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The ski vacation challenge

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
(I'm sure there have been questions about inexpensive ski vacations before, but I searched and didn't find exactly what I wanted to know).

A couple weeks ago, the NY Times had an article on the family ski vacation challenge-how to take a relatively inexpensive ski vacation (not dirt cheap, but not Aspen prices). The author settled on Copper Mt in CO, since it was close to a major airport and was less expensive than other CO resorts, but it had great skiing.


We're trying to plan a trip for family coming from the Midwest and ourselves (we're in Seattle). To keep costs down, we'd like it to be within a couple hours of a MAJOR airport (it's really expensive to fly into smaller airports). Colorado would be easiest for the midwesterners because they they'd drive, but as long if they could get a reasonably priced flight to SLC or Boise, that would work too (I don't think they're crazy about the idea of coming all the way to the West Coast). We don't need nightlife or other ski resort activities, and most of us are beginners or intermediates. The fewer people the better-short lift lines are more important than resort stuff. We want lodging right there-no daily drives.

So--is the NYT writer right? Is Copper the obvious pick, the best combo of afforability and great skiing, over other resorts that are an easy drive from Denver or Salt Lake or Boise? Thanks for any opinions.
post #2 of 17
salt lake is a great place for skiing, but there are a few problems. park city, which has a ski town atmosphere that most families would appreciate, is not a bargain-priced town, in general. many stay in downtown salt lake, there are 8 top resorts within 45 minutes drive. but the downside to that, for some, you are in a city, although it is easy to get around and friendly. when i ski slc, i stay in a $65/nt hotel room (with bfst) which is perfect for my group, lift tickets are $52, and what really makes salt lake work perfectly for me is that i depart from phila/newark and always! ski half days on the way out and way back. 3 nts away and a couple days off work, i get all the skiing i need. i have only been to colorado a few times skiing, but you will find plenty of family skiing just about anywhere in beautiful, grand scenery. (note: park city is drab and just doesn't give me the sense of being in the big western mtns, although for sure it has its' huge upside for certain folks looking to plop somewhere).
post #3 of 17
I haven't actually been to Copper yet, but I was planning out possible family ski trips a few months back, and Copper seemed to offer some of the best onsite lodging options and values. But I know people who have planned good, reasonably priced family trips at Breck and Keystone too. I think you can find reasonable prices at many of the resorts out there. Don't overlook vrbo.com for condos -- often you can score a great condo for less through them.

One thing in Copper's favor, from my family's perspective: the large amount of green and blue trails that go all the way to the top. Not all mountains offer that level of blue/green terrain.
post #4 of 17
My own experience agrees with NYT. (what a surprise! )

But SLC is even cheaper and even easier to get to. Though it's a bit of compairing apples and oranges. In SLC, you rarely stay slopeside and you drive(or bus) to various resorts while in Copper you walk to the lift, albeit of only one mountain.

So, for a short weekend trip, Copper is one of the best. But for a longer trip of a week, it may feel a bit limited. For that, SLC might be a better choice.
post #5 of 17
One more thing to consider coming from the flatlands is the altitude. Depending on how suseptable to are to altitude sickness, it might take a day or two to acclimate to the high altitude of Copper or the other Summit areas. My wife and I took a long weekend trip to Keystone a few years ago and she was sick for two of the three days. I don't think you would have that problem in SLC.
post #6 of 17
Don't know CO options but SLC - look at Solitude. Close to airport (shuttles available); decent amt of slopeside lodging; plenty of green/blue terrain; low glitz factor; low crowds.
post #7 of 17
I am not that knowledgable about the Western resorts but would like to chime in on one point. When I was looking at flights from NY a few weeks ago, flying to Hayden was cheaper than flying to Denver or SLC. I ended up booking it, not for only this reason though. Nevertheless, I wouldn't conclude that smaller airports are more expensive right away.
post #8 of 17
I've been really tempted to do Solitude too, given the easy flights and snow. Do have to say, though, that if you want an actual ski town to hang out in, the list is really short. Hard to beat Telluride or Crested Butte on those terms, though they both fall short on convenience and in terms of snow, at least compared to Copper and Solitude.
post #9 of 17
those are nice prices! We have a few up north that are great also. Airfair is not much more than flying around the states comming into Canada. Panorama is a great ski mountain and they have packages from 99 ski and stay up the moutain. http://www.panoramaresort.com/index.htm Theres lots more in b.C just as cheap with world class accomidations and pOW! If you cant aford to go Heli skiing than are Mountain is a best bet if you are into 5-8ft powder days. To keep the powder Prestine they open thursday untill sundays. they have a 15ft base right now soon to be 20!! Usually snows 100cm overnight most nights. The web site sucks! they dont realy have very good pictures of the snow. To put things into prespective they accualy closed last Sunday because of to deep of Powder! even with 120mm waist skis or snowboards the powder would ride up your waist to your face and your barried with no vision. They worrie about someone needing help and not being able to get to them so they closed for the day! Lift tickets are 45. Waren miller said its the best skiing in North America with out a Helicopter. Hotel atco is 50 bucks a night.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies so far!

I'll check out Solitude-thanks for the tip. Nice to hear other good things about Copper.

They'll be okay with altitude--they've all skied CO.

When I was looking at flights from NY a few weeks ago, flying to Hayden was cheaper than flying to Denver or SLC.
Intersesting! I'll check that out specifically.

We have a few up north that are great also. Airfair is not much more than flying around the states comming into Canada.
There are a bunch of places I'd like to check out in BC-I've heard good things about Silver Star and Sun Peaks for family vacations (and we could drive there!). But flying to Kelowna or Kamloops from Des Moines or Milwaukee, for a family of 5, is going to cost a fortune compared to driving to (or even flying to) Denver. Panorama''s further from an airport than we'd like to drive.
post #11 of 17

I love Utah. My favorite ski destination. However, this year, the first with the children (2 additional air fares). We opted to take the train to Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana. Four of us get their from Mpls. for under $900. Market priced 3br condo at the hill. We arrive Presidents Day evening, so no crowds is a very safe bet. The Empire Builder runs from Chicago to Seattle. Plus, great snow so far this winter.

To all the NE Montana locals. Sorry for the plug.
post #12 of 17
I'll second the vote for Whitefish. Amtrak from Seattle to Whitefish is $158 for an adult; half price for kids. Where can you find airfare for that?

Whitefish also has relatively inexpensive lift tickets and lodging - and you get a deal of lift tickets if you buy them when you make your lodging reservations. Once on the mountain, you don't need a car - you can eat in the restaurants on the mountain, or take the free Snow bus into town. We rented a condo, so we brought food with us and cooked most of our breakfasts and evening meals.

Crowds are never an issue, the skiing is fantastic, and altitude is not a problem (the summit is only 6800 feet).

My sons and I skied 4 days; they rented high performance skis, and we took a private lessons together. The total cost of our trip, including transportation, condo, food (including the food I brought), lift tickets, rentals, lessons, and souveniers was $2565, or $855 per person.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks again. Interesting idea about the train to Whitefish! It certainly sounds affordable, though a 30 hour coach train ride from Milwaukee could either be a fun adventure, or really unpleasant, depending on the person.
post #14 of 17
Originally Posted by Christy View Post
Thanks again. Interesting idea about the train to Whitefish! It certainly sounds affordable, though a 30 hour coach train ride from Milwaukee could either be a fun adventure, or really unpleasant, depending on the person.
Better train to Denver instead!
post #15 of 17
Try Lake Tahoe Reno is quite cheap to fly into. Last year for a 6 day trip from Montreal to South lake Tahoe cost me about $3400.00 with travelocity incl airline ,hotel and 4day lift tickets for 2 adults and 2 children. Hotel was great a short walk to the Gondola at Heavenly.
NYC is a lot cheaper to fly out of than is Montreal.
post #16 of 17
You live in Seattle. Call me crazy, but have you thought about suggesting that the rest of the family fly out your way? Last I checked, you guys had some decent snow.
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Yeah, so much that some of the ski areas and passes are closed! But here in WA state we don't have destination type ski resorts. There are a few lodging choices at some ski areas, but not many, and almost nothing in the way of any other amenities, grocery stores, etc. None of our ski areas are the kind of places anyone would fly to spend a week. And remember, we're looking to be based at the slopes--not driving and fighting traffic every day. Plus, that would make it expensive for all the families with kids to fly all the way out here, whereas they could drive to CO. A big part of this is making it affordable for them--we don't have kids, so we don't mind paying for our airfare as much.
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