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Colorado: Favorite (or least favorite) places to ski

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Mar 11th, 2012, 02:52 PM
  #1
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Colorado: Favorite (or least favorite) places to ski

We just got back from a great ski trip - our first time skiing in Colorado. We'd definitely like to visit again, and would like to know where are your favorite - or least favorite - areas are to ski in Colorado. Here was our experience. We are a family of 4: my husband and sons are very good; younger son is snowboarder. I am an intermediate.

We stayed in Frisco, which was centrally located for everything we did.

Breckenridge - I love the Main Street area of Breckenridge, and its historic vibe. For skiing, we liked it - lots of variety. I skiied my first West coast black diamond here! (I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks!) I loved area 7 with the long cruiser blue trails. There were NO crowds - we never waited in a lift line all day.

Vail - my husband and son thought the back bowls were incredible and an incredible skiing experience. I skied the blue trails in one of the small bowls and really loved that.

What we didn't like here - the price (no discounts and $25(!) to park. The lower area near the Lionshead gondala sort of freaked me out - the beginner trails that feed into the lower area are narrow and there's too much traffic - toward the end of the day it felt unsafe to me with some beginners trying to make their wide turns, and faster, more talented snowboarders whizzing by on a trail that wasn't wide. It was kind of crowded with (short) lift lines all day.

Copper - we all loved it here. My son is a snowboarder and the terrain park here is the best designed one that we've seen. Not only were there lots of ramps/rails - but it was so wide which, IMO greatly increases the safety factor. We were able to ski along side him without worrying about snowboarders flying off ramps near us.

I liked the design of Copper - the mountain is divided into beginner terrain on the right, intermediate in the middle and expert on the left. There was also few trail crossings (i.e. a beginner trail transversing an expert slope). There were long runs and it was just a great experience for us all.

I'd like to hear opinions on where else is good. We'd like a place with varied terrain, that doesn't get icy. (I rode the lift at Breckenridge with a family that started the day in Beaver Creek. They said it was very icy so they left and came to Breckenridge, and thought the snow was "softer" (their words)). I was surprised how many people said they liked Keystone b/c that really hadn't been on our radar.
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Mar 19th, 2012, 03:29 PM
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I know there has got to be some skiers here....

For our next trip (whenver that might be), we were thinking: Keystone, Copper, Breckenridge. Coincidentally, I just read yesterday that these 3 ski resorts are the highest elevation in the US (not sure if that includes Alaska). We were careful to drink lots of water our first day, but I read that many Colorado skiers are affected by the altitude.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 07:52 AM
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I think it is hard for people to answer the question, because there are so many great ski areas that suit different tastes. Terrain, amenities, setting, prices, etc.

We like Winter Park. Lots of people overlook it. Berthoud Pass may be intimidating to some drivers. Others might want a more glitzy apres-ski life. We like WP because its open setting is so gorgeous. I think WP is more a low-key place that locals appreciate. Awesome ski terrain, too!
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Mar 20th, 2012, 08:33 AM
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This is my 50th year of skiing now living in Denver. Learned at Loveland when there were only three ski areas - Winter park, Breckenridge and Loveland. I have skied most of the west. If I was skiing for the last time tomorrow it would be Snowmass (Aspen). As a front range skier, of the three, Breckenridge is my favorite but only by a small margin in part because of access for day skiers. Beaver Creek is high when I can stay over at BC. As you pointed out, Copper has the best natural separate of skiers. IMO you cannot go wrong with any of the Summit County ski areas.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 08:52 AM
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Hey - you are overlooking the great A-Basin - Arapahoe Basin -which had the highest lift before Breckenridge? added one to just outdo them. Back in the day (also 50 years ago fmp) some classmates of mine at Regis would come into the cafeteria in the am - dressed in ski clothes, have breakfast and then take off to ski Loveland - and be back in time for dinner.

I have yet to find a place I didn't like skiing in Colorado and when right - you can't beat the back bowls at Vail - although we once had a 100 inches of great powder when staying at Aspen.

I put Colorado right up there alongside Utah as my favorite places to ski in the West (for powder)- and they are are also the easiest resorts to usually get to.

Now Whistler/Blackhomb up in BC can be great at times, but it's lower and sometimes gets wetter snow - and the powder at Alta/Snowbird outside of Salt Lake City - can't be beat - except for Grand Targhee in Wyoming. However, we consider GT the wonderful Sun Valley, Idaho bonus (we drove over one day), unless you get up to huge Jackson Hole, Wyo - which takes more work.

And perhaps the easiest of all to get to - for having the most accommodations - is the Park City/Deer Valley area outside of Salt Lake - where you can land and be in your room about 45 minutes later. Same with Alta and Snowbird but they don't have as many lodging choices - apres ski activities.

Hey - with good snow - they are all great.

And here in Cal - Mammoth Mountain can be a match for anywhere - and you have several good choices around Lake Tahoe - including Squaw Valley to the north and Heavenly Valley on the south shore. And my home state of Oregon has Mt. Bachelor and seveal good places by Mt. Hood, and up in Wash St - a "hidden" gem is Crystal Mtn - by Mt. Ranier.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 09:15 AM
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I agree that you really can't go wrong with any of the big name resorts in Colorado. Each have their pros and cons and unique characteristics, but in the end all offer great skiing.
Telluride, Aspen/Snowmass and Vail/Beaver Creek are definitely the high end options. Aspen area also has some of the best expert terrain in Colorado and a very nice town. Telluride is the most scenic, and remote - never any crowds there, but it can be hard to get to.

Steamboat is also on the more remote side, but a great mountain, cool town and more budget friendly.

Breckenridge is actually my least favorite of the group, but mostly because i usually ski weekends, and the crowds there drive me crazy. Winter Park is probably my favorite of the resorts closest to denver. It's off the beaten track a bit, you avoid tunnel traffic, and it doesn't seem to get as crowded as Breck. it's also probably the cheapest of the "big" resorts.

I would also recommend Park City in Utah. Easy to get to, great town surrounded with three excellent resorts, and several more great mountains nearby.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 10:24 AM
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Hey karens! How was the trip? Trip report!
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Mar 20th, 2012, 11:34 AM
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My family has a place in Crested Butte so that's of course where we always go. I love Crested Butte the town and the ski mountain. The skiing is great, challenging but the groomed runs are fantastic. The mountain is out of the way so it's never that busy. The people are super friendly and happy. There's great restaurants in town, and it's even better in the summer when the wildflowers are in bloom.

For the past couple of years, my friends and I have been making a concerted effort to go ski other ski resorts.
We've skied, Heavenly, Northstar, Jackson Hole, Park City, Deer Valley, the Canyons and this year they went to Whistler but I couldn't go. If you are true blue run groomer skier, then I think Deer Valley is the place to go with no snow boarders. I liked the skiing at the Canyons and the orange bubble rocks, but my feet start to hurt in my boots, and so I basically need footrests on the ski lifts and the rest of the lifts at the Canyons are so old they don't have any. Other than that I really liked it, and that was last year so I imagine it's even better this year.

Sun Valley and Mammoth are on the potential lists but Sun Valley is extremely hard to get to from where we fly from. And next year maybe Europe, It's a milestone birthday year, and I keep saying that it's the year to go skiing in Europe. I've always wanted to do that at least once in my life.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 02:27 PM
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Amen to skiing Europe. Have been to ski resorts there in the summer (in France, Switzerland and Austria) - but not as fortunate as a buddy of mine to have skied all over the Alps - and he said it was super.
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Mar 21st, 2012, 01:16 PM
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Hi all. Starrs, we had a great trip. Other than skiing (one day each in Breck, Copper and Vail), we didn't do much. (Even my sons were tired at night).

On the way, we stopped to explore Georgetown (which is tiny) and at night we walked around Breckenridge's Main Street (love it there) and a little bit around Frisco's main street area (although much of it was closed while we were there). I also made us stop at the Silverthorne Outlets to get some more chocolate from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. And that is our trip. Short, but fun!

I love Colorado - we have been to several ski resorts in Colorado in the summer: we have mountain biked at Breck and Keystone; rode the alpine slides at Winter Park, Breckenridge and Purgatory; rode the gondola at Telluride and rode mountain digglers (scooters) downhill at Copper. This was our first time skiing there.
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Oct 10th, 2012, 06:00 PM
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Thanks for the thread. DS#1 is teaching in Denver and we are going to visit at the end of October. He says ski resorts will be open for business by then. Breckinridge, Aspen and Winter Park sound like good bets near Denver.
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Oct 10th, 2012, 06:13 PM
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Near Denver, we like Winter Park, Copper, Keystone (although we've often had icy conditions there), Breckenridge, Vail & Beaver Creek (rarely crowded, even on holiday weekends). ASpen is significantly father away, I believe.
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Oct 11th, 2012, 11:06 AM
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My least favorite would be Keystone(I do like the tubing there though). Have to admit, we are not that great of skiers and really don't like it in the first place.
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Oct 11th, 2012, 12:00 PM
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I hope you aren't counting on skiing in october. Must places will not open until the weekend before Thanksgiving or thanksgiving weekend.
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Oct 11th, 2012, 12:13 PM
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Good point william. DS#1 may be rushing the season.

SORTED BY OPENING DAY:

Mid October, 2012 Loveland, Arapahoe Basin
November 2, 2012 Wolf Creek, Copper Mountain
November 14, 2012 Winter Park
November 16, 2012 Eldora
November 21, 2012 Steamboat, Monarch, Crested Butte
November 22, 2012 Telluride, Aspen Mtn., Snowmass, Ski Cooper
November 23, 2012 Purgatory
December 1, 2012 Silverton, Howelsen
December 5, 2012 Echo Mountain
December 7, 2012 Sunlight
December 8, 2012 Aspen Highlands
December 12, 2012 Ski Granby Ranch
December 13, 2012 Powderhorn
December 15, 2012 Buttermilk
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