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Ski Resort Choice in Colorado from 12/4~12/8

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hey guys,

My friend and I are heading to Colorado on Dec 4th, staying 4 nights or 5 nights, depending on the snowfall prediction and destination. This will be our first time ever to ski/board in CO.

Some of the weather reports suggest El Nino strongly favors Southern California, Arizona and far southern Utah, with milder effects extending to the southern Sierra and New Mexico. But we still decide to take our chance to ski in Colorado.

But the first problem we are facing is which area we stay:
- Vail, Beaver Creek, Copper Mountain; or
- Snowmass & Aspen Mountain (Aspen Highlands & Buttermilk wont open till 12/12; or
- Telluride.

From your experience, which area is more likely to open the most lifts and terrain in this early season?

With the info I collect so far, I'm inclined to make Vail area as my first stop. Some on the forum suggest spend 2 days in Vail, 1 day in Beaver Creek, and 1 day in Copper. Would anyone please point me to the right direction for discount lift tickets and accommodations? I prefer to stay at the ski-in-&-ski-out resorts.

I find some housing options for 2 people from VRBO but they easily costs me more than $125/night, with the tax and/or cleaning fee, I'm looking at the total of $650~$800. (and they usually need to take a quick shuttle or walk a few blocks)

Currently I have a quote from Austria Haus Hotel with 4-night stay and 4-day lift ticket, $1260 for two persons. Mmm... not really save any money with that package~ Any hotel/condo that you guys recommend?

post #2 of 15
 December 4 is quite early in Colorado.  There may not be much terrain open at any of the resorts you identified.  Copper, a place i would almost  call my home mountain, generally does not open its back bowl terrain until mid-December at the earliest, and often not before early January.

Given that you are wanting to play it by ear, I'd wait it out a while.  I don't really know how T-Ride is early season, but it is my impression that there are lots of rocks to cover up, so it needs a lot of snow before the terrain will open.  Based on the last few years, Vail/BC and Aspen have gotten the goods, with Aspen getting a bit more of a nod.

I', afraid it is too early to give you much guidance.  You could check Tony Crocker's website and see what it says about El Nino, but you need to realize that the correlation of snowfall and El Nino in most of Colorado is pretty weak.

post #3 of 15
Yeah, December 4 is early *anywhere*.  The last two years (in Summit/Eagle), the first week of December marked the first significant snowfall of the season and terrain gradually opened in the weeks following that. As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn't expect much in the way of terrain being available if you are going to ski in the fall.  Some years you get lucky, but often you do not.  Christmas is usually a safe bet for a *reasonable* amount of terrain being available...

If you can, hold off booking as long as you can.  The closer you can wait until your date, the more accurate the weather picture will be.
post #4 of 15
I would wait to decide until December 3rd.  That time of year you can walk in and get a room just about anywhere.

Wolf Creek is your best bet for natural, but it's a haul from Denver.  
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
The reason I am in a hurry to book the flight first is because of the discount from AA, only $100 plus for round trip direct flight from LAX to DEN. Sorta like a roulette (without zeroes:Q), hoping El Nino will bring some early dump to the ski resorts, just like 2004 Thxgiving~

But now after everyone's suggestion, I am starting to question myself that spending $800 per person for the whole trip just to enjoy only 30% of terrain is worth it~ Maybe I'm better off just to spend those days in the Mammoth~

Tony Crocker's website has stopped updating since 2009 May~ I'm relying on the current El Nino Status, State by State Assessment.

Has anyone stayed at Austria Haus Hotel before? Or any suggestion for housing at Vail, ski in/ski out?? VRBO has little 1-bedroom or studio options for my preference (and price range:Q....)

post #6 of 15
I booked round trip flights to Denver with Southwest for $50 !!
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Whooo, Nice~ But where do you fly out and when?
post #8 of 15
Southwest has a sale until the end of Nov. Under 400 miles is $25 each way!! I'm flying in on Jan 28th from KC. I bought a four pass for Copper when i was on vaction in Summit County this summer. Four pass was $119 and gives me four days skiing plus four extra passes for $55 each.
post #9 of 15
Good luck with ski in ski out for that kind of money.

I'm in Colorado for business at that time and will hit Loveland, ABasin and Copper. Will stay in Dillon where my Cousin has a condo so it's no cost for me.

Look for a deal at VRBO.com in Frisco or Dillon/Silverthorn as a base of operations and ski the summit resorts. That's the best advice I can give you for early dec.
post #10 of 15
I'd take a close look at where the snow went there yesterday and keep an eye on things till you are ready to leave.  As another poster said you can wait till the day before to make your reservations at that time of year.  Don't expect the areas to be fully open and given your list as to where you expect to stay don't expect cheap. 

Lionshead Inn is one of  Vail's more inexpensive lodges.  The place is dated, but if you don't want the typical Vail luxury that would be an option.  It's in the village, so once you park the car you are done for the week unless you head to Copper.  I think the shuttle to Beaver Creek would be running then but possibly with limited hours. You should check on that one.

You might want to consider Utah too.  If you can ditch the idea of staying slopeside you can ski/board there cheaply.  You can get 2 rooms at a fairly nice hotel in SLC ($50/$60 a room) within 10 miles of several great areas and discount tickets from $ 50-$60 a day per person.  My research shows the cost of one person skiing and staying in SLC is about the same as staying slopeside (before tickets) in Summit County.  Eagle County (Vail and BC) is a bit more and I suspect Aspen is as well.
post #11 of 15
post #12 of 15
If this is your first time to CO I might suggest Copper.  You will have plenty of terrain to consume you for several terrain.  The mountain is naturally divided into experience level.... makes it very easy to work your way up or down, and not wander into anything too sketchy.  As far as snow, there has been a decent amount of snowfall around vail/copper, but not the massive amounts in other parts of the state.  If the snow continues you may actually get lucky and see a lot more terrain open anywhere you go by early December.
post #13 of 15
I second Lars suggestion to stay in Dillon, Silverthorne or Frisco.  That will easily cut your lodging costs in half and give you access to Copper, Breck, Keystone, A-Basin, Loveland, Vail and Beaver Creek. 
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for all the useful info. I postpone the trip to Colorado till the end of this year, hoping the first time in Colorado is with perfect powder.

Mammoth will then be my first ski trip this season:) SNOW PLEASE......
post #15 of 15
There have been so many times I've driven out to Snowmass for Thanksgiving. 

Typically I've found half the mountain open and the place is deserted.  I'm forced to ride untracked fresh powder all day on Thanksgiving Day till I'm utterly pooped.  Afterwards, I soak in the hot tub and then walk down to Rusty's for the community Thanksgiving Dinner.  I see old friends and meet new ones.   I stumble back to the hotel and collapse on the bed.  I wake up in the morning and am forced to do it all again.   Sometimes there can be a few saplings sticking out up on the Burn.

Thanksgiving is pretty locals vibe at Snowmass.  Everyone is eager and excited about the start of the season.  Even the shuttle bus drivers.  I caught the shuttle over to Snowmass Opening Day morning a few years ago.  I immediately got into conversation with other riders.  At one point we realized the shuttle was no longer making progress ... but was moving.  The driver had reached the roundabout at the edge of town.  He decided to start doing doughnuts until everyone on the bus realized what was going on.   After about 4-5 laps everyone burst out laughing and started clapping.   The joke was on us.   It was the start of a great day on the hill.  It was pretty much a family day that day.  Everyone greeted one another all over the hill.

Stay away from Snowmass at Thanksgiving, it's pure torture.  You have my word.
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