Trip out West
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David
September 3, 2007
Member since 06/28/2004 🔗
2,444 posts
The family is actually talking about making a trip out West this winter. This would be a first for all of us. I have read about most major resorts out West but still do not really know which one would be the best. Since it is our first trip I am looking for something to get the whole "skiing out west" feel. I am not an extreme skier looking for the most gnarly terrain possible, just something that is signifcantly better than what I am skiing here. I would like to go to Utah, but do not know which resorts would be the best choice to go to, seeing as how I have never been there and again am not looking for crazy terrain. Does anyone have any suggestions?? I am open for anything...
queenoftheslopes
September 3, 2007
Member since 11/15/2004 🔗
143 posts
I would go to Salt Lake City. You can stay in the burbs of SLC (Sandy or midvale) relatively inexpensively, and don't have to commit to one resort. THe past few years going to SLC for our ski vacation, we have just rented a standard car, and got along just fine. From a base in midvale or Sandy, you can check out all of the resorts in the area (Snowbird, Alta, Brighton and Solitude). My favorites are Alta and Solitude, and both have enough challenging terrain but plenty of other choices for intermediate and beginner skiers.

PLus, from that location, Park City is a mere 30 minutes away should you be interested in visiting some of the resorts up that way.
wojo
September 4, 2007
Member since 01/17/2005 🔗
312 posts
Depending on the numbers in the group, I think your biggest decision is destination resort and stay put -or- as queen of the slopes suggests, a car and choices.

My family loved Steamboat (destination) and it was reasonable, no car required. Did this with a group of 8. Everything was walking distance or free bus.

I did Salt Lake and hit both canyons on the ski bus with two kids who were troopers and had a great time. I loved Brighton. It had lots of terrain and felt like a family place.

Multiple I70 resorts in Denver are also do-able with a car or you can stay at one place for the week. My son and I loved Copper and Keystone (which we did staying at a Days Inn with a rental car).

I think the bigger the group the more you need to pick one place.
kwillg6
September 4, 2007
Member since 01/18/2005 🔗
2,031 posts
I asked the same question years ago and got some pretty good advice. Go to Summit County, the man said. We did and stayed in Frisco where it was just a short jaunt to Keystone, Brek, Copper, A-basin, Loveland, and just down the road, Vail. Shuttle busses run continuously, and there were plenty of eateries nearby. All those areas have a wide variety of terrain and my son learned to ski at Brek's peak 8 ski school.
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JimK - DCSki Columnist
September 4, 2007
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,723 posts
David, all the suggestions are good. Utah has better snow and is maybe a little less expensive, but I think the wow factor is a little higher in CO due to size of areas and scenery. Can't realy lose anywhere. Tahoe neat too.
However...it's a little harder to get to and a little more costly, but I think Aspen/Snowmass area is pretty spectacular.
Roger Z
September 4, 2007
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
I'd recommend going somewhere where you can stay slopeside and has good bus service, so no car required. That way everyone can get up and go on their own time. Steamboat might be a good idea- my family went there twice before we went anywhere else together. The snow is reliable, the terrain is a good mix for all levels (though nothing particularly gnarly), the bus system is excellent, the views of Flat Tops and Sleeping Giant are great.

For something a little more offbeat, you might want to think about Banff, particularly if you go in February or March so you'd avoid any chance of brutal weather. The scenery off of Lake Louise is spellbinding, though Sunshine is pretty spectacular too. Three resorts, a really neat and unique town experience in Banff and the people are friendly as hell. Snow can be a little spottier depending on the year up there.

Just some thoughts...
SkiBoarder
September 4, 2007
Member since 05/22/2006 🔗
44 posts
Park City area is a good location with the three resorts (Park City, Deer Valley, and The Canyons). You are also about 45 minutes from Solitude, Brighton, Alta, etc. The nice thing about Park City are the other activities beyond skiing. Of the three resorts there, the Canyons offers the best variety of skiing.
snowcone
September 4, 2007
Member since 09/27/2002 🔗
589 posts
SLC of course. Lots of less expensive lodgings if you stay a bit out of the 'resort' areas. if you rent a car you will have many options from the pricey Deer Valley to less expensive areas like Alta. Psst .. I know a really wonderful ski area for all levels ... Snowbasin [and Powder Mountain] the best kept secrets of UT.
Go west!
RobertW
September 4, 2007
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
All the suggestions so far are great. My 2 cents... For the person looking for a first time trip out west that doesn't want the Jackson Hole/Snowbird ultimate ski experience, Try Breckenridge or Keystone. You don't need a car and you can get great deals on condos if you don't want to all be packed into a hotel room. Breck has a great western town vibe with lots of good food. Keystone is more resort like but is very family friendly. If you want to go upscale you can't beat Vail for a first time trip. Walking through the town at night in mid-winter is a real experience for the first time visitor from the east and the terrain is vast and varied. Beaver Creek (just down the road) is still one of the top 3 places I have been with the family. Vail and the Beav can be very expensive but you can get great deals if you go in January or late spring.
Scott - DCSki Editor
September 5, 2007
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,139 posts
One caution about skiing out west -- the base elevation at some of the areas (particularly in Colorado) can be quite breathtaking. Literally. For example, the *base* elevation of Breckenridge (where you sleep) is 9,600 feet above sea level. That's high, if you're used to sea level! I have had friends that drove up to Breck right after flying into Denver and then had altitude sickness for several days. Winter Park is above 9,000 feet, and Vail is above 8,000 feet.

All of these are great ski areas, but you do have to watch out for the altitude and take it easy the first couple days. Particularly in the case of Breckenridge, it doesn't hurt to spend a night in Denver (adjusting to the "mile high" altitude) and then drive up to Breckenridge on the second day. All the usual advice applies: don't overdue, drink tons of water, try to avoid alcohol, and pay attention to how the altitude is affecting your body. This isn't something you have to worry about on the east coast, but it's something to be aware of for your first trip out west.

In terms of places to go, there are so many great options, but I'm particular to Colorado (maybe because that's my home state). Winter Park, Vail, Steamboat, Snowmass, Breckenridge/Summit County, Beaver Creek, Crested Butte -- all wonderful options and each with its own character. My overall favorite is Vail -- I could not tire of that resort. If I had to pick one place that would probably be my choice, although it is one of the more expensive options, especially if you want to stay right near the base.
kwillg6
September 5, 2007
Member since 01/18/2005 🔗
2,031 posts
Thanks for reminding me of the altitude thing, Scott. It doesn't bother me too much but it really affected the Mrs when we were in Frisco, CO on our first trip there. I have even seen it affect some folks in the NC mountain areas that are over 5000 feet and it has bothered some folks at the shoe, albeit rare.
Roger Z
September 5, 2007
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
If you are worried about altitude, UT is far preferable to CO. The UT resorts have summit elevations that are only 1000 or 1500 feet higher than many base elevations in CO (except for Solitude). You'll still notice it but it's not too hard to adjust to 6,800 feet (Park City).

You could also look further north. Altitude is a non-factor at any resort in BC, as well as most of MT and ID. Whistler doesn't get above 7,200 feet or so.

Another word of caution about high altitude: dehydration continues apace at night. I camped at 11,500 feet last week and both nights I had monstrous headaches from dehydration, even though I had drank my usual high-altitude intake of water and Gatorade at dinner. Be sure to keep a glass or two of water beside your bed (especially the first two or three nights) if you're sleeping at a place like Breckenridge. Based on experience last week, I'd advise against tylenol or ibuprofin- all it does is block the pain until several hours later, when your conditions have become far worse. The sooner you detect dehydration or altitude sickness, the better off you are.
crunchy
September 5, 2007
Member since 02/22/2007 🔗
596 posts
good point about the altitude. i know it effects alot of people sleeping the first few nights. ive read some things you can do to prep yourself for it tho like eat tons of carbs starting 3-4 days before your trip and taking lots of ginko. Thats why SLC is an all around win-win tho \:\) the base elevation of the resorts may be 8000' or more, but you can stay 25minutes away down the canyon in sandy or midvale, and for cheap! the airport is close and technically you dont need a car either since they have a good public transportation system that will take you to the slopes. personally i would want to have a car tho for the freedom factor \:\)
warren
September 5, 2007
Member since 07/31/2003 🔗
485 posts
Scott,
That's very good advice. I've gone to Summit County that last couple of years for the West-Coast trip. The variety of skiing available is excellent, there are decent lodging deals to be found etc but the altitude is something that has to be considered. I train for the season (Run, Bike, Lift, etc) but I STILL end up sucking wind big time on the hill-sides out there due to the altitude. \:o

-Warren-
fishnski
September 5, 2007
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Avoid Alcohol.....The only way we could get any sleep up there was to ..Drink Alcohol!..Soon as it would wear off it was back to tossing & turning & waking up every 15 min for that "Extra" breath"...Drink lots of water in the morn & during the day! I also took an aspiren once a day for a few days before getting to CO to help thin the blood...the Alcohol took care of the thinning once we got there!
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
September 5, 2007
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
As most have said, stay away from alcohol at high altitude. by the way, Salt Lake City is just a little above 4500 feet of altitude, so aclimation is much easier. My advice about the "where to go" in another post. So far, all posters have been "right on"!
By the way, when you are planning on going is a major consideration...early winter, over the Holidays, in the dead of winter - January, or in the spring?
The Colonel \:\)
David
September 5, 2007
Member since 06/28/2004 🔗
2,444 posts
 Originally Posted By: The Colonel

By the way, when you are planning on going is a major consideration...early winter, over the Holidays, in the dead of winter - January, or in the spring?
The Colonel \:\)


2nd week in March....
pagamony - DCSki Supporter
September 5, 2007
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
838 posts
Gee, wouldn't you like to frame this as a Go West vs. Snowshoe debate? I dunno, that could be a tough call.

I just wanted to add that in our experience, we have not had trouble with altitude sickness in summit county. That's not to say it won't happen, but I would not worry about it yet. I've never had a bad time there and there are so many options. Heck, A basin is going to have a new back bowl this year, got to check that out !

The other thing is I don't think you have to rush into it. Travel experts will tell you the best fares are generally 60 to 30 days before departure. Put some alerts on kayak and watch which flights fill up. If you have the luxury of picking an off week before spring break you will be much better off in every regard.

Chances are great that you're going to love it wherever you go.


ps: just make sure that 'west' is not followed by 'virginia' :-)
RobertW
September 6, 2007
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
Speaking of altitude sickness.... I took my first trip out west (Vail!) with my parents when I was a high school senior in March of 1974. Psyched by the Wayne Wong movie I had seen a few weeks before, I dragged my brother up to a short steep bump run called "Look Ma" above Mid Vail which we skied till exhaustion (bumps with no ice! What a concept!). By the morning of the third day I started feeling weak. By noon I was a basket case, barely making it down "Riva Ridge" and to my room at the old Vail Village Inn. Long story short, I had a case of the "2 exits, no waiting" flu. The only things I saw the next 3 days was the maid who spoke no English and looked extremely puzzled by my presence in the bed, the somewhat dirty ceiling of my room and my family's smiling faces at the end of each Powder and Sunshine day. My luck in Summit County/Vail Valley has been better since then. \:\)
tromano
September 6, 2007
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
I would say it depends on the group. I think the key factor is numbers. 2-4 people its usually cheaper and pretty easy to stay at a hotel and rent a car. With everyone in a single auto usually the logistics will not be too complicated. This also gives flexibility and you can try more than one resort area. A larger group is going to have more of an economy of scale on lodging while transportation costs and logistics problems will be more. For groups of more than 4 people it makes sense to look into renting a condo or house at a resort area. Also big groups benefit from the flexibility of infrastructure at a resort so you can move at your own pace and still be able to meet up with the group later.

I know about Utah so I would say if its a small group bound for UT I would stay in the SLC area. There are plenty of hotels and cheap lodging. Rent a car and try a few differnet ski areas. If its a larger group I would suggest staying in park city. You can ride a lift from downtown to PCMR and take a shuttle to Deer Valley or the Canyons. It also sounds like the terrain at thepark city ares would be right up your alley too.
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