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Colorado Road Trip 2019

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
We've booked flights and the countdown has begun to our Colorado road trip in February 2019! Very Happy

We managed to get KLM Newcastle - Denver return flights for £350 pp (plus baggage charges - £60 per bag), which was an absolute bargain. I still can't believe the deal we got and am more than happy with 2 stopovers (Amsterdam & Atlanta) for that price. BA would have cost us £600 more...

We will be skiing 2 days at Loveland - 1 day at the start of the trip, plus our final ski day before we fly back home. There we will be making use of their "4Pak" ie 4 lift tickets for $169! After that we will be heading to Dillon for a week (staying AirBnB) to ski free for 6 days at Vail resorts (with our 3 Valleys season passes) Very Happy We are planning to ski at Beaver Creek, Keystone, A-Basin, Breckenridge & Vail - all of which we've skied before (and can't wait to revisit).

Then it's on to Silverton for 4 days, which looks and sounds fantastic. It's our first visit there. It's basically lift served off piste, with 1 chairlift, a guide and 8 guests per group, for $180 per day (plus the cost of rental of avalanche safety kit). The website says we will be hiking (with skis on rucksacks) for between 5 and 45 minutes from the top of the lift, depending on conditions. The ski area is open only from Thursday to Sunday and the great news is that if you book the Thursday, Friday and Saturday you get to ski the Sunday for free. What an offer! It would be rude not to wink

I've discovered that Silverton offers Colorado's highest chairlift (at 13,487 feet - 4,110m Shocked ) so hope we have acclimatised by the time we get there. We will be staying in a no frills motel and Silverton looks like the classic one horse cowboy town. Can't wait for the real wild west experience.

As it's about a four and a half hour drive from Vail area to Silverton, we will be stopping off on the way there and back to ski at Sunlight and Powdehorn (both recommended by Mountainaddict last season). Each will be a first for us.

Only 129 days to go! Very Happy
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Bergmeister, Sounds fantastic!
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good stuff @Bergmeister, you're bound to have a ball Cool snowHead
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A great trip. Sunlight is fab.

If you're going back to Loveland via Monarch Pass then I can highly recommend Monarch Resort.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Good choices.

But a ~24hr flight is grim.
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Whitegold wrote:
Good choices.

But a ~24hr flight is grim.


It's "only" 18.5 hours NCL to DEN, take off to touchdown.

And not as grim as not going. wink
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In the winter, Silverton is more a "no horse" town, but don't worry about that because you will be too tired from all that hiking at 13,000 feet to do much at night anyway. The portion of the drive from Ouray up to Silverton is a real white knuckler in any conditions, so make sure to stay abreast of weather conditions. It would be preferable to depart whichever resort you ski on the way there early enough to do that drive before dark.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Bergmeister,Very nice sounds fun, your flights are an absolute bargain - got something similar already planned - just awaiting flights now - Colorado road trip, taking in a bit of Utah and New Mexico too.
We looked at Powderhorn, but decided on Wolf Creek instead, also considering Monarch too. May have to check out Sunlight as we're stopping in Glenwood Springs.

For the first time ever also planning a day off skiing Shocked for a bit of hiking in Moab - luckily were on an 18 day trip again Madeye-Smiley
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mr. mike wrote:
It would be preferable to depart whichever resort you ski on the way there early enough to do that drive before dark.

Plus, you wouldn't want to miss the scenery on that drive.
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Breck and A Basin can get busy with weekenders from Denver on Sat / Sun so I would plan to do them on week days.

Beaver Creek is a good choice if you get a powder weekend.
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Only been through in summer but Silverton is brill. Dirt roads, old steam engines and carriages lying around. Cool pass to drive.

Moab is a long day from Vail but well worth it. Easier if you are stationed in Glenwood or GJ. pm if you want the itinerary for maximum daylight optimisation round Arches/ Canyonlands.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Bergmeister, I'd never heard of Silverton until last week when we met up with some people from Winter Park and Steamboat and we were chatting about various stuff and La Grave and people from Colorado came up etc and hence Silverton came into the conversation, sounded pretty good and you've just confirmed as much, well the potential that is.

It's too far from Steamboat so don't think we'll make it there, but the other two are on the cards Cool

The only place I've ever skied in Colorado, well actually boarded was Crested Bute and that was pretty good for three or four days.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Thanks all - particularly for the driving tips. It's a 17 day trip so we (like Bones) may have time for our first ever day off on a ski trip and use it to travel/stop off/enjoy the scenery on the drive.

We will also ensure that we get to Silverton in good time.

I did have a look at flying into Denver and out of Montrose, with one way car rental. However, that would have cost us another £1,000 or so, which was a bit pricy. As it's a relatively decent length trip anyway I don't mind the extra driving , as it also gives us the chance to try some new areas and to see a bit more on the way.

I will, of course, let you all know how we get on. Very Happy
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Bones,

We have visited Moab twice for mountain biking and it is a fantastic area. But make sure you visit Arches national park when you go. It's great!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Have you considered buying the Epic local pass. Crunch the numbers it may well work out to be a good deal. It is for me when I do something similar.

NB There is a cut off date when the price escalates.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Bergmeister wrote:
Bones,

We have visited Moab twice for mountain biking and it is a fantastic area. But make sure you visit Arches national park when you go. It's great!


Only reason we're going Madeye-Smiley
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This winter will be the first in 5 years not in Colorado, have done between 3-4 weeks each time, which included a week in PArk City one year.
Was seriously toying with the idea of booking the first 2 weeks in April for a change, but I think we are going to have to slum in in Europe for the first time in about 15 years this Winter, which I am struggling to come to terms with Very Happy

We also went out there in August and did some hiking around Frisco, Dillon, Breck and Vail, which was superb. Prices of the Epic Pass go up on Sunday, so theres time yet, and there are some First Class reward flights available with BA from NCL-LHR-DEN!!!!

It sounds like a great trip though; I just wish that our friends weren't so tight! - last week I could have booked a good 2 bed condo in Breck, 12 days from 30th January, from NCL with KLM for £780 each (luggage included) and they thought ot was bloody expensive!
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Dougy Giro,

Shocked Shocked

How much would your friends expect to pay for 12 nights in Colorado? £500?

It's a shame you are missing out this year... Sad

Where have you skied in Colorado and where are your favourite spots? We have a real soft spot for Keystone and there we spend most of our time on the bump runs "over the back." We love the runs like the Grizz and Badger, as well as the nearby glades. We also love Blue Sky Basin at Vail and runs like Palavicini at A-Basin - all so different to European skiing.
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Bergmeister wrote:
Dougy Giro,

Shocked Shocked

How much would your friends expect to pay for 12 nights in Colorado? £500?

It's a shame you are missing out this year... Sad

Where have you skied in Colorado and where are your favourite spots? We have a real soft spot for Keystone and there we spend most of our time on the bump runs "over the back." We love the runs like the Grizz and Badger, as well as the nearby glades. We also love Blue Sky Basin at Vail and runs like Palavicini at A-Basin - all so different to European skiing.


Im not great with the names of runs etc. but the Mrs seems to remember the names of all of the lifts and the runs!

Quite liked Vasquez at Winter Park, Steamboat - cannot remember any run as being outstanding, just the sun, and people being extremely friendly. Once they heard a North East accent everyone wanted to speak to us, either on the chairlift, shuttle bus or bar. Oh I remember all of the ice sculptures melting because it was that warm in February.

Park City / Canyons we had loads of snow, so just hunted out powder runs for a week. Breck - I do like peak 6 and 10, well all of them really, as well as Imperial Bowl down to the bus stop at the end of the 4 O'Clock run.

Vail - Blue Sky Basin I really like, but a lot at Vail depends on the crowds. Keystone - I have only been three times and I cannot remember the names of where we have spent our time, other than not the front side, A-Basin i wasnt blown away with I must admit, but will give it another shot on my last visit.

The most fun I had last winter, when we had the least snow ever, was definately at Beaver Creek - fantastic powder on Grouse Mountain and Larkspur as it snowed about 1 foot while we were there, while all of the rich Americans were tucked up in their condos praying for sun!

Me and Mrs C have both boarded since 96, so bumps certainly arent on the agenda, but give me a foot of powder and I am in rear leg burning heaven (until I fall in a tree well and it takes me 30 minutes to get out of it!).

Our Daughter is moving to Canada for 2 years next Summer, so the plan is for Full Epic next year and do 3 weeks in the summer and 3 weeks in the winter, split between Whistler and Colorado.
We have been to Whistler 5 times, but last time was when they had just been awarded the Olympics, so will see massive changes - Dustys was still a wooden hut, and The Boot Pub had strippers on twice a week (the Boot Ballet)!!
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I'm now looking into adding Monarch to our road trip (the ski area; not the airline...) following the recommendation on here.

I'm therefore after some driving info please.

We may ski Monarch on our way back to Dillon/Summit County. Is the road from Montrose, via Gunnison, usually ok in winter?

Thanks in advance.
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Bergmeister wrote:

We may ski Monarch on our way back to Dillon/Summit County. Is the road from Montrose, via Gunnison, usually ok in winter?

Thanks in advance.

There’re a couple of mountain passes you need to go over (Monarch is on the top of a pass).

The roads are usually cleared. But I wouldn’t try to cross the in the middle of a blizzard.
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Thanks.

Hmmm. Food for thought...

The issue is that we've now booked accommodation in Silverton (checking out Sunday before skiing there), followed by an AirBnB in Dillon, checking in on the Monday for 7 nights. We therefore have only the Monday free to ski Monarch.

I was therefore planning on driving circa 3 hours to Gunnison on the Sunday, after skiing, and sleeping there; then driving 45 minutes to Monarch on the Monday.

Is that a daft idea in view of the potential road difficulties? I know it's the mountains and we can never be sure but I'm trying to get a feel for things. Is that a journey that you would reasonably be expect to be ok most times in winter, or am I being too optimistic in my planning and leaving too much in the lap of the gods?

Alternatively, if it gives more certainty, much as we'd like to ski Monarch, we would be happy to knock it on the head and drive back via Powderhorn or Sunlight and ski one of those on the Monday (after sleeping at Delta on the Sunday evening).
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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@Bergmeister, Once you are down to the Ouray - Montrose valley you're really in western slope style high desert type territory rather than mountain passes. If you look at google maps with the terrain filter the green generally corresponds to the trickiest winter terrain IME in Western US.
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Thanks Dave of the Marmottes,

I will have a look. However, now that I'm aware that one route is a lot more mountainous than the other I wouldn't mind some info regarding my probability question raised earlier.

In other words, would someone who knows the area and who drove from Montrose to Monarch (say) 10 times in February rarely expect difficulties on the road (ie 0 out of 10 times) or expect a bad journey every time (10 out of 10)? Or is it likely to be somewhere in between? And is the road so treacherous that it would be lunacy to try it in snow?

Like I said earlier, I know it's the mountains but I hope folk know what I'm getting at... Fingers crossed!

If it's a high risk journey, and we are tied to 1 ski day only, I can knock the idea of skiing Monarch on the head.
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There is nothing at Monarch so everyone drives up there so on the basis it opens one assumes that road conditions are at least good enough for patrol and mtn ops to get there. I've only driven it in summer but there is not a lot to say other than it is a Colorado A road type pass. I'd say it's just as likely to be easy or difficult as Berthoud and probably on average easier than Loveland. The other pass you have to hit to get to Dillon is Hoosier if you go through South Park, people commute to Breck from Fairplay and Alma everyday. 91 through Leadville is probably even easier.
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Had no trouble. Mountain open, road open
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Monarch does close usually just for short time say 12 hours while they plough. It is usually well forecast so watch the forecast and spend an extra day skiing Breck if it is bad. Breck is not to shabby.
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Me? I’d use the day for driving. If the weather is clear, the scenery will be great. If the weather is stormy, it’ll take you all day to do the drive.

If you really, really want to ski Monarch, I still won’t book anything. Wait to see what the weather is like close to the day.
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TQA,

Thanks - but we will be driving from the opposite direction (ie Montrose), so will not have the luxury of time on our side.

We leave Silverton on the Sunday after skiing and have accommodation booked in Dillon from the Monday evening (for a week).

In view of the time constraints, much as we'd love to ski Monarch, we are leaning towards sleeping at Delta on the Sunday night, then re-visiting Sunlight or Powderhorn (which we will already have skied on the way to Silverton) on the Monday, on the way to Dillon.

"Short road closure" - for only 12 hours? Shocked Shocked

Silverton have now emailed to confirm that our free day is booked for the Sunday. Buy 3 get one free! Very Happy Very Happy There can't be many off piste operations offering that. Happy days! Very Happy

We are really looking forward to the trip!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Quote:

"Short road closure" - for only 12 hours?

This is the American west! Heard of the Donner party? Ok, that's the Sierra not the Rockies...

Even in the Alps, which receives less snow total, it's not unheard of to have road closures, albeit for shorter duration (usually).
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
"Heard of the Donner party? Ok, that's the Sierra not the Rockies..."

Sorry abc - I don't understand the above at all. I must be missing something obvious...

I understand that roads may close in winter - but I was surprised that it could be as long as 12 hours. Shocked
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@Bergmeister, the American west gets A LOT MORE snow than the Alps. So a storm can last for as long as 12 hrs!

They do try to clear the road as much as possible. But sometimes it's simply not possible to clear the snow fast enough to keep up with the rate the snow got dump on the road!

(the "Donner party" was stranded on the wrong side of the pass by ONE terribly storm that dumped somewhere between 5 to 10 FEET of snow, and many starved. But that was 1846. Things had improved considerably since Toofy Grin Still, you can appreciate how long it takes to clear so much snow in a single storm. The Rockies aren't quite as bad as the Sierra but it still happens often enough)
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Ironic really as you can walk to Taco Bell in a few minutes from where the Donner Party camped.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Ironic really as you can walk to Taco Bell in a few minutes from where the Donner Party camped.

I always wonders what people in Waterloo will find when they dig a well or put in a foundation...
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