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Early season CO skiing

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm working on planning a trip for my wife and I out to Denver this Christmas. We'll be there from 20th through the 25th and plan to get 3-4 days of skiing in. It will all be weekday skiing (unless I can't get tickets to the Bronco's game on the 20th). :) We're both level 8 skiers and prefer moderate pitch, open powder where we can find it. Steeper runs can be fun, but more than a few runs of that in a day and our nerves are frayed. I enjoy doing some trees on easy to moderate slopes and I'm hoping to get my wife more comfortable in some easy trees if possible. We do most of our skiing at the local resort (Bogus Basin) with frequent trips to Brundage and an annual weekend out to Grand Targhee. We're typically looking for anything from hard blues to moderate blacks. I really don't want to see moguls any more than I absolutely have to.

I think the real key is that it's going to be pretty early in the season, so I'm hoping to figure out which resorts are going to be the best to be watching. We'll be spending our nights in Denver and driving out to the resorts each day (or MAYBE spending one night out if it's something really special), so preferably places within a 2.5 hour drive of downtown Denver (again, unless it's something really special).

I'm also trying to convince my wife that if we have to leave the Boise area to move to Denver for work reasons that it won't be the end of the world. So any tips on things to make sure she gets to see are appreciated. She loves to hike and be near water (rivers or lakes), but isn't much of an "artsy" type.
post #2 of 16
Given that you want to spend the night in Denver, you really only have the option of Summit County/Winter Park.  I'd suggest Copper given your terrain preferences.  

Mike
post #3 of 16
Loveland.
post #4 of 16
You are going to ski for a few days, ski several areas.  Loveland, Copper, Winterpark, Keystone, A Basin.  Go where the snow is good.  You make up the list, you have a smorgasboard available, sample several entrees. 

If you want to have your wife see all the up sides show her the variety. 
post #5 of 16
Driving I-70 both ways daily would not be a good idea if you want to show your wife the best of Colorado. 

  Depending on conditions, I would try to make a loop.  Drive up early, ski Winter Park/MJ.  Then drive to Steamboat, check out the town and spend the night.  Ski Steamboat and then drive down Rt. 131 and get a cheap room in  Eagle or maybe Glenwood Springs. The next day ski either the Beav or Vail on the way back to Denver. 
.  
Generally, especially early season,  the further from Denver the better the surface conditions.  Before Christmas is usually not very busy and you should be able to get reasonable room rates as a walk in just about anywhere.  

If you do have to stay in Denver, get up real early and then stay and have dinner in the mountains, then drive back.  Traffic can be heinous on I-70, even midweek during Christmas break. 
post #6 of 16
Before Christmas weekday traffic on I-70 should not be too bad.

Mike
post #7 of 16
I like the loop idea.

You can take the train to WP one day. it's kind of a hoot. I think there's a thread on here somewhere about that.

If you drive to WP, Grand Lake and Lake Granby are sweet and close so she can see there's boating. It's a stone's throw to Rocky Mountain National Park with some of the most spectacular summer hiking and if you are into X-country skiing, Devil's Thumb Ranch is pretty swanky and the spa is, well, she'll like it let's say.

Summit County also has lake water (although it's a bit more urban in feel) and Steamboat has hot springs, so no matter where you go, you'll have fun.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom View Post

I like the loop idea.

You can take the train to WP one day. it's kind of a hoot. I think there's a thread on here somewhere about that.

If you drive to WP, Grand Lake and Lake Granby are sweet and close so she can see there's boating. It's a stone's throw to Rocky Mountain National Park with some of the most spectacular summer hiking and if you are into X-country skiing, Devil's Thumb Ranch is pretty swanky and the spa is, well, she'll like it let's say.

Summit County also has lake water (although it's a bit more urban in feel) and Steamboat has hot springs, so no matter where you go, you'll have fun.

 

The Winter Park train came to an end last season.
post #9 of 16
We always had a lot of luck with Copper around Christmas time growing up and if you stayed one night in summit county you would have a lot of other options close by as well.  By staying you would also save some gas money and could apply it towards lodging which should be reasonable mid-week before christmas.
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the input. I did a lot of digging based on the names of the resorts that have been tossed up here. I'm definitely going to have to hit Loveland and probably spend a day at Copper. I was trying to think of a way to squeeze Steamboat in, but was primarily focused on trying to do it during our drive back home (which would have been a major PITA). Spending one night there could certainly work out so I'll add that to my "watch list" of who's got the best snow.

As for Vail, my understanding is that is pretty similar to Sun Vally in that it's crowded, snobby, over priced, and quickly turns to moguls everywhere. That's pretty much the opposite of everything I'm looking for. haha If that impression is wrong, please feel free to correct me.

From there, it looks like the 3rd (and 4th day if there is a 4th) will be a toss between Winter Park, Breck, Steamboat, and Keystone depending on snow conditions.

And the train was an awesome idea as my wife LOVES trains. Too bad we missed it by one year. :/ If anyone knows of anything else train related (train rides or a train museum) that would be great to know.

Thanks again for all the pointers.
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustinID View Post I'm definitely going to have to hit Loveland and probably spend a day at Copper.
...
As for Vail, my understanding is that is pretty similar to Sun Vally in that it's crowded, snobby, over priced, and quickly turns to moguls everywhere. That's pretty much the opposite of everything I'm looking for. haha If that impression is wrong, please feel free to correct me.

From there, it looks like the 3rd (and 4th day if there is a 4th) will be a toss between Winter Park, Breck, Steamboat, and Keystone depending on snow conditions.
 

Good choice on Loveland. ;-)

About Vail... I just think everyone should at least ski Vail once in their skiing life! The locals and ("regulars"), on the other hand, are allowed to be jaded...

Snobby it is. But that doesn't distract from the fact it's a HUGE resort! So much terrain! Crowding of the lift is an issue, but NOT on the slope. So I don't see it "turns to moguls everyhwere", at the few times I was there. I've not been to Sun Vally so can't say if Vail is like it or not.


Breck is a good "sample" of Colorado skiing, IMV. Not my top choice of spending a whole week there, But it has a little bit of everything so it's probably great for your purpose.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post
Breck is a good "sample" of Colorado skiing, IMV. Not my top choice of spending a whole week there, But it has a little bit of everything so it's probably great for your purpose.

Watch out for the ice! ;)
post #13 of 16

At that time of year Vail almost always has the most snow (along with Steamboat usually).  Though some of the people at Vail can me a pain in the butt, it's not that busy that you can't avoid them on the hill.  Vail also grooms tons of their terrain for ALL levels.  While popular areas can bump up, I'm sure you could ski there every day for a week, not hit the same terrain twice and never see a mogul. (and that's if you stay on the marked trails).  It's a good choice for early season.  It is a resort, and it is glitzy, but big enough that once you are on the hill you can ignore that.

A lot will depend on who gets the snow when you are headed out. Vail / Beaver Creek can see twice the snowfall that Summit County has at that time of year.  Most of the Vail Resorts areas (Keystone / Breck / Vail / BC) also leave skiable terrain and lifts closed most years till 2 weeks before Christmas and slowly open areas right up to the start of Christmas week.  Check lift and trail openings online daily.

Conditions pending Breckenridge / Copper / Winter Park, Mary Jane are all great places to try.  I'd skip Keystone at that time of year.  Keystone typically gets less snow than the rest of the Summit County areas especially early season.

Loveland is an excellent choice.  It's close to Denver, never crowded and way up there in elevation and usually has good cover at that time of year.  It has a similar feel to Grand Targhee.  Bumps can be avoided there and there are easily hiked areas to ski. 

 

Hit A-Basin if there is a lot of snow.  It takes a lot to cover that place.  It is not a destination areas, so while tourists may spend a day there, it's usually reserved for locals and Denverites.  Careful though.  While a 50" base may sound good, there are plenty of 51 and 53 inch rocks there.  Go if conditions warrant and on a sunny day or during a major snow.  Otherwise if visibility is just pain tough....skip it.

Vail Resorts has discount tickets that you can buy online, but savings don't start till you buy three days.  I suspect Copper/Steamboat/WP-MJ are the same.  Do some research on that at their respective web sites. 

Discount tickets are available in some Denver ski shops and (I think) some grocery stores.  That's probably a better way to go than buying in advance.  Perhaps a bit more expensive, but better flexibility.

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Louie View Post


 

 While a 50" base may sound good, there are plenty of 51 and 53 inch rocks there. 


LOL
post #15 of 16
After skiing Copper, drive over to Keystone and take her to dinner at The Ranch, Skitip, or Fondue Chessel.  In that order of preference depending on your $$.
post #16 of 16
I went out there same time frame a few years ago and had a great family week with good snow and low crowds.  Skied Loveland & Eldora Dec 21-24 and Winter Park Dec 26.  Ice skated on Lake Evergreen on Dec 25.  Spent several days at convenient Quality Inn/Suites near Evergreen and Interstate 70.  If you are locked into sleeping in Denver proper then Loveland should be at top of list because of proximity, good intermediate ski terrain, moderate prices (check website for advance purchase four-pack tickets)

http://www.dcski.com/articles/view_article.php?article_id=281
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