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Non Region Specific 2024 Ski Road Trip Planning

teejaywhy

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My brother is retiring in February and he advised me that his wife has given the ok for a "go ahead, get-it-out-of-your-system" ski trip. The wives don't ski, so just us boys.

Note: We're both working stiffs all of our lives and our dear mother has imparted a certain element of frugalness into our DNA. We pondered the options and we both liked the idea of a low-budget dirtball road trip, driving about the mountains of the west, taking in as many resorts as we can, finding budget lodging, brown bag lunches in the parking lot, etc. We have never done anything of this scale. He lives in Ohio and only gets 2-3 days a year at the local bump, with a week-long trip out west every 5 years or so. I live in Arizona and am able to get 8-10 days in per season.

The Mountain Collective pass immediately came to mind - a great value, offering 2 days at each of a respectable list of western resorts, with a bonus 3rd day at the resort of our choice.

I went to work and mapped out a tentative journey that could involve 21 ski days and sent the itinerary to my brother.

Trip Map.jpg <photo>

Called him up:
"What do you think?"
"Sounds good."
"You know, that would be 21 ski days not counting travel?"
"Yeah... and?"


Right... $575 / 21 days of skiing = 23/24 Mountain Collective passes secured.

So, here's the plan: Hitting the road from Arizona February 23.
6 days @ Alta/Snowbird/Snowbasin
2 days @ Sun Valley
2 days @ Big Sky
2 days @ Grand Targhee
2 days @ Jackson Hole
3 days @ Aspen-Snowmass
2 days @ Arapahoe Basin
2 days @ Taos

Now we begin the work on the rest of the planning.
Routes to take.
Where to stay.
Where to park.
Details like required reservations.
Best breweries to visit or local beers to try (important stuff!)

Looking to the group for guidance and encouragement. I will follow-up with some more specific comments and questions as the plan develops.

THANKS IN ADVANCE!
Tom
 

Crank

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Budget in some extra $$ and days for skiing. When I had the MCP I remember that the deal included 50% off lift tickets after your 2 days were used up. 2 days is not nearly enough time to spend exploring Big Sky and/or Jackson Hole!

Don't forget to build in some rest days. Make sure you and your brother are as physically prepared as you can be.

If possible, be a bit flexible in you routing because there can be a big difference in things like snow and there can be stormy days and nights when you don't want to be driving highways or mountain passes.

Sounds like an awesome trip!
 

Bill Miles

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Couple of thoughts on budget lodging:

For SLC, I have previously stayed at Studio 6 in Midvale. Sort of a dump, but it has a kitchenette.
For Sun Valley, cheapest is a motel in Hailey or Bellevue. Helps that you have a car.
I am looking into a Jackson trip and even budget lodging, such as 49'er, is pretty high.
Also looking into a Big Sky trip, cheapest is Bozeman or West Yellowstone or maybe the hot springs campground between Bozeman and Big Sky.
Previous Aspen trips, have stayed as far away as Glenwood.
 
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TS
teejaywhy

teejaywhy

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Thanks for feedback @Bill Miles and @Crank.
I've just nailed down reasonable accommodations in Hailey. 12 miles south of Sun Valley. :golfclap:

Jackson isn't terrible. The problem children are Big Sky and Aspen/Snowmass.

Big Sky:
Bozeman is about 51 miles, West Yellowstone 57. West Yellowstone is 100 miles closer to Sun Valley, our previous stop than Bozeman. Also West Yellowstone is closer to next destination - Grand Targhee. Lot's of reasonable options. Anyone familiar with the drive ? Any compelling reason to stay in Bozeman vs. W. Yellowstone? Obviously, weather is the variable.

I have also noted that Big Sky requires reservations for Mountain Collective pass holders.
 

Jim Kenney

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My brother is retiring in February and he advised me that his wife has given the ok for a "go ahead, get-it-out-of-your-system" ski trip. The wives don't ski, so just us boys.

Note: We're both working stiffs all of our lives and our dear mother has imparted a certain element of frugalness into our DNA. We pondered the options and we both liked the idea of a low-budget dirtball road trip, driving about the mountains of the west, taking in as many resorts as we can, finding budget lodging, brown bag lunches in the parking lot, etc. We have never done anything of this scale. He lives in Ohio and only gets 2-3 days a year at the local bump, with a week-long trip out west every 5 years or so. I live in Arizona and am able to get 8-10 days in per season.

The Mountain Collective pass immediately came to mind - a great value, offering 2 days at each of a respectable list of western resorts, with a bonus 3rd day at the resort of our choice.

I went to work and mapped out a tentative journey that could involve 21 ski days and sent the itinerary to my brother.

View attachment 214928 <photo>

Called him up:
"What do you think?"
"Sounds good."
"You know, that would be 21 ski days not counting travel?"
"Yeah... and?"


Right... $575 / 21 days of skiing = 23/24 Mountain Collective passes secured.

So, here's the plan: Hitting the road from Arizona February 23.
6 days @ Alta/Snowbird/Snowbasin
2 days @ Sun Valley
2 days @ Big Sky
2 days @ Grand Targhee
2 days @ Jackson Hole
3 days @ Aspen-Snowmass
2 days @ Arapahoe Basin
2 days @ Taos

Now we begin the work on the rest of the planning.
Routes to take.
Where to stay.
Where to park.
Details like required reservations.
Best breweries to visit or local beers to try (important stuff!)

Looking to the group for guidance and encouragement. I will follow-up with some more specific comments and questions as the plan develops.

THANKS IN ADVANCE!
Tom
Looks great. I did something similar in March 2018 with MCP. See two-part report on the trip starting here: https://www.skitalk.com/threads/northern-rockies-road-trip-part-1-utah-and-jackson.12568/

Once you get north of SLC I recommend you always keep your gas tank at least 1/3rd full. Can be long distances between stations and I almost ran out one night in the middle of MT.

Motels keep going up in price. Here's a few suggestions that were adequate, not fancy. Info might be out of date.
SLC, plenty of places in the SL Valley like the Crystal Inns that aren't too expensive. Same for the town of Taos for the Ski Valley.
Stayed at the Motel 6 in Jackson for the last Gathering there and it was $80something per night, but those days are probably gone.
Stayed at the Days Inn at Carbondale and it was fairly reasonable.
If Rt 6 over Loveland Pass is open, you might find a reasonable motel in Georgetown, CO for Arapahoe Basin. Staryed at the Quality Inn in Silverthorne last winter one night. Not too expensive.

Crank has a good point about maybe skiing a third day at 50% off at a few places, considering how far you've come and that you might not get back again. Some of the drives between ski areas in my 2018 trip were far enough apart that it took a whole day to do them and that constituted a rest day in between hard skiing days. You might consider taking a day off between Big Sky and Jackson to ride a winter tour bus from West Yellowstone into Yellowstone NP. My wife and I did that during the last Gathering at Big Sky. It was fun to see Old Faithful go off with only about 40 other people around. I guess if I was going to splurge on lodging it would be to get convenient spots at Snowmass and Big Sky rather than do a longish daily commute to ski those.
PS: Have you skied Snowmass before? I skied with you last year a bit. I think you and your brother would love it. Maybe do four days in Aspen area including two at Snowmass.
 
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tch

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Re. Carbondale/Basalt...I stayed at a nice AirBnB there two years ago. Attached MIL apartment. Worked great and was reasonable (given that it's skiing!). So don't be afraid to try AirBnB as well as motels...
 

SpikeDog

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Bozeman is about 51 miles, West Yellowstone 57. West Yellowstone is 100 miles closer to Sun Valley, our previous stop than Bozeman. Also West Yellowstone is closer to next destination - Grand Targhee. Lot's of reasonable options. Anyone familiar with the drive ? Any compelling reason to stay in Bozeman vs. W. Yellowstone? Obviously, weather is the variable.

I have also noted that Big Sky requires reservations for Mountain Collective pass holders.
Driving from Driggs to Ashton on the way to West Yellowstone - flat farmland terrain that is prone to whiteouts and wind. Do it in the daytime if possible. Once you get to Hwy 20 there's some contrast like trees to help out. West Yellowstone has lots of motels and is a snowmobile destination town, but it's a long way to Big Sky and always super cold. The Lodge at Big Sky is just a short walk to the lifts, and was a little less expensive than the base hotels.

Does your Mtn Collective get you on the Big Sky tram? The Ikon doesn't (anymore). Big Sky ain't so big without that lift.

The section you show from Craig to Rock Springs is on Hwy 191. The part from Dutch John to Rock Springs is often always closed during storms, but you can work around it by using Hwy 530 through Manila. Use WyoDot site to check beforehand, otherwise you'll have to backtrack 20 miles.

Sidewinders in Jackson is a worthy dining option, with beaucoup brews on tap and great food featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.. Storm Peak Brewing in Steamboat is good, and the pizza and BBQ joints on either side are really good. They are far enough outside of town that they are relatively uncrowded (or full of locals).
 
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KingGrump

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We have done several multi-stop road trips for more than a decade. Some with the Max Pass and recently Ikon.

Probably the big question is are you guys ready to ski that many days in a short span of time. Too tight of a schedule can take a significant toll on your bodies.
Build in some rest days. Try not to drive at night if you can help it.
 
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teejaywhy

teejaywhy

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Definitely look into staying in Basalt, or possibly Glenwood Springs.
Re. Carbondale/Basalt...I stayed at a nice AirBnB there two years ago. Attached MIL apartment. Worked great and was reasonable (given that it's skiing!). So don't be afraid to try AirBnB as well as motels...

Indeed, thanks. For sure looking at Air BnB, VRBO options.


Looks great. I did something similar in March 2018 with MCP. See two-part report on the trip starting here: https://www.skitalk.com/threads/northern-rockies-road-trip-part-1-utah-and-jackson.12568/

Once you get north of SLC I recommend you always keep your gas tank at least 1/3rd full. Can be long distances between stations and I almost ran out one night in the middle of MT.

Motels keep going up in price. Here's a few suggestions that were adequate, not fancy. Info might be out of date.
SLC, plenty of places in the SL Valley like the Crystal Inns that aren't too expensive. Same for the town of Taos for the Ski Valley.
Stayed at the Motel 6 in Jackson for the last Gathering there and it was $80something per night, but those days are probably gone.
Stayed at the Days Inn at Carbondale and it was fairly reasonable.
If Rt 6 over Loveland Pass is open, you might find a reasonable motel in Georgetown, CO for Arapahoe Basin. Staryed at the Quality Inn in Silverthorne last winter one night. Not too expensive.

Crank has a good point about maybe skiing a third day at 50% off at a few places, considering how far you've come and that you might not get back again. Some of the drives between ski areas in my 2018 trip were far enough apart that it took a whole day to do them and that constituted a rest day in between hard skiing days. You might consider taking a day off between Big Sky and Jackson to ride a winter tour bus from West Yellowstone into Yellowstone NP. My wife and I did that during the last Gathering at Big Sky. It was fun to see Old Faithful go off with only about 40 other people around. I guess if I was going to splurge on lodging it would be to get convenient spots at Snowmass and Big Sky rather than do a longish daily commute to ski those.
PS: Have you skied Snowmass before? I skied with you last year a bit. I think you and your brother would love it. Maybe do four days in Aspen area including two at Snowmass.

Thanks for the link! I've also been reviewing the Gathering threads for the past visits to Aspen, Big Sky and Jackson.

Plenty of options in Salt Lake City, somewhat familiar having done the drill for last season's Gathering.

The most budget options in Jackson are $130-150 / nite. We may splurge here a bit. There are three sister lodgings right in town that I have seen mentioned - Elk Country, 49'er and the Antler Inn. Around $215 including breakfast and HOT TUB. They also offer free shuttle to the JHMR. Any one favored over the other? (leaning toward Elk Country Inn...)

Never been to Aspen, pretty sure we will spend at least two days at Snowmass. A place close to my brother's heart. As a kid in high school, he was invited to accompany his buddy's family to their ski-in/out condo on the slopes of Snowmass for his first time skiing ever.


Driving from Driggs to Ashton on the way to West Yellowstone - flat farmland terrain that is prone to whiteouts and wind. Do it in the daytime if possible. Once you get to Hwy 20 there's some contrast like trees to help out. West Yellowstone has lots of motels and is a snowmobile destination town, but it's a long way to Big Sky and always super cold. The Lodge at Big Sky is just a short walk to the lifts, and was a little less expensive than the base hotels.

Does your Mtn Collective get you on the Big Sky tram? The Ikon doesn't (anymore). Big Sky ain't so big without that lift.

The section you show from Craig to Rock Springs is on Hwy 191. The part from Dutch John to Rock Springs is often always closed during storms, but you can work around it by using Hwy 530 through Manila. Use WyoDot site to check beforehand, otherwise you'll have to backtrack 20 miles.

Sidewinders in Jackson is a worthy dining option, with beaucoup brews on tap and great food featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.. Storm Peak Brewing in Steamboat is good, and the pizza and BBQ joints on either side are really good. They are far enough outside of town that they are relatively uncrowded (or full of locals).

Lodge @ Big Sky is $800/night. And that is one of the lower-priced offerings. :geek:

Tram is not included with MCP. Not sure there is anything for me up there anyway!

The map was done quickly as a what if? The actual routes are TBD. I know the Jackson to Aspen route has several options, all of them winding/mountain/secondary roads. A lot will depend on the weather. Good to know about the 191 south of Rock Springs. We actually pulled our travel trailer down hwy 530 two summers ago coming home from Yellowstone. I would have thought 191 would be the better choice. But the state DOT sites will be helpful.

Thanks!

We have done several multi-stop road trips for more than a decade. Some with the Max Pass and recently Ikon.

Probably the big question is are you guys ready to ski that many days in a short span of time. Too tight of a schedule can take a significant toll on your bodies.
Build in some rest days. Try not to drive at night if you can help it.

We will take a day off during our week in SLC and drive days between each destination. No night driving.

Are we ready? We'll see. It's an ambitious plan for sure. I made it 6 days straight at the Utah gathering. I did take it easy though. :cool:
 

PlainsSkier

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Big Sky maybe you could luck into a deal with an airbnb if it is a weekday, of course all the fees may make it less of a deal. If you have Marriot points you can book at the Wilson Hotel. I will say staying close to the mountain at Big Sky is worthwhile, probably the one resort on the list I would spend a bit extra for that luxury. Aspen is much easier to drive in from Basalt, Carbondale or Glenwood...best mass transit for skiing. Go to the Brush Creek park and ride outside of Snowmass then grab a shuttle to any of the mountains.
 

New2

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we both liked the idea of a low-budget dirtball road trip
Aww, too bad! You're going to drive by a bunch of genuine dirtball ski areas on the way between these Mountain Collective resorts. But it still sounds fun!

The segment you have mapped between Jackson and Aspen is a lot of very empty, very lightly-traveled country prone to bitter cold, raging wind, and blowing snow. If you head across there, definitely carry plenty of emergency supplies just in case. Better, I'd say, would be to just go back through Utah. Stay somewhere close to Altabird on your Phoenix-Salt Lake leg, then stay in Ogden/ski Snowbasin between Jackson and Aspen. The time you save on Salt Lake traffic will cancel out the extra travel time from avoiding the Wyoming Whiteout.
 

David Chaus

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I have stayed in West Yellowstone and done a couple days at Big Sky, it’s less traffic by far than staying in Bozeman. It’s about an hour drive. If you’re dirt-bagging the trip, that‘ll work well. Big Sky accommodations are F#%king expensive.
 

Lauren

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Now we begin the work on the rest of the planning.
Routes to take.
Where to stay.
Where to park.
Details like required reservations.
Best breweries to visit or local beers to try (important stuff!)
I highly recommend using the Google Maps "Save" feature for trips like this...

Make different lists to organize all your pins...either by location (one for each location on your list), or type of place (food, accommodation, skiing, etc). As you read through this forum/trip reports/blog articles/etc. and find something you're interested in...pin it with a quick note of why you pinned it. The note is important! Otherwise, you'll be wondering why you pinned it in the future. These lists give you a quick reference for places you're staying, skiing, and options for food (or other points of interest). I find it very useful after a long day and deciding "where do you want to eat"...just pull up your "food" list, and you have a bunch of recommendations at your fingertips.

And here's a couple recommendations of places I've enjoyed...
SLC Area: Localz Bistro in Sandy, UT - The husband and I were both incredibly happy with the food served...so good.
Little Saigon in SLC - If you like Vietnamese food...go here. Don't judge a book its cover, the food is ah-mazing. I would be a regular, if I lived closer.
Big Sky: Beehive Basin Brewery in Big Sky had some great beers...it's been 7 or 8 years since I've visited though, so not sure if it's changed.
 

Crank

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Bucks T4 for buffalo steaks at Big Sky!

The Silver Dollar Saloon in the Wort Hotel, Jackson, WY for Drinks, local flavor and live music. Or Bubba's BBQ for St, Louis Ribs, or Pinky G's for Pizza, or Bin 22 for wine and tapas. The Antler Inn is an inexpensive and decent motel right in center of town with free shuttle bus to the hill.
 

Bad Bob

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Finding restaurants , ask the locals for breweries, they often have good food at reasonable prices. Tip # 2 ask the lifties, they know.
You are going through the land of hot springs, your bodies would enjoy them.
On your leg between Sun Valley and Idaho Falls, drive through Craters of the Moon National Monument. There just are not too many places like that, well worth the look see. Bonus points if you can go through there in the moon lights
On the SLC to Sun Valley jaunt think about tossing in a day at Pomerelle if it is snowing. Tickets are cheap the hill is fun and the vibe is very cool. It would set you up for spending the night in Burley or Twin Falls and that will be a sight cheaper than anything around Sun Valley for a nights lodging.

Have a great time!
 

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