Steamboat vs Utah

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  1. #1

    Steamboat vs Utah

    Hey folks. Longtime lurker here looking for some Steamboat knowledge. Covid issues notwithstanding, I am hoping that a late winter/early spring is in the cards for me. Normally, I'm an SLC guy. It's easy, affordable, great mountains, great snow, etc. That said, I'm a Southwest Airlines guy and recent schedule changes have removed all but one BWI-SLC non stops. At the same time, Southwest has added Hayden as a seasonal destination. For me, it would require a stop in Denver, so, all things being equal, I now am required to deal with a connection.

    Steamboat has always been on my radar, but, the travel/location has always scared me off. This is no longer the case. Food, lodging, etc. I'm cool with managing. Is there anything mountain related that is super great or super not-so-great? I have read of the powder and trees, but, I can get that in spades in LCC, BCC, and Snowbasin.

    If it's a push, Steamboat would be the winner based solely on adding another area to my resume.



    Thanks in advance for any info.

  2. #2
    We took a trip there several years ago, and included Copper on the same visit since they are both IKON and spent 3 days at each.
    Being a Maine based skier I'd ROUGHLY compare Steamboat to Sunday River and Copper to Sugarloaf. Not in terms of vertical, etc. but Steamboat seemed more of a rolling hill versus Copper's jagged edges.
    We stayed in the base area at both places and walked to the lifts each morning. Steamboat gondola had the longest line as would be expected, but I think they have increased the cabin size since then (not that it matters right now with Covid). There were also other base lifts to get up the hill. Plenty of dining and apres options, but a trip down to the town is definitely part of the experience.
    As for comparisons to Utah resorts....Steamboat is probably closer to Deer Valley than any of the 4 resorts over the hill in the Cottonwood canyons.
    Ski Season is too short

  3. #3
    Depends on snow. They don’t get hit as hard as the cottonwoods of Utah. More in the 300” a year range.

    It’s got a ski town. Not as good as a Jackson or Park City but it’s a decent ski town. Spread out a bit more then others.

    Skiing is meh. Like dude said above. It’s a Deer Valley type terrain. Long cruisers. Not a ton of steep.

    Gets busy. That place with push 800k skier visits on a normal year. Who knows this winter.

  4. #4
    Steamboat is the Park City side of UTAH, for sure NOT the Snowbird/Alta side. Plenty of mellow cruisers and good overall terrain. The most outstanding thing are the trees over on the right side (looking up). One O'clock, Two O'clock, wonderful trees and you choose how tight you want them. Not a lot of pucker style terrain, but unless you're Hoji, you can have a really fun 2-3 days before getting tired of it

    The town is meh, with restaurants and bars congregated on the main drag. There's also the little town hill there, and maybe you are interested in ski jumping that they have there (!).

    If you haven't been before then it's high time. A very resonable area now that it's on the pass, and it seems to get better snow than the I-70 areas, much closer to Utah lightness. with enough entertaining runs to keep you busy.

    Edit - You say you're familiar with Snowbasin, so imagine a more mellow Snowbasin (sort of John Paul side but not quite as challenging) with really great trees.
    Last edited by big_vert; Sep 8, 2020 at 1:17 PM. Reason: Adding something
    12-13 Season
    Dec 10-? Whistles
    Jan 7-12 - SLC
    Feb 4-9 - SLC
    Mar 3-12 - Verbier
    April - Whistler
    Counting ski days at <1k berms:
    Life's too short to SKI THE EAST

  5. #5
    machski's Avatar
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    Steamboat will be better after the expansion of Pioneer Ridge off Pony Express. The area they are talking about has much better sustained steeps. With that said, Steamboat has a ton of terrain and a ton of trees. For an Eastern skier, you can keep finding untracked in the woods for days as the designated glades are usually wide western types, but plenty of tighter Eastern like lines that many in the west avoid. If it is dry and deep when you go, do watch for tree wells. Someone got killed by one the weekend I was out last February. Skied the same glade several times myself and never saw any evidence of well activity, but it only takes 1. Gondola was an absolute cluster F last year on the weekend, Saturday got there about 15 minutes before start, line was already wrapping around and outside Gondola Square. Sunday, got there about 45 mnutes ahead and had a much better spot. The new gondi still only seats 8 but the cars are literally stacked one right against the next and cadence through the terminal rather quickly. It does scoop up folks quite fast. There is also the Christie 6 out of the base that you then have to ski down to the Thunderhead HSQ to get to the Gondi summit. My normal day is once up to the gondi summit, I never ski back down to the actual base until days end. Steepest stuff is a short boot pack up to the actual summit, can do it from Storm Peak or Bar UE if it is running (a bit longer) or from Morningside (kind of the backside) which unloads closest to the top. Some good but short steeps and cliffs, the cost is a long and slightly uphill cat track out back to the rest. Pony Express is normally quieter side of the mountain but has some fun lines to hit with good vert and little runout. Fun hill, but I grow a bit tired of it after 3 or 4 days max. It is well North of I-70 but you can base there and hit the Aspens or Copper from there. Going to Copper will likely take you over Rabbit Ears pass, which can be very tricky in bad weather. The ride to Aspen is down 131, not as bad and some beautiful scenery on that drive. Worth a trip if you've never been. If you decide to add the Aspens, AJax itself if you've never been, Snowmass is very big and broad with a bit of everything though the steeps are short again. If you want real, sustained steeps, Aspen Highlands is your ticket. Deep Temerity is great for long steep lift served laps and you absolutely have to make the hike to Highland Bowl at least once.

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  6. #6
    Agree with the other posters comparing Steamboat to Park City and Sunday River. It's a good place for family skiing. Are you going alone? Are you staying for 3-4 days or a full week? Old trip report: http://www.dcski.com/articles/1330

  7. #7
    Just FYI if you are seriously considering Steamboat- better have an IKON:

    To our loyal Steamboat family,
    There are so many reasons we are looking forward to winter- being out in the fresh mountain air, the opportunity to connect with friends and family, a chance to return to the place we know so well. Therefore, we are incredibly excited to welcome skiers and riders back to Steamboat beginning Saturday, November 21, our scheduled Opening Day for the 2020/21 winter season.
    Earlier this week, you received an overview email from Rusty Gregory, chief executive officer of Alterra Mountain Company, addressing the company’s overall approach to the winter season at our family of resorts. In Steamboat, we know that taking vacations isn’t as simple as it used to be. We want to welcome you back this winter, knowing that we are prioritizing your safety and making operational changes so you can enjoy your time on the slopes worry-free.
    We have been working with industry partners from Alterra Mountain Company, National Ski Areas Association and Colorado Ski Country, USA to governmental agencies including the State of Colorado and our local Routt County authorities and health care experts, and our partners at UCHealth to determine best practices for operating during the era of COVID-19.
    We are preparing for the winter season based on current state and local guidelines. We recognize that as we move through the season, guidelines may change, and we will be ready to adapt as necessary. We will continue to require face coverings for guests and staff and follow common COVID-19 practices. Additionally, we wanted to share with you our plans for the Trail Forward with the following policies and procedures for the winter season:

    • Reservations for Ikon Pass, Ikon Base Pass, and Steamboat pass holders are not required at Steamboat, at this time.
    • Guests who pre-book packages through Steamboat Central Reservations, or approved travel partners, prior to November 2 will have access for the dates of their pre-booked package. Our Worry-Free vacation policy provides flexibility when booking your winter vacation.
    • To limit on-mountain capacity, especially during holiday and peak periods, we currently are not offering, and will be tightly regulating, stand-alone lift tickets and other products. Advanced purchase packages and season pass products are the only way to access the mountain at this time.
    • For pass holders and pre-booked packages, additional lift-line management (specific queue times) may be necessary during holiday and peak periods. If this is the case, guests will receive further instructions closer to, or during, the season.
    • Single and multi-day lift tickets not part of a package (stand-alone) are not available for sale at this time. Currently, lift tickets may only be purchased as part of a package through Steamboat Central Reservations.
    • Ragnar’s and Four Points night dining will not operate due to capacity limitations on transportation to these venues. Hazie’s and Haymaker will be open with modified night dining.
    • Lodges and restaurants will be reconfigured to allow more space between tables.
    • Expanded outdoor dining options will be available at Rendezvous Lodge.
    • Advanced reservations will be required for all night dining, as well as day dining at Ragnar’s, Hazie’s, Stoker and Timber & Torch.
    • We are exploring contactless ordering and payment systems for Steamboat restaurants. Information will be available later this fall.
    • Advanced reservations are required for ski and snowboard rental equipment with specific fitting times. Walk in rentals will not be available this winter. Reservations for equipment can be made as part of a package and booked now through Steamboat Central Reservations; details on how to reserve equipment fitting times will be available later this fall. Guests may also choose Steamboat Sports Delivery for rental fittings and delivery to certain locations, providing the most personal experience for receiving your equipment.
    • Advanced reservations for Snowsports School lessons are required. Private lesson class sizes will be limited to 5 students. Group lessons will be half-day sessions with a target of 5 students per instructor. Children ages 2.5 to 4 years old may participate in private lessons with a maximum of 2 students. Childcare and group lessons will not be available for children under 5.
    • Common COVID practices: We have all become accustomed to wearing facial coverings, socially distancing, practicing healthy hand washing/sanitizing, increased cleaning efforts at all high-touch points, etc. These practices will remain a priority for Steamboat Ski Resort staff and guests.

    We are all in this boat together. These winter protocols are a team effort and a shared responsibility. We expect our guests, staff and community to come together and follow our new procedures to allow the resort to operate and provide the memories we are all used to making in Steamboat.
    We invite all our guests, staff and community members to follow the Trail Forward and stay up-to-date on how to play at Steamboat Ski Resort this winter by frequently visiting our website dedicated to new procedures, policies, updates and operational changes. We recommend you bookmark the site and visit it often.
    We hope these, and future updates, provide you the confidence to make plans for a winter vacation. Our friendly and local Steamboat Central Reservations agents can help you plan your perfect winter getaway, while understanding the changes to winter operations at the resort. Agents are available to book every component of your trip including lift tickets, lodging, SnowSports school and air tickets (including our new Southwest Airlines flights).
    We look forward to hosting you in Steamboat this winter and thank you very much for being part of our Steamboat family.
    12-13 Season
    Dec 10-? Whistles
    Jan 7-12 - SLC
    Feb 4-9 - SLC
    Mar 3-12 - Verbier
    April - Whistler
    Counting ski days at <1k berms:
    Life's too short to SKI THE EAST

  8. #8
    Edd's Avatar
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    Lift tix at Steamboat are about as cost prohibitive as it gets. Nobody should be broken hearted.


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  9. #9
    thetrailboss's Avatar
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    I went to Steamboat last November. Though it was preseason, I really enjoyed it. The area is beautiful. Amazing hot springs. Neat downtown. Authentic locals and vibe. Agree with the comments about the terrain being cruisers--remember it was an ASC resort. The base area reminded me a little bit of Canyons with a big parking lot, gondola to the base, and plaza area. Unlike Canyons it is better laid out. And no, I did not see Billy Kidd. Yes, I did get a cowboy hat.

    Also be sure to spend a few hours at Howelsen Hill. It is small, inexpensive (it was FREE the day I went) but is the oldest continuously operating ski area in Colorado IIRC. Good pitch and fast runs. Neat locals place. Great views.

    No idea what is going on for this season here in terms of capacity. I talked to a Snowbird insider and he told me something ridiculous like them capping capacity at 1,000 skiers/riders a day. I told him that they had better get the word out soon or else people will be really pissed that they can't go. Normally there can be as many as 4,000+ at Snowbird on a busy day.
    Live, Ski, or Die!


  10. #10
    machski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thetrailboss View Post
    Agree with the comments about the terrain being cruisers--remember it was an ASC resort.
    Get over the ASC thing, that has nothing to do with the layout of the mountain. That was there long before ASC came into to the picture. The Gondola too. Now, the base village/Gondola square, that has a lot to do with ASC and where they focused their money on during their limited run with Steamboat.

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