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Spring Skiing in Colorado

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

As some of you may remember from my posts in other threads, my 15 y.o. son and I are planning a ski trip for March 19 - 24.  We started with a list of two over dozen ski resorts around the country, and have tentatively decided we want to ski in Colorado for this trip.  This past weekend we narrowed it down further -- preliminarily, subject to change -- to four resorts: Steamboat, Snowmass, Beaver Creek, Vail.  

However, now we're stymied on how to cut the list down further to one resort.  The cost of air tickets from DC to either Hayden or Eagle/Vail are about the same; tickets to Aspen are a little higher.  It is possible to get slopeside (or close to slopeside) lodging at reasonable rates at all but Beaver Creek.  At BC there is reasonable lodging in Avon, which doesn't seem to be too bad a shuttle ride to the slopes.  We've looked at the trail maps of each place -- all appear to have plenty to keep us happy and challenged for four days of skiing.  

So, what other factors should we be looking at -- or should we just flip a coin?  Help!

(Background, for those who can't recall:  I'm probably a level 7, son a level 8.  We enjoy challenging groomed slopes, but want to get more off piste than we have before this season.  My son has skied glades; I will have by Spring.  We've both skied moguls; he's done so standing up.) 



post #2 of 15
Steamboat is much lower than the others and has predominantly sunny exposure.  So it will be mostly spring conditions in your time frame unless it's actively dumping.  Your other options all have lots of high and north facing terrain that will still be packed powder on sunny days.
post #3 of 15
Well, I would cast my vote for Aspen/Snowmass. I've been there in relatively the same time frame the last two years as you're looking at and they've really been the highlight of my ski season each time. Plenty of snow as is, and ended up with some really good dumps of snow (and a couple really memorable powder days). You also get good variety in being able to ski Highlands, Ajax, and Snowmass all on the same lift ticket. Judging from your description of skill and desired runs, I'd say Highlands is right up your alley.
post #4 of 15
We skied Snowmass and Ajax last spring break and had great luck with the weather. There are great lodging options at Snowmass and as mentioned above the ability to ski the other Aspen resorts is a great plus. The public transportation is great, you do not need a rental car. Finally, Aspen gives you all the nightlife options you would need.
post #5 of 15
You might consider airfare into Denver as well.  Sure it is drive from DEN to BC/Vail but it is a pretty and dramatic drive to go from the high flat plains of Denver into the Rockies where in a span of about an hour you will ascend thousands of feet.  BC is known for their groomers espacially the Birds of Prey World Cup downhill course.
post #6 of 15
While Tony is right about Steamboat, I'd suggest it is a pretty sweet place for you given your preferences.  Spring skiing is great.  Steamboat usually gets quite a bit of snow in March as well.  I think you'd really enjoy it, so why not go for it?

post #7 of 15
one consideration may be if it gets crowded that week at any of the aforementioned resorts.  may sway one's decision.  Not certain if any of them have a specific event planned for spring breakers ... either pro or con
post #8 of 15
We spent that week in Snowmass and Copper Mt this year. It hadn't snowed much in weeks and was definitely spring skiing--warm temps and sun. The snow at Copper held up great because it's so high, and north facing. Snowmass was okay at first but really deteriorated while we were there--mornings were too icy and afternoons crazy slushy. But I did love the terrain at Snowmass and know we were unlucky with the weather (it was really warm). I know Copper isn't on your list, but I had to mention that. Neither had spring break crowds. (Okay, at Copper there were people skiing in jeans, and quite a few Kansas and OK plates in the parking lots, but it was never crowded). I would listed to Tony re: Steamboat.
post #9 of 15
I agree with Tony about Steamboat.  It's a nice hill, but  because of it's low elevation and mostly southerly exposure, it's not a great pick for spring.

Spring skiing you want a variety of exposures, high altitude and as much vertical relief as possible,  so that you can maximize our ski day.
First thing in the morning,  I look for either high northern exposures or low southern ones.  I want either mid winter snow or corn, I avoid coral reef like the plague. 

I think Aspen/Snowmass has the best skiing in the state, spring or any time actually. Yes, Snowmass does get slushy at the bottom. It's base is 1600ft. lower than Coppers, but the summit is at Snowmass is  also 300 feet higher.  

Vail and Beaver Creek have pretty good spring skiing, but they would be much more crowded than Aspen.
post #10 of 15
I think you didn't look at what types of terrain they are interested in skiing.  Given that they are interested in steep groomers, with a bit of off-piste, I don't think looking at the off-piste terrain, coral reef, etc. is really the driving factor.  All of these resorts will keep their groomers in shape given spring conditions.  Steamboat is less crowded in March as a result of spring break than the Summit County resorts.  And March tends to be one of the highest snowfall months for Steamboat.  Sure, you can get lousy conditions at Steamboat, but the groomers will be in decent shape.  And the easy glade skiing (given they're just starting to do it) is better at Steamboat than any of the other choices.

post #11 of 15
Sorry, I just don't like Steamboat in the spring for the same reasons I don't like Park City in the spring.  They are both too low and have lousy exposures.  I am sure both have some great days in the spring, but if I was booking a trip months in advance, I would go elsewhere.
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone.  The discussion is great.  We still haven't made our minds -- my thinking flip-flops with each comment for/against one place or another.  

Last night my son said he was thinking Beaver Creek -- stay in Avon -- and then take a shuttle over to Vail to ski it at least one day.  OTOH, over the last 24 hours I've been leaning toward Snowmass....

Re Beaver Creek, I saw some reasonably priced rentals in Avon at:
--  Seasons at Avon
--  Canyon Run
--  Falcon Point
--  Beaver Creek West
--  Chapel Square  

Does anyone know anything about any of these?  How far are they from the town gondola?  Are any of them next to the town's Superfund site?  Can we get around without a car?

post #13 of 15
You won't need a car in Vail/BC, but you would need to pay for a shuttle from EGE.   It's about 25 miles and $50 each,  one way. 

If you fly into ASE, they do have free buses into town and most full service lodges do pick you up at the airport.
post #14 of 15
And March tends to be one of the highest snowfall months for Steamboat.
30-year averages: Nov 37 Dec 68 Jan 78 Feb 65 Mar 52 Apr 23
Nov and Apr may be incomplete.

That time of year I would pick Aspen/Snowmass for some fo the reasons others have stated.
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Made a decision: Snowmass.  Have booked lodging and flight.  Thanks to all.
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