Asking for advice on rental car for ski trip in UT
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SeaRide
February 18, 2004
Member since 03/11/2004
237 posts

I need help with deciding on which type of vehicle to rent for one week at Utah. I will be staying at Salt Lake City (SLC) and will ski on different mtns nearby during one week (FEB 23 - MAR 01) There will be five of us. I am looking at either mini-van or 4x4 medium size suv like cherokee, explorer, and blazer. Should I go for a 4x4 vehicle or front wheel drive mini-van?
What's the road condition on most hwy out of SLC?
JohnL
February 18, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
What mountains are you skiing and what is your tolerance/experience with winter driving?
SeaRide
February 18, 2004
Member since 03/11/2004
237 posts
We will try to go for the mountains like Park City Resort, The Canyons, Solitude/Brighton, and Snowbird.

I have drove:
- rear WD & front WD cars around Rochester/Buffalo/Syracuse NY during winter
- farm tractors (with & without tire chains)
- 4x4 SUVs and 4x4 pickup trucks (sand,mud,snow) in MD/VA/WV/PA/NY
- 2WD pickup (with tire chains) in MD/VA/WV
- drove many of my partner's bass fishing rigs up the snowy/icy ramps.

Last time I rented a 4x4 Suburban, it was at Lake Tahoe for one week back in March 2002.

JohnL - Hope this helps answer your questions.

JohnL
February 18, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
SeaRide,

Didn't mean to diss your winter driving skills. "Rochester/Buffalo/Syracuse NY during winter" was all I needed to hear. Given the winter-driving skills of the majority of DC-area drivers, I have to be a bit careful in my response.

You'll get some better answers from those on this board who used to live in Utah or now live in Utah. I'll give you some input in case they don't respond in time.

The road up to Park City/The Canyons is a major interstate and I've always found it to be well-plowed. There is a serious climb, but no switchbacks. Alta/Snowbird is probably the most serious drive of the bunch, but it is a shorter drive. If the roads are really bad to Alta/Snowbird, you can stop and park at one of the several shuttle bus stops you'll find on the way up to the mountains. Same for Solitude/Brighton.

I would say a standard mini-van would be adequate. If the cost differential is not excessive, go for an SUV as added driving insurance.

I'm going to SLC this weekend and I'll be skiing Snowbasin/Powder and Alta/Snowbird. It's a bare-bones trip snuck in last second; I'm renting a compact car. In the event of major snow, I'll get up to the mountains one way or another...

[This message has been edited by JohnL (edited 02-18-2004).]

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JohnL
February 18, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
UTA link:

http://www.utabus.com/

JimK - DCSki Columnist
February 18, 2004
Member since 01/14/2004
2,645 posts
Concur with everything JohnL said. Minivan should suffice and transport your gang of 5 nicely. Having said that, they are having a great snow year. So big SUV, though probably not necessary, might be nice if price is close to van. Would stay away from bus. Glad to hear WP took advantage of it. But I've heard they sometimes have delays. Also, because you have five, that will break down cost of rental to almost bus fee level, with a lot more travel freedom.
tommo
February 18, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004
303 posts
A mini-van is usually ideal. I lived in SLC over two winters and have gone back several times a year since and have never had a problem using any type of car. On several occassions I was "upgraded" to a Caprice or Crown Vic which are big, rear wheel drive cars, and even with pretty heavy snowfall, had no problems in the Cottonwoods or I-80. (They are actually pretty nice ski mobiles in UT and with todays shorter skis, you can just put 'em in the trunk!) The reality is that it snows about the same amount in Salt Lake proper as in Washington, but the snow is much drier and tends to go away quickly. I-80 to Park City is pretty much always in good shape except during or immediately following a storm. All ski areas keep the parking lots well plowed and the roads are usually fully snow free within 24 hours or so.

The Cottonwood canyon roads are usually no particular problem either; Your biggest problem in a good snow year like this will be that, if they have a dump after a week or two of mild weather, portions of the road will be closed for avalanche control. And, if you hit a snowy week, they will want you to have snow tires. They also have message signs saying that chains are required that get turned on occassionally, but I've never seen it enforced. As mentioned by John,et al, if you want to go up the canyon on a day like that, just park in lot at the base of the road (the lot for Big Cottonwood is right by the light at Wasatch Blvd; for Little Cottonwood, it's on the left side just as you enter the canyon proper.) Disclaimer: I have never taken the bus - we always drive. But in theory it looks like a good idea. (On a somwhat related note, if you have a day that is REALLY dumping, you probably will have a very, very hard time skiing in the Cottonwoods because visability will near zero. If you go up on a day like that, Brighton has the most tree lined trails which will be the most doable. But you'd probably be better off at Canyons, Park City or even Deer Valley if there's a blizzard.)

You can also get to Snowbasin fine now that the Trappers Loop highway and new Snowbasin connector road is open. The only area that often requires 4wD is Powder Mtn. The road is STEEP and less well maintained. You can hit it several days after any snow and, without 4wd, you may or may not get up. And then, of course, you need to come back down as well....

I hope you enjoy your trip - I'm going to be there as well on the 26th - 28th.... Hopefully it will dump towards the beginning of the week!

[This message has been edited by tommo (edited 02-18-2004).]

KevR
February 18, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
I will be there 28th-6th!!!

also with a minivan.. $500 smackers including the various taxes and fees and all sort of stuff. Hertz i think.

any suggestions on cheaper?

JohnL
February 18, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Tommo,

If it's a powder day (or just after), what's the best non-4wd way to get to Powder Mountain? Is the road up to Wolf Creek for the shuttle not too bad? Do you have to be staying at Wolf Creek to take the shuttle? Or are there any unofficial hitch-hiking spots where 4wd cars pick up stranded powder-hungry skiers?

If I'm staying just off 12th St. in Ogden, is the quickest way to Snowbasin using 1) the 12th St. to 39 (past Powder) to 167 to access road or 2) I-15 South, to 84, to 167, to access road?

Thanks in advance.

tommo
February 18, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004
303 posts
Hertz is big $$ in SLC for some reason. This trip, I've got a mid size from Alamo for something like $35 a day. They have joint lot with National, I think, and you can pick your car. If you need racks, either rent them for $7 a day or just buy some cheap ones at Gart's and chuck em. This trip I'll only have three of us in the car, so we don't need anything large and we'll just put the skis inside....

You'll love UT - if you've never been their, I highly recommend the "small" areas. You'll save lots of money and the skiing is as good (better, really) than at the high cost "resorts". Also, hit Smiths and Dan's grocery stores for discount tickets. (There's a Smith's just north of North Temple at about 6th north, 12th West and a convienent Dan's on Foothill/Wasatch about 1 mile north of I-80)

tommo
February 18, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004
303 posts
JohnL -

Wow, everyone's goin' to UTAH - COOL! Sounds like you're staying in downtown Ogden - great place..... I would take Ogden Canyon to either Snowbasin or Powder Mtn. For SB, whether it's snowy or not, go past the old road to Snowbasin towards Huntsville, turn right on Trappers Loop, and then take the new road in. That would be much easier, if nothing else, than looping all the way south to the interstate and much prettier as well.

For Powder Mtn, the road is very good up and a bit past Wolf Creek. I suspect you could park there in the Golf Course lot and catch a shuttle up, but I've never done that myself. There are also some places a bit further up the road where you could attempt to hitch a ride, but that's a bit sketchy (there's just not a whole lot of people going up there except on the weekends!) Personally, I'd go to Snowbasin until the road is OK to PM instead of futzing around with hitching. I mean, how wrong can you go with 2500 empty acres, 30 feet of snow, 3000' vertical, 2 gondolas, and the most flat out insane downhill course on the continent (that they let you ski at whatever speed you've got nerve for)? Then head up to Powder a couple days later....when it will still have untracked snow....

Have a GREAT trip...tm Oh yeah, and try eating at Gray Cliffs lodge on the north side of the Ogden Canyon road. Two trout, fresh out of the river, with salad, sides, desert, etc... for about $12. Nice people - great place and one of the best deals around.

[This message has been edited by tommo (edited 02-18-2004).]

(Anonymous)
February 18, 2004
KevR, alamo website gave me $405 for your situation. Did you try travelocity?
Crush
February 18, 2004
Member since 03/21/2004
995 posts
Hi Since I live in Park CIty I can give you some idea ... Things have been very light snowfall-wise lately ... since Jan 1 we have had only little 4-6 inchers.... I-80 and 224 into Park City have always been well maintained... in fact I never needed my 4x4 mode even when it snowed over three feet in a day, except once in a parking lot (but never on the road). The roads are very very well maintained (good plowing and salting).. but ....
If you are going into the Big or Little Cottonwood canyons (Snowbird, Alta, Solitude, Brighton) you just might be required to have 4x4 to get in on a bad day.... can't say what will happen weather-wise, but I feel by instinct that we are going to get a big dump around the time you visit .... just what my bones say.

See ya!

(Anonymous)
February 19, 2004
You could always take UTA the days you go to Alta/ Snowbird/ Brighton/ Solitude... we did that while we were out there. Very cheap, and would save you a few days of having the rental car.
KevR
February 19, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
Hertz came back with ~390 for the week i think, then with taxes and various fees, they estimated $500 total. I did look at expedia but they didnt actually say the exact size of the vehicle and my experience in the past is you don't know exactly what you are getting until you get there sort of thing and the price might be something else again once everything is added up. it's quite the racket really. ALSO lazy bum that I am, I wanted to pick up/drop off right in airport... maybe I'll poke around a bit and see what else i can come up with.

anyway, SANDY/Mid-vale, that's where we are staying...

There's always UTA!

Lietmotiv
February 19, 2004
Member since 12/31/2001
113 posts
Regarding where to rent a vehicle when going to SLC shoot me an email magnus@xnegenx.com and I'll give you the name of a local rental place that only rents 4x4's and has ski racks on all vehicles. Also, they rent you the actual vehicle. Not a "class" of vehicle.

They will also come pick you up at the airport. They charge rates comperable to what you'll get everywhere else but like I said you know exactly what vehicle you'll have waiting for you when you get there.

I would post the name of the company here but I want them to remain relatively unknown so when I go up there next time they'll have some vehicles in stock.

SeaRide
February 19, 2004
Member since 03/11/2004
237 posts
Wow thanks guys!!

I got a rental minivan for 375.00 for the week thru Alamo (using alamo rate code and alamo promo code combined thru southwest airline).

I will be in SLC area FEB 23 thru March 1st. I will fly in on Monday before Noon, drive to park city to get free lift with proof of the flight ticket. ( parkcityinfo.com QuickStart promo thing)
Again on Wednesday before noon, I will pick up my son from the airport and drive to Park City for free lift ticket for my son.
Again on Thursday before noon, I will pick up a friend from the airport, and then drive to park city.
That's one reason for renting the minivan as my schedule doesn't really allow me to use the UTA on most days. The UTA schedule seem to be limit on SAT and SUN from the Wyndham hotel/Best Western Plaza hotel area near the temple in SLC.
But again thanks guys! See ya if I see ya!

KevR
February 25, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
After looking at our location in SLC and the fact that we are right next to a UTA stop... we decided to CANCEL the vehicle and go public transit.

If after 2-3 days we simply cannot stand this set up, we'll rent a car...

So that's $500 savings (Hertz '7' person mini-van) minus the $5 bus fees... whatever they come out to be.

(Anonymous)
February 26, 2004
The UTA system is awesome... I wish the bus system here in Blacksburg, VA went to every major resort in the region .

The only thing you will miss with UTA is Park City (which, depending on your opinion of the resorts there, isn't missing much).

Any bus that goes to Alta, Solitude, Brighton, Snowbird [my personal fav], or Alta gets an A+ in my book. Not to mention the ride up is awesome, and it is really nice being on a bus with other riders (good pre-resort atmosphere).

KevR
February 26, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
Cool, I hope we don't rent a car. I have been traveling alot last 3-4 yrs for work and pleasure and I have found a rental is just an additional expense and hassle. I much prefer to NOT have one while on travel if the regional transit is "good enough". Sometimes you have to have a car of course, not denying that or anything. one of the persons on this trip WILL NOT go to park or deer, so alta, 'bird, brighton & solitude are it pretty much. Never been myself, would try them all once, but any of the above are fine by me.
snowbird
February 28, 2004
Member since 02/28/2004
51 posts
if you are gonig to utah you dont need to rent a car. stay in a motel close to the bus line and ride the bus up. if you are in midvale you can ride the 98 bus up to snowbird and alta and the 92 bus to brighton and utah. take a shared van ride from the airport to the motel ( i would recommed express) and stay pretty close to the trax station. you can ride the bus to the mtn and the trax into town. dont waste your money on a rental car or going to one of the super crowded resorts ie park city mtn. way over rated. utah trips can be had for around 700 to 800 ( depeding on what you get your airfare for) including airfare for about 5 days out there.
my motel pick would be the best western executive inn midvale utah. right across from the 7200s park and ride. thats a trax station stop and ski bus stop. it runs about 59 a night. motel 6 is right around the corner and is 36 a night.
KevR
February 28, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
That's the plan and the bus stop is 100 ft away, a little bench on which to sit and a baja fresh to look at nearby.

(Anonymous)
February 29, 2004
Hey Snowbird --

I stay in that best western everytime I am in Utah.

The only problem is the crappy location in relation to food, etc...

There is also a residence in across the street, which I believe has cheaper rates per week... but I can never remember the name when I book trips :-\.

(Anonymous)
February 29, 2004
I used Sidestep (searches travel web sites for web rates as well as published rates; download the plug-in search engine from sidestep.com) last week to quickly compare several of the car rental companies at SLC, and grab an economy car from Enterprise for about $18/day. I considered the bus option, but with four of us going Mar. 26-30, a car is convenient and almost as cheap.

So with a car booked (ie. not having to worry about being on a bus line), I used Priceline and www.biddingfortravel.com (a forum that compiles results from Priceline purchases, so you know what you might get) to get $30/room/night at the Homestead Studio Suites - a 2-star hotel with kitchenettes in the Valley area of Salt Lake - only 23 miles from Snowbird.

Also, you can get discount lift tickets from Canyon Sports (www.canyonsports.com), and, a free ticket at Park City with a same-day airline boarding pass and the coupon from

http://www.parkcityinfo.com/skiing/quickstart/qstart-form.htm?src=7910

We're taking off from BWI on the Southwest non-stop at 8:25am, and plan to be skiing _for free_ at Park City by 1pm.

snowbird
March 1, 2004
Member since 02/28/2004
51 posts
wp employee. i think you might be staying at the best western in sandy. the one in midvale has a days inn right across the street and a budget motel or something like that is right next door. if you stay at the one in midvale you walk across the street hop on uta trax and ride that bad boy right into salt lake city. you can go to crossroads plaza galvalin center or any of the many other places in downtown slc. there are tons and tons of resturants within walking distance of trax stops. if im not mistaken and i can reconfirm this for you when i get back form utah on the 13th there is even an outback steak house which is in murray. thats like the 3 or 4th stop after midvale.
and
asdf,
trust me you want to ride the bus. if you rent a car and they put up chain or four wheel drive restrictions you wont be getting up the mtn. and when that happens you usually have to park your car at either the LCC or BCC park and ride and its very crowded and you end up having to stand on the bus up to the resort not to mention having to pay the fare. just dont rent a car and ride the bus. no hastle dont have to worry about anything but what bus you wanna catch the 98 or 92 and what time you wanna catch it at. ive been to utah many of times and never had to rent a car.
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