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warm weather near good skiing

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Warm weather near good skiing

Kind of an oxymoron here, but thinking about the warmest US town/city within an hour of good skiing. The size of town and how good the skiing being somewhat negotiable depending on overall quality of life in the area. This kind of combination might be an interesting place to live/retire. Interested in first hand experiences and comments on the tradeoffs between mild climates, population centers, and quality of the nearby skiing experience; for example a great town/city near mediocre skiing vs. backwoods post office near great skiing.

My initial picks are a bunch of places in the Southwest, but maybe there are some sneaky-mild locales further north?

Thoughts on ranking these and other mild weather/good skiing candidates most welcome:

NM: Ruidoso – Ski Apache, Santa Fe – Ski Santa Fe, Taos – TSV
AZ: Flagstaff – AZ Snowbowl
UT: Cedar City – Brian Head
CO: Grand Junction – Powderhorn, Durango – Purgatory, Pagosa Springs – Wolf Creek
CA: Placerville – Sierra at Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes – Mammoth Mtn, LA/Palm Springs – Bear Mtn & Mtn High
NV: Reno – Mt. Rose, Carson City – Heavenly
OR: Bend - Mt. Bachelor

NC: Boone – Sugar Mtn
VA: Charlottesville - Wintergreen

PS: trivia - not including Palm Springs, according to weather.com one of the warmer places (avg monthly temp) above is Placerville, one of the coolest is Boone.
post #2 of 13
Well the skiing wasn't great , but a couple of the local hills were fun if not huge. I used to live in the OC. That's right, Newport Beach, CA. I did a lot of sailing then and on more than one occasion I would ski one day and sail the next in sunny 60 - 70 degree weather. Water temps were down in the 50's in the winter though so too cold to jump in.

Problem with SoCal though is that it's about a 6-hour drive to Mammoth, the closest big-mountain skiing.
post #3 of 13
But most of the places you listed aren't warm (except in summer)! Most are definite 4 season towns and some, like Bend, get cold at night even in summer. Flagstaff by no stretch could be called a warm place and Santa Fe/Taos and Durango get cold.
post #4 of 13
Ruidoso isn't as warm (in winter). The town is in the mountains. My in-laws live in Las Cruces which is about 1.5 hours away and is plenty warm in the winter since it's in the desert. Many peple there have cabins up in Ruidoso. The skiing is not consistent at all and the season can be very short.

Ironically they have their house up for sale there now and are moving to Boone as soon as it sells. We visited Boone with them 6 weeks ago. It's an awesome town and would be perfect if the mountains were bigger and the season longer. Summers should be great there.

Personally I think the best compromise of warmth and good/great skiing within an hour is Carson City or Reno.
post #5 of 13
Originally Posted by Jamesj View Post

CA: Placerville – Sierra at Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes – Mammoth

You can probably also add the following to your CA list:

CA: Jackson - Kirkwood

Jackson is along the same hwy as Placerville (HWY 49), but sits even a little lower in elevation lessening the chances of a low elevation storm dusting it with snow.

The link above gives an estimated drive time of 1 hr 28 minutes, but in reality, it's closer to an hour (less than 60 miles) and it's a straight shot up HWY 88. In a storm however, all bets are off of course.

Edit: Looks like Gardnerville, NV to Kirkwood is an option as well:
post #6 of 13
There's great potential here for developing a solution-in-search-of-a-problem type web app. If you had a database of ski areas that contained, on a per-area basis, some sort of ranking of all of the relatively objective factors that affect the quality of the ski experience (on a scale of, say, 0 to 1) -- the quality of the snow, the expense, the terrain, the lifts, the average crowds, and so on -- and then another set of database tables profiling towns and cities in the same way, ranking of some of the reasonably objective characteristics of those towns and cities that are reasonably near ski areas -- same concept, but you would rank weather, transportation, education, job market, availability of good coffee, and so on, -- then..

A person would log in and take a simple survey indicating what was more important to him or her in several categories -- Person A ranks snow quality higher than a Starbucks on every corner, for example; while Person B wants to live in a place where it rarely snows but wants to be able to drive to reasonably good, but not great, skiing -- you could pull together some suggested city/ski-area combinations (Salt Lake City/Solitude, Denver/Copper, Los Alamos/Pajarito, Boone/Sugar, LA/Mt. Baldy, Seattle/Alpental, and so on).
post #7 of 13
Depends on what temperature or conditions you interpret the term warm to be. No snow to shovel ? Ground never freezes ? No frost at night ?

Also , if it's warm during winter, it will probably be HOT during summer with a very extended summer season. (like maybe 6 months ?)

How far away to good skiing is just as often determined by the type of roads/routes available as it is to distance to the resorts.

For Tahoe-just about any town along Highway 49 South of Grass Valley , and heading south to Jackson and other nearby towns can be relatively snow free as Tyrone Shoelaces brought up. Depending on highway accessability, all can be less than a 2 hr drive to Tahoe skiing.

Have you thought about Hawaii ? Skiing on a volcano , drive down to head out surfing or diving ?
post #8 of 13
I can vouch for northern Arizona; in Sedona you have the Snowbowl an hour away and world class mountain biking out your back door. With a 3000 ft elevation change between here and Flagstaff, the temps are much more mild. The Snowbowl is small, but a fun mountain with some decent tree skiing, and the possibility of BC treks into the Kachina Wilderness. The main drawback is uncertainty in terms of snow from year to year, but that said last year we saw over 240". You're also a reasonable drive (6-7 hrs) from Telluride, Durango & Silverton.

However, Sedona is geezer central, so frequent forays to Flag, a university town, will help keep you out of a rocking chair before your time. BTW, real estate is really getting wacked here, I think prices will finally be reasonable this time next year.
post #9 of 13
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post #11 of 13
Mount Baldy (as Gnarlito mentioned), outside LA is a gem that's typically overlooked. If you go when the snowline is down at the parking lot, you get a whole set of great chutes and glades to the right of the chair all to yourself, plus a decent cruising bowl underneath. Reminds me of a small Alta. Plus, the top eastern end has some nice skiing under the lift and good faces to chop down. Go immediately after a fresh snowfall or after it's corned up.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback. Are Mt. Baldy and Big Bear Mtn adjacent??

Any key pros and cons about living an hour east of Tahoe vs an hour west?
post #13 of 13
Originally Posted by Jamesj View Post
Thanks for the feedback. Are Mt. Baldy and Big Bear Mtn adjacent??

Any key pros and cons about living an hour east of Tahoe vs an hour west?
An hour west is closer to San Franciso & the coast with the possiblity to play golf year round if you are into that. However, it is likely more smoggy as the dirty air from Sacramento tends to back up in the foothills.

I have read in other threads that you can play golf in Reno about 10 months of the year, with the possibility of skiing Tahoe in the a.m. and golfing in the afternoon in spring.

In CO, west Denver is warmer than Durango and only a bit farther from skiing. Glenwood Springs is a bit cooler, but closer to Sunlight with Aspen, etc. within an hour.
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