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Never Been Skiing Out West -- Have lots of questions...

Never Been Skiing Out West -- Have lots of questions...

Old Dec 4th, 2001, 03:17 PM
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Never Been Skiing Out West -- Have lots of questions...

A group of our friends wouldlike to go skiing next December 2002/January 2003. I would love some advice from people that have been out there for skiing.

We would be a group of 4-6 all in our mid-twenties. Pretty athletic, but definitely not ski pros. My husband has been out west skiing a few times, but the rest of us haven't.

The trip would probably be 6 or 7 days. We'd be coming from Florida. We would probably like to ski every other day, but go sight seeing on the alternating days. We would also like to be close to some bars and nightlife.

As for cost, we do not want to go extremely low budget, but we don't want too spend too much. Want to find the best value for our money based on our interests.

Which of the following places would you recommend for us to go and why?

Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Big Sky, Montana
Park City,Utah
Any others?

Thank you so much in advance. I have no idea where to start researching this trip, and I think this will be a great start.
Old Dec 4th, 2001, 03:35 PM
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My suggestion for you would be Big Sky, Montana. On your "off" days, you could go to Yellowstone - rent snowmobiles to explore the area, etc. The park is very pretty in winter, with the hot springs, etc. West Yellowstone has a variety of accomodations. Other areas of Montana to consider would be Whitefish, or possibly Red Lodge. As for cost, I've been told by friends that it's been more reasonably priced than the trendy Colorado resorts. Hope this helps!
Old Dec 4th, 2001, 03:39 PM
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You might also want to add Tahoe to your list of options. That way you have the option of nightlife at the casinos for post-skiing. And if part of the group is too sore to ski one day, they have things to do. Tahoe also has a good variety for different levels of skiers.
Old Dec 4th, 2001, 03:43 PM
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Jackson Hole is good for that as well. You can ski 2 differnt area's and than take a snomobile tour into Yellowstone or to a hot springs.
Breckenridge is probably the cheepest place to go. They offer non-stop flights to Denver and you could ski 5 different mountains. The town is nice and nightlife is good.
Steamboat was OK, but got bored of the mountain after a week.
Never been to the rest...
Old Dec 4th, 2001, 04:04 PM
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Where have you skied before and how many times? It sounds like at least some of you should plan on spending at least half a day taking a lesson. IT will make a big difference in your enjoyment level. Skiing out West is much more challenging than other parts of the country.
Old Dec 4th, 2001, 04:24 PM
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There is a great book that I have called something like "The Unofficial Guide to Skiing in the Western US". It is fantastic and tells the truth - good and bad about the various ski resorts and towns. I picked it up at Barnes and Noble, but it is probably available through Amazon.
Old Dec 4th, 2001, 05:00 PM
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I have skied at all of your choices.
Here are my opinions:
Jackson Hole, great town, nightlife, a strong intermediate to expert mountain, although they do have some new beginner trails. Scenery is spectacular.

Big Sky-Nice area, not a whole lot of night life. Practically non-existant lift lines. You can do a snowmobile trip in Yellowstone. Shopping is not that great.

Steamboat-Great town, great area especially for beginners.

Breckenridge-Again, great town, great area.

Park City-Weird alcohol regulations otherwise, great area, great town, easy to get to. Good intermediate/beginner areas.

I would add, Lake Tahoe to the mix and Whistler, Canada. Lake Tahoe has some good shopping, different areas to choose from, casinos. You can probably get some pretty good deals flying into Reno.

Whistler-Is by far my favorite. Class place, great restaurants and nightlife. They have expanded the beginner areas. The area has the feel of a European resort.
Old Dec 4th, 2001, 05:27 PM
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A friend of mine told me that it was possible to ski Switzerland for approximately the same price of going out west, is this true? If so, what are some good places to go there?
Old Dec 4th, 2001, 06:54 PM
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Great advice! Thank you. It's definitely helped. I forgot about Tahoe as an option -- great idea. Will definitely add it to list of destinations to research. Sounds like Lake Tahoe, Big Sky and Jackson Hole may be great options. I'll start tracking flight prices to those destinations from Tampa, which is where we're from.

Will definitely pick up that "Unofficial Guide" you never really know which guide books are feeding you BS, but I appreciate your personal recommendation on that one specifically.

Of those three destinations, which would offer the most variety in accommodations, therefore better price options?

I do appreciate all the hellpful advice.
Old Dec 5th, 2001, 06:07 AM
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There are "screaming" deals to Europe! Go to "travelzoo.com" and check it out! Austria and Italy are probably the cheapest areas! Ask me, I go every year to a new European locale. Also check out the Europe Fodors site for more info
Old Dec 5th, 2001, 10:40 AM
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APC-With all due respect, re-read my post. Big Sky does not have much nightlife and shopping. Jackson Hole, while a great town-is a strong expert/intermediate mountain and the intermediate runs are hard if you have never skied out West before.

IMO, your best bets are: Steamboat, Breckenridge, Lake Tahoe, Whistler and last but not least Park City.
Old Dec 5th, 2001, 11:08 AM
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I might throw Vail in there because of its terrain. Beautiful slopes for beginners and intermediates. I also wouldn't downplay the idea that the mountain and skiing experience will be so beautiful you will want to ski every day. And the person who recommended lessons had it right on--take a full day lesson at least. It will get you so much. Vail can be done on a budget--just need to "shop".
Old Dec 5th, 2001, 11:47 AM
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My suggestion would be Whitefish, Montana. It is one of the oldest Ski hills in the USA and has runs for every type of skier. Friendly yet trendy small town. A bit on the expensive side but still worth the time. And, if you have access to a car, there are lovely drives within a close proximity to Whitefish.

If you had a car, you could travel from say, Kalispell or Columbia Falls which have cheaper accomodation but depending on what you like, I would go for whitefish over Big Sky. JMHO.
Old Dec 5th, 2001, 11:50 AM
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On another note, I see that someone recommended Whistler, BC. Since you are coming from the USA and given that our dollar in Canada is at an all time low, that is a wonderful ski area and it would be very inexpensive for someone using US$. There are other really good ski areas in BC. My personal favorite is Fernie. Not as developed as some but still a wonderful area with lots of powder and great snowboarding. And close to some more challenging hills such as Westcastle in Alberta and within driving distance of Kimberley etc. Just a thought.
Old Dec 5th, 2001, 01:19 PM
ski bunny
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my brother goes to jackson hole every year - they go for one week, but one day he and his friends hire a helicopter and ski untouched snow - an avalanche beacon and training is provided - if you are not that adventurous, you can stick to the groomed slopes - i have a friend who goes to whistler blackcomb and says it is amazing - and the previous post about the strength of the dollar is something to take into consideration for whistler
Old Dec 5th, 2001, 08:54 PM
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I've been skiing for 26 years and can tell you that the skiing is better in the Western U.S.A. then anywhere in the world Europe included.
The reason that it's inexpensive to ski in Europe is because they do not prepare the mountain at all, ie. no grooming and ski patrol is almost non-existent. You are on YOUR OWN! Beautiful scenery but I wouldn't ski there unless you are a very strong intermediate or advanced skier.
The last time I skied in Europe we skiied in Kitzbuhl Austria. The main run coming off the mountain was extremely icy & not marked in any way. They had a cut down the middle/length of the run for some reason, and there was a 3-4 foot drop off. A friend's edges slipped out from under him, he fell about 20 feet before flying off of this drop off and landed on his shoulder, dislocating it. There was no way you could even see the drop off because it wasn't marked with bamboo poles, hay bales or anything!!! This was the second day of our trip and he didn't ski the rest of the 2 week trip. It is like this everywhere!

Try Telluride. A little difficult to get to but a great western mining town with wonderful skiing.
I don't think you'll have a bad time at any of the resorts that you've mentioned.
Old Dec 5th, 2001, 09:36 PM
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I've been skiing in the West for 30 years and am a die hard who now lives in Park City. If you are coming from Florida, keep in mind the altitude. Floridians seem to suffer more than anyone. I think maybe it's a combination of such a big difference in altitude combined with the extreme dry air. Anyway - all things considered I would recommend either Whistler or Park City. Whistler for the fantastic variety of terrain, suitable for all levels of skiers and for their relatively low altitude. Their base is only about 2800 ft., which can mean rain at the bottom, but not at the top. If I remember correctly their top is about 10,000 something. Exchange rate is favorable, but Whistler's prices have grown with it's rep & it's not the bargain it once was. Park City area would be a great choice too again because of the terrain variety & number of ski resorts within a short drive. Very easy air access. All major resorts, Snowbird, Alta, Solitude, Deer Valley, Park City within 45 minutes of airport. Also would be interesting to see 2002 Olympic sites - you can even sign up for a bobsled ride - but book months in advance! Very fun town, great shopping and galleries. You can get all you want to drink in Utah -- it's not as wierd as people think. Jackson is the toughest mountain I've ever skied & I am an expert. Very fun town, great nightlife & shopping too, but very expensive shopping. Snowmobile tours INTO Yellowstone are banned after 2002, but you can take trips outside the Natl Park. Breckenridge is highest altitude of all. Also great location for everything, but you'll be puffing!
Old Dec 6th, 2001, 05:27 AM
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I can't speak for all of Europe, but Toni's comments above are not even close to true for the Jungfrau area (Grindelwald, Wengen, Murren) in Switzerland. We have skied there for three of the last four years and have found the pistes to be immaculately prepared and well-marked. The ambience, for us at least, is far better than any North American resort. It is true that you usually don't see any ski patrol - each run is "swept" by the patrol at the end of the day and the time they do that is posted. If you choose to ski after that, or off the marked runs, that's up to you. I have to say I find it refreshing to be treated like an adult, something you won't experience on this side of the pond. We live in Boston and with transportation costs included it's far cheaper for us to ski in Europe than out West.
Old Dec 6th, 2001, 12:38 PM
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Given your age, interests and abilities, I would definitely recommend Lake Tahoe or Vail. Lots of fun both on the slopes and off. Park City is better for families and the others have great skiing, but not as much to do as Lake Tahoe or Vail.
Old Dec 6th, 2001, 01:45 PM
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I think it depends on when you go to Park City. Don't go during school breaks . Park City is easy to get to, you fly into Salt Lake City. IMO, being able to fly into a place with relative ease is half the battle. Who wants to be on a plane or on a bus trying to get to the slopes? Not fun.

Tahoe has the casinos which are fun and they have good entertainment and shopping, plus Tahoe is easy to get to from Reno.

Telluride-Nice, expensive, hard to get to.

Vail-Is also expensive, but you may find package deals from Florida.

Good luck.

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