MidwestSkier

At the base lodge
Skier
Posts
10
Historically, I usually try to avoid ski trips during Christmas because of work, crowds, and uncertain weather. I will admit it, I usually get one ski trip a year, so I try to schedule mid February to avoid crowds, get an idea where snow is good. Skiing is expensive, and I want things to be just perfect....

That being said, kids are grown and we don't have much opportunity to get together now, and Christmas is in the middle of the week this year so work isn't really a factor. I'm contemplating doing a Christmas trip, but want to maximize chance of having reasonable skiing. I'm in the Midwest (hence the name !), but open to going East or West....there are actually good family reasons to go East , although I have only skiied on the East Coast (Stratton) once in recent years. A couple quesitons for the experts here:

1) What is likelihood of having snow and decent amount of terrain open at Christmas ? One of the reasons I have shied away at Christmas is crowds -alot of people skiing and resorts only partially open. I will have to live with the crowds -- but best of they are spread out.

2) Which resorts have the best chance of having good snow and open terrain (and lower crowds if at all possible). Most interested in the East Coast, as I am pretty familiar with West Coast resorts.

Type of terrain is not the highest priority, but skier levels run from pretty darn good (younger daughter is a natural, but not into extreme ) to intermediate (blue/black groomers). Really looking for mix of decent skiing , town with nice restaraunts, etc. (and did I mention, lower crowds ?).

Thanks for your input.
 

Guy in Shorts

Tree Psycho
Skier
Posts
1,243
Location
Killington
Okemo checks all the boxes except it will be Christmas week crowds. Great lift system paired with perfect manicured runs with have you making hero turns. Was our first choice for a home mountain when we bought in Vermont. Stowe is the top dollar choice being Vermont’s most awesome skiing destination.
 

LKLA

Out on the slopes
Skier
Posts
1,346
Historically, I usually try to avoid ski trips during Christmas because of work, crowds, and uncertain weather. I will admit it, I usually get one ski trip a year, so I try to schedule mid February to avoid crowds, get an idea where snow is good. Skiing is expensive, and I want things to be just perfect....

That being said, kids are grown and we don't have much opportunity to get together now, and Christmas is in the middle of the week this year so work isn't really a factor. I'm contemplating doing a Christmas trip, but want to maximize chance of having reasonable skiing. I'm in the Midwest (hence the name !), but open to going East or West....there are actually good family reasons to go East , although I have only skiied on the East Coast (Stratton) once in recent years. A couple quesitons for the experts here:

1) What is likelihood of having snow and decent amount of terrain open at Christmas ? One of the reasons I have shied away at Christmas is crowds -alot of people skiing and resorts only partially open. I will have to live with the crowds -- but best of they are spread out.

2) Which resorts have the best chance of having good snow and open terrain (and lower crowds if at all possible). Most interested in the East Coast, as I am pretty familiar with West Coast resorts.

Type of terrain is not the highest priority, but skier levels run from pretty darn good (younger daughter is a natural, but not into extreme ) to intermediate (blue/black groomers). Really looking for mix of decent skiing , town with nice restaraunts, etc. (and did I mention, lower crowds ?).

Thanks for your input.
You can look at data on a site like On The Snow (plots daily snowfall) and focus on resorts that have a history of snow during the early part/first half of the season and avoid those which tend to have a stronger second half of the season. But, you know what they say about past performance...ogwink

The thing that makes a significant difference on the East Coast is snow making. Going north up to Maine or Canada is not a guarantee of snow, nor is going to Southern Vermont a guarantee of lack of snow either. I would suggest looking at resorts that are committed to an early open and/or that have extensive snow making capabilities. Killington and Mount Snow are the two that first come to mind. Other East Coast suggestions would be Sugarbush, Le Massif, Okemo, Stowe, Jay Peak, Smuggler's Notch, Sugarloaf.

No crowds usually means no snow, the same as an empty restaurant on a Saturday night usually means bad food. If conditions are good AND it's a holiday (double whammy), then people will be on the mountain (one would hope so because otherwise there will be ski resorts left in business).
 
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4aprice

Getting off the lift
Skier
Posts
242
Planning on the east coast is such a gamble. Really the best suggestion would be to play the waiting game as long as possible. (easy for me to say, not you to plan) While the destination is the western game, the east game is find the best conditions (snow and weather). Crowds are a given.

2nd the comments regarding snowmaking power and grooming. Mt Snow, Stratton and Okemo are all about equal in those catagories. OTOH if your lucky and its game on you get the option of places like Magic, Bolton, (Freedom Pass partners) which are really cool old time New England skiing and woods too and less crowded.
 

sbooker

Getting on the lift
Skier
Posts
205
Jackson is pretty reliable for that time of year and for ultra reliable over the hill is Grand Targhee.
Jackson has plenty to offer all abilities, has a great town and in my limited experience doesn't suffer badly at the hands of crowds over Christmas/New Year.
A bit expensive to get to though.........
 

TheHitman

Putting on skis
Skier
Posts
86
Location
Fort Collins, CO
Jackson is pretty reliable for that time of year and for ultra reliable over the hill is Grand Targhee.
Jackson has plenty to offer all abilities, has a great town and in my limited experience doesn't suffer badly at the hands of crowds over Christmas/New Year.
A bit expensive to get to though.........
How crazy would the drive be from Denver to Jackson Hole the day after Christmas?

Or would it be better to go to another resort in Colorado?
 

Ken_R

Living the Dream
Skier
Posts
3,582
Location
Denver, CO
Historically, I usually try to avoid ski trips during Christmas because of work, crowds, and uncertain weather. I will admit it, I usually get one ski trip a year, so I try to schedule mid February to avoid crowds, get an idea where snow is good. Skiing is expensive, and I want things to be just perfect....

That being said, kids are grown and we don't have much opportunity to get together now, and Christmas is in the middle of the week this year so work isn't really a factor. I'm contemplating doing a Christmas trip, but want to maximize chance of having reasonable skiing. I'm in the Midwest (hence the name !), but open to going East or West....there are actually good family reasons to go East , although I have only skiied on the East Coast (Stratton) once in recent years. A couple quesitons for the experts here:

1) What is likelihood of having snow and decent amount of terrain open at Christmas ? One of the reasons I have shied away at Christmas is crowds -alot of people skiing and resorts only partially open. I will have to live with the crowds -- but best of they are spread out.

2) Which resorts have the best chance of having good snow and open terrain (and lower crowds if at all possible). Most interested in the East Coast, as I am pretty familiar with West Coast resorts.

Type of terrain is not the highest priority, but skier levels run from pretty darn good (younger daughter is a natural, but not into extreme ) to intermediate (blue/black groomers). Really looking for mix of decent skiing , town with nice restaraunts, etc. (and did I mention, lower crowds ?).

Thanks for your input.
I still really enjoy going to the ski resorts during the xmas holidays because I get to spend time with my family. I just dont expect much regarding snow and skiing. Some years the skiing and snow is fantastic, others, terrible. (I live and ski in Colorado) Since I ski pretty much every week of the season I dont really care.

That said the takeaway is, keep your expectations in check and have fun.
 
Thread Starter
M

MidwestSkier

At the base lodge
Skier
Posts
10
I still really enjoy going to the ski resorts during the xmas holidays because I get to spend time with my family. I just dont expect much regarding snow and skiing. Some years the skiing and snow is fantastic, others, terrible. (I live and ski in Colorado) Since I ski pretty much every week of the season I dont really care.

That said the takeaway is, keep your expectations in check and have fun.
Thanks all..great advice. (Particularly SoCal's link). I get it Ken R-- managing expectations is the hurdle. It's tough when you only get one real shot at it each season, I always want the perfect trip, and have been lucky the last few years going West in late February (between Presidents Day and Spring Break has proven very reliable with snow cover, good weather and really low crowds !)

Not writing off the East Coast yet,, but right now torn between Whistler and Vermont, I get it, two different worlds, but Whistler has been on the bucket list and the link above suggesting that Whistler's early season snow cover is pretty reliable and reputation as a good ski town makes it attractive. It doesn't hurt that one daughter has an EPIC pass and might save some $$ --but its a Vail property, so gonna spend some money to save a little. If I go Whistle-- any advice on lodging ? We'd want to stay in the Village, probably without a vehicle....

Again, thanks for all the great advice.
 

Mendieta

Master of Snowplow
Moderator
Posts
4,062
Location
SF Bay Area, CA, USA
Thanks all..great advice. (Particularly SoCal's link). I get it Ken R-- managing expectations is the hurdle. It's tough when you only get one real shot at it each season, I always want the perfect trip, and have been lucky the last few years going West in late February (between Presidents Day and Spring Break has proven very reliable with snow cover, good weather and really low crowds !)

Not writing off the East Coast yet,, but right now torn between Whistler and Vermont, I get it, two different worlds, but Whistler has been on the bucket list and the link above suggesting that Whistler's early season snow cover is pretty reliable and reputation as a good ski town makes it attractive. It doesn't hurt that one daughter has an EPIC pass and might save some $$ --but its a Vail property, so gonna spend some money to save a little. If I go Whistle-- any advice on lodging ? We'd want to stay in the Village, probably without a vehicle....

Again, thanks for all the great advice.
Nice! Once you firm up on the area, you can ask for more specific suggestions from locals. Perhaps you can open a new thread for that.

As a general rule, in extra busy times, it pays off to: (1) do any equipment rental in advance(2) show up *early*, and have an early lunch.

I can't stress this enough, but most Holiday skiers come to the resorts late, then head to a rental, boot up ... so, normally, 9 to 10:30 is good. When it starts getting sketchy I take the kids lunch (If I'm lucky to have the kids with me). At noon, when everybody realizes it is lunch time, I go for an hour of good skiing. Then, about 1:30 pm, it gets busy again, and you can evaluate.

FWIW: The biggest thing with crowds, IMHO, is not so much the waits, but the risks of collisions.
 

mister moose

Instigator
Skier
Posts
245
Location
Killington
Okemo checks all the boxes ...Stowe is the top dollar choice.
Deflecting crowds from Killington?



My thought was Sugarloaf for snow and low crowds. Zero on the town aspect. No place is perfect.

Another idea is stay in Killington/Pittsfield area, ski a trifecta of Okemo, Killington, Sugarbush.

I'll point out that there's a historical ~65% chance of it raining at some point from December 20th to January 1st. That alone should send you to the top snowmaking resorts for best recovery - Mt Snow, Okemo, Killington.
 

Talisman

Out on the slopes
Team Gathermeister
Posts
554
Location
Gallatin County
Flying private to Yellowstone Club likely best.
Guaranteed the Yellowstone Club won't be crowded on Christmas week by eastern standards. That is one week when most of the properties are occupied so there may be others in the sugar shacks.
 

Jim Kenney

Travel Correspondent
Team Gathermeister
Contributor
Posts
1,060
Location
VA
As others are saying, Christmas in the East is a crapshoot, and often an expensive and crowded crapshoot. I have mostly avoided going on ski trips (east or west) at Christmas time and my experience is not totally up to date. But I can tell you that I had a very nice visit to Aspen about four years ago. You could walk on (no line) the gondola at the base of Aspen Mountain during Christmas week. But as you know, Aspen can be very pricey, esp at that time. We commuted from down valley to save on accoms. For Christmas in the East, the big names with great snowmaking and grooming crews will generally offer the best chances for good conditions. Smallish Bolton Valley near Burlington and Stowe might be a more affordable option for slopeside accommodations and you could do a day trip or two from there to Stowe or Sugarbush. If you wanted to take advantage of the Epic Pass, some Eastern candidates for decent to good Christmas skiing on that pass would be Stowe, Okemo, and Mont Sainte Anne.
 

Bad Bob

old n' slow
Skier
The tougher the travel to a destination the lighter the crowd should be for the holidays. The better the snow making the more assured the skiing should be.

So how about Sun Valley? It is almost Eastern Idaho.
 

Jersey Skier

aka RatherPlayThanWork or Gary
Skier
Posts
706
Location
Metuchen, NJ
I've been to Big Sky Christmas week and crowds were non-existent. Can't promise super conditions, but I'm sure there will be plenty open to keep you busy.
 

Sibhusky

Whitefish
Skier
Posts
2,512
Location
Whitefish
I'm wondering if "crowds non existent" is because you're from New Jersey or if indeed it's the vastness of Big Sky that is absorbing them. And then I say to myself, what do you care? As long as no one comes HERE!

Anyone know what the Big Sky record is for skier visits on any one day? Just curious.

Edit. Found it for the prior season, 8392, which when divided by their acreage (5800) yields less than two skiers per acre. Definitely beats our 8631, especially since we have less acreage. Yes, go there.
 
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Talisman

Out on the slopes
Team Gathermeister
Posts
554
Location
Gallatin County
Found it for the prior season, 8392, which when divided by their acreage (5800) yields less than two skiers per acre. Definitely beats our 8631, especially since we have less acreage. Yes, go there.
I was there on that Dec 27th and there were lift lines at Swifty and the Six Shooter, which are not typical so there corrals were too small and poor line management. Slopes had a lot of elbow room. Compare ~8,400 to Vail having ~27,000 the same day.
 

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