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Help with a 'Western' trip/destination

dmh

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Hello, first time poster, long time lurker. I was hoping to get some input from the experienced folks on this forum. I have never skied outside of New England and finally want to do so the last week in January. I need help in deciding what would be the best destination based on the following criteria:

Me and my 19 year old son, me advanced intermediate, my son intermediate
Ikon Base and Indy Pass holders
Last week in January
Destination possibilities, CO or UT
4 days of skiing

Having never ventured outside of New England, I'm a bit overwhelmed by the choices. I can fly direct to DEN or SLC and cost is similar.
Some questions I'm trying to figure out:
If Utah, stay in SLC and hit Snowbird, Solitude, and/or Powder Mountain, or stay closer to one of the mountains?
If CO, which Ikon mountain would be best, Winter Park, ABasin, Copper, or do we do Steamboat.

Based on what I've researched, maybe Steamboat would be the only destination where I could do without a car, but it also introduces a connecting flight.

The ultimate goal is to enjoy a great western ski experience with my son with the least amount of hassle.

Thanks in advance.
Dave
 

jimmywilson69

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Based on you both being in the "intermediate" category I would recommend Steamboat. Great Town, Great Skiing especially for your abilities. Can absolutely do it without a car. Connecting flight is short to Steamboat.

I've never skied in UTAH :( so I can't comment.
 

ThatGuy

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Steamboat is easy to get to, no I-70 bs and has a lot of blue level terrain. Personally Id go Utah since they’re having a record season and SLC has public transport to LCC.
 

dmh

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Thanks for the quick updates. To clarify, we both frequently ski 'expert' terrain, I just wouldn't classify us as experts where we rip down moguls or jump into thick glades.
 

KustyTheKlown

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Personally I think not having your own car guarantees a hellish experience no matter where you go. Did slc > Alta/bird once without a car. I wouldn’t do it again. Especially with the bus issues this year.

It is always worth renting a proper 4wd vehicle preferably with snow tires. Turo.
 

ThatGuy

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Second Turo, cheapest rentals with lots of options.
I also would never want to go anywhere relying on public transportation, too many variables.

I think you should do Utah. More options close by and with the Indy you could do Powder Mountain for a day, just remember you need to reserve there 5+ days in advance.
 

big_vert

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If you're only going for 4 days then Utah is a no-brainer, as you fly right in, and ae surrounded by 10 choices.

If you stay direct in Park City, then you can get by without a car, as you have Deer Valley right there as long as you're only going Ikon. You would be making a MASSIVE mistake in not going to Snowbird, and Snowbasin. Forget PowMow, compared to the others, it's barely meh - flat with old, slow lifts.

If CO, then you have a long drive on I-70, or if Steamboat, unless you stay right on the hill, you'll need a car or have to take transport. I really like Steamboat, but I have a two-day max there, or else I get bored. If you like trees, then you might get more time out of it - their trees are great.

Short answer - Go to UT, rent a car, Go to Snowbird, Snowbasin and Deer Valley, and have the time of your life. I stay at a hotel right at the intersection of I215 and 80, so I can decide where to go in a 20 minute ride in the morning.
 

abc

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Second Steamboat as a first choice. Good terrain and easy access, connecting flight not withstanding. Only drawback for an easterner’s first trip out west… it’s not very “western“ like, missing the big open bowls. And if it hasn’t snowed for a while, it may feel like “why am I bothering to come out here to ski the same as back home”. But barring the worst condition, the snow is soft and the glades are fun and ego-boosting. You would want to go back year after year!

2nd choice Utah. Solitude is a good ”intermediate” mountain, with spicier options. Brighton in the running too. Rent a car. Doesn’t have to be an SUV. It’s useful for going out to eat. Then you have the option to drive up on good weather days. Take the bus when it’s snowing.

The trouble with flying into Denver is I-70… You NEED a car to get to the resorts. And the drive is unpredictable. So you may need to rent an SUV, added cost and added stress. Copper and Winter Park are good resorts for high intermediates. A-basin probably not quite as much.
 
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abc

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If you're only going for 4 days then Utah is a no-brainer, as you fly right in, and ae surrounded by 10 choices.

If you stay direct in Park City, then you can get by without a car, as you have Deer Valley right there as long as you're only going Ikon. You would be making a MASSIVE mistake in not going to Snowbird, and Snowbasin. Forget PowMow, compared to the others, it's barely meh.

If CO, then you have a long drive on I-70, or if Steamboat, unless you stay right on the hill, you'll need a car or have to take transport. I really like Steamboat, but I have a two-day max there, or else I get bored. If you like tree, then you might get more time out of it - their trees are great.

Short answer - Go to UT, rent a car, Go to Snowbird, Snowbasin and Deer Valley, and have the time of your life. I stay at a hotel right at the intersection of I215 and 80, so I can decide where to go in a 20 minute ride in the morning.
You didn’t read before you reply!

Park City, Deer Valley and Snowbasin are NOT part of the OP’s passes.

Useless post
 
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Tonyr

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On a good snow day getting up to Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, or Solitude from SLC will be a disaster. It's not that it isn't doable but it will be very painful if snow conditions at the resorts are good. For the level of skiers you are I'd stay on the Park City side and ski Deer Valley. The parking situation there is very easy. Even if you park in the very back lot they have shuttles that stop to pick you up every few minutes. You can also take the bus to the resort. As far as CO goes, Winter Park, Copper, and Steamboat are all good options, they all feel very similar with Steamboat being my favorite due to it's cool town. If your looking for the easiest experience possible without being ski on ski off, stay on the Park City side then ski Deer Valley daily is my recommendation.
 

Tonyr

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On a good snow day getting up to Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, or Solitude from SLC will be a disaster. It's not that it isn't doable but it will be very painful if snow conditions at the resorts are good. For the level of skiers you are I'd stay on the Park City side and ski Deer Valley. The parking situation there is very easy. Even if you park in the very back lot they have shuttles that stop to pick you up every few minutes. You can also take the bus to the resort. As far as CO goes, Winter Park, Copper, and Steamboat are all good options, they all feel very similar with Steamboat being my favorite due to it's cool town. If your looking for the easiest experience possible without being ski on ski off, stay on the Park City side then ski Deer Valley daily is my recommendation.
Just noticed you have the base Ikon pass, so DV won't work. Steamboat is where you should be looking then.....
 

x10003q

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My bother and his family are in Steamboat right now and the snow conditions are perfect. He flew into Yampa Valley Airport direct and took the shuttle to the resort. Steamboat has received over 200" of snow already. They are staying slope side without a car. Steamboat is an excellent choice for your situation.
 

jaytrem

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I say go to Schweitzer and avoid the crowds. Can hit Silver too with Indy. Flying to Spokane won't be direct though.
 

jimk

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I guess I'd agree with the suggestions for Steamboat. But I also agree with @abc that it's not the most scenically majestic western location, not that it's bad, just no huge jagged gnarly mtns nearby. Looks more like Killington on steroids. Here's a few comments:
1. Steamboat lots of intermediate terrain, doable without car via paid shuttle from yampa airport, then free shuttle at resort area, relatively low elevation that's easy on visitors from the flatlands, fun town with legit ranching and ski history. @x10003q is correct that Steamboat is having a good early season too.
2. fly into denver and drive rental car to copper, stay slopeside if you have the coin, otherwise look for a motel in Frisco/Silverthorne area and ride free shuttle to Copper each day (or drive your rental car), if ambitious you could drive 1:15 hrs over to Winter Park one day, both have impressive rocky mountain scenery and good intermediate-advanced terrain. You may feel some adverse effects from the altitude staying in this part of CO.
3. fly to slc and get rental car, unfortunately my top recommendation (scenery and terrain) for intermediates in Utah would be Alta, but it's not on Ikon base pass. But there are numerous fairly cheap motels 20 minutes down valley from Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton. I'd ski one day at each and return to your fav on 4th day. Sleeping in the valley at elev ~4500 keeps adverse effects from altitutde to a minimum.
 

abc

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Oh I forgot about the sleeping at altitude part.

Given the hassle of transport from airport to resort (though you can use the Rocky Mountain shuttle), it’s not the best fit for the OP.

The skiing in Copper and Winter Park is a good fit. But so does Solitude and Brighton in Utah, The latter without the hassle and altitude.

Personally? If I didn’t have a base in Silverthrone to crash in, I’d go to Utah every time. (In fact that’s what I had been doing for quite many years until I landed with a crash pad in Colorado)
 
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thetrailboss

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Steamboat is easy to get to, no I-70 bs and has a lot of blue level terrain. Personally Id go Utah since they’re having a record season and SLC has public transport to LCC.
I like Steamboat BUT the airport is a ways out of town and the town is a short distance from the mountain but bussable. I’d be hesitant saying go there and be car-less. It can be done but it requires some work.

I’m in SLC. Resorts are easy to get to from SLC.
Buses are an option but they cut a route this year due to a lack of drivers.
 

crank

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We've been everywhere man...

Steamboat is good, perfect for intermediates and advanced but the entire mountain has a certain sameness to it and as said earlier it lacks distinguishing features like rocky peaks, etc. We did not get a car but ubered to condo from airport and we found the bus system OK. You can get anywhere but it took about an hour each way going out to dinner or grocery store and there were almost no delivery options.

UT you will be driving unless you want to spend to stay up at Snowbird. Might be reasonable accomodations in Iron Blossam?

Jimk is also a very well travelled skier and I like his suggestion of Copper. Although the altitude is pretty high up there if that might be a concern.

Re. Pow Mow. It's a nice option in UT although not really steep and old lifts there is none of the "feeding frenzy" of locals scarfing up all the untracked snow. We have Ikons and are possibly going to SLC in Feb. If we do we will buy tix and ski a day at Powder.

Thinking about it though... were I you looking for a great western trip that will blow your minds you and your 19-year old should hit Alta/Bird. Perfect for a 4-day trip! Don't know where you're coming from, but if NYC you can ski all day, grab a leisurely dinner and fly home an a red eye.
 

abc

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I like Steamboat BUT the airport is a ways out of town and the town is a short distance from the mountain but bussable. I’d be hesitant saying go there and be car-less. It can be done but it requires some work.
The “work” is in finding a lodging on the bus route!

I usually drive up there from Summit county. But, once there, the car is not really needed. Yes, I used it to go to the hot spring and for dinner. But to ski, I use the bus instead. And dinner can be done by bus just fine if I don’t have a car with me.
 
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