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Choosing a Ski Resort

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Jul 6th, 2013, 07:09 AM
  #1
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Choosing a Ski Resort

I am hoping to plan a skiing trip out west for 6-8 adults. I've been trying to read as much as possible but find that I'm more confused than ever! Hopefully you can all help!

We'd probably all be considered beginners as I've never even been skiing and everyone else in the group has been just to small places in the midwest--nothing like out west. My husband has snowboarded at Winter Park once before.

My husband wants to snowboard and I've read some places (Breckenridge) aren't as great for beginner/intermediate snowboarding because they flatten out. Cost-wise, it seems that the major resorts near Denver is that Vail and Beaver Creek are the most expensive. Are Copper Mtn. and Steamboat more/less than Breckenridge in general? Are there others we should consider? I think Aspen is definitely too far. We don't need tons of non-skiing activities because we are only going to be there for 3 days, 4 nights...so just a few good places to eat dinner. I'm a little nervous about altitude sickness, but it looks like Steamboat is the only one that is a little lower elevation.

I am interested in Utah because of the short distance from the airport to the resorts, but it looks like you can't snowboard at Alta or Deer Valley, and my impression of the Canyons is that it's very confusing and maybe hard to navigate for beginners. What about Park City? I'm a little nervous making the drive from Denver to the resorts above, so the shorter drive from SLC would be a bonus. Would Park City keep us busy enough for 3 days without having to go to the Canyons or Deer Valley?

Right now I'm leaning toward Copper Mtn (low cost, good set up for beginners) or Steamboat (can possibly fly directly to Hayden). Any input/help/advice is greatly, greatly appreciated!!
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Jul 6th, 2013, 07:50 AM
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Copper could be very good. For beginners, just sign everyone up for lessons and have at it. You might stay at Frisco for skiing at Copper--about 10 minutes, and parking is not hard. Or you might find something on the mountain.
Aspen mountain would be out of your comfort zone.
As beginners, believe me, you won't not be "busy" learning how to keep skis together and tush off the snow if boarding!!
The drive from Denver to say, Frisco/Copper is an hour and a half on an interstate. It is not difficult at all.
For altitude, you'll have to drink LOTS and LOTS of water, take some aspirin (maybe), and acclimate/take it easy the first day.
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Jul 6th, 2013, 08:47 AM
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I also think that you needn't worry about terrain "flattening out" for beginners--or navigating the canyons, etc. Colorado is a great learning experience for beginning skiiers to advance quickly, but lessons are the only way to do that. Instructors will take you to the slope of your ability, and not beyond--which is where injuries happen. you will be amazed at progress with lessons, no matter your level, including expert.
We have skied Snowbird, and I do think the terrain is steeper/different from CO. Don't be deterred by what you think is distance to the slopes from an airport.
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Jul 6th, 2013, 08:52 AM
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Since you can fly directly to Hayden, I think Steamboat would be a good choice. The lower altitude is definitely a plus, especially for a short trip. It's a mountain we really like, and the town (a short drive from the ski hill) is a real town--it wasn't built just to accommodate tourists.

Park City will have plenty to keep beginners happy for 3 days; you can take a chair lift right from town to the hill.

I'd consider where you can fly non-stop to avoid the chance of missed connections due to bad weather; we've had that problem flying from the Midwest to ski towns.

Re: the altitude: I agree with the suggestions of LOTS of water. We do take an aspirin every morning and every evening to thin the blood and improve oxygenation. We don't drink alcohol or caffeine for the first 48 hours in a mountain town. It is my understanding that the difficulty with altitude is its dehydrating effect; the dehydrating effects of alcohol and caffeine compound that.
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Jul 6th, 2013, 09:48 AM
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Thank you so much for the advice! Keep it coming!!
It is more costly to fly to Steamboat but it might be worth not having to rent a car or shuttle from Denver.
Does anyone know if Steamboat has long runs? I've read that sometimes the lower elevation can result in shorter runs that mean you're riding the lifts all day...thoughts? I'm guessing we will all take classes the first day so perhaps my husband will be on the intermediate slopes during this trip yet? Thanks again!
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Jul 6th, 2013, 10:34 AM
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Not that you want to ride lifts a lot, but if they are high speed, it makes a huge difference. I believe Steamboat has high speed chairlifts. I don't specifically remember the runs being short.

Steamboat is a great area, pricey but a ton of fun.

Utah and Steamboat are both good for altitude issues. Utah is a bit cheaper because it is easier to get to and there is more competition. You can often buy discounted lift tickets at ski shops or grocery stores.

Summit county in Colorado also has great skiing, but altitude can be an issue. More water, less alcohol.

We stayed right at the base of Copper mountain (we could swing by our deck and grab refreshments out of the cooler) and included with the cost of our condo was a 4 day $79.00 lift ticket deal for all occupents. It was an easy walk to the super b high speed 6 person lift. They also had fireworks one night.
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Jul 6th, 2013, 03:01 PM
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Copper is a great value--always discount tickets. They hosted the Snowboarding "championships" while we were there.
PLEASE do not be concerned about the length of runs ANY where in Colorado or the west. You will have more terrain than your lungs and legs can handle!! I also hope you will take more than one day of lessons, or at least half days or something more than just a toe in the water. ;o) It makes it SO much more interesting and rewarding.
For the number of people you are projecting, I would rent two cars at Denver and go to Frisco/Copper.
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Jul 6th, 2013, 03:02 PM
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When is this? Where are you coming from?
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Jul 6th, 2013, 03:06 PM
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I certainly qualify as a beginner, having been skiing only once. We took advise here on Fodors and went to Copper Mt. We rented a condo in center village and the whole experience (save the altitude sickness) was good. Easy to get to from Denver. Smaller in scale makes it seem more user friendly. Hubby had two days of lesson and then enjoyed the slopes.

Got the condo on VRBO. Best advice was to stop at a grocery before the resort and get water, drinks, maybe breakfast stuff, snacks, etc.

I will always remember the snow falling while we were inside with the fireplace burning/
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Jul 6th, 2013, 03:46 PM
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Keystone might be perfect for your needs:
http://www.keystoneresort.com/ski-an...-explorer.aspx
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Jul 6th, 2013, 04:01 PM
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You have not indicated your time frame or age of participants which is equally important.
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Jul 6th, 2013, 07:09 PM
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We are thinking of going in February. This seemed like a good time to go before the spring break crowds, but we are definitely open to suggestions. Some people are traveling from Indiana, some from Ohio. The group will range from 20-55 years of age.

We are definitely fine with drinking lots of water and laying off the alcohol, but it seems like for some people that's not enough... I'm fine with the drive from Denver in good weather...it's the bad weather that worries me. I know I've come across Keystone but admit I haven't looked into in depth--will do that. I think I may have read it's not great for snowboarding because of the flatting out stuff, but I will look back at it. Despite what Gretchen said above, it seems like that may be more of an issue for beginners/intermediate vs. advanced snowboarders, but I could be wrong. As I said, I've never even been skiing!

It didn't seem like Steamboat was much more expensive than Copper but maybe a lot of that is in the food and stuff. What's the best recommendation in Utah? Would it be Park City Resort?

Thank you again everyone for all of your help!
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Jul 6th, 2013, 08:55 PM
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While I like skiing at both Keystone and Copper, I wouldn't stay at either one again. They're just a string of condo complexes, which doesn't appeal to me. Breckenridge has a town.

We've also had good luck finding condos on vrbo; we've also used flipkey.

My only advice in timing a February trip would be to avoid Presidents' weekend--the crowds can be awful.
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Jul 6th, 2013, 09:04 PM
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I would recommend the Park City/Canyons area. As you said, close to SLC airport, both great areas for beginners. Lots of condos to choose from - cheaper in the Kimball Junction area such as Newpark or Redstone. Try vrbo or similar. You could drive or take free shuttle to slopes and town. The town of Park City is cute with lots of shops and restaurants, great walking. Altitude much easier to deal with than CO areas. Agree you should avoid the mobs during President's Day week wherever you decide - crowded and more expensive.
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Jul 7th, 2013, 05:59 AM
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To me Keystone is even more limited than Copper--it is only the resort and is a bit of a drive from the highway to get to it.
I will also mention that Copper has kept their food prices on the mountain within some reason for a "captive" audience at lunch.
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Jul 7th, 2013, 06:31 PM
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We will definitely avoid President's weekend. So I have an odd (and probably funny to people who are from that area) question. Are avalanches more of a concern in Utah vs. CO? I read someone saying about how the road to their ski resort in Utah was closed for several days due to an avalanche, so I was just wondering...

Thanks again everyone!
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Jul 7th, 2013, 07:44 PM
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You are citing a lot of misinformation (IMO). What has been your primary source. There is nothing flat about Breckenridge or any of the Colorado ski areas. I ski Park City every year with friends who live there but it is my least favorite ski area in the West. It does have a lot of flat areas or gully skiing. Runs are very short and even with high speed chairs you can spend a lot time wait and riding chairs.

Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper are all major ski resorts along with Vail and Beaver Creek.

For what you have described Copper Mountain would be a good fit. Access is very easy of I-70 and less than two hours from the airport. Unless the weather is bad, and that risk is the same for Utah or Colorado, it is an easy drive.

For a beginner, Copper has the best ski separation of any ski resort. As you look at the mountain the easier, green slope are all to your right, immediate in the middle, and tough stuff to the left. With a couple of exceptions, you can ski without a map and not worry about stumbling into higher rate slopes by accident. Copper has an absolutely huge terrain park for boarders. Copper's base is smaller with fewer restaurants options but you are about 20 miles from Vail and less than 15 to Breckenridge. Breck and Copper or Frisco in between is more reasonable price wise. The ski school at Copper is excellent but so are most of the other places.

If Copper doesn't work for you then I would push Breckenridge. It is a much bigger area but as beginners you really cannot enjoy the greater variety offered by the bigger areas since you are not going to get off the green slopes. Being a beginning skier is exhausting.

Avalanches are not a problem along I-70 but can be a problem for Winter Park.
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Jul 8th, 2013, 05:22 AM
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What good complete advice from someone who really has been there.
We skied Snowbird and I was really amazed at the notices all around to be alert for avalanche report/warnings. Apparently a very common/real concern.
Flattening out in Colorado is just not anything I've seen in the several places we have skied--all of Summit County's areas.
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Jul 8th, 2013, 06:40 AM
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Snowbird is a great little ski area but it access is through a fairly narrow route. Far better ski area than Park City but it is mostly for day skiers from SLC. I could see where avalanches could be a problem getting to Snowbird.

Not sure what she means by the constant reference to "flattening out."
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Jul 8th, 2013, 07:14 AM
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Forgot altitude sickness. It is very unpredictable. You can go to altitude four times and be fine. But laid low on the fifth trip. You can treat the problems - headache, etc., but prevention is a mystery other than staying well hydrated. You adjusted about 1000 feet/day so you will not adjust too much in three or four days coming from the Midwest. Most normal, health people do not have problems other than a slight headache. We, who live here, have about 20% more white corpuscles than flat landers.

Mid February is a good time. Days are getting a little longer, should be a little warmer, and housing prices are better because February other than presidents weekend is slow. AND even better if you can arrange to be here mid week and not the weekend. There will be no lines anywhere in mid week.
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