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Non Region Specific March Trip Advice

Bill Miles

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For my birthday next March 21, I am thinking of a trip from Sun Valley with my non-skiing wife. Want to keep costs down, driving, and wouldn't mind trying someplace new. Prefer steepish longish groomers. Don't have Ikon, but can get 50% tickets at MCP resorts. Here are the options I am considering, and wonder what the collective Pugski wisdom is:

Jackson: Been before this time of year, mountain past its prime due to sun exposure, lodging pretty pricey even at less expensive places like 49'er.

Big Sky: Never been there, tickets still probably $100+, would like to try, would have to stay remote in Bozeman or W Yellowstone

Bachelor: Inexpensive lodging in Bend, been there many times, probably postpone until April when inexpensive spring passes go on sale/become effective.

Mt Hood Meadows: Free skiing (over 75), have to stay a fair ways away (Hood River or The Dalles). Maybe spend a day or two at Timberline with more open than my previous trip in early June a number of years ago.

Snowbird: Used to go late season, stopped selling spring passes a number of years ago, place I usually stayed (Studio 6) is sort of dump.
 

dbostedo

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Big Sky would be awesome for you, but it's gotten to be more expensive than Aspen (or pretty much any other place as far as I can tell). Are you OK staying as far away as Bozeman?

Outside of that, looking at MCP resorts, I assume Sun Peaks and Panorama are too far?

Utah seems like a good option, though I'd put Snowbasin ahead on groomers over Snowbird and Alta. But Snowbird and Alta are great anyway, and a cool experience being up in the Canyon.

Have you been to Grand Targhee?
 
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Bill Miles

Bill Miles

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Big Sky would be awesome for you, but it's gotten to be more expensive than Aspen (or pretty much any other place as far as I can tell). Are you OK staying as far away as Bozeman?

Outside of that, looking at MCP resorts, I assume Sun Peaks and Panorama are too far?

Utah seems like a good option, though I'd put Snowbasin ahead on groomers over Snowbird and Alta. But Snowbird and Alta are great anyway, and a cool experience being up in the Canyon.

Have you been to Grand Targhee?
Big Sky is still a possibility, staying remote. Will look into drive time to Sun Peaks and Panorama.
 

4aprice

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Just me but I would be a little concerned about being too far north during what they keep saying is a "Strong" El Nino. From everything I understand (and I'm not a met but a skier who follows weather as a hobbiest) the southern Jet gets a jolt in these conditions and starves the north country. I realize every weather event is different but generally El Nino favors more southern areas.
 

New2

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If you really want to try Big Sky... don't count on it getting cheaper or easier to access in the future.

I love steep, uncrowded groomers, and Sun Valley can't be beat. Snowbasin, Alta, and Snowbird offer fewer, but similarly fun terrain, with bigger crowds. Does the Sun Valley pass come with enough of a Grand America/Little America discount to make those feasible hotels? They're much nicer than Studio 6, and the location downtown is very nice with a non-skiing family member.

I don't recommend Mt. Hood Meadows as a destination for you. Unless it's raining, crowds will be big enough to chop up their soft groomers pretty early. If you're in Portland for something else, sure give it a try and hope for the best. But the best steep groomers are at Skibowl, and the slow lifts might drive you to distraction after being spoiled by Sun Valley.

Maybe try Tamarack and/or Brundage? Senior pass prices will be similar or lower than some of the bigger destinations' half-price tickets.
 

DanoT

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Lake Louise sells a Spring Pass (good March and April) with mid week and 7 day/week versions, and there is also a Big 3 version that includes Norquay and Banff Sunshine Village.

If you are 75 y.o. the following western Canada resorts offer free skiing: Red Mountain, Whitewater, Panorama, Castle. And Fernie is $99Cdn for the season pass. You may need to be 75 y.o. before the start of the season for the old guy benefits to apply.

Edit: For the non skiing wife, the towns of Fernie and Rossland are a 5 min drive from Fernie and Red, Nelson (the hippie capital of Canada) is 20 min from Whitewater, Panorama is 20 min from Invermere. Castle has no town and is the anti-Whistler.

All that said, even though it is a couple days drive away, if you have never been to Banff, it is the clear winner. The mountain scenery is world class. In fact the first lift ever built at Lake Louise was not for skiing, rather it was for summer tourists to get high enough to view Mount Temple and the actual Lake Louise (named after one of Queen Victoria's daughters) on the other side of the valley.

March is still the off season in Banff so hotels will be reasonably priced and if you want to let your non skiing wife sleep in and leave her the car, you can catch the free shuttle bus that the hotels run to the skiing. Banff has a lot more things to see and do vs the other ski towns that I have mentioned.

I once shared a gondola ride at LL with a lady who raved non-stop for the entire ride about the Spa Day that she had at the Banff Springs Hotel. There are also outdoor hot springs fed swimming pools, so bring a bathing suit.

With the strong value of the US dollar vs Cdn $, things that are priced at $1Cdn are only about .70 cents US. Gas is expensive, but Alberta has the cheapest gas in Canada and there is no sales tax in Alberta, just a 5% Federal GST (Goods and Services Tax).

You won't regret visiting Banff and "Springtime in the Rockies" in Canada actually is a thing.
 
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bpratt

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The challenge is that Sun Valley is the best place for long, steep groomers.
But you want to try something else, makes sense.
For Mountain Collective, Aspen/Snowmass is the best option other than SV. Plenty of other great resorts, but for long, steep groomers Aspen, Ajax and Snowmass in particular, are almost as good as SV. But it's a 10+ hour drive from Ketchum.
For "not too long a drive from SV", I'd go with Deer Valley, again for great groomers. Park City should be appealing for a non-skiing spouse, and it's only a 5 hour drive from SV.

But I don't think there are any destinations that combine "drive from SV", "Mountain Collective", "great groomers", and "non-skiing spouse" in one package. Personally, I'd go with Deer Valley/Park City to keep the spouse happy and not drive TOO much. The only sacrifice is lift ticket prices.
 

PlainsSkier

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Stay in Bozeman and ski Big Sky and Bridger. Looks like lift tickets at Bridger for a senior are $45, easy drive from Bozeman.
 

JoeSchmoe

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For Mountain Collective, Aspen/Snowmass is the best option other than SV. Plenty of other great resorts, but for long, steep groomers Aspen, Ajax and Snowmass in particular, are almost as good as SV.

I like long, steep groomers too, but I found Lake Louise to be way more fun than Aspen (Highlands and Snowmass... didn't do the others).

In my opinion, Lake Louise also beats Aspen in the following areas:

-Tree and Open Bowl skiing
-Scenery
-Value
-Scenery
-Better flow to the mountain
-Scenery
-More activities for your wife

The scenery is better too.
 

kitchener

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...You won't regret visiting Banff and "Springtime in the Rockies" in Canada actually is a thing.

Banff was a great Easter Break destination when my kids were in school. Went once in March, and once in April, and both times we were hammered with snow. Can't say enough about not underestimating the exchange rate, either. We preferred Sunshine to Lake Louise (though at the time, the high-speeds hadn't hit the back side of LL, yet).

Number One Son atop Delirium Dive, April 2018.
 

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Tony S

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Prefer steepish longish groomers
This is the criterion I'd ditch. Travel to experience what you DON'T have at home. Dabble in whatever terrain and conditions the place you're at does best. Live a little.
 

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