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Colorado Road Trip Feb 2019 - Trip Report (on Page 3 of Thread). Now updated with 2020 plans.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@abc, yes apparently, I even called the rental company to check. I am under no illusion, it's going to be really hard going.

@Bergmeister, ah liftopia, good shout.....added to bookmarks

I didn't know Loveland was so cheap (or so good?!), we were going to give it a miss as it's not on the IKON or EPIC ski passes but I've added it to the Excel file now Very Happy

roughly the itinerary is (week 1 being first week of Jan)

Jan
Week 1 - California inc Yosemite National Park
Week 2 - Lake Tahoe Region
Week 3 - Salt Lake City Region
Week 4 - Wyoming/Yellowstone

Feb to early Mar
Week 5 - Montana
Week 6 - North Colorado & bypass Summit Valley to South West Colorado
Weeks 7-8 - South West Colorado, now including Silverton Wink

Mar
Weeks 9-10 - Summit Valley Region
Week 11 - San Juan Region - Splitboard tour or similar and drive back to Los Angeles

You're right, we have a 'good problem', we'll probably drop some resorts and it'll be hard to move on from the ones we like. I reckon we'll end up chasing the snow and adjusting the plans based on the highways and random encounters.

I was only planning on sking the Summit Valley region as I am 'swapping' my snowboard buddy for two intermediate skiiers for those two weeks, but they have Epic Local passes so could head back to Park City and Alta if they get bored. Thanks for the tip.

For Silverton did you need to book the guides far in advance?
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LittleBullet,

Sounds like a great outline itinerary.

If you do decide to visit Loveland the $169 "4-Pak" passes are available online until only 24 November. After that the lift tickets are full price (at about $75 per day).

We booked our Silverton guides in September 18 for Feb this year; and have just (last week) booked our Feb 2020 guides, as we don't want to run the risk of missing out. It was very busy when we last visited.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I can’t recommend highly enough the importance of stopping in at one of the Utah National Parks (Arches, Zion, Bryce etc). Mind blowing scenery. A good town to stay in is Moab.
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sbooker,

I agree. Although we've not been in winter we have visited Arches National Park (near Moab) twice in October - & it is indeed stunning. And, as you say, Moab is a good place to stay. Very Happy

Arches NP is well worth a visit for anyone in that neck of the woods.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
LittleBullet wrote:
Jan
Week 1 - California inc Yosemite National Park
Week 2 - Lake Tahoe Region
Week 3 - Salt Lake City Region
Week 4 - Wyoming/Yellowstone

Feb to early Mar
Week 5 - Montana
Week 6 - North Colorado & bypass Summit Valley to South West Colorado
Weeks 7-8 - South West Colorado, now including Silverton Wink

Mar
Weeks 9-10 - Summit Valley Region
Week 11 - San Juan Region - Splitboard tour or similar and drive back to Los Angeles


Quote:
Week 2 - Lake Tahoe Region
Week 3 - Salt Lake City Region

Too short for Tahoe. WAY too short for Salt Lake region.

Quote:
Week 6 - North Colorado & bypass Summit Valley to South West Colorado
Weeks 9-10 - Summit Valley Region

I'm assuming you mean Summit County? ("Summit Valley" would be an odd name for any local!).

That's a lot driving back and forth and bypassing the stuff in the middle.

Also, you're spending a lot of time in the southwest Colorado, you need to be watching the weather closely.
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Quote:

Too short for Tahoe. WAY too short for Salt Lake region.



@abc,
I see 4 resorts in Lake Tahoe: Squaw Valley, Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar. Was thinking something like Squaw Valley 3 days, Hevenly 2 days, Kirkwood and Northstar 1 each. How long do you think we need there? Salt Lake I knew already 1 week was pushing it, I'll see if I can rejig it around a little and get to 10 days in SLC. Is that enough? I'm inclined to agree with you and cut South West Colorado shorter to add time to other parts of the trip.

And yes I meant Summit County Embarassed

Driving/bypassing stuff is not without reason. I am swapping my snowboard buddy for two intermediate skiers so need to do the abandoned resort splitboarding and Telluride/Crested Butte/Silverton before weeks 9-10 which will be chilled piste cruising (hence, Summit County region & I'll switch to skis)


@sbooker, thank you, added to excel file. Will see how can incorporate Utah or more general the National Parks.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
LittleBullet, Arches is well worth it in winter - we stopped there for a day this year in Feb. Stayed in Moab obviously. The contrast of the snow against the red rock is great. Plus the park is practically empty.

Regards Tahoe, you missed Homewood, Mt. Rose and Sugarbowl all worthy of a visit. Years ago we spent 2 weeks around Tahoe and skied Heavenly only once Toofy Grin I know that Alpine Meadows is now part of Squaw rather than separate.

For your Montana part I hope you are including Bridger Bowl, and Lost Trail ? If you go to Lost Trail make sure your first day is Thursday, as its known locally as Powder Thursday Madeye-Smiley

South Colorado - this should include Monarch, and Wolf Creek - two very under rated areas. I think Wolf last season had the most snowfall totals for Colorado - Confused We hit both on our roadtrip last season. I wouldn't be in a rush to go to Purgatory, its a seemed a weird mtn tbh. Entertaining for a day but that's about it.
It might also be worth dropping down to Taos NM. dependant on snowfall - if you can get there mid week as weekends tend to be busy. Some extreme terrain there, makes Highlands Bowl seem tame Toofy Grin Both worthy of the hike though.

10 days in SLC Confused , depends where you want to ski/snowboard really. Obviously the Cottonwoods, 3 places there - Solitude are charging for parking this year btw. Best way to get around this is either get the Solbright pass and go in from Brighton, or park at Brighton and get the bus back down to Solitude.
Then theres Park City if you want for a day or so. Powder Mtn, Snowbasin too, and don't not consider Sundance for a change.

Truly envious of the length of your trip,and where you plan to go - not too sure about the camper van though Toofy Grin but good luck. Plenty of time to fine tune it before you go.
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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!
Good trip.

West is best.

Don't miss the Utah Salt Flats.

Like walking on the Moon.
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@LittleBullet,

Tahoe: You missed Alpine Meadow which is now part of Squaw Valley. And then Mammoth, which I strongly suggest you hit on your way back to LA.

But the real issue is, all of those mountains are sizable mountains. 1 day in Kirkwood only allow you to scratch the surface. You'll end up just cruising around to all the corners but not spending much time enjoying the bits you like.

Much of the Ikon mountains are strongly off-piste oriented. So the longer you spend in each place, the more you can discover the best bits. Spending only a day on each, you'll never understand what's there people come for.

On that note, I would cut the number of days in "northern Colorado", which I'm not even sure what you mean by that. I can only think of Steamboat, which is good for 3-4 days max unless you're going cat skiing in addition to the ski resort.

Salt Lake:
- Snowbird & Alta are considered the crown jewel of the Rockies! Some say the crown jewel of the entire US! I'd give them 2-3 days EACH!
- If it weren't for Snowbird & Alta right next door, Brighton and Solitude would have been considered top tier mountains! The best part being, the crowds are at Alta-bird, Sol-Bri are much quieter. So I'd give them two each.
- Deer Valley & Park City. Two days each.

Yes, that still left out Snow Basin and Powder mountain. But they're not on the Epic/Ikon pass. I'd let them go for this trip. Same for Loveland, a good mountain but perhaps for next trip.

Chances are, your actual itinerary will be quite different from your PLAN! Snow condition WILL and SHOULD dictate where you'll spend more time at, and the rest skipped till next trip.

Just to give you a basis for where I'm based my opinion, I did a 3 months safari 3 years ago. I lucked out with several storms dumping on me. So my "planned" and actual itinerary were quite different. Not just the number of days on each mountain, but even the mountains I ended up visiting and bypassing were very different from what I "planned"!
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abc wrote:
@LittleBullet,

Tahoe: You missed Alpine Meadow which is now part of Squaw Valley. And then Mammoth, which I strongly suggest you hit on your way back to LA.

But the real issue is, all of those mountains are sizable mountains. 1 day in Kirkwood only allow you to scratch the surface. You'll end up just cruising around to all the corners but not spending much time enjoying the bits you like.

Much of the Ikon mountains are strongly off-piste oriented. So the longer you spend in each place, the more you can discover the best bits. Spending only a day on each, you'll never understand what's there people come for.

On that note, I would cut the number of days in "northern Colorado", which I'm not even sure what you mean by that. I can only think of Steamboat, which is good for 3-4 days max unless you're going cat skiing in addition to the ski resort.

Salt Lake:
- Snowbird & Alta are considered the crown jewel of the Rockies! Some say the crown jewel of the entire US! I'd give them 2-3 days EACH!
- If it weren't for Snowbird & Alta right next door, Brighton and Solitude would have been considered top tier mountains! The best part being, the crowds are at Alta-bird, Sol-Bri are much quieter. So I'd give them two each.
- Deer Valley & Park City. Two days each.

Yes, that still left out Snow Basin and Powder mountain. But they're not on the Epic/Ikon pass. I'd let them go for this trip. Same for Loveland, a good mountain but perhaps for next trip.

Chances are, your actual itinerary will be quite different from your PLAN! Snow condition WILL and SHOULD dictate where you'll spend more time at, and the rest skipped till next trip.

Just to give you a basis for where I'm based my opinion, I did a 3 months safari 3 years ago. I lucked out with several storms dumping on me. So my "planned" and actual itinerary were quite different. Not just the number of days on each mountain, but even the mountains I ended up visiting and bypassing were very different from what I "planned"!


Snowbasin on Epic now.
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@sbooker's correct. Snow Basin is on Epic now. So it's easy enough to stop on your way to Yellowstone.
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You're trying to do too much and not allowing enough time to get to know places. Plus if it ends up storming where you are you need to follow the golden rule of you don't leave snow to find snow. Mammoth good in spring so maybe hit there on the way back.

Agree with the above - if the snow's good you can easily clock a week at Kweed though I understand they aren't that camper friendly anymore so you may need to go down to Woodfords overnight.

And you defo want to get a NP pass and hit the Utah big 5, Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde.

You also will end up addicted to Open Snow and probably need to choose where you ski around I70 depending on the direction of the wind. Snowfalls vary hugely and given you have everywhere available to you there's almost a benefit to camping out at Copper and calling it on the morning.
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Personally, I wouldn't sacrifice skiing time to go sightseeing in the National parks, unless you specifically wants a winter view of a certain park. e.g. Yellowstone

Many parks are only partially open in the winter (there maybe good reason to visit in winter however, as it'll be much less crowded, or has unique views in winter -- Yellowstone a good example). But if it were me, I would cut Yosemite and use the days for Tahoe resorts.

I assume you have lots of experience driving in snow. Because driving a camper in snowy roads can get hairy fast, worse if you insist on a fixed schedule. Though a good thing about a truck camper is you can drop the camper top at whatever base village you're staying and only use the truck for day trip up the mountain roads to the resorts.
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You know it makes sense.
@Bones, Homewood, Mt. Rose and Sugarbowl - bar Sugarbowl I hadn't even heard of them! That also sums up the dillemna, there's just too much to do. Yes, in Montana I had budgeted a day or two in Bridger Bowl. We'd also spotted somone offering splitboard tours in Yellowstone which we reckon we should do.

@abc, I definitely want to do Yellowstone and in all honesty will see about the others, depends on how convenient the drive is. Moab does sound nice though. Yes, I've driven in the snow and obviously will have chains etc., but will remain prudent and monitor snowfalls.

We will be keeping and eye on the snow throughout, and really that'll dictate our plan. Dropping the camper top and driving around in just the truck was one of the reasons why we chose a truck camper, seems the most versitile way of getting around. I appreciate everyone's point about not really getting my teeth into the favourite spots. As I said I suspect it'll be very different when we are out there, in fact @abc's 3 month safari proves the point......but we also accept it's a ski roadtrip, a once in a lifetime chance to see so much of the US and the downside is we won't get the most out of each resort......if we wanted to get to know a resort we could do 6 months in Verbs or similar.

@Dave of the Marmottes, yeah, I realised that quite quickly. Especially when everyone started adding more resorts and national parks, some I'd never heard of. Noted on Mammoth and Open Snow, helpful info thank you.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Thing about Utah parks is you can (long) daytrip Arches and Canyonlands pretty much from Glenwood (ie Aspen area) so it makes for a fun day off or they are a natural road stage between SLC and Glenwood OR Cortez (for SW CO).

No grand plan necessary - just pick a drought week and do your travel then.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Thing about Utah parks is you can (long) daytrip Arches and Canyonlands pretty much from Glenwood (ie Aspen area) so it makes for a fun day off or they are a natural road stage between SLC and Glenwood OR Cortez (for SW CO).

Day trip from Glenwood Canyon is a hellishly long day! If one must do it (as a rest day from skiing), I'd do it from Salt Lake City. At least the drive is on low, flat valley land.

Speaking of Aspen, are you going there? I hope you do. Highland bowl is when powderhounds gets too old to split board and just want to walk, without snowshoes, to access powder. A tip about Aspen Highland, on every Wednesday, they even do a "guided tour" of the Highland Bowl. But in any day, you can ask at the patrol shed and they'll give you a detail suggestion of which line is in best shape what hour of the day!

Of the Tahoe area you're missing, my personal favorite is Mt Rose. It has the highest base. So snow tend to be better. The "chutes" are fantastic on a board! (I don't board but I ski with boarders often). Homewood is a good one on a Saturday, when the rest of Tahoe is overrun by weekend warriors from San Francisco. Also, if you luck out in a storm, and all the lifts in the whole Tahoe areas are on wind hold, Homewood will likely have more running (Or Northstar, which is mostly sheltered by trees)

Realising you're on a board, you can write off Alta and Deer Valley. So just focus on Snowbird, Brighton & Solitude. Park City is good if you know your way around. Otherwise, you'll be traversing and cursing!

Personally, I prefer to get to know a few mountain well over just scratch the surface of many. Some mountains are compact so you can get a feel for it in a day. Others are spread out, you're simply bewildered by all the possibilities in a single day. You're better off budget 2-3 days for each to get a true sense of what it's like.
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abc wrote:
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Thing about Utah parks is you can (long) daytrip Arches and Canyonlands pretty much from Glenwood (ie Aspen area) so it makes for a fun day off or they are a natural road stage between SLC and Glenwood OR Cortez (for SW CO).

Day trip from Glenwood Canyon is a hellishly long day! If one must do it (as a rest day from skiing), I'd do it from Salt Lake City. At least the drive is on low, flat valley land.



I've done it a couple of times from Glenwood Springs. Leave 5amish, into Arches at dawn. Leave Canyonlands Grandview after sunset, dinner in Grand Junction and home by 21.30. Doable if you simply must only have one day off. My housemate when I lived a winter in Eagle County went to Fruita or Moab every other weekend to MTB through winter.
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Bergmeister wrote:

We then drop the car at Denver Airport, before flying to Las Vegas for 3 nights and flying home from there.

We may go to a show there, after seeing "O" by Cirque du Soleil when we were last there 8 years ago.

Are there any other Cirque shows snowHead snowHead would recommend?


CALLING ALL SNOWHEADS! CALLING ALL SNOWHEADS!

Any recommendations on Cirque DS shows? Puzzled
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
My housemate when I lived a winter in Eagle County went to Fruita or Moab every other weekend to MTB through winter.


We've biked both areas and they are phenomenal! They should be on all mountain bikers' bucket lists Very Happy
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
^^^^We were planning on biking at Fruita during one Feb ski trip to Aspen & area...

We knocked it on the head after being advised by a Fruita bike shop (in advance of the trip) that they close the trails in prolonged wet weather - ie winter....
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@mountainaddict, yebbut it seems the locals bypass that or have other places to ride on fat tire snowbikes if necessary.
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Using the new “fat bike”, riders (typically non-skiers who desperately NEED to get outside in the winter but without an appropriate winter sport) are riding them on snow!

It’s allowed because the fat tires “floats” on snow and don’t damage the trail.

When the snow melts though, riding are forbidden until the trail dries off. It’s all for the overall condition of the trails. Ever tried to ride on trails full of harden rutted tire tracks made by riders who sneak in during the wet season? rolling eyes Was it as much fun or more, than smooth naturally drained trail? Toofy Grin
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abc wrote:


When the snow melts though, riding are forbidden until the trail dries off. It’s all for the overall condition of the trails. Ever tried to ride on trails full of harden rutted tire tracks made by riders who sneak in during the wet season? rolling eyes Was it as much fun or more, than smooth naturally drained trail? Toofy Grin


Not usually an issue in the UK where Jan-Dec is the wet season and a few weeks drought where trials dry out enough to be dusty is celebrated regardless of mud ruts.
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An interesting thing I discovered hiking in Colorado with the dogs on days off - even when you'd driven out to someehere specifically no snow bound. Frozen ground in the morning could turn to very soupy mud (and filthy dogs) by the retrun hike. Had to take them to run around in deep snow before taking them home.
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