Breckenridge or Lake Tahoe?

Old Sep 17th, 2010, 12:25 PM
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Breckenridge or Lake Tahoe?

My partner and I are going snowboarding in January for 2 weeks and we are debating whether to go to Tahoe or Breckenridge. Has anyone been to both? We are keen snowboarders and my partner in particular wants a good park. We are also looking for powder. All help greatly welcomed. We will be heading over from London so don't want to make the wrong decision.
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Old Sep 17th, 2010, 02:00 PM
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I've been to both, but I don't board so I can't help with the quality of the parks, although all the ski areas have them now (except those that don't allow snowboarders at all, but there are few of those left). Just writing to say, in general, Tahoe (California) skiing is not of the deep powder variety -- it's mostly packed powder. So If deep powder is your partner's preference, then you'll probably have to go to Breck.
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Old Sep 17th, 2010, 02:08 PM
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We've been to both multiple times, but ski, so I haven't paid attention to the terrain parks.

We have found that Breckenridge is drier, so more likely to get powder. It's also significantly higher, and the altitude is more of an issue, if that bothers you.

Both areas have several ski resorts within 45 minutes.
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Old Sep 17th, 2010, 03:32 PM
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Vail?
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Old Sep 17th, 2010, 05:07 PM
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Haven't been to Lake Tahoe, but the altitude really bothered me when we were in Breckenridge.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 05:14 AM
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Thanks so much for your responses. I think Lake Tahoe has won. Gretchen, what made you suggest Vail? We ruled it out a while ago but I can't remember why now. Is it worth us reconsidering?
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 05:15 AM
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Why are thinking of staying in Heavenly in Tahoe. Good choice?
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 05:54 AM
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I don't remember seeing any places to stay at Heavenly.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 07:31 AM
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The two areas are quite different (I am skier, not snowboarder).

S. Lake Tahoe has casinos, small town, and ski resort. A great view of the lake from up high. You can drive around the lake to other ski resorts. I am not familiar with other winter season activities in the area. (We usually go skiing for 2-5 days. I can't imagine a 2-week trip at one destination, but that is my bias.) You can stay in S Lake Tahoe and drive or take shuttle to Heavenly.
The closest airports with large numbers of flights are Reno and Sacramento. San Francisco area airports are another option, but longer drive, but would give you an option of some other activities at beginning/end of trip.
The highways to Lake Tahoe may require tire chains during storms. Sometimes the highways close.
I'm not sure of average snow conditions in January--been too long since we lived in California.

Breckenridge is higher elevation. The area does usually get powder. I think a larger resort. A large Western town with restaurants, shops, etc. Also other ski resorts within drive/shuttle range. Off-slope activities in the area include ice skating, tubing, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, etc.
Many people fly into Denver, then drive or take a shuttle, though it is a long drive. The interstate seem to me to close less often than in California. January should have decent snow, maybe lots, depending on the weather pattern.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 07:32 AM
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Temperatures--
I think (it felt to me) that it is often colder at Breckenridge in January--whether the elevation or the geographic location, I'm not sure. But I have had to really bundle up to keep from freezing sometimes in January in Colorado.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 08:30 AM
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From Breckenridge you can also hit Vail, Beaver Creek, Copper, Keystone and Arapahoe. I think you will have a better chance for good snow in Colorado than California. Weather is wildly unpredictable, though. Last year Lake Tahoe had a ton of snow.

You can look into a Summit Pass, which will cover most of those mountains. Skiing is awfully expensive!

The drive to Tahoe from the west can be a bear, because they require chains be put on all 2WD vehicles and trucks, so that can really slow things down. If you go there, it is probably better to fly into Reno, Nevada, which is about 45 minutes from north Tahoe, on good roads.

Flying into Denver might be an easier and cheaper option, and a safer bet for powder.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 10:20 AM
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>>

Small, but not quaint or charming town. Breckenridge has much much more "old west" charm than S. Lake Tahoe (which has none).

As for Heavenly lodging, there is plenty of lodging, but not right on/at the mountain -- for the most part, you can't walk from your lodging to the ski lift. You stay down at lake level and take either a gondola (from between the two Marriotts (Timber Lodge and Grand Residences) or shuttle or drive to the mountain (there's probably a public bus too).

The views from the top of Heavenly are, well, heavenly -- really really jaw-dropping spectacular.

BTW, there's a skating rink at the Marriotts, too, and I imagine there's tubing etc. on the mountain (I'm sure if you check their website you can find this out).

>>

That's absolutely true, however, I've driven from Denver to Breckenridge and I wouldn't want to be doing it in bad weather!

If you want to go to Tahoe and have more of a ski village ambiance, where you don't need your car during the day, I'd recommend either Northstar or Squaw Valley. Both have extensive villages with shops, restaurants and lodging right at the lifts. The towns are nearby but you have to drive to them (Tahoe City is nearer to Squaw, also not charming, Truckee is nearer to Northstar, and does have more of that "old west" feel).

If you want nighttime entertainment, South Lake Tahoe is probably your best bet.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 01:17 PM
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You are right that Denver to Breckenridge can be treacherous driving, too. But I will go out on a limb here and say that Coloradans know how to drive in the snow, and they own vehicles which can handle it. Plus, chain stops are not a factor. I-70 is a four-lane highway all the way.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 03:28 PM
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Without question Breckenridge would offer superior terrain and snow conditions especially powder. The snow around Tahoe tends to be wetter and therefore heavier. There is a reason it is called Sierra concrete. And snow amounts can be much more variable. The terrain park at Breckenridge is huge and has it's own chair lift. They make a major attempt to attract boarders and to partly separate for the skiers. Not sure why the drive to Breckenridge is called treacherous. It is not -- can be challenging and slow but it is four lane, divided highway all the way except for the last ten miles. The last ten miles is flat so that is not a problem. It is well maintained even in bad weather. However, do avoid returning to Denver on a Sunday afternoon.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 04:05 PM
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Fmpden, you missed the point that the weather causes treacherous conditions.
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Old Sep 20th, 2010, 07:56 AM
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No I didn't miss the point. I just think treacherous is a strong word and conveys the wrong meaning. Some mountain roads and older passes like Loveland can indeed be treacherous in heavy snow because sharp curves, drop offs, and steep roads. I-70 is straight with a few gentle curves and same for Hwy 9 going into Breckenridge.
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Old Sep 20th, 2010, 08:53 AM
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Some roads are worse than others, but driving in snow and ice is still horrible, especially if you have no experience doing it.
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Old Sep 20th, 2010, 08:59 AM
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Some weather forecasts are predicting La Nina conditions this winter which could mean drier weather than normal with a reduced snow pack in the Sierra.

http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_16036259

If you guys are coming for two weeks, you might want to go to Colorado where there is a greater variety of snowboard parks and higher elevations.

Here's a list of top terrain parks in the US:

http://www.mountainyahoos.com/TopTen...Mountains.html

However, our snowboarding nephew insists that the best snowboarding is not in the US, it's at Whistler in BC.
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Old Sep 20th, 2010, 09:04 AM
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Sierra Cement - though "concrete" is the correct term it's not the one that is used.

Sierra snow is water leaden and therefore far heavier than the powder in CO. Though January is reliable for snow and pretty decent conditions, anyone who is accustomed to powder will be surprised by how heavy and icy the snow in the sierra is.
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Old Sep 20th, 2010, 09:09 AM
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I beg to differ. "Treacherous" does describe the approaches to the Eisenhower tunnel in a blizzard. Doesn't matter that the road is straight, it is a significant incline.

And then there is Floyd Hill. Just sayin' after many years of driving in Colorado.
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