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Family Trip in Jan08: Big Sky, Sun Valley, or Steamboat?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Trying to put together a family vacation for the week after New Years with my wife and 5-yr old. Neither have skied before, and being from Florida, cold could be an issue for them. I'm an ex-Coloradan who wants to ski somewhere other than Summit or Eagle. Any advice on Big Sky vs Sun Valley vs Steamboat? Specifically looking for thoughts on 1) early Jan snow, 2) good beginner programs, 3) good kids' programs, and 4) post-New Years crowds.

post #2 of 9
I think they would all be good. Steamboat historically has the better snow and may be a little easier to get too, since Delta has a direct from ATL.
post #3 of 9
Sun Valley is pretty cold that time of year (-10 to 0 in the morning not unusual). Snow is generally OK, possilby a little thin off the groomers. Absolutely no crowds.
post #4 of 9
All of them could be quite cold that time of year. None should be crowded. Steamboat most likely to have the most snow.

Sun Valley is unique in that it has an entirely separate mountain for beginners to learn - Dollar Mt. However, this could be a downside too - if you wanted to ski while family took lessons and meet at lunch. If you can steal away for the whole day, the HS lifts on Baldy (main mountain) allows you to crank out the vertical.

Big Sky might be even better since the terrain is quite novice/low intermediate at the base. In fact, the mountain is generally either quite challenging or quite flat. Since it can be steep and rocky in places, early coverage can be an issue on the steeps.

Steamboat. There just is not a lot of green on the map. And it's beginner terrain is in a high traffic zone at the base.
post #5 of 9
Big Sky has a great variety of groomers including some very long intermediate groomer runs. The biggest problem going to Big Sky that early in the season is the coverage can be sparse (same goes for Sun Valley) but they do a good job getting coverage on their main groomers so you shouldn't have a problem.
post #6 of 9
My personal favorite of the three is Sun Valley but it is probably the least well suited for your trip unless your kids ski well because it is generally steeper than most mountains from intermediate on down. The kids programs have a good reputation however.

Big Sky has a lot of quality terrain at the lower level but I don't know about the kids programs. Steamboat has a great reputation for lessons and, despite what the trail map might indicate, a lot of good terrain at the lower end. Either should work.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the advice...very helpful.
post #8 of 9
Big Sky is definitely the coldest of those 3 areas. But it also has the most long green runs for your wife and 5 year old. You will not be happy if Lone Peak is not adequately covered yet. I was there January 2006 and it was great, but I know it was quite sketchy then last year.

Sun Valley is not a good fit, as first timers will be relegated to Dollar the whole week.

Steamboat is adequate for them, will have the most snow, and January is on average its best month for snow conditions. Safest choice for minimizing the downside. That might be important to create a good first impression of skiing with first timers.
post #9 of 9
Steamboat has a great transit system so if either of you want to take a day off and head into town. Also has a ton of slopeside condos.
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