Vail, Aspen, or Park City?

Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 05:47 PM
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Vail, Aspen, or Park City?

Rather than the normal "warm island" escape from Boston in February, my wife and I are considering a ski vacation out west. Having only been there once before (in the summer), I am not very familar with the advantages and disadvantages of various resort towns. I put Vail and Aspen, CO, and Park City, UT, out there mostly because those are the ones we hear people telling us about or visiting most often.

We would like to visit a spot where our room or condo is at our very near the skking itself, or the mountain base. Slopeside lodging would be great, but not mandatory. Basically, we want a nice room, but the closer the better. I will definitely ski while we are there.

My wife will do some skiing but also wants to visit a place where we can get out and enjoy other things.... shopping, dining, sightseeing, other winter activities. Also, with a chance of her being pregnant in February, skiing may be off her list entirely so having alternatives to enjoy is a big, big plus.

I am thinking the drive from the nearest major airport could be a factor, too. If there are two similar towns, but one is much closer or an easier route to Denver or Salt Lake City, that can be a factor.

For those who know these ski destinations or have been... what is your advice? Is one clearly better for skiing in February? Is one clearly a more vibrant town with more to do?

Also, feel free to suggest something else! I hear a lot about Aspen and Vail in CO and Park City in UT, but if there is a completely different ski resort/town that you think offers what we are looking for, toss it into the ring! I am all ears!

Thanjks so much!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 09:04 PM
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Park City is only 45 minutes from the SLC airport, so if you can fly to SLC non-stop, the travel would be easiest. There are three ski areas within 15 minutes of each other--Park City, Deer Valley, and the Canyons. If you want your wife to be able to poke around PC while you ski, stay near the Town Lift, which will get you to Park City for skiing. From the DT Transit Center, you can easily get a bus to Deer Valley or the Canyons.

Vail is the largest ski area in the USA; it's about a two hour drive from the Denver airport. I think the Eagle sirort is about 30 min utes from Vail. Vail has a pretty big village for the non-skier.

In the Aspen area, there are four ski areas: Aspen Mountain (aka Ajax) is in town, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Samowmass are within 15 minutes of each other. Snowmass is large, the others are small. Aspen is a nice town to explore. The Aspen airport is quite small, but is only 20 minutes from town.

We like them all.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 09:04 PM
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While Aspen is a great town and used to be an old mining town, the ski area right in town is more advanced skiing. It has many shops and restaurants. Snowmass, near Aspen, has good intermediate skiing and slopeside lodging but is a distance from the town itself. You would have to fly directly into Aspen because the mt rd is closed in the winter and the longer way around would be difficult driving too. It's a small airport which closes more frequently due to winter storms than Denver or Salt Lake City.

Vail has great skiing for all abilities, walk to the lift lodging and is a resort"town" that was built specifically for the ski area. It can be a difficult drive from Denver in a storm but is otherwise beautiful, taking about 2 hrs if I recall, although someone may correct me on that. You can also fly into Vail/Eagle which is closer and an easier drive but doesn't have as many choices of flts and rental cars as Denver.

Park City is an old mining town that has become quite affluent. The "Old Town" area has lots of atmosphere. The very upscale resort of Deer Valley is there too. Other ski areas in the town are Park City Resort and The Canyons. All have trails for all abilities. My personal favorite is Deer Valley. The town has many restaurants and shops, cross country trails and free shuttle bus service to everywhere. Many people don't rent cars there. All the ski areas have slopeside lodging. It is only 45 min from Salt Lake airport.

In all of these towns, of course, slopeside lodging is the most expensive and all lodging is rather pricey. You could get a package through your airline for hotel, lift tickets, equipment rental, car or any combo of the above. Or, you could get a pkg through your hotel exclusive of airfare. There are many condos for rent also which you can check out on sites like vrbo.You can check people's opinions of hotels on trip advisor.

I would avoid Pres. Day week because it is school vacation in Boston. Flts to Denver and SLC are more expensive then and because it's a holiday weekend everywhere, prices are high and slopes are more crowded. If you have never skied in the west, the difference between New England skiing and western skiing is night and day so you will enjoy whichever area you choose. My vote would be for Park City in terms of convenience, choices of ski areas and nightlife. Have fun.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 09:11 PM
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Take the California Zephyr from Denver (or Chicago) to Glenwood Springs. From Glenwood Springs use the RFTA bus to Aspen.
http://www.rfta.com/
There is no need to have an expensive rental car sitting there when you are on the slopes.
The scenery of the Glenwood Canyon from the train is one of my favorites.
For Park City you would have to fly to SLC and rent a car.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 10:04 PM
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I've been to all of them and skiied none of them. My family skis - I don't so I like to have a town to spend my days in. The descriptions you got are great but I would add that Aspen is much bigger than Park City, and emphasize that Vail Vlage is a ski village, not really a '"town". Also, you should add Breckenridge to the list - not too far from Denver, and an "old west" town somewhat like Park City. As for restaurants, in my opinion , Aspen wins hands-down.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2012, 07:53 AM
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Have visited all of them at least twice skiing - and several times in the summer. Love them all - but now, as am getting older, like the high speed cruising/groomed slopes at pristine Deer Valley (as Warren Miller says - you only have so bumps in ze knees) - right next to Park city - which is the easiest of all - by far - to get to from the airport.

They hardly ever close I-80 leading up to the turnoff to Park City/Deer Valley.

Driving to Vail - you have to go over 3? 10,000 foot passes, which do get closed - or really slowed down in big storms - and then Aspen is another couple hours or so behind that

You can fly into Aspen - but it's a small airport - at altitude (harder to land during storms, etc) - so it would not be my flying choice.

And also on "the Summit" - just before you go down the hill to get to Vail - is a favorite little town of ours, - Frisco - and this is our favorite hotel/B & B: http://www.friscolodge.com/

On their main street - you can catch buses to the ski areas of Keystone, Breck, and Copper Mountain, and I think there is also service over to Arapahoe Basin (A Basin - which has some very challenging/upper mountain skiing).
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Old Aug 3rd, 2012, 08:00 AM
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And while Aspen has some excellent restaurants, the Deer Valley/Park city locale is very good - and there is also fine dining in Vail.

But as noted, Vail is more dense - and last time I was there (three years ago?) - it seemed built out all the way to the Freeway. Fifteen years ago - with a lovely 100 inches of light powder dropping in a week - it was a winter wonderland for sure, and you can't beat the back bowls at Vail for powder skiing when it's right - but it has grown a bit.

Overall - up the Little Cottonwood Canyon outside Salt Lake City - Snowbird and Alta get the best powder, 400-450 inches on average - and just over the hill - Park City and Deer Valley and the Canyons get 300-350 inches per year - about the same as do Vail and Aspen.

Grand Targhee, Wyoming - gets the most powder - 500 inches a year - and it's just before the storms cross over to Jackson Hole - but it's harder to get to those two beautiful resorts.

Sun Valley is also a georgeous area if you want another option.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2012, 08:02 AM
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Oops - forgot Whistler and Blackhomb - a couple hours from Vancouver, Canada - and they are magnficient - but sometimes - as they are lower in altitude - don't get the best powder, but they do usually have a very good base - and have a lovely town area.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2012, 08:41 AM
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Vail sounds to fit you needs for other things to do than ski with all sorts of shops ... Avon down the interstate 10 minutes away is a super walmart and all the shops there and Beaver Creek ski area as well
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Old Aug 3rd, 2012, 09:37 AM
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I think you can't go wrong with any of your options; however,I would caution you to look at the altitude of these locations. We have a place in Crested Butte and our house is extremely high at 9300 feet. Due to the lack of oxygen, when I was pregnant, my mom basically told me I couldn't go to Colorado, never mind that I was in great shape and feeling well. She was very worried about the baby not getting enough oxygen. My dr didn't seem to have that much concern about it when I went to Santa Fe at 3 months but that was very early. My skiing friends all went to Whistler and I contemplated joining them since Whistler isn't as high of an altitude, but didn't want to risk falling on the ice. But then your'e from Boston, your wife will have a warm winter coat and will know how to deal with ice. Being from the south, I didn't need a coat and didn't want to have to buy one!

also, just a comment, Park City is basically one long street that goes down the mountain, I would have hated to walk back up the street pregnant. But it is a cute town with great restaurants. and I wouldn't be so concerned about staying slope side in Park City as the free town bus was great and went to all the ski resorts. Plus, I thought the town lift was one of the worst lifts I've ever been on and if I had to get up and take it every day, I wouldn't have done it. I would have much rather taken the bus from our hotel to the main Park City mountain lifts. I also thought the skiing was much better at Deer Valley, but nothing can beat the orange bubble, the covered ski lift at the Canyons.
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Old Aug 5th, 2012, 04:28 PM
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Thanks so much for the responses. Very, very helpful! I was overly busy the last few days and was so thrilled to see all these suggestions when I checked back in!

Unfortunately, I can't avoid travel on President's Day week since I am an elementary school teacher. It is a special job perk that we get gouged on flight costs every winter. ;-) I wish they would do something about the huge price increases on vacation weeks, especially for some families in my school who don't get to take trips because of them. Anyway... I digress.

I will leave the altitude-pregnancy concern to my wife, too. She is an Ob/Gyn and by far the best expert on that between us. =)

Thanks again!!
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Old Aug 5th, 2012, 04:43 PM
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I think that choosing some lower altitude would be a good idea. I found that skiing pregnant (even though we were at Tahoe, only 7000') was a challenge. One day, I had to rest, lying with my head down the hill, to avoid fainting.

Whistler, my favorite area. is only 2200' at the base, but it can be hard to get to. Park City's base is about 6500', I believe.
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Old Aug 6th, 2012, 06:14 AM
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I am not a skier but I loved our ski trip to Park City/Deer Valley. We flew into Salt Lake City and used a hotel shuttle there and back and into town so no rental car. My husband loved skiing Deer Valley from our mid-mountain hotel and I was more than content with the gorgeous setting, spa, hotel fitness center, shopping in Park City and not one bad meal and some that ranked among my favorites. I worked out everyday, shopped and finished a huge novel. Our hotel - The Montage - was unbelievably gorgeous and very well staffed but also pricey (it was a special trip for us). We both loved it.
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Old Aug 6th, 2012, 09:54 AM
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You have probably herd the old terms - acclimate - and sleep low - climb high.

To be conservative - you could stay in Salt Lake the first night - altitude about 4,200+ feet - and then go up to Park City the next day, as Park City is a little higher - over 6,500 feet. There is a lot to see in and around Park City - and a drive down to Prove - and then past Robert Redford's Sundance Resort/along the fly fisherman's dream - the Green River - coming in the back way to Park City is beautiful.
http://tinyurl.com/bwe2n2t

Don't know who is the ObyGN (your wife?)- but they probably already know this: http://www.parkcitymountain.com/wint...itude-sickness
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Old Aug 6th, 2012, 10:01 AM
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And while I have never stayed at the Montage - (watched it being built over time - and have skied by it and hear it's beautiful) our favorite for noon lunches, etc - other then the Silver ? (mid-mountain) - was at Stein's Lodge. Ole Stein Erikson is still showing that classic Norwegian (Gold Medal) form when cruising down the hill - http://tinyurl.com/bubyw9j and some of my Deer Valley friends and I used to love to say hi to Stein a very friendly - easy to approach gentleman.

Even skied behind him a few times and it does help your form for sure to follow somebody like him.
http://www.steinlodge.com/
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Old Aug 6th, 2012, 04:49 PM
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I just browsed through this thread trying to learn something, even though I don't ski.

Been to Vail and Park City, and yearned to go to Aspen, but there just wasn't enough time.

I'd hoped to gain from this thread which of the stated alternatives was most appealing to skiers.

At any rate, if the woman falls pregnant tomorrow, she'd be 6 months along in mid-February. If that doesn't happen (tomorrow)... the pregnancy would be less significant and perhaps not as great an issue as anticipated.

Predicting the weather in February makes for another consideration, and you just can't do it. Being 45 min. from SLC makes for far more numerous alternatives if weather (or even pregnancy) limits the skiing options.

Vail is wonderfully wintery and quite suitable for skiers and non-skiers alike. Aspen probably has higher costs for its greater remoteness and 'chic' reputation.

Thankfully Denver and SLC are airline hubs so airfares would hopefully be similar.

Maybe there is no grand reason for picking one of the trio vs. the others, and maybe the OP and his wife just need to know that any of the three listed alternatives will offer a grand time, and that he just needs to select one.

Great fun and satisfaction are almost guaranteed.
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Old Aug 6th, 2012, 05:06 PM
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Aspen greatly appeals to skiers - once you get there.

There are 4 mountains - one right above the main town of Aspen - called Ajax - which has a long cruising run - the famous Ruthie's run ( http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...60/7/index.htm and I would put it at a strong blue/intermediate - loved to shoot it) - but also has some real challenging runs.

The next one is Aspen Highlands (http://aspen.com/aspen/colorado/arti...spen-highlands) which I think has the most advanced (but fun) runs, (note - we received over 100 inches of light powder during that epic week way back when - so the skiing wasn't that hard)

Then I think it's Snowmass - http://www.aspensnowmass.com/ which has a lot of upper mountain/open bowl type skiing - mostly intermediate skiing as I recall (we only went there one day - as we were staying in a ski in-ski out condo in town/Aspen) - and finally Buttermilk - the easiest mountain which we never skied - but the locals said that after a big powder drop - a couple days later it can still have some untouched powder after all the other three are all skied out.
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Old Aug 24th, 2012, 08:39 AM
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I agree that all are great choices.

If you choose Colorado, I would say get as far from Denver as possible as long as you're going over President's weekend, which makes Aspen the obvious choice over Vail. You might consider Steamboat too. Everywhere will be busy and expensive, but the lift lines at Vail and Breckenridge can be pretty long.

Park City isn't a bad option either, given there are so many other mountains nearby to spread out the crowds. And Deer Valley limits ticket sales, so as long as you buy in advance or get there early, the lines aren't too bad even on the busiest (sold out) days.
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Old Oct 31st, 2016, 11:13 AM
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I'm going to respectfully disagree about Whistler. I've been there several times and it's fabulous, however it is NOT that easy to get to. First off, flying to Vancouver now requires a passport AND going through immigration which takes time (unless you have Global Entry). The ride from the airport to the mountain is on a twisty, winding road and takes at least 2.5-3 hours. So say you are from the East Coast. You have to fly minimum 6-7 hours, go through immigration, and then drive another three hours just to get to the village. Another issue with Whistler is that it rains there a lot (this is the west coast, remember?). I'd love to return but it's such a hassle. If people have the time then definitely break it up with a trip to Vancouver. It's absolutely spectacular.

The easiest by far is SLC. Also, if there are crowds check out Solitude, Brighton and Powder Mountain for easy day trips.

I love Aspen (returning again this year) and Vail is my favorite. The airport at Vail is bigger and able to handle harsher weather. That's kind of the problem with places like Aspen, Telluride and Crested Butte (LOVE ALL OF THEM!) - if the weather decides not to cooperate it is harder to flight into the smaller airports and you can get stuck in Denver. ]

While I prefer Colorado, the best thing about SLC is that you can fly in the in the morning and be on the slopes by 1 PM for a half day. If you have your plane ticket it's free!
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Old Oct 31st, 2016, 12:10 PM
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THIS is 4 years old
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