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Old 01-15-2010, 09:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help with Utah plans

Hello all,

My wife and I are going to Park City in early February and need help deciding where we will fill a day that we have open. We're staying at The Canyons and plan to ski/ride there for two days. We're getting in early enough to use the Quick START program and are gonna give Park City Mountain a whirl. I know that a lot of people on here don't think much of Park City Mountain but since it's free we're gonna give it a shot.

We have one day where we can go to a different resort and this is where I need some help. It sounds like Brighton, Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird are all pretty close and am wondering what you guys would recommend.

My wife skis and I ride. Neither of us have any problems with advanced intermediate runs - we've been to Breck, Beaver Creek, Steamboat, Whistler, Tahoe, etc - and prefer groomers. No parks, pipes, or jumps. Grooming is probably the most important thing to us followed by proximity to Park City.

Thanks in advance for your recommendations!!
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Old 01-16-2010, 11:59 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi PF,

Are you coming out for Presidents day weekend, if so I would definitely get to PC early and do a short day (9 to 12, maybe 1 if you are lucky). You probably will not want to make it your last day. Don't get me wrong, I actually like PC but as most have said on the forum, it gets crowded fast, but the runs are well maintained and the lifts are fast. Do keep in mind that our snowpack is very low and some runs still haven't been groomed so all you have are bumps. You also have to deal with a lot of never-ever's, please don't think me elitest but you will find a good ammount of falling leaves on some runs.

As for other mountains, depending on your level of skill, Solitude and Brighton have less crowds, but the vertical is somewhat less, if you are looking for longer groomers Brighton is nice Solitudes groomed runs are short and steep except for the summit access which in my mind is a glorified cat track. Solitude has a "family friendly" park so don't expect much Brighton is where the parks are big, burly, and do not suffer fools. Solitudes backcountry/slckcountry access is really the reason it is so popular but some of it is "vacation friendly" with the cat rack down Honeycomb canyon and some of the runs off powderhorn and powderhorn gate(this does not mean in any way that there is a 0% chance of slides or injury/death). Brightons backcountry is just that no avi work.

Although you didn't mention them Powder Mountain and Snowbasin are also hidden gems. I included them because for the extra 45 minutes in the car it's somewhat relative for good snow. Powder is great especially a few days after a dump with their backcountry access it really is great (you should have avi gear), if your all are not comfortable they have mountain tours pricey but really fun especially if you want some local knowledge without having to be local, when I worked as a concierge I used to send guests up for tours and I never had anyone have anything but a incredible time. The vibe there is also very laid back, mom and pop style. Head up to the top of sunrise lift and if it's windy watch the snowkiters. Snowbasin is the only place most of my european friends will ride I have throughly scared myself on the Olympic runs there. If it snows strawberry is so good you will probably not forget it for a long time.

Obviously as you can tell I have more experience at Soli and Brighton than Powder and Snowbasin. Regardless any resort is worthwhile. I hope this helps sorry for running off at the mouth. Oh, snowbird the biggest and the baddest and the most crowded. A great mountain it will defintiely challenge you and then some. The bad, massive ammounts of people especially on a powder day, also this road after a dump is gonna be closed for avalanche work, which can ruin your day, if you want to be there early. It will open eventually, some people will go to Soli and Brighton instead, but the mass of people will still be there.

Wow, I haven't written this much since college. See you on the hill.
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Old 01-16-2010, 01:21 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the detailed info 925hell!!

We arrive on 2/6 and go home on 2/10 so no issues with Presidents Day.

For the first time we won't be renting a car for this trip. It's always been a waste of money for us and with the shuttle systems in resort towns we only seem to use it to get to/from the airport. I know that there are shuttle services to the resorts in the Cottonwood canyons so that's why we we're thinking along those lines.

I included Alta on my list but I see that they don't allow boarders so that won't work.

I'll definitely get more info on Snowbasin and Powder Mountain, thanks for the tips.

How do the Utah resorts stack up against Lake Tahoe (Squaw Valley, Heavenly, Kirkwood) and Colorado (Steamboat, Beaver Creek, Breck) in the terms of difficulty level?

Thanks again for the info. This trip is a little shorter than usual and we don't want to waste a minute.
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Old 01-16-2010, 03:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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In further response to you posts, since you are not going to be renting a car, Snowbasin and Powder Mountain would be a logistical and financial nightmare. If you got a shuttle service to and from it would be mucho expensive. If you tried to use the public transport system you would first have to get a shuttle to downtown (20 min)(70.00), then get on the front runner which runs from SLC to Ogden (45 minutes) (9.00), after that you would need to still get another shuttle up to the mountain (35 min)(45.00?) from the Ogden train station and then reverse the order to just get back to PC.

Here is the website to canyon transport (canyon robbers) Canyon Transportation Ski Shuttle Home Page

A comparison of resorts in CO isn't possible my only experience with CO resorts is mountain biking in the summer.

As always hope this helps.
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Old 01-19-2010, 03:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I just got back from my third trip to SLC area in 3 years, so Hopefully I can offer you some help. I've ridden Snowbird, SnoBasin, The Canyons, Brighton, and Powder. I've also listed them, in-order, according to my personal preferance. Each mountain has a different feel, so I wouldn't suggest riding any of the mountains for more than two days! (No more than one day would be needed at Powder, Brighton, or Canyons....IMHO).


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Originally Posted by PalmerFreak View Post
For the first time we won't be renting a car for this trip. It's always been a waste of money for us and with the shuttle systems in resort towns we only seem to use it to get to/from the airport. I know that there are shuttle services to the resorts in the Cottonwood canyons so that's why we we're thinking along those lines.
I would suggest reconsidering this. I understand the wonders of having shuttle transpo, but it soooo limits where you can go and when. We were in SLC last weekend, had a car, and were able to (landing at 11:00PM Thursday Night and Departing 5PM Monday Afternoon) ride Brighton, the Canyons, SnoBasin, and Snowbird. There is no feasible way we could have pulled that off without a car. And, as I said, the best two spots were the farther-away places. If we didn't have the car we wouldn't have been able to drive to Snowbird and get the only Fresh pow of the weekend (4-5 inches) until 2 and then drive to the airport to catch our flight. Utah car prices aren't nearly as expensive as Denver prices......we paid 91$ for our 4-day rental. Check sidestep.com for good prices on simple cars. Ask for chains.


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I'll definitely get more info on Snowbasin and Powder Mountain, thanks for the tips.
Unless they get killer snow, I'd balk on Powder. They have slow lifts, are way out-of-the-way, and 1/2 of their boasted terrain is snow-cat accessed (added fee) or, as stated before, require avy gear. Snobasin is on the way towards Powder and offers one HELL of a varied terrain!

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How do the Utah resorts stack up against Lake Tahoe (Squaw Valley, Heavenly, Kirkwood) and Colorado (Steamboat, Beaver Creek, Breck) in the terms of difficulty level?
I can relate to Kirkwood and Breck. Brighton/Solitude are small versions of Breck. Some Steeps, some trees, some groomers, some Aspens.

Snowbird is a Kirkwood-esque mountain, only BIGGER. Most snow in the area. Kill yourself chutes, wide-open bowls, decent lift system, and just ooohhh sooo yummy! It is hard to explain the Bird, you just have to experience it and search-around a bit. This place is much better when more snow has fallen, so the rock terrain can be covered. With the elevation (11000ft) it is the one that gets the few inches of freshies when the other resorts are still offering corn or mashed taters.

Snobasin has some huge steeps from rock chutes to Pine glades with all sorts of slope to them. There are some fun middle runs. Then, again, as stated, the Strawberry area is AWESOME!!!! Imagine dropping off the top of the IMperial Express at Breck off the back (Whale's Tale) and then into the aspen area of Vail's Back Bowls, then having a gondola take you back up to do it again. A gondola ride, by the way, that may be the most beautiful/picturesque lift ride you ever experience! The resort buildings, themselves, are beautiful, too. Very pleasant staff....hell, even the lifties are trained to ask for your skis or board to load them onto the gondola for you. I know this is a little over-the-top, but for a vacationer...though I denied their offer, its cool to have that offer made.

Canyons. Well, I pledged to never go back. I would never go back, not because they are all that awful, but because the other two places are that much more enjoyable. We managed to bring a girl with us to Snowbasin, on Sunday, who hadn't left the Canyons/Park City because she had been going there since she was a kid. (Her folks have a place in PC). She refered to Snobasin as Gorgeous, Beautiful, Amazing, and the most fun she has had riding in a long time.......granted, some of that was due to the company she was in.

So, this is a post that is both a short recap of my trip and a response to your questions. After mediocre riding, at best, at Brighton and the Canyons, the vacation was saved by a sunny day at Snobasin on sunday and a snowy day on Monday at Snowbird.
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Old 01-20-2010, 12:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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thx for tip on sidestep.com - much better rental car rates than I was finding elsewhere.
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Old 01-20-2010, 12:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hello neednsnow and thanks for the awesome post!!

We've already paid for our transportation from the airport to The Canyons so were stuck with that. We may rent a car for a day and try to hit one of the other resorts though.

From the reviews that I've seen Snowbird gets pretty crowded but we'd be going there on a Tuesday so maybe it wouldn't be all that bad. Snowbasin sounds great as well. Which of the two has better snow right now? We like groomers so do either have an edge in this department?

I'm a little confused about The Canyons. I've seen great reviews about the resort and bad reviews for Park City Mountain. We're staying at the base of The Canyons and thought that we'd spend at least two days there. I'm hoping that it will be good and worth our time.

One other question, and this may be a little harder to answer: Do any of the resorts that you mentioned face west so that when the sun comes up the trails are bathed in beautiful sunlight? We went to Whistler two years ago and had to traverse a lot of acreage to get to the 7th Heaven area to get out of the shadows.

Thanks again and I look forward to reading your reply!!

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Old 01-20-2010, 12:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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A few years back a group of 6 of us went to Utah and the consensus was that we like the Canyons better than PC. Most of us were intermediate riders and it seemed like the Canyons had better overall terrain and was easier to 'get around' the mountain. At least for me PC felt more wide than long which required frequent rides on the lifts to get to the other side. Other people may differ from my opinion however.
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Old 01-20-2010, 02:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PalmerFreak View Post
Hello neednsnow and thanks for the awesome post!!

We've already paid for our transportation from the airport to The Canyons so were stuck with that. We may rent a car for a day and try to hit one of the other resorts though.

From the reviews that I've seen Snowbird gets pretty crowded but we'd be going there on a Tuesday so maybe it wouldn't be all that bad. Snowbasin sounds great as well. Which of the two has better snow right now? We like groomers so do either have an edge in this department?

I'm a little confused about The Canyons. I've seen great reviews about the resort and bad reviews for Park City Mountain. We're staying at the base of The Canyons and thought that we'd spend at least two days there. I'm hoping that it will be good and worth our time.

One other question, and this may be a little harder to answer: Do any of the resorts that you mentioned face west so that when the sun comes up the trails are bathed in beautiful sunlight? We went to Whistler two years ago and had to traverse a lot of acreage to get to the 7th Heaven area to get out of the shadows.

Thanks again and I look forward to reading your reply!!
So, looking at the stats, the Canyons seem pretty healthy. I didn't hate the resort, I just liked the others better. You get some good sun-drenching on the lower 1/2 of the Strawberry side of Snowbasin. Also, you can get some good sun-softening in Snowbird's Mineral Basin. The good snow is surely falling on most of Utah, with 20 in Bird and 13 in Canyons, and 11 in Basin over the last 2 days.
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Old 01-20-2010, 02:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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also, check-out pairpass.com the vouchers are good after the lifts close at smokies pub
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