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Been to Vail considering Alta/Snowbird

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
My wife and I have been to Vail for the last 2 years and have enjoyed the experience. She likes the beginner slopes and I like the intermediate & easy advanced slopes. So far the slopes at Vail have been our only experience and we need advice from somebody that has been around. Cost has become a factor too.

1) How does Alta/Snowbird compare w/Vail in level of difficulty?
Are the trail ratings fairly consistent from one to the other?

2) Is Alta/Snowbird as busy as Vail during the Presidents Day
holiday & following week? How quickly do the lodges fill up for
the busy times? I'd like something a little less overrun.

3) I noticed that one of the lodges includes meals. This seems
like a bargain to me. Am I missing something?

4) It also looks like a shuttle from the airport may be more
economical than renting an SUV. We rented an SUV to get
to Vail. Any suggestions here?

Thanks for your time!

Jeff
post #2 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmar View Post
1) How does Alta/Snowbird compare w/Vail in level of difficulty?
Are the trail ratings fairly consistent from one to the other?
They don't. Alta's got some decent blue-type terrian in Albion Basin, but the expert lever stuff at Alta and especially Snowbird is many levels above Vail.

Quote:
2) Is Alta/Snowbird as busy as Vail during the Presidents Day
holiday & following week? How quickly do the lodges fill up for
the busy times? I'd like something a little less overrun.
Never been to Vail during Pres Day Weekend, but Altabird is a zoo. I really try to avoid it.


Quote:
4) It also looks like a shuttle from the airport may be more
economical than renting an SUV. We rented an SUV to get
to Vail. Any suggestions here?
If you're staying up canyon and only planning on skiing Altabird, renting a vehichle is pretty useless. If you're staying in the valley and travelling up everyday it depends on the weather and your winter driving skills.
post #3 of 24
Altabird are more dificult that Vail, and much smaller, so compared to Vail, you'll feel limited / confined.

I took the kids to CO two years ago, and Vail had 20 minute lines (OK, 5 minutes at Blue Sky, but you may not be over there anyway), whereas Utah was nowhere near as bad last year (hint - try Snowbasin and Powder, and there's nobody). FYI, Steamboat was deserted too.

Depending on where you are you may not need a car, but I like going to the different areas while I'm there. (BCC, LCC, PC (Canyons), Snowbasin, etc.).

You're probably better off in the Park City area with the terrain you like, but President's week will be busy.
post #4 of 24
I'm not even sure where to start to compare Alta-Bird vs Vail.

Vail is a resort/vacation type area where Alta-Bird is a skiers area. If your wife likes the rolling greens and blues of Vail she wil probably hate Alta-Bird. If you have skied Vail and like skiing the cliffs of the walls just outside Two Elk in the back bowls, or going airborn off the Lover's leap cornice in Blue Sky, then you will probably love Alta-Bird.

If you like Vail Village....you will probably hate Alta-Bird.

I also agree with most everything snofun and Jer said above.

If you want a more "Vail like" feel without some of the cost (and attitude) there is always Breckenridge and you can still ski Vail/BC, Keystone and A-Basin (the basin is small but has Alta-Bird type skiing)

If you want a more "Vail like" feel in Utah, as snofun said.....Canyons, Park City Mtn. Resort and Deer Valley (much like Vail w/o the quaint village). Park City (the town) is a historic "gold rush" type place with lots of character and an interesting place.

I think, if you are looking for a destination VACATION....it isn't Alta-Bird. If you want some serious skiing....there are few better places. If it's a nice family vacation you are after and you head to Alta-Bird...you will probably be disappointed.
post #5 of 24
Check out Snowbasin, Skip the Canyons. You'll like DV and Park City!
post #6 of 24
Not to hijack, but I will be at alta/sb the week following pres day weekend. Do people tend to go home, or does it stay pretty busy through the week?
post #7 of 24
Let me add a couple observations -- I spent 3 weeks at Alta last year, one with my beginner-level wife. While I focused on the spectacular skiing, we both found many things to appreciate about the place in general.

The main strength of Alta is that it provides a wonderfully simple and authentic ski experience with a lot of heritage. Though it's got a great system of lifts and modern facilities, you can feel and see the history you only get at a 70 year old ski resort that many consider to be one of skiing's true "Meccas". Skiing there can be a life experience. I don't think everyone can appreciate it, but for those that do, it's like a religion. Sign me up as one of the crazies -- I fell in love with the place.

Alta does not allow snowboarders, and that was a major plus (especially to my wife). That might be an important factor to some people.

They have a great section of groomed green trails (Albion Basin and Cecret Area) that my wife really enjoyed. I think this is often overlooked. They have many blue trails, and many opportunities for skiers to push their limits a bit without taking too many risks. The more difficult terrain is among the best I have skied, and the variety is amazing. I never came close to getting bored there. I did have several ski days that were among the best of my life.

We stayed at the Goldminer's Daughter, and enjoyed the experience. Meals are included at the GMD, as they are at all of the lodges at Alta (meal plans vary). The breakfast buffet was a great way to start the day (both my wife and I get into hearty breakfasts). There is an afternoon "tea" with some great snacks, and it's a good time to unwind when the slopes close. After the tea, we usually hit the bar for a beer or two. Dinners were great, with huge portions and some great choices (the lamb shank was awesome). The whole atmosphere at the GMD is relaxed and friendly, and everyone -- guests and staff alike -- just glow with enthusiasm for the skiing. It's not fancy and the building itself is almost dorm-like in many ways, but it's got a lot of charm. This is one example -- you will hear similar stories about the other lodges at Alta. They all have a unique homey atmosphere.

We used Alta Shuttle to get to and from the GMD. They can arrange that when you make a reservation. It was about $50 per person round trip if I remember right.

We weren't interested in nightlife, nor did we have time, but it seemed pretty limited. I don't think people go there for nightlife. We kept totally busy with all the skiing and eating, and conked out hard at the end of the day, ready to do the cycle over again the next morning.

Note that when you lodge at Alta, you will be sleeping at about 8500 ft elevation. We had headaches the first night and a bit of restlessness, but were fine the rest of the time. It's important to drink a lot of water and eat well when staying up at elevation. If you or your wife were disposed to altitude sickness in a major way, you probably wouldn't want to lodge at such a high elevation.

So overall, I'd say that if you want a life experience and can appreciate the stuff I mentioned above, Alta is worth a trip.

Here are some pics from the week my wife was there with me:

http://hunter.pairsite.com/craig/alta0308
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atomicman View Post
Check out Snowbasin, Skip DV and Park City. You'll like the Canyons!
There ya go. Fixed now. You're welcome.
post #9 of 24
[quote=Jmar;1005452]
3) I noticed that one of the lodges includes meals. This seems
like a bargain to me. Am I missing something?

4) It also looks like a shuttle from the airport may be more
economical than renting an SUV. We rented an SUV to get
to Vail. Any suggestions here?[quote]

3. The meals are included with the price per night of many of the lodges in the canyon. This is not a gimmick and is a bonus to the cost-conscious skier. Also, Alta generally has pretty reasonable lift rates (~$65) vs. Vail which i believe is approaching $100 per day. Ridiculous. However, some of the lodges at Alta have "family style" dining where you are seated with other guests [often strangers] at dinnertime. While a little surprising at first it actually ends up being quite fun and you get to meet a lot of interesting people who share a love of the pow. Generally you get some time to yourself at the other meals. There are no restaurants in the canyon so all the meals are provided in the lodges to guests. Some of the lodges are better than others...(i.e. Rustler is generally the top end at Alta) I love Alta though and think you will too.

4. Definitely take the van for the airport transfer....it's only about $30 per trip.
post #10 of 24
If your wife prefers the greens of Vail, she will hate Snowbird. They have no greens. Yes I know there's a green trail on the map, but it's not green, in the slightest. Even the beginner area is too steep.

Alta is better in that regard. Also, you don't get as much aggro 'tude at Alta. Snowbird seems to attract a lot of people who are quite aggressive and pushy, especially on sections leading to the publicly "gnarly" stuff.

If you plan to stay up the canyon, then yes, getting a shuttle from the airport is the way to go. Canyon Transport run vans up and down all day and night, they do the staff transport too. You can get rides down into SLC the same way, plus there's the UTA ski buses which are excellent, if you want to go shopping or checkout the canyon next door (Solitude and Brighton).

If you want to explore further afield though, a car is necessary.

For president's, I think any large, accessible ski resort in the US gets hammered. If you must ski then, it's worthwhile travelling to a smaller resort in the area where people don't usually go as first choice. Sundance, Powder Mountain, perhaps Snowbasin (although it's getting profile now too), Brian Head!
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by snofun3 View Post
There ya go. Fixed now. You're welcome.
Isn't my favorite
post #12 of 24
Been there since Dreamscape opened? Nobody there - you have a whole area to yourself with some pretty nice glades.
post #13 of 24
First of all as other had said Snowbird isnt for either of you. the shallowest way from the smallest high speed lift. Big Emma is a treacherous mess that would be rated at least blue if not black at any other place in the USA. I avoid it at all cost because I think its to dangerous to ski due to crowds and ice.

alta has a chance and does have some awesome greens and blues. You will confined compared to vail though still.

I would try snowbasin. Big open resort, lots of green and blue cruising. Swanky lodges, great(but pricey) on hill food, gondolas to stay warm in, and no crowds like ever.
post #14 of 24
I'll put in a plug here for my semi-home hill of Mammoth, which I believe is second only to Vail in terms of having abundant terrain at a wide range of ability levels. Given stated ability levels and probably being spoiled by the scale of Vail, Mammoth would be the next best thing IMHO.

Mammoth's clientele is 90% drive-up from SoCal. Therefore President's weekend itself will be busy, but midweek is nearly always lift line free.

The alpine steeps at the top of Mammoth will tell you whether you would enjoy Alta/Snowbird on a future trip.

The main reason for so little destination business at such a great mountain is that you have to fly in to Reno and drive 3+ hours, bypassing the numerous closer areas at Lake Tahoe. Starting this year there is air service from L.A. to Mammoth, to which you could connect.

The town is not quite there as a typical destination resort, and it helps to have a car, which you will need anyway if you're coming via Reno. The village Intrawest built is in economic distress as it does not attract SoCal's drive up skiers, mainly due to lack of parking for people not staying in it.
post #15 of 24
I think you would like Alta, just not that weekend. Presidents weekend is a zoo at Alta/Bird. I think you would be better off at some of the resorts that are a little more remote.

Snowmass
Big Sky
Steamboat
Telluride
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by manchester81 View Post
Not to hijack, but I will be at alta/sb the week following pres day weekend. Do people tend to go home, or does it stay pretty busy through the week?
I always arrive that Thurs and crowds are not a problem and my pals get there on Tues and never complained of crowds.
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowbirdDevotee View Post
I always arrive that Thurs and crowds are not a problem and my pals get there on Tues and never complained of crowds.

good news!
thanks
post #18 of 24
Jeff,
Im sorry I cant help you at all with your question, but you can help me!

You mentioned you rented a car from DIA to Vail - did you keep it for the entire time you were there and returned it at the Denver Airport? Bc if you returned it in Vail, Im wondering what company it was, I cant seem to find a car rental place in Vail or closeby besides Eagle Airport (not smart, Id have to pay for a shuttle to there or back) or Enterprise in Avon - which doesn't work one way and I want to return it elsewhere...

Tks!

Jackie
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
I'll put in a plug here for my semi-home hill of Mammoth, which I believe is second only to Vail in terms of having abundant terrain at a wide range of ability levels. Given stated ability levels and probably being spoiled by the scale of Vail, Mammoth would be the next best thing IMHO.

Mammoth's clientele is 90% drive-up from SoCal. Therefore President's weekend itself will be busy, but midweek is nearly always lift line free.

The alpine steeps at the top of Mammoth will tell you whether you would enjoy Alta/Snowbird on a future trip.

The main reason for so little destination business at such a great mountain is that you have to fly in to Reno and drive 3+ hours, bypassing the numerous closer areas at Lake Tahoe. Starting this year there is air service from L.A. to Mammoth, to which you could connect.

The town is not quite there as a typical destination resort, and it helps to have a car, which you will need anyway if you're coming via Reno. The village Intrawest built is in economic distress as it does not attract SoCal's drive up skiers, mainly due to lack of parking for people not staying in it.
Love Mammoth!!! Great Hill!
post #20 of 24
agreed here w/ Snowbasin, Deer Valley - stay in Park City - you can get a shuttle to snowbasin (~45 mins). If you go that weekend, I recommend making dinner reservations in advance of your arrival if you are eating out. When it's booked, it's murder to get into a decent restaurant.
post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hi Jackie,

We rented at DIA and returned it at DIA when we caught our flight back to DET. So we kept it the whole time. It's kind of a waste but we wanted a little space and control over our own schedule. The drive is about 2 hours from DIA to Vail and we wanted to stop to load up with food/drink for our condo since cheap breakfast can cost $20 each. I didn't notice a rental car place in Vail. If you like good cheap dinner go to the George below Mountainhause. Good food, bar like setting & young crowd.

I hope this helps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TransRocky08 View Post
Jeff,
Im sorry I cant help you at all with your question, but you can help me!

You mentioned you rented a car from DIA to Vail - did you keep it for the entire time you were there and returned it at the Denver Airport? Bc if you returned it in Vail, Im wondering what company it was, I cant seem to find a car rental place in Vail or closeby besides Eagle Airport (not smart, Id have to pay for a shuttle to there or back) or Enterprise in Avon - which doesn't work one way and I want to return it elsewhere...

Tks!

Jackie
post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hi Everbody,

Thanks for the information & excellent comparisons!

I think we might enjoy the atmosphere of the smaller resorts. Most of the time we ski all day, eat, sleep & do it again. My wife could ski the same green slopes all day while I like to try different things, usually taking it up a notch each time.
post #23 of 24
Tks, we should just stick to a shuttle and no car there. Tks again and have a great time!!

Jackie
post #24 of 24
Spend weekends (or crowded days) at solitude, and save the week days for alta.
However, from my experience, if the snow fall is significant, alta will be crowded on any day.
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