Just booked train/air to Whitefish for the first week in March (we actually arrive in February). R/T flight to Seattle, then R/T train to Whitefish (from Seattle), complete with "Superliner Roomette". Travel costs were cheaper than airfare to Whitefish, and not much worse than airfare to other places. When you consider that the train serves as a hotel of sorts (overnight stay), and meals are included with the sleeper accomodations, it's not bad at all.
Admittedly, it helps to think of the train as a "destination," rather than merely a mode of travel, but it should be good.
I also found a ski-in/ski-out condo via VRBO for ~$100/night. Couple that with $56 lift tickets, and we've got the makings of a great trip on a fairly lean budget.
I'm super-excited about the skiing, but almost just as excited about the trip, and the chance to see a small town like Whitefish before it's completely overrrun by developers.
Anyone here skied Whitefish (nee "Big Mountain") before? Anyone done Amtrak's "Empire Builder" route?
That's a long way to go to ski. How long will you stay?
I've looked at VRBO a couple of times, but haven't used them yet.
Some years ago, we did the sleeper from DC, left at 10:00 PM to Boston, arrived at 8:00 AM for business. It was much cheaper than hotel rooms and airfare.
We fly out of here on Friday, the 26th, stay with friends in Seattle that night, and catch the train from Seattle on Saturday afternoon. We get in at 7:30 Sunday morning. We can't check in until 3 PM, so we'll probably putter around the town until then, but if they happen to get a dump that night, we'll definitely scrap that and ski on Sunday. Otherwise, ski M-F, maybe taking one day off to go snowshoe in Glacier or something. If conditions are no good (it *is* a little late in the season), we'll do more snowshoeing.
Going back, we catch the train headed west at 9:30 or something, after a full day of skiing + dinner. Overnight on the train, meet with the same friends, hit some bars(and in Seattle, that's always worthwhile!), then catch JetBlue flying home overnight.
It should be at least 5 days on the snow, 5 nights in the condo, plus 2 nights on the train, 1 with friends. It's a lot to cram into a week, but I've been dying to get to Whitefish. I'll probably go back to see Glacier NP in the summer at some point, but this will do for now. (If I go again, I'll take the train from Chicago or MSP, instead).
I used VRBO once before to get a 3 BR townhouse in Vail for less than $1000 for the week. Great price, great place (we were there with friends, so it worked out to less than $250/person, and we had a private hot tub, a kitchen, 2 bathrooms, etc). I know VRBO is likely to be a crap shoot, based on who you're dealing with, but my one experience so far gave me confidence to go for round 2, anyway!
I have used VRBO twice in Colorado in the couple of years and had good luck. They weren't top-end, but were nice for the price.
I've used VRBO on a number of occasions, including two years ago for Christmas in Eden, UT. We rented a brand new super plush 8 bedroom house. We were the first renters the house ever had. The ones I've rented through VRBO, were also listed and managed by an outside property management company, but the Owner handled the transaction and if you hand any problems you'd call the Mgt. Co.
Scooter - Sounds like your trip going to be a blast. How long of a train ride is it?
I have skied Whitefish (now known as Big Mountain) several times. It's incredible, and has everything you will look for.
Easy, steeps, chutes, glades, trees, powder, long runs, super vertical, etc...
The backcountry available from Big Mountain is remarkable.
The number of tele skiers really surprised me.
The place is so welcoming! Enjoy.
I flew into Spokane and caught the night train to Whitefish skied there for two weeks, caught the night train back to Sandpoint - skied there for two more weeks then caught the night train again back to Spokane and flew out the next day.
Wonderful skiing at Big Mountain, but beware of the snow ghosts!
I have used VRBO alot and can say that I have never been disappointed. Whitefish is a gorgeous community in the summer, super friendly people, it must be great in the winter too. Rusty might have the right idea, see if you can work in one or two more ski areas. Except for the travel time, that sounds like a great off the beaten path ski trip - Have fun!
Whitefish is really great. You're going to have a fun time. Only rode there one day, but remember that the backside had some great gladed runs. Check out the Great Northern Bar if you're up for some Montana nightlife.
Traveling by train is amazing. The best part of the route is right outside of Seattle -- hopefully you'll be able to catch some of the scenery before it gets too late. It's one of the best routes.