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Please help me plan first trip (solo to SLC area)

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone.

I am a lower-intermediate skier (comfortable on blue trails in the midatlantic and northeast).

After many years in graduate school, I’m now working and can afford in both time and money a real (though frugal) ski trip to the west. We have a one-year old at home, so I plan to go in the first week of March while my wife is visiting her inlaws.

For peace of mind, I need to be within a relatively short distance from a major airport so I can return abruptly if needed. In addition, while I like skiing I have very little experience in winter driving and would very much like to avoid rental cars. Based on all these, the SLC area seems like a good candidate.

In terms of skiing, I’m looking for significant number of green and blue cruisers groomers and a resort that would “wow” me with its size, which is not difficult as the largest place I’ve been to is Stowe, VT. I'd love to ski above treeline (not sure if that's even possible in SLC area), and prefer wider trails or slopes I plan to stay 100% on trail on groomers. My idea of après is cheap dinner and sleep.

Since I will be traveling by myself, I’m looking for inexpensive lodging choices, so park city (with the option to ski at Deer Valley or the Canyons) seem preferable to Alta or Snowbird.

I guess my first question is whether all these assumptions are legitimate? For example, is there ground transportation to Park City in most weather conditions? Is it possible to survive in Park City without a car and perhaps see or ski to the other resorts?

If I only have 4-5 days to ski, how should I divide them? When should I take my break?

Does it make sense to rent skis or should I bring my own? I ride a pair of Elan Magfire 10 at 75mm. In the east rentals are almost always really crappy and there are few multiday rental options. However, I’d like to minimize carry on (I’ll bring my own boots and equipment).

Also, (for family and work) how is cellphone reception around these resorts? I’m with AT&T.

Any tips, ideas and recommendations would be appreciated!
post #2 of 9
For groomer skiing, I would recommend Park City and Canyons.  Definitely stay away from Snowbird as it's mostly ungroomed and the few groomed trails have fairly steep sections.  You won't get any big resort wow feel from Solitude or Brighton.  Alta is pretty nice, but again, if you're only skiing groomers, you're better off skiing the resorts in Park City.

As for cheap lodging, you may find really cheap stuff in SLC if you don't mind driving to Park City every day.  It's not too bad, depending on where in SLC you stay, the drive will probably be 20-40 minutes.  This also allows you to be closer to the airport.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
majortato, Thanks for the tip about the choices. Looks like I'll stay  in Park City and Canyons.
However, I can't really stay at SLC since the driving is an issue. I am not a fan of mountain driving or of winter driving. I doubt it's a multi lane highway between the two..
post #4 of 9
P:ark City is probably your best choice, but I'd suggest Deer Valley over Park City as it's groomer heaven. There's buses constantly running around the area, so I suspect you won't have a problem.

There's also lodging of every kind ($-$$$), so call on of the SLC local groups tell them what you want and you should be OK.
post #5 of 9
Originally Posted by uricmu View Post

majortato, Thanks for the tip about the choices. Looks like I'll stay  in Park City and Canyons.
However, I can't really stay at SLC since the driving is an issue. I am not a fan of mountain driving or of winter driving. I doubt it's a multi lane highway between the two..

It's not really winter there until you go up into the mountains.  For the Cottonwood Canyons resorts (Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, Solitude) you can drive to the bus stop at the base of the canyon, take the bus up to the resort, and never drive over a flake of snow.

This is the cheapest way to go, as the $50/day car rental will be eclipsed by the additional lodging cost of staying slopeside. Or you can find a hotel that's on the busline and forgo the car altogether.

For  Park City, the road to PC is Interstate 80, a wide well maintained multi-lane interstate that rarely gets much snow.  You'll still have to negotiate the local in-town roads, which may be dicey if it's dumping.

http://www.chateauapres.com/ is the cheapest place to stay in PC that I'm aware of.  Walking distance to PCMR, free shuttle to the Crayons and Deer Valet.

BTW, it's far cheaper to buy your lift tickets in SLC.  I'm not sure how to arrange that without your own car.  They're used to be a discount ticket kiosk in the airport, but I haven't seen it recently.  See http://www.canyonsports.com/content/?page=LIft%20Ticket%20Pricing for discount rates - you can save about $20/day by buying in advance.

Finally, since nobody else has said it, there is plenty of above treeline skiing around SLC, however not much of it is groomed.
post #6 of 9
Your cheapest option will absolutely be to stay in Sandy (see the many threads about this here), to rent a compact car and to drive to different resorts. Park City is accessed via an interstate. The Little and Big Cottonwood Canyon resorts are an easy drive from Sandy; if there's been a lot of snow and you don't want to do the drive, there are park and ride lots at the entrances to the canyons. Staying in Park City will feel more like a real ski trip, I'm not trying to talk you out of it, but it won't be your cheapest option. Most Sandy hotels sell discount lift tickets as does Canyon Sports, which is near the cluster of Sandy hotels.

Deer Valley has wonderful groomers, and quite a bit for your ability level.
post #7 of 9
 Chateau Apris rocks. That's where I use to stay before Chateau Crab. Sandy's alright and the rooms are better for the price, but I like being in a mountain town. Also, the air pollution in SLC right now makes Bejing look downright clean and healthy....  
post #8 of 9
If you are going to stay up in Park City as mentioned earlier, there are free buses to go to the local resorts, Park City, Deer Valley and the Canyons. In that case it might be cheaper for you to rent a round-trip shuttle from Salt Lake City airport to Park City (that's what I did last year). Shuttles are here: http://www.slcairport.com/limos.asp I think the cheapest one I had found was All Resort Express.

Also the Canyons is huge ski resort with lots of blues. I particularly enjoyed the right side of the mountain; some of the runs were very wide and not too crowded. On the left side, runs are narrower and seemed more crowded to me.
post #9 of 9
You will thoroughly enjoy Utah. You have chosen a fantastic area to ski.

As for the mountains...Staying in Park City would be far out and groovy. The 3 mountains there will suit your skiing just fine. And the 3 of them are all gorgeous. And, public transportation in that area will consist of skiers and more skiers. The 3 resorts in Park City are within 15 or 20 minutes of each other. This in itself would be a great trip.

However, you wouldn't experience 4 or 5 or 6 other mountains in the near vicnity that are nearly "must not miss" ski areas. Rule out Snowbird, though Mineral Basin on the backside would suit you well.....Rule in Alta. Above treeline skiing with world class scenery that will knock your socks off. Just what you are looking for. Crowds can be a problem but, it's a must. Stay on the groomers and you will be fine.

Check out Solitude. My one day at Solitude was probably my favorite ski day in over 25 years of skiing. Wide open groomers that will make you feel like a star. Really pretty there and in some spots you will get that feeling that you are in the big mountains. I think public transportation from Park City can get you to Alta and Solitude but, don't take my word for it.

Snowbasin is another mountain with world class scenery and skiing. Just a real fun place to ski. Getting there might be more of a challenge.

To put this in a nutshell....Stay in Park City and ski wherever the bus will take you. The people in Utah are the best. The food in Utah is great. Can't beat the skiing AND, you will sleep really well.

Enjoy and give us the report with pictures when you get back. DON'T for get your camera.

Here's one from Alta....
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