VON

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As someone who recently moved to the East Coast of the US for work, I am no longer a short drive away from my mountain, and I am forced to try and "plan ahead" on my ski trips.

Anyone have thoughts/experience on what is the best skiing a human can do as close as possible to the Denver or Salt Lake City Airports?

Park City seems like an obvious choice. Though I've heard the word "zoo" used once or twice before. That said, I would love to hear that the haters are wrong and that PC is a "must-do".

Vail is apparently what would happen if Manhattan and DisneyWorld had a baby. Based on the few anecdotes I've collected, I'm (unfortunately) inclined to believe the haters might be right. Also gotta believe there are loads of great options with some real local ski culture close to Denver.

Much love to anyone willing to share the stoke!
 

Tytlynz64

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SLC and LCC/BCC. 3 hour flight from Chicago and you ski the same day you arrive. Plenty of flights in and 30 to 40 minutes to the slopes depending on traffic. Ymmv. Also the hotel flight package deals on the travel sites are unreal. I got rt air ground transport and 6 nights lodging for 849 bucks during Xmas week. And the slopes were not too crowded. April was even cheaper.
 

mdf

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Alta/Snowbird/Solitude/Brighton are only about an hour from the SLC airport.
Park City is only slightly closer, so...
I do like some things about Park City, actually. It is a great mountain that suffers from proximity to mountains that are even better.

As for Denver, nothing is close to the Denver airport. Heck Denver is not even close to the Denver airport.
 

Ken_R

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As someone who recently moved to the East Coast of the US for work, I am no longer a short drive away from my mountain, and I am forced to try and "plan ahead" on my ski trips.

Anyone have thoughts/experience on what is the best skiing a human can do as close as possible to the Denver or Salt Lake City Airports?

Park City seems like an obvious choice. Though I've heard the word "zoo" used once or twice before. That said, I would love to hear that the haters are wrong and that PC is a "must-do".

Vail is apparently what would happen if Manhattan and DisneyWorld had a baby. Based on the few anecdotes I've collected, I'm (unfortunately) inclined to believe the haters might be right. Also gotta believe there are loads of great options with some real local ski culture close to Denver.

Much love to anyone willing to share the stoke!
It all depends on the dates of your trips. The last week of December is usually pure mayhem at many of the larger ski areas. Presidents Day Weekend is also mega crowded. If you must plan ahead Vail is a great option due to the expansive terrain (a lot of it which does not require a lot of snow to get enough cover) and good snowmaking and grooming. Beaver Creek has even better snowmaking and grooming and is pretty mellow most times. Breckenridge is a good option due to the town and the fact that you get off i70 right after the tunnel, no need to deal with Vail Pass so its the closest to Denver of the areas mentioned. It has amazing views as well.
 

Philpug

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As someone who recently moved to the East Coast of the US for work, I am no longer a short drive away from my mountain, and I am forced to try and "plan ahead" on my ski trips.

Anyone have thoughts/experience on what is the best skiing a human can do as close as possible to the Denver or Salt Lake City Airports?

Park City seems like an obvious choice. Though I've heard the word "zoo" used once or twice before. That said, I would love to hear that the haters are wrong and that PC is a "must-do".

Vail is apparently what would happen if Manhattan and DisneyWorld had a baby. Based on the few anecdotes I've collected, I'm (unfortunately) inclined to believe the haters might be right. Also gotta believe there are loads of great options with some real local ski culture close to Denver.

Much love to anyone willing to share the stoke!
From Denver you have Winter Park which I believe is about the closest. SLC, Snowbird, Alta, Solitude abd Brighton are pretty darn close.
 
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RuleMiHa

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I take a Southwest non-stop from the east coast, usually arrives by 8:30-9 and can be skiing A-basin by noon. I stay in Idaho Springs (<$99) for the lower elevation and price, which ends up making this type of trip relatively affordable.
 
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TonyC

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Loveland and A-Basin are closest to Denver. But most of the Utah places are closer to SLC airport than even those. Utah is the better choice unless the air travel cost/convenience is lopsidedly in favor of Denver. Denver's case is strongest in April; Summit County crowds tone down and the super high altitude makes for winter snow preserving longer than in Utah. If you're interested in Vail, I recommend January. I've never had crowd issues then and Back Bowl snow holds up better.
 
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Jim Kenney

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As someone who recently moved to the East Coast of the US for work, I am no longer a short drive away from my mountain, and I am forced to try and "plan ahead" on my ski trips.

Anyone have thoughts/experience on what is the best skiing a human can do as close as possible to the Denver or Salt Lake City Airports?

Park City seems like an obvious choice. Though I've heard the word "zoo" used once or twice before. That said, I would love to hear that the haters are wrong and that PC is a "must-do".

Vail is apparently what would happen if Manhattan and DisneyWorld had a baby. Based on the few anecdotes I've collected, I'm (unfortunately) inclined to believe the haters might be right. Also gotta believe there are loads of great options with some real local ski culture close to Denver.

Much love to anyone willing to share the stoke!
I live in the East and fly quite a bit to ski in CO and UT. What is your idea of best skiing? Do you want steepest and deepest? Do you want biggest and liveliest? Folks have already mentioned most of the top contenders. Do you want to go to one mtn and focus on it and avoid renting a car, or do you like to bounce around by rental vehicle to several in one trip? There are a bunch of good mtns in UT within 45-60 mins of the SLC airport. There are a bunch of good ones between 1.5 and 2.5 hours from Denver airport.

You mentioned Park City and Vail. Park City is the best overall resort experience in UT IMHO. Lots of terrain, lively town, easy drive from airport. As MDF mentioned its main detraction is that other nearby ski areas are steeper and deeper, but not as big. Vail is similar to PC with an even bigger and more upscale resort town, about two hours to Denver airport. Vail can be pretty busy at prime times, but it's big enough to find lower traffic ski runs/terrain and stay away from chokepoints and busiest lifts.

Is your budget low, medium, or high? RuleMiHa and TonyC mentioned Loveland and Arapahoe Basin. That combo can be an inexpensive way to do Colorado. Staying in the SLC suburbs and skiing Solitude and Brighton can be an inexpensive way to do Utah. If your idea of best skiing is luxury accoms, pampered grooming, and top on-hill dining then Deer Valley in UT and Beaver Creek in CO might be considerations.

You mentioned real local culture. In CO nearer to Denver that might mean places like Arapahoe Basin, Mary Jane at Winter Park, Copper Mtn, or smaller places like Eldora or Cooper. In UT that could mean Alta/Bird, Brighton, or Snowbasin. But there is local and touristy aspects about most sizable ski areas.

Don't answer if too personal, but what was your old mtn and what did you like about it? What will be your Eastern gateway airport? Will you be living near any decent Eastern ski areas that you can visit in between trips back west?
 
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RumbaRockette

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I go to Park City at least a week a year. I'll agree with others here... it definitely suffers a bit because it's so close to "better" mountains. Park City is really great for the Apres scene though. If you want to take a trip to Alta/Snowbird or Solitude/Brighton for a day or two from there it is certainly doable, even if it is counter intuitive. Looking at your avatar though, you look fairly close to my age... and for a good overall vacation sometimes a mix of mountain/town is better especially if you have to plan them far out.

I would look into a local ski shop in your area. Some of them run annual trips out west every year, and they're usually to a less touristy place with some great bulk discount rates.

Or you could look into timeshares if you want lodging on the cheap (albeit paying with an annuity)... and some programs will give you access to resorts right at the base of the mountain.
 
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RuleMiHa

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Loveland and A-Basin are closest to Denver. But most of the Utah places are closer to SLC airport than even those. Utah is the better choice unless the air travel cost/convenience is lopsidedly in favor of Denver.
I can get a non-stop Southwest flight from PHL for $190-220, from BWI for $320-350. Delta has somewhat of a monopoly for SLC and usually is around $550-650. And southwest allows 2 checked bags so that's -$70 for checking skis round trip. A Double Down season pass to A-Basin is $280/ year. Basically I can go to Denver 2-3x for what it costs me to go to Utah and short (no time off work) trips are easy.

Kind of a no-brainer for me, though I will eventually get to Utah.
 

BC.

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I am an East Coast lifer that has been taking 2 trips a year out west for awhile now. The advice given by previous members is spot on. As I get ready to go to the shop today for my Saturday installs........ here’s my take from a different perspective:

My trips because of my job have to be what I call quick hitters. I’m only allowed 5 personal days a school year, so I have to be creative with my ski days in the winter. These are not the cheapest flights/trips, but definitely most convenient for my situation.

Here’s a few of my favorite western quick hitter trips:

Delta AVP-MSP-SLC......From my location in PA, this is my go to flight to UT. I can take this flight on a Thursday evening and be in PC or BCC/LCC before midnight. This allows me to ski 3 days in UT and only use 1 personal day.
(Brighton/Solitude-VRBO in village) (Alta/Snowbird-VRBO in Alta) (PC-VRBO in PC)

United AVP-ORD-DEN.....From PA to CO, this is my favorite Thursday evening flight that gets me to a friends house in Summit Co. before midnight. When skiing CO, I usually have to take 2 personal days as it is not quite as convenient as UT, so I have to fly back on Monday.
(Stay at my buddies house- ski based on conditions of the day)



These are my 2 favorite non-quick hitter trips:

United AVP-ORD-JAC......This is my go to flight to JH/GT. I take this over Xmas break, so it doesn’t take any of my personal days. This am flight gets me from PA to WY by 1:00pm.
(Stay at my buddies house in Driggs- ski GT/JH based on conditions/weather)

United EWR-SLC-RNO...... This is my flight to Tahoe/Mammoth. I take this over Easter break, so it doesn’t take any of my personal days. This trip involves the most driving, but at Easter.... we have found Mammoth/Squaw/Tahoe resorts to be the most “worth it”...... and usually great spring conditions.
(Mammoth-VRBO in village) (Tahoe-VRBO somewhere along lake)


Not sure my post helps you out that much, but I felt like typing this am.......and shows if you love the sport/industry you can/have to be creative to be able to enjoy it!.
 
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James

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Nothing beats Salt Lake. If the difference in getting to Park City vs Lcc/Bcc is an issue, forget Denver.
But, one can actually fly in to Denver and ski that day- Loveland, Abasin, Keystone, WinterPark and even Vail, Copper are doable also I guess. I've done it with Abasin.
One can also
Fly in to Aspen.
Steamboat
Eagle near Vail.
 

mdf

entering the Big Couloir
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Fly in to Aspen
Flying Boston to Aspen on American Airlines was pretty great. The airport is actually on the shuttle bus route between the four mountains that make up Aspen Skiing Company.

edit -- for real road warrior cred, change clothes at the airport and stash your suitcase in the lockers at the base. ogwink
 
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Bill Miles

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If your budget is high enough, consider flying into Aspen. Some risk, expecially for a short trip, that your flight may get diverted. Once you are there, no need for a car.
 
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VON

VON

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I live in the East and fly quite a bit to ski in CO and UT. What is your idea of best skiing? Do you want steepest and deepest? Do you want biggest and liveliest? Folks have already mentioned most of the top contenders. Do you want to go to one mtn and focus on it and avoid renting a car, or do you like to bounce around by rental vehicle to several in one trip? There are a bunch of good mtns in UT within 45-60 mins of the SLC airport. There are a bunch of good ones between 1.5 and 2.5 hours from Denver airport.

You mentioned Park City and Vail. Park City is the best overall resort experience in UT IMHO. Lots of terrain, lively town, easy drive from airport. As MDF mentioned its main detraction is that other nearby ski areas are steeper and deeper, but not as big. Vail is similar to PC with an even bigger and more upscale resort town, about two hours to Denver airport. Vail can be pretty busy at prime times, but it's big enough to find lower traffic ski runs/terrain and stay away from chokepoints and busiest lifts.

Is your budget low, medium, or high? RuleMiHa and TonyC mentioned Loveland and Arapahoe Basin. That combo can be an inexpensive way to do Colorado. Staying in the SLC suburbs and skiing Solitude and Brighton can be an inexpensive way to do Utah. If your idea of best skiing is luxury accoms, pampered grooming, and top on-hill dining then Deer Valley in UT and Beaver Creek in CO might be considerations.

You mentioned real local culture. In CO nearer to Denver that might mean places like Arapahoe Basin, Mary Jane at Winter Park, Copper Mtn, or smaller places like Eldora or Cooper. In UT that could mean Alta/Bird, Brighton, or Snowbasin. But there is local and touristy aspects about most sizable ski areas.

Don't answer if too personal, but what was your old mtn and what did you like about it? What will be your Eastern gateway airport? Will you be living near any decent Eastern ski areas that you can visit in between trips back west?

Ah I only left out my personal details because I didn't want to force the conversation to be only about my preferences/situation, but I will gladly take your advice!

Me: I'm now living in New York.

Geneva was previously home base for ski trips. Most skied mountains are Verbier followed by Chamonix and Val D'Isere.

In an ideal world I wouldn't need to rent a car for the whole trip but could take a shuttle to the mountain from the airport and stay within walking distance of a bus stop to the lifts (or even walk to the lifts directly). European mountains are very well served by public transport but I'm not sure if that's the same in the US. Ultimately renting a car and staying a little further from the base may be the best option (in terms of balancing cost with quality of accommodation) and I would not be unhappy if it were the case.

As far as terrain, the reason I like my most frequented mountains in Europe is that there is plenty of wiiide open terrain - which means I can include my friends of all ski levels in a day of good skiing - but there is also very easy access to off-piste skiing with a relatively small amount of hiking required (this mainly applies to Val D'Isere and Verbier - a little less so Chamonix though I'd say Chamonix is probably the steepest and most technical).

I definitely don't need the steepest and deepest to be happy. Though of course the bigger the mountain and wider the variety - I will not complain!

But what is also very important to me is the idea of getting to access the American ski culture out West. I grew up watching many movies in places like Alta/Bird, Jackson, Squaw - and I hope I will get to cross all of them off my list eventually.

But with my work/lifestyle in the next year or two, I'm targeting the places I can get in and out of the fastest first.
 

djetok

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I flown into both doc and Denver many times over the last couple of years. Besides the Denver airport is huge and busy. Slc is not big but is busy. Rental cars suck at both locations.

Skiing

We stay in park city and ski the area. The drive to Alta is not bad at all.
In Utah plan your alcohol, because the liquor laws are horrible. Park city is incredibly expensive on food.

I like to fly into Gunnison and ride the bus to the butte.
 
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Jim Kenney

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Ah I only left out my personal details because I didn't want to force the conversation to be only about my preferences/situation, but I will gladly take your advice!

Me: I'm now living in New York.

Geneva was previously home base for ski trips. Most skied mountains are Verbier followed by Chamonix and Val D'Isere.

In an ideal world I wouldn't need to rent a car for the whole trip but could take a shuttle to the mountain from the airport and stay within walking distance of a bus stop to the lifts (or even walk to the lifts directly). European mountains are very well served by public transport but I'm not sure if that's the same in the US. Ultimately renting a car and staying a little further from the base may be the best option (in terms of balancing cost with quality of accommodation) and I would not be unhappy if it were the case.

As far as terrain, the reason I like my most frequented mountains in Europe is that there is plenty of wiiide open terrain - which means I can include my friends of all ski levels in a day of good skiing - but there is also very easy access to off-piste skiing with a relatively small amount of hiking required (this mainly applies to Val D'Isere and Verbier - a little less so Chamonix though I'd say Chamonix is probably the steepest and most technical).

I definitely don't need the steepest and deepest to be happy. Though of course the bigger the mountain and wider the variety - I will not complain!

But what is also very important to me is the idea of getting to access the American ski culture out West. I grew up watching many movies in places like Alta/Bird, Jackson, Squaw - and I hope I will get to cross all of them off my list eventually.

But with my work/lifestyle in the next year or two, I'm targeting the places I can get in and out of the fastest first.
Good info. You're going to have to make multiple Western ski trips:yahoo: but also note that there is terrific skiing three to five hours drive north of you when the snow is good in New England. You would appear to have the finances to visit the bigger more expensive resorts, rather than small ones, much smaller than the resorts you're use to in the Alps. You will have to examine flight options out of NYC area to decide if Denver or SLC works the quickest and best price for you.

Without rental car, perhaps start with a trip to Park City for skiing and resort town, which you can reach easily by shuttle bus from SLC airport. If you have time, relocate to Alta/Bird for a couple days on same trip for steeper, hardcore experience. If you're on a shorter and cheaper trip you could rent a car and stay in SLC suburbs and ski 3 or 4 days at Alta/Bird or Sol/Bright.
You could also get a shuttle from Denver airport to Vail or Breckenridge for skiing and resort towns. At Breck you could possibly include a day at Arapahoe Basin via free summit stage bus for a smaller mtn, but with a steeper, hardcore experience. If shorter and cheaper trip you could rent car and stay in town of Frisco and ski Copper, A-Basin or Loveland.

Time to do your homework and as I mentioned, you should also look into one-day or two-day trips to Eastern places such as Hunter Mtn, Killington, Whiteface/Lake Placid, etc. You can get excellent skiing near NYC and be in good shape for precious trips to CO or UT.
 

Hypergruv

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As someone who skied Vail 100+ days last year, it's not always as crowded as everyone makes it out to be.

Wake up early, be in the gondola line right about 0800. Have an idea about what/where you want to ski that day. Stay ahead of the crowds.

I say crowds, but unless it's a Saturday, they are not that bad unless it's a POW day. If so, you'd better beat me to the lift line. Even on a Saturday, I've gone out on my lunch break ans walked right up to 1, 4, & 36 with no wait.
 

Tony S

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Not so much for the OP, if s/he is in NYC, but for other easterners who may be reading: The reality check against all this comes quickly if you don't live in or close to a major gateway. Living near more of an outpost airport with non-stop flights only to airlines' east coast hub cities, I find it unrealistic to try to ski on the same day as traveling westward. Beginning the trip with a redeye is risky, since you're tired and travel-worn before you even put your boots on. (Skiing the day of return might be possible if you're willing to do a redeye. But then you work a very bleary day or have to take a vacation day when you arrive home.) It's a big country, and things that aren't written into your itinerary have a way of consuming significant time. Just saying that it pays to build some slack into your schedule so you don't find your vacation more trying than your work.
 
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VON

VON

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Good info. You're going to have to make multiple Western ski trips:yahoo: but also note that there is terrific skiing three to five hours drive north of you when the snow is good in New England. You would appear to have the finances to visit the bigger more expensive resorts, rather than small ones, much smaller than the resorts you're use to in the Alps. You will have to examine flight options out of NYC area to decide if Denver or SLC works the quickest and best price for you.

Without rental car, perhaps start with a trip to Park City for skiing and resort town, which you can reach easily by shuttle bus from SLC airport. If you have time, relocate to Alta/Bird for a couple days on same trip for steeper, hardcore experience. If you're on a shorter and cheaper trip you could rent a car and stay in SLC suburbs and ski 3 or 4 days at Alta/Bird or Sol/Bright.
You could also get a shuttle from Denver airport to Vail or Breckenridge for skiing and resort towns. At Breck you could possibly include a day at Arapahoe Basin via free summit stage bus for a smaller mtn, but with a steeper, hardcore experience. If shorter and cheaper trip you could rent car and stay in town of Frisco and ski Copper, A-Basin or Loveland.

Time to do your homework and as I mentioned, you should also look into one-day or two-day trips to Eastern places such as Hunter Mtn, Killington, Whiteface/Lake Placid, etc. You can get excellent skiing near NYC and be in good shape for precious trips to CO or UT.

Great info - thanks to everyone! RE: the Northeast - yes definitely! I have already committed to doing some last-minute "there's a storm let's go" trips to Stowe and Surgarbush with some of the people I have met here in New York. PLUS I get to see whether or not these New England ex-NCAA racers are the real deal! (Based on their pre-season gym routines, I suspect they are!)


Ok - last question for everyone - if you were gonna roll the dice and book some flights for Thanksgiving weekend - where would you fly? Salt Lake or Denver?



Ah and last question for everyone - what do the abbreviations for BCC and LCC mean? I'm gonna :doh: when you tell me, I'm sure!
 
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