aren't good enough for them folks. They probably wouldn't even let you off the plane.
No, we check *before* you board for the proper credentials. Wouldn't want you wankers to even besmirch our tarmac.
post #18 of 35
Don't mind these guys. They were all gapers once too. Alta's always the best bet for early snow and they have a lot of nice corduroy (like in the pictures), but not nearly as much as the Park City Resorts. Best bet is to rent a midsize car and stay at The Chateau Apris in Park City (cheap) or The Treasure Mountain Inn (pretty cheep, with kitchen) and drive to targets of opportunity. The road is interstate 80 and if a blizzard hits, you just stay in the hotel by the fire and let us have the powder. Upgrade to at least a midsize because you want a decent motor to get up and down the hills. Solitude gets almost the same snow as Alta, and would be to your liking, Deer Valley has the best food, and Park City has the best long, wide groomers (like in the picture) and everything looks really cool. Forget Snowbird and Canyons. Consider the drive to Snowbasin- awesome, you'll see bald eagles, elk, and antelope. The Cottonwood canyons will blow your mind, and if you want some real Switzerland, drive around the backside of the mountains on Hwy 40 to Sundance. see Bob, say hi. But call him Mister Redford.
post #19 of 35
Despite the sarcasm in Devotee and Bushwacker's comments, their underlying advice is sound and you should take it constructively from those of us who ski Utah regularly, in 22 seasons since 1981 in my case.

First advice is to rent the car. Roads are well maintained, it does not snow every day, and if it does snow you can drive to the parking lots at the base of LCC or BCC and take the bus up the canyon.

In terms of your expressed terrain preference Snowbasin fits the bill, and you will need a car to get there. Since you want to minimize lodging cost, that means SLC, not Park City, again making the car much more convenient.

Early December is never a slam dunk for snow conditions. You want to be flexible, another reason to have the car. Also each morning you can drop by Canyon Sports and buy a discount lift ticket for the area you decide to ski that day.

With regard to powder, if you get a storm I'd recommend you rent fat skis for the day, go to Alta and take a lesson. Let the instructors deal with your apprehension and perhaps next year you'll be the one making snide remarks about people who only want to ski groomers.
post #20 of 35
Thread Starter 
Looks like there is some deal that www.parkcityinfo.com offers. If I register with them, they'll give me free lift tickets to a PC resort for the day that I arrive. I guess I'll choose Deer Valley for that one. Now if that free pass includes the night skiing at Park City Mountain as well, then I might be able to get as much as a day of free skiing that same day... assuming I catch the earliest flight from Orlando to Salt Lake City.

Anyway, if that works out: Deer Valley is my first day!

Question: Is there a road that cuts through the mountains from Park City to Alta... or do I have to drive back to Salt Lake City and take the road to Alta from there?
post #21 of 35
Theres a back road that cuts through the mountains but its a windy road thats ten miles of dirt and is almost always closed in the winter.If its not, then theres no snow and you don't wanta be skiing in Utah then anyhow. The main hwy(80) cuts through the mountains pretty quickly to SLC and from then its just a hop, skip and a snort down 15 south to 215 and little cottonwood canyon. the big cottonwood resorts (park city, deer valley) are more what you are looking for than the little canyon sites (snowbird, alta, brighton, solitude).
The people who are pointing you towards snowbasin are right. its got a lot of groomed runs and a guy like you can kick it on strawberry all day long-just stay off of john paul because its all double blacks and chutes.
That said, why not give the pow a shot. rent some demo powder skis for a half day (its like 30 bucks) and slowly learn to work in it. Whats the point of heading to utah otherwise? after all their slogan is the best powder on earth. Once you get good at it, then you can hit powder mt which is where the locals in the eden valley go.
lastly, December is hit or miss in Utah, i have been there when its great and also been there when its not so hot, you should contemplate January instead-you have a much better chance of getting good snow.
post #22 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Powdr View Post
No, we check *before* you board for the proper credentials. Wouldn't want you wankers to even besmirch our tarmac.
So that's why they bumped me off the plane in Denver on my way out there last March. It seemed awfully suspicious to me. Now I know.
post #23 of 35
Thread Starter 
I just wanted to beat the crowds, but if it's risky with uncertain conditions, then I'll have to reconsider. Mid December till Mid January it will be crowded because school is out. Maybe after mid January then!? I don't wanna miss the Australian Open though... it starts around then.
post #24 of 35
james, don't be so hung up about the crowds, you have clear sailing except for christmas week and presidents day weekend.

and sorry, i do apologize about my rental car comment, i understand a budget but just trying to steer you right.

scenery - there is no scenery better than what is found at Snowbird in the slc area. Head up the tram, ski and be in Mineral Basin, the Cirque or Little CLoud Bowl, I don't know of anything like that in Utah beside the bird. every view down the canyon is beautiful or spectacular. BUT, I wouldn't really call Snowbird a great place for cruisers, Alta, actually is a little better and accessible in that regard.

park city resorts - great cruisers, and i think the canyons is a good place to fly around on fast cruising slopes, but the scenery at park city, big downside, that is, if you are looking for so-called alpine scenery, you won't really find it in park city, rounded hills, those big beautiful pines are only up high, and you'll be looking a a city from many of the slopes. don't know about cheapo lodging there, how easy that is to find. but if you stay here you will have easy access to three big resorts.

certainly i am sure there are good bus runs to be had, like from in park city. also maybe some of the downtown SLC buses go right to park city, or the cottonwoods, but it is confusing for an out of towner to figure out. i guess i'm trying to explain it is more of a city bus situation with stops and schlepping and lines, rather than a nice shuttle that is easy to just hop on to a resort.
post #25 of 35
The devotee now has me thinking about the canyons, boy do I love the ninety nine 90 express runs.
post #26 of 35
Quote:
james, don't be so hung up about the crowds, you have clear sailing except for christmas week and presidents day weekend.
True. And even at those times you can escape the crowds at Powder Mt., Snowbasin, probably Brighton and Solitude also.
post #27 of 35
All B. S. aside, what you describe are the Signature runs of Park City and the big blues off King Con lift. The blues are very well groomed, very wide- 200+' (this is my gripe with the Canyon's blues-too narrow) The PC blues are not so steep that you always need to think about speed control and you can let the Atomics run. Racers use this stuff as a playground- but Mom can ski them too at slower speeds. On rereading your post, I'm inclined to think the Cirque at Snowbird would eat you alive. Alta has some great cruisers, off Sugerloaf lift and Collins, but only a couple on each side. Deer Valley has some great groomers too, but on the ones that aren't flat, you have to pay attention or you'll eat a tree. The steep, long fall lines make DV a lot more challenging than the Bro- Bras who never ski it think. There are great deals in early December, but you have guaranteed great snow anywhere in Utah after Jan 2 and no crowds. The crowd factor is overrated anyway except on Christmas and Pres week and a little independent thinking can get you away from them.

As far as rocks and stumps and stuff, there are none on the groomers you wish to ski. They take them out in the summer, and a lot of that stuff is wildflower meadow anyway. Alta and Bird can be real "boney" as we say, meaning rocky, in December as it's more natrually wild, much of it National Park, and it needs a lot of snow to cover everything. Again that mostly aplies to off piste, where you won't be... With a little luck, we'll have a normal year and everything will be buried by December. Already had the first Snowfall.
post #28 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Crab View Post
The crowd factor is overrated anyway except on Christmas and Pres week and a little independent thinking can get you away from them.

As far as rocks and stumps and stuff, ......
We're staying in Eden over the Christmas week. In a "Normal" year how is the off trail coverage at Powder & Snowbasin?
post #29 of 35
SCWVA,
Christmas should be ok. Off trail coverage at both resorts should be sufficient.
Snowbasin has steeper terrain and more vert, Powder will have more terrain but not quite the steeps.
I love that area, you should have a great time.
post #30 of 35
Powder rocks so absolutely.
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