Colorado Epic pass Xmas trip for beginners: Beaver Creek or Crested Butte

Discussion in 'General Resort Discussion' started by marjoram_sage, Nov 14, 2018.

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  1. Beaver Creek

  2. Crested Butte

  3. Park City

  4. Telluride

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  1. marjoram_sage

    marjoram_sage newly addicted to skiing Skier

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    My wife and I are beginner skiers with a 4 year old daughter. We want her to learn to ski as a kid. We didn't learn to ski as kids and feel sad that we missed out on such a fun activity.

    Our current plan is to ski Beaver Creek from Dec 22 to Jan 5 as I read on zrankings that it's a family and beginner friendly resort. However people are saying it can also get very crowded during holidays. Another option has opened up on the Epic Pass: Crested Butte. I read that it is a very uncrowded place, something we will enjoy coming from California. And since they have also had good early season snow, their beginner/intermediate areas should be open for Xmas. So now we are reconsidering our plans.

    We were planning on staying in Avon on the shuttle route as it is much cheaper than any lodging in Beaver Creek. The lodging at Crested Butte would probably run a similar cost on the Shuttle route.

    3 day lessons at Beaver Creek are $450. Crested butte would be $432. We will be taking couple of days of beginner lessons at Keystone around Thanksgiving so we won't be in the Never Ever category.


    Given following priorities, what would you recommend?
    - Beginner friendly terrain
    - Cost and Quality of Lessons
    - Lack of crowds
    - Family friendly activities (i.e. apres ski beyond getting drunk)

    Another option is for us to use Hilton points to stay at Waldorf Astoria in Park City and skip Colorado. There is a gondola right outside the resort. We would have to change our flight tickets but since it's on southwest, it would not be a significant cost over our current tickets to Denver. Although we won't have to deal with a shuttle in Park City the lessons would be much more expensive. 3 days for ~$690.

    Edit:
    I should not have said Telluride. Epic pass is only valid for 7 days and it's tough to get to (southwest doesn't fly to MTJ and ABQ is >5 hours)
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2018
  2. New2

    New2 Getting off the lift Skier

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    Telluride's beginner and low-intermediate terrain is fantastic, and crowds should be much lower than at Beaver Creek or Park City. So far Telluride has more snow than Crested Butte or Park City, though it's early yet... I'd be pretty confident all the greens will be open at Telluride or Beaver Creek, less so for the others in the timeframe you're looking at. Apres-ski might be a bit more limited than Park City, but there are a lot of options.

    On the other hand, there's no way I would pick Telluride if flying into Denver. Albuquerque's a bit better, but still a really long drive. If Southwest will let you apply the money to a future trip (they've been great about this in the past when I've needed to) and you'll actually use that future trip, then flying to Montrose via SFO or a connection would be much nicer. Denver International Airport to Beaver Creek (traffic) or Crested Butte (distance) would also be pushing my tolerance, but certainly would be preferable than trying to drive from there to Telluride.
     
  3. Thread Starter
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    marjoram_sage

    marjoram_sage newly addicted to skiing Skier

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    Thanks for the Telluride recommendation. I just checked the flights to MTJ and they are outrageous ($800 RT) and since we can only ski 7 days using the EPIC pass, we would either have to pay a lot more for the the next week or move to another resort. Neither is easy. I shouldn't even have asked for Telluride.

    Maybe we can try Telluride for March. I just created a price alert on Kayak for MTJ!
     
    Tytlynz64 likes this.
  4. New2

    New2 Getting off the lift Skier

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    Yep, getting to Telluride is definitely the most expensive part--that's why it's not so crowded! MTJ's also a good base for Crested Butte (GUC is closer, but no direct flights from California), so you could potentially do a week at Telluride and a week at Crested Butte on the same flight. But beginner terrain is pretty limited at Crested Butte, so you'll enjoy it significantly more if the whole family is comfortable on blue runs by the time you get there.

    Not for this year, but worth keeping in mind for the future... a Christmastime trip to Leavenworth (lights, carolers, people in costume, nutcrackers everywhere) would be really fun before your daughter gets too old, and Stevens Pass is on the epic pass. But beginner terrain there is very limited. And the potential for a warm storm means that you'll want some flexibility to decide to spend a few days enjoying Seattle if the weather isn't right for skiing.
     
  5. Ken_R

    Ken_R Living the Dream Skier

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    Beaver Creek no question. It does get somewhat crowded but it is not nearly as bad as the other Epic Pass resorts. The busses work great. If you can leave your skis / boots at a valet slopeside it is even nicer since you wont have to then take your ski gear up to the resort every day.

    Telluride is amazing and has little crowds but cheap it is not.

    Crested Butte is also quite nice but it is best for experts although the beginner terrain does not get that crowded ive heard. It is also very unreliable in regards to snow. Although this year most places in Colorado are a pretty good bet since it has already snowed quite a bit all over the state. It is FAR from Denver, that is what makes it not that crowded, although you can fly to Gunnison, if that is an option, which is quite close.
     


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    marjoram_sage

    marjoram_sage newly addicted to skiing Skier

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    I guess I will have to look for flights on miles. It's a bit late for this season but I will do that for spring and next season. I will set up some alerts on expertflyer.com. One interesting thing I found is you can redeem Avianca Lifemiles for United flights and it's only 7.5k miles one way from SFO to DEN/GUC/MTJ. Citi thank you points can be transferred to Avianca lifemiles. We have been collecting thank you points and this will be a good use.


    Great tip. We have some close friends in Seattle. We can stay with them as part of a larger trip to BC around Xmas.


    I called the beaver creek to see if they rent any lockers and they said no. There are lockers but you can't reserve them. I found a website for ski lockers at the base of the lodge https://ski-lockers.com/ and the cost is going to be $560 for two weeks. That's way too much.



    CB is only a couple of hours more than Beaver Creek so for a 2 week long trip, it seems like an ideal destination.

    Overall, I am realizing Beaver Creek is not our type of place. We are locked in this year but we will not go the epic route next year. I think the pass looks like a great deal on surface but the overall cost of lodging/lessons/crowds make it a less desirable experience.

    Loveland/Grand Targhee/Brighton feel like a better fit for us.
     
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  7. Ken_R

    Ken_R Living the Dream Skier

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    Yep. If you are on a tightish budget most places in Colorado are NOT for you. It is what it is. There are exceptions, Loveland is one of them. No lodging nearby but the passes are cheap if you buy a 4 pack or a season pass if you are skiing more days. They usually have great snow and a mellow vibe. It is uncrowded compared to all the other ski areas off i70. Cooper might be the other one. Super mellow, off the beaten path, great snow and grooming. No lodging nearby and its pretty far although much closer than CB. The drive from Avon is scenic but can be really spicy if its snowing and even in great weather its a haul to do daily to ski. For a day or two its definitely worth it if you are staying in Avon.
     
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    marjoram_sage

    marjoram_sage newly addicted to skiing Skier

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    Another tip I read was to go to Arrowhead or Bachelor Gulch village as those areas have good beginner skiing but since there is not much lodging around them they are less busy. Hopefully the Beaver Creek experience will be worth the $$$ we are spending there.

    Where do you recommend staying if skiing Cooper or Loveland? CB has some lodging in town and it seems like a good combo of ski + nice town.
     
  9. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two skis. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Looking how the season is starting this year...I was going to say Park City but now...Beaver Creek. If storms hit Utah...in the next two weeks....and Park gets some...I would lean back that way.
     
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  10. Nathanvg

    Nathanvg Putting on skis Skier

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    I ski bc every new years to ski with family. Runs are busy but lift lines are usually reasonable. Cinch and centenial can be 20 min waits. Dont stay at bachelor or arrowhead. The snow quality is worse due to low elevation and bachelor has the longest lift lines on the whole mountain. The best place for beginners is off red buffalo lift.

    You'll have a good time if you choose beaver, but I suggest created butte. Way less crowded, especially the green runs. Red lady lift has long green runs and two other lifts have a lot of greens too. All 3 lifts are separated from the harder runs which mean a lot less people cutting off beginners. The town is charming with lots of restaurants and shops. The drive is farther from DIA but worth it.

    Telluride is great for beginners too if u can fly to Montrose, Durango or grand junction.
     
  11. Thread Starter
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    marjoram_sage

    marjoram_sage newly addicted to skiing Skier

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    I did some further research into Loveland. The closest place to stay is 7 miles and there are no shuttles or buses that take you to Loveland. Since parking is limited, there is a risk you will not get a place to park and therefore not get to ski. On an adults only trip it may be possible to leave early but with kids, it's difficult to force an early schedule. So Loveland is not really a good option for family trips. I will probably do it with my buddies sometime.
     
  12. tball

    tball Zipped up Skier

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    Don't get too down on the Beav. You have your passes so you can do it on the cheap staying in Avon or down valley and taking the shuttle. Lodging everywhere is expensive at Xmas and everywhere is more crowded. It's more your timing than the location.

    Beaver Creek is a great choice for you within a reasonable drive from DIA. Crested Butte is too far to drive for most.
     
  13. NPhoenix

    NPhoenix Joe G Skier

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    We've stayed in Avon countless times with kids, mostly at the Westin though. Beaver is nice because the beginner area is at the top of the mountain. I didn't get my kids started until a little older. Personally, I would look at a mini trips up to Tahoe with a four year old unless you can put them in ski school every day you want to ski.
     
  14. Jim Kenney

    Jim Kenney Travel Correspondent Industry Insider Team Gathermeister

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    Waldorf Astoria at Canyons part of Park City for free sounds like unbeatable option. With a young child (and beginning adults) it is super handy to be able to return to your accommodations easily/frequently during a ski day to rest, warm up, eat. Otherwise, I was going to recommend something that would represent a huge step down in luxury, the Comfort Inn of Avon. I have stayed there several times and it is a good low budget choice for Beaver Creek with bus access to Vail too, but during Christmas time even their rooms run about $230-275 per night.
    See here for some budget tips at Vail Resorts including BC and PC. https://www.pugski.com/threads/hitchhikers-guide-to-the-vail-galaxy-of-resorts-part-1-of-3.7873/

    Can't comment on Crested Butte, never been there. But for some folks the skiing and town might seem a bit claustrophobic for a two week visit?
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2018
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    marjoram_sage

    marjoram_sage newly addicted to skiing Skier

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    Yes. Thanks for the tip. Last season we realized how important it is to have the ability to take breaks and and rest during skiing. I forcefully took our daughter up the gondola at heavenly while she was happily playing in the kids area at the hotel.. she went into a tantrum and did not want to ski. Once we came down she wanted to go back up. And by that time it was her nap time.

    Our current reservation (booked with points) is at the Sheraton across the street from Comfort inn. It's a one bedroom apartment with kitchen. It can be challenging to feed a child at a restaurant so we were thankful for that option. The skier shuttle to beaver creek village is right outside so we thought of it as a good compromise between cost and convenience.
     
  16. tball

    tball Zipped up Skier

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    Someone please correct me if it's changed, but doesn't the Avon shuttle just drop you at the bottom of the hill where you switch to the Beaver Creek shuttle to get up to the ski area? It's been a while, but that's how it used to work.

    It's not a big deal... until you add a four-year-old. Being near the lift at Park City on points sounds very attractive.
     
  17. jmeb

    jmeb Stereotypical Front Range Weekend Warrior Skier

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    Parking is never a problem at Loveland unless you show up at 11am on a powder day on a Saturday when Berthoud or Loveland pass roads are closed.

    Parking is limited, but it is full maybe 2 or 3 days a year. Even then, if you show up around noon and drive to the front of the lot, you'll probably score a spot within easy distance of the main lodge.
     
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  18. TQA

    TQA Putting on skis Skier

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    I have skied all 4.

    IMHO Park City/Canyons staying and skiing in Canyons is your best option The Canyons ski school is excellent and the have some dedicated nursery slopes and some easy confidence building runs. Canons is really a separate resort and is considerably quieter than Park City. You will find me there on powder days at the weekend when Alta and Snowbird are busy Canyons is quieter, lots quieter. The transfer from SLC airport is less than an hour.

    Beaver Creek is almost as good for beginners but the accommodation is expensive and it is a fairly long transfer from Denver. I usually stay in Silverton and drive up to Beaver on the Weekends when A Basin and Breck gets busy.

    Telluride is a good beginners resort but there are travel implications. 20 % of flights are diverted in winter. It is a white knuckle approach even in good conditions.

    Crested Butte is a great resort for off piste experts searching for gnarley stuff. It is OK for beginners. Getting there will be a PITA.
     
  19. jmeb

    jmeb Stereotypical Front Range Weekend Warrior Skier

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    Silverthorne* . Silverton would be a huge drive.

    If you're skiing Beaver Creek, staying in Edwards is a good bit cheaper, easy bus, and has a number of local's haunts.
     
  20. NPhoenix

    NPhoenix Joe G Skier

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    The Sheraton is one of the best options if you desire a kitchen. The have a nice game room upstairs with a theater, arcade games, billiards, wooden shuffle board, games, console, etc. The pool and spa are ok. It will be full at that time so there plenty of activities and the areas will have plenty of people/kids. It will not be convenient to leave Beaver during the day to come back so expect to spend the whole day on the hill or in the village. The city bus is ok but we've walked to the Gondola at the Westin many times instead. You won't be doing that with a four year old though. The City Market (Kroger) in Avon is great and there is a Safeway in Vail. Plenty of good dining options in Avon.

    I'm not sure how good of skiers you are but it would be a shame to go there and not see Vail down the road. The back bowls are something unique that you won't see anywhere else that is that accessible.
     

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