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First trip "out west" - suggestions?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
After 42 years on Maine bolier-plate, it is about time I see what all the fuss is about, due west. Target is mid February.
Looking for a ski area more than a resort. Not so much a town that skiing made, but a town where skiing happens. What we call in Maine, a local's hill. For me, the chance to experience, if the gods oblige, that big mountain, big snow feeling. A first huck is not out of the question. For my wife, blue groomers with the Ansel Adams view. A great ski school with a program like Ski Esprit at Whistler where you spend three days with an instructer and group, and then the last two on your own. Good resturaunts. Good folks who don't mind being chatted up by someone who talks wicked odd. Even a place that one might plant some roots if the kids ever get off the payroll. There must be a place like that....
David
post #2 of 19
I believe you would like the Greatest Snow on Earth-- Alta? Snowbird? Park City? Deer Valley? The Canyons? Snowbasin?
post #3 of 19
For the blue groomers for your wife, give Snowbird a miss. For a nice town with a ski hill attached... it's a toughie, as any great hills have become destinations, rather than "locals hills". In Utah, the "local's hill" would be Powder Mountain, a sleepy undeveloped place, but it's seriously out of the way.

What about Whitefish in Montana? The Big Mountain is pretty good for all your criteria, and there's a larger town up the road which I can never remember the name of.

Targhee also matches a lot of your criteria - a ski area, rather than a glitzy resort town.
post #4 of 19
It takes several trips to different mountains to find your niche. Conditions can vary from boiler plate to chest deep pow........keep going out there till you at least try waist deep pow....it's an experience you'll never forget...........

Try towns, lodges, cities and isolation + hiking to get a feel for what you like........Where to start?????........Snowmass or Steamboat are good bets for the all around experience. Great ski in ski out.......if you don't mind really big crowds Whistler, ParkCity, Heavenly/Lake Tahoe, I-70 area in Colorado, ....they are all in the must see category.........my favorite........I don't like crowds (I'm from Northern VT) and I don't like sharing my pow so I'm not telling! My dream: to stay at Chateau Lake Louise $$$$$ and ski the Banff area...............
post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by deliberate1 View Post
After 42 years on Maine bolier-plate, it is about time I see what all the fuss is about, due west. Target is mid February.
Looking for a ski area more than a resort. Not so much a town that skiing made, but a town where skiing happens. What we call in Maine, a local's hill. For me, the chance to experience, if the gods oblige, that big mountain, big snow feeling. A first huck is not out of the question. For my wife, blue groomers with the Ansel Adams view. A great ski school with a program like Ski Esprit at Whistler where you spend three days with an instructer and group, and then the last two on your own. Good resturaunts. Good folks who don't mind being chatted up by someone who talks wicked odd. Even a place that one might plant some roots if the kids ever get off the payroll. There must be a place like that....
David
With that definition (and my experience), you could narrow it down to:

Utah - real skiing but not so real (or no) towns - LCC / BCC / PC / Snowbasin
CO - real towns and good skiing - Breck & Steamboat (marginal on view though).
No town, real skiing - A-Basin (a real locals hill)
CA - real towns and skiing - Tahoe
Canadia - new town and real skiing - Whistler
post #6 of 19
1. Aspen/Snowmass
2. Jackson
post #7 of 19
Dispensing with the traditional Mega Resorts / Towns, I would suggest the following more real destinations:

Mid Sized
- Bridger Bowl
- Whitefish Resort
- Telluride
- Crested Butte
- Taos
- Solitude / Brighton
- Mt Hood Meadows
- Kirkwood

Small Sized
- Red River
- Angel Fire
- Durango Mt Resort
- Brian Head
- June Lake
- Monarch
- Silver Mt
- Mt Ashland
- Hoodoo
- Schweitzer

All are more off the beaten path certainly less crowded. Do some research by looking at each's website and finding out more about the feel for each one.

Tele
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Powdr View Post
Dispensing with the traditional Mega Resorts / Towns, I would suggest the following more real destinations:

Mid Sized
- Bridger Bowl
- Whitefish Resort
- Telluride
- Crested Butte
- Taos
- Solitude / Brighton
- Mt Hood Meadows
- Kirkwood

Small Sized
- Red River
- Angel Fire
- Durango Mt Resort
- Brian Head
- June Lake
- Monarch
- Silver Mt
- Mt Ashland
- Hoodoo
- Schweitzer

All are more off the beaten path certainly less crowded. Do some research by looking at each's website and finding out more about the feel for each one.

Tele
I would also recommend Bridger, and add Fernie, BC to the list, just don't tell your friends back home about it.
post #9 of 19
At mid-Feb you should have good snow and big fun wherever you go in the West. All the famous names and the slightly off the beaten track suggestions of Powdr would be fine. IMHO though, if you want the feeling of Wildcat/Saddleback/LeMassif on a mega dose of steroids check out Aspen Highlands and your wife can ski the beautiful groomers at nearby Snowmass. They both share awesomel Maroon Bells scenery and are near the great town of Aspen. This area, however, can be a challenge for those on a modest budget.
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Powdr View Post
Dispensing with the traditional Mega Resorts / Towns, I would suggest the following more real destinations:

Mid Sized
- Bridger Bowl
- Whitefish Resort
- Telluride
- Crested Butte
- Taos
- Solitude / Brighton
- Mt Hood Meadows
- Kirkwood

Small Sized
- Red River
- Angel Fire
- Durango Mt Resort
- Brian Head
- June Lake
- Monarch
- Silver Mt
- Mt Ashland
- Hoodoo
- Schweitzer

All are more off the beaten path certainly less crowded. Do some research by looking at each's website and finding out more about the feel for each one.

Tele
Ski Santa Fe also fits the bill. You have all the attractions of Santa Fe during their dead winter season. Southwest flies to ABQ and snow-capable rental cars are far cheaper than in Colorado or Utah. I did a Santa Fe, Taos, Wolf Creek trip a few years ago and actually had the best time at Ski Santa Fe.
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Friends, appreciate all the suggestions which I will ponder and research. Are there other venders like SkiCan who can put together flight/ticket/lodging packages for westerly destinations?
post #12 of 19
Many hills fit the bill, but I agree w/ Momma....check out Steamboat online. Might be your best value too.
post #13 of 19
Banff/Lake Louise is a good bet if you don't need to ski right on the hill. Banff is a great, little town with lots of good restaurants and pubs. Also, because winter is the off-season there, hotel prices are pretty cheap. And the weak Canadian dollar also helps. The downside is you're a 15 minute drive (+20 gondola ride) to Sunshine Village, and 40 minutes to Lake Louise.

Sunshine is best for beginners and intermediates, but it also has good steeps off Goat's Eye, the Teepee Town lift area, and Delirium Dive, if you have the equipment. Lake Louise gets less snow than most ski hills out west, but the back bowls hold it really well. The seem to go on forever and will give you that big mountain feel. Some of the steeps there rival almost anywhere in North America.

The scenery at both hills, and everywhere in the national park, is amazing.
post #14 of 19
David, be sure to consider Alta, staying at one of the lodges there. I guarantee it will be an experience to remember. It covers many of the factors you listed, and I don't think you will find a more genuine, rewarding ski experience overall. The place is a mecca of skiing heritage and history, and the overall vibe is wonderful. If that wasn't enough, Snowbird is right next door. World-class skiing at those two places.

I went to Alta for three trips last season, one with my wife, and each trip was amazing. We're planning similar trips this season.

Here are some of my pictures:

http://hunter.pairsite.com/craig/altabird0108/

http://hunter.pairsite.com/craig/alta0308/

And here's a good site for general info:

http://www.discoveralta.com/

(be sure to watch the opening video all the way through)

I like staying at the Goldminer's Daughter (GMD) Lodge, which is about mid-class. Basic accomodations, great food, prime location. They have an afternoon tea after the lifts close with some great snacks, and a great bar / patio to chill with some beers. The breakfast buffet and dinners (included in a meal plan) were top notch.

Generally, I make a res with the GMD and they also set up the airport shuttle. If you can work out a flight into SLC, which is an easy place to get to, you're all set. Nothing else to worry about except buying lift tickets. Speaking of which, they are fairly cheap at Alta -- about $55 a day last time I checked.

Good luck!
Craig
post #15 of 19
IMHO this:
Ski Santa Fe also fits the bill. You have all the attractions of Santa Fe during their dead winter season. Southwest flies to ABQ and snow-capable rental cars are far cheaper than in Colorado or Utah. I did a Santa Fe, Taos, Wolf Creek trip a few years ago and actually had the best time at Ski Santa Fe.
Is by far the best combo of the lot - for you - especially since local color and view seem to be important. Santa Fe is a stunning little city - it is the third largest art capital in The World (after London and New York) and the shop windows alone could be put in museums. The wife will melt down in glee. The mountain (which I used to use as my summer office) is practically in town. It's modest but enjoyable. Taos is Another Story Altogether (I might have said A Horse of Another Color - however, that is actually a piece of sculpture (outdoors) in Santa Fe). TAOS can/will give you vertigo off the steeps - and the town is kinky cute. Wolf Creek has more snow than you can imagine (always) but lacks a bit of the steep. Salida and Pagosa Springs (nearby) are skier friendly and charming. A very good choice IMHO. Then again there's always Vail (where I ski) and Arapahoe Basin - both of which can fully satisfy ANY steepness cravings you may have. Sidecountry skiing - The Professor, and Loveland Pass - is easily accessible. Hitching up the road is the local equivalent of a ski lift and generally reliable. Have fun. Let us know how it turns out.
post #16 of 19
Reading further, if Canada is OK, you have myriad excellent places. Panorama! Jeez I enjoyed that place. reasonable accommodation right at the base of the lifts, and a town just down the hill.

Fernie was great, it was a normal muddy town with a ski hill tacked on. It had bakeries, and mooses on the runs, and everything.
post #17 of 19
We chose our destination based on Family living in the area.
After many years of never skiing outside of Michigan, we've begun an annual pilgrimage to Abasin, with some days at Breck/Keystone thrown in.

The rumour is, after you experience JacksonHole, Bridger, and Big Sky, you'll never want to go back to Colorado.
I'll find out about that this year.


No matter where you go, you'll have a ton of fun!!!
post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by deliberate1 View Post
After 42 years on Maine bolier-plate, it is about time I see what all the fuss is about, due west. Target is mid February.
Looking for a ski area more than a resort. Not so much a town that skiing made, but a town where skiing happens.

I know just what you mean,,,I like real towns too.

Steamboat and Breckenridge used to feel that way, now they are clearly resorts.

Fernie is definitely a real town, and the ski area is right there, but the restaurants are ummm wellll..... Nice big bowls, not much blue cruisers.



Bend you wouldn't know there is a ski area, as it is 22 miles away. Good restaurants, and blue groomers up the wazoo, above treeline skiing when clear. Whitefish is very similar.

Truckee is a nice funky town near all the Tahoe action.

Jackson....real western town still detectable under the tourism, Teton Park and Elk Reserve right there, deer herds invade the town and otters still pop out of the river. That might be the spot.
post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by newfydog View Post
I know just what you mean,,,I like real towns too.

Steamboat and Breckenridge used to feel that way, now they are clearly resorts.

Fernie is definitely a real town, and the ski area is right there, but the restaurants are ummm wellll..... Nice big bowls, not much blue cruisers.



Bend you wouldn't know there is a ski area, as it is 22 miles away. Good restaurants, and blue groomers up the wazoo, above treeline skiing when clear. Whitefish is very similar.

Truckee is a nice funky town near all the Tahoe action.

Jackson....real western town still detectable under the tourism, Teton Park and Elk Reserve right there, deer herds invade the town and otters still pop out of the river. That might be the spot.

Inasmuch as you're from Maine, you may not find the weather in Bend disagreeable. But, having been there a bunch in the winter I can personally attest to the absolute misery that Mt Bachelor can be until early May.

Steamboat isn't as 'resorty' as some here are suggesting. It's ranching heritage will forever preclude it from becoming another Aspen or Vail and it's remoteness will keep it from feeling like Bunkenridge (which I would absolutely avoid at all costs).

Montana Snow Bowl and Bridger Bowl are great 'local' ski areas adjacent to great college towns. It's tough to beat either of them for that reason alone. But , you won't be lodging 'on mountain' there if that's a criteria of yours.

I'm also partial to Crested Butte, which fits midway between a resort and a local's hill in my mind. Although there's tons of expert terrain, there are plenty of cruisers to keep the wifey occupied while you test your skilz. And the food is plenty good in the town of CB.

Telluride is a bit glitzier than CB, but you can get into sick lift-serviced terrain while your wife cruises perfectly manicured cruisers down below you. The food is very good and the town is probably set in the prettiest valley in the lower 48.

Definite thumbs up for other suggestions on here like Truckee and Fernie.

Jackson is flat gorgeous, but the town is forever away from the ski area and - in my opinion - doesn't offer much in the way of a good meal or a fun time after the lifts shut down like you can find in the aforementioned. Others will disagree. For skiing, I think Jackson rocks. Scenery, too......I'm just not as enamored of the town and the inhabitants therein as others might be.
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