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2 days in Denver in Feb : where to go?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
There's a chance I may be in Denver with work in February and if all things align, I can take a couple of days to myself while over there so this is an opportunity too good to miss.
I'll not have much time either side so I want to minimise the hassle and also expense.

I'm a solid skier, prefer off piste and steeps, not really into air but can cover lots of ground in a day.
I'd almost certainly be solo. Never skied in the USA, but had loads of fun in Whistler and met some cool people in the singles lift line to ski with so that could work for company.
I can squeeze my basic kit into my bag (boots, clothes) but no skis or avvy gear but that's not needed inbounds over there I believe.

Due to short time, somewhere close to Denver makes sense. Arapaho, Keystone, Winter Park and Breckenridge all look close enough.

- Ideally get to resort via public transport from Denver and stay 1-2 nights in resort depending on accommodation cost and short stay availability.
- It might make sense to stay in my hotel in Denver and head out each day. Could even try different resorts. Would probably require a hire car at my cost. I'm happy driving mountains on the 'wrong side'.

Apart from that planning is wide open and it's early stages but any input would be great!
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I should add for a trip this short, I'm not bothered about the town or any night life. It's all about the skiing!
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Check the lift pass costs before you commit -you'll probably be at $160+ per day at Breck and Keystone. I doubt Copper and WP are far behind

The obvious answers are Loveland and A Basin but neither are resorts. You'd probably need a rental car and to stay in either Georgetown or Dillon/Frisco.q
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gravity-slave,

Great idea! Best to take advantage if you are there. Very Happy

In view of the ridiculous lift ticket prices elsewhere (as DoTM correctly points out), I'd also recommend a day at Loveland and a day at A-Basin. Last February Keystone were charging $175 a day, with Breckenridge $190. Vail and Beaver Creek were a bargain $210 per day... Shocked

Loveland is underrated, off the radar and has some ferocious, steep stuff, as well as nice (short) groomed stuff. Day tickets cost about $75 and there's more than enough to keep you occupied for a day.

A-Basin also has some excellent steep stuff and some great bump runs (if that's your thing). Lift tickets there usually cost upwards of $75 on the day but we've ordered day tickets for February 2020 for $50 each from Liftopia website.

For reasonably priced accommodation last year we stayed in Georgetown at America's Best Value Inn (for a third time). We paid about $80 for a double room. It's a basic motel, but the rooms are large, warm and clean and they offer a complimentary buffet breakfast (of cereal, toast, bagels, porridge, fruit, juice and coffee) in a pleasant dining area. That's about 15 minutes drive from Loveland and 30 minutes from A-Basin - the latter via Loveland pass, which is stunning but is a hairpinned, mountain pass which can be prone to snow. If the pass is closed, the "long way round" to A-Basin takes about 50 minutes.

Georgetown is small and quiet, with a picturesque front street and 2 or 3 decent-looking restaurants. We ate last year at Coppers, a traditional saloon bar (where the burgers were good and the prices very reasonable). Again as DoTM says, you could stay in Dillon, Silverthorne or Frisco, which are between Loveland and A-basin. There's a nice Super 8 motel at Dillon (again with complimentary breakfast), which we've stayed at before and which is close enough to walk to restaurants nearby.

Hotels can get quite busy in Feb, so I would recommend booking somewhere as soon as you can. We use Hotels.com and Booking.com, each of which usually offer free cancellation.

And yes - you will need to hire a car to get to the ski areas, as public transport to Loveland is non existent.

Remember to let us know how your plans progress.
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Thank you so much! Keep 'em coming.

The big challenge is to get the work trip confirmed and then fit everything in from there but this info means I can start planning and be ready to book once confirmed. Once I target resorts I'll try to pre-book some skis too.

I was aware of the lift prices being steep but some of those are silly when you compare to Europe!
Hotel, hire car, lift passes, ski hire - it's going to be a treat for a couple of days but times is precious too so got to make it work.

A-Basin = Arapahoe Basin?

I'm partial to a bit steep and/or bumps so those sound like strong choices. A day on each for variation is good too.
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@gravity-slave,

Winter Park has the advantage that there's a train from Denver on some Fridays and each Saturday & Sunday. It's a bit of a winding switchback off the I-70 to drive to (I think you cross the continental divide to get there). More than enough to fill 2 days if you found a room there, but as above, Loveland and A-Basin make a better choice if you have a car and can find somewhere along the I-70 to stay overnight.


https://www.winterparkresort.com/plan-your-trip/getting-here/winter-park-express

gravity-slave wrote:
A-Basin = Arapahoe Basin?

Yep.
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gravity-slave,

Yes. A for Arapahoe! Very Happy (No one gives it the full name wink )

I'd also agree with Winter Park, if you love bumps (like we do). It's fantastic and I'd describe it as the mogul capital of the world! However, the lift tickets are likely to be really expensive and I think you'd get a lot from the other 2 areas anyway - particularly if you've not been to either. Both Loveland and A-basin have very steep bump runs - with each offering extreme terrain. We skied extremely steep stuff last year in both areas on the most amazing, grippy, compact snow. Very Happy It was fantastic!
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Another thing to be wary of is the drive out of Denver on a Friday evening or Saturday morning can be an utter shitshow (unless you are on I70 by 6am). Similarly driving back on a Sunday afternoon (i.e. don't plan on catching an evening flight if you want to ski after 12.00) _ Loveland probably a better option for the get back day simply because you are downhill of the Tunnel.
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@Dave of the Marmottes pretty much covered it all.

I’ll only add a couple points on the fact that you’ll be in Denver for work (prior to you ski). That opens up a few options not available to the tourists flying in.

Yes, hire a car. Since you’re already in Denver, look into “off airport” rental location for lower cost. Many offer shuttle to airport or nearby hotels. Then, if the hotel offers shuttle to the airport, you’re covered.

Ski hire: again, because you’ll be in Denver before the trip, you maybe able to hire skis from Denver which will likely be cheaper. Assuming you have time, and may have a hired car already paid for through your work trip?

Come to think of it, find out if work will pay for a hired car. If they do, you may get a discount rate through work. Then you simply extend the rental and pay the last bits yourself.

I also second skiing A-basin or Loveland. I think A-basin would be fantastic for what you describe your skiing. Loveland maybe a little cheaper. And less crowded if it’s a weekend or powder day.

Stay at Georgetown! It’s a fraction of the lodging cost at Breckenridge/Frisco/Dillon.

Winter Park is also a fine resort, also reachable from Georgetown. But it’ be super crowded on a weekend. Do watch the weather forecast for the days you’ll be skiing. Some storms hit Winter Park and miss the Front range mountains (opensnow.com).

There used to be a Colorado Gem card that gives lift pass discounts at A-basin and Loveland, even Winter Park. Not sure about its status now.
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I'll be working the weekend and probably taking Monday/Tuesday off in lieu, so it'll be a Sunday early evening drive, stay Sunday and Monday nights which will hopefully be the right direction for traffic (I'll not be on the road at 6am unless it's the start of my trip and still on UK time!) and a little quieter on the slopes and better hotel availability, then see if the agenda is onward or home. Plus 2 days off mid week without dipping into holidays, which is nice.

There may well also be some negotiation on car and flights where I can benefit from some savings, which I'll try to do.
My bosses boss is also an avid snowboarder and there's a chance he'll come - so I'll sow the "teambuilding" seed! Laughing

Skiing wise I like bumps and steeps for sure - La Chavanette (Swiss Wall), as an example, is well within my ability to do laps on in firm conditions with big bumps and the odd jump thrown in, or off the top of GM in Cham always has some good uns. Under Saulier at Courcheval is also fun, or the Tufs couloirs above the lake in Tignes. That kind of stuff. Not sure how steep/bumps over t'pond compare.
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The bumps under Pali at A basin will be tough enough for you probably. Plus A Basin has plenty of steep hike to terrain that may be a shock to the system coming from low altitude Europe.
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I'm sure they will. I'm equally happy railing a wide piste too though, to be honest. It's all skiing!

Just looked, base station is about the same as top of Grands Montets, summit about the same as Auguille du Midi. Yeah, not sure how much hiking I'll be doing Smile
I'll be in Cham 10 days before this possible trip so will get the legs and lungs warmed up!
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You'll be at Denver for a few days before your skiing. So that will help with the altitude. Hit the gym after work. It'll help to get over both the jetlag and altitude.

A-basin is less than 2 hrs from Denver. It's entirely possible to drive straight from Denver in the morning. On a weekday, you won't have to contend with the skiing traffic. You'll only deal with normal office hour traffic within Denver. (unless it's a powder day, then all bets are off)

The hikes at A-basin aren't too bad. I routinely fly in from sea level and after 2-3 days, I would hike them. You get those 2-3 days in Denver which should do the trick too.
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Plus One for the train from Denver to Winter Park we did it this year and was a great way to travel, and it takes you right into the resort.

Winter Park has some good inbounds off piste sectors that you take a rat track to get to.

Here are some features my OH did

https://stylealtitude.com/winter-park-skiing.html

https://stylealtitude.com/skiing-winter-park.html

And has people have said, try and but ski pass in advance, it will be so much cheaper.
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@Weathercam, don't think the snow train run on weekdays
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Quote:
On a weekday, you won't have to contend with the skiing traffic....(unless it's a powder day, then all bets are off)
I'll second that.

We stayed in Silverthorne a couple of years ago. On a low season (January), bluebird, powder Tuesday, we planned to be on the first lift at A-Basin for waist-deep fresh tracks.

But little did we know rolling eyes...

First, we queued all the way up the road past Keystone resort and at A-basin were then directed to the overspill parking, served by a shuttle bus.

By the time we hit the slopes - some time about 10.30 - every scrap of the epic powder was totally skied out Shocked .

We have never witnessed anything like it in 30 years of powder days all over the place - completely unbelievable. Powder fever indeed.... Sad Turns out it was the first epic powder day in weeks (we were in Colorado in a poor-snow winter....) so every man, woman, child and dog had (incredibly) taken time off work - or thrown a sickie - to be part of it...

We made the best of the day and the good snow and skied some great steeps - but it's still right up there (with skiing in torrential rain etc) on the list of disappointing ski days.

Still, a bad day on the slopes always beats a good day in town eh? wink And we did manage one epic powder day at Loveland - heavy snow all day and every run fresh tracks for the whole day. It was like cat skiing but without the cat Very Happy
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A-Basin is fine little ski area for a quick strike, though it is uncommon for folks from Europe to make AB their first US ski destination! Since you liked Whistler, if time & transport options permit you can and should go further afield; the highway is generally well taken care of. All the major resorts are worth your time and each has its own vibe. For two days you can't really mess this up unless the altitude bites you; come anyway but beware. You're coming to the Continental Divide so all the resorts are high; AB's summit is 12,450' +/-, and coming there from sea level one day I definitely took the blows. A larger resort with more happening at lower elevations might be a better choice for those who are affected.
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Scooter in Seattle,

What alternatives are you suggesting for gravity-slave? Does he really need to drive further, given that he has only 2 ski days (and could acclimatise slightly while he is working in Denver)? Puzzled
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@Bergmeister, the extra drive isn't to avoid high altitude resorts (as I said, they're all high there), its to access a full-on resort more likely to be worth the long journey. Its 1:35 from DEN to A-Basin, and another 25 minutes further is Vail. AB is fun but it ain't Vail, and what's another 25 minutes when you've come from the UK? Vail is also a lot like Whistler, which the OP liked, and I think that is important.

If the OP did have an issue with altitude, a larger area with more going on on their lower mtn would be a more comfortable place for them to be. They could spend more time at lower elevations without getting bored.

I also said that for two days they can't lose. Any of the front range resorts they cited would be fine, and Copper too. They don't "need" to go further. But if they can, I think it will be worth their while.

gravity-slave, my final answer is: bump for a day at Winter Park/Mary Jane and see what Vail is like for the other day.
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Thanks all!

mountainaddict - sounds like a nightmare and thanks for the fair warning! If it's soon enough in my trip I'll still be somewhat on UK time so hitting the road early will be easy - the one benefit of jetlag is being wide awake at 5am! I'll try to get the ski days in before I start going native.

Scooter - I don't mind being uncommon. Laughing Quick strike is probably the name of the game. I may stretch to 3 days, but holiday is allocated already for 2020, Chamonix and Champoluc booked already!
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Thanks for the recommendations. Whistler was great (been twice for skiing and once on the bike), but I'm also happy anywhere from little German areas to the mega French resorts, but the latter only really open up on repeated visits as you learn the lay of the land.

I will check out the elevation. Val Thorens always gets me for a day or two but I've climbed to 3600m and been up the Midi with no problems so fingers crossed.

A-Basin and Loveland sounds good
Vail and Winter Park on the list too

It sounds like identifying my base is priority, if I have a base and a car sorted I can pick areas, but the plan is coming together. Just need the work trip to go ahead now!
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gravity-slave wrote:


A-Basin and Loveland sounds good
Vail and Winter Park on the list too

It sounds like identifying my base is priority...


I'd be more concerned about lift ticket prices TBH; and even I would struggle to justify spending the best part of $400 on a couple of days lift tickets (despite my ski addiction/craving) Confused

If all lift tickets were similarly priced my choice would be Vail and Keystone. Vail because it's Vail; and Keystone for the fantastic (and, in my opinion, underrated) glades skiing. wink
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Vail despite the rep has some great skiing but it takes time there to get it off pat depending on snowfall, wind loading, lift lines etc so in one day you are unlikely to get it line after line without local knowledge. So the payback on a daypass is pretty poor for the first timer.
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A-basin lift pass will be a little cheaper than Vail Wink

Loveland a bit less still.

For 2 days, it's not worth hitting the expensive mountains. You can barely scratch the surface, wasting money. AB or LL will have more than enough GOOD skiing for such a short break. The OP's self-described terrain preference "solid skier, prefer off piste and steeps" fits A-basin terrain like a glove.

Now, if one's objective is to brag about the famous destination one had "skied" a few hours, by all means pay through the nose for it for a day. It'll be worth it in that regard. Wink

(there're situation worth heading over to Vail: occasionally, if infrequently, a storm would dump feet of snow on Vail but only inches at the rest of the Front Range mountains. That's when the ticket AND THE AGGRAVATION could be worth it. But not being a local, you may not get the best of it. Realistically, Vail is much better as a full on holiday "package" for a week, staying slope side, enjoy all the apres on top of the skiing)
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Bergmeister wrote:

I'd be more concerned about lift ticket prices TBH; and even I would struggle to justify spending the best part of $400 on a couple of days lift tickets (despite my ski addiction/craving)


Tell me about it! Yorkshire blood and a childhood in Scotland have given me fine financial control! As well as the ability to ski in all weathers so it's not all bad Laughing
$219 at the window, blimey! I have just booked a trip to Cham - parking, flights, transfers, accom and passes for 4 days on the slopes, door to door from home for not much more than 3 days 'window' passes only at Vail would cost!

Epic pass looks like a big saving but it sounds like A Basin is more what I'm looking for - closer, cheaper and gnarly enough. It's hard to pin down ability while being British about it, so I'll stick with 'solid' Smile Bearing in mind I'm solo, miles away from home and with work, I'll be keeping it chilled...
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Keystone.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I would definitely not rule out Loveland either. It's certainly not short of gnarl and is a great local mountain. It's like Colorado's Glencoe in terms of setup and challenging terrain - an open mountain, where you more or less ski where you like (and all in bounds).
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Whitegold wrote:
Keystone.

You totally failed this time! rolling eyes

I would have expected Aspen from you. Toofy Grin
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@Bergmeister, loveland would have been a top notch mountain put anywhere else. But next to A-Basin, it pales in comparison.

It really depends on how the OP skis. Some people likes to go to different places (lifts, runs, mountains). Others, likes to repeat a good run a couple times before moving on.

I’m the latter type of skier. So if it were me, I would focus on AB for both days and enjoy it more, rather than scratching both AB and LL. But that’s just me.


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Tue 12-11-19 16:42; edited 1 time in total
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https://www.skimonarch.com/
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@gravity-slave, what are your dates? Note that February 17 is a holiday in the US and typically a very crowded day on the slopes. If that's when you are here, that's when you are here, but it might impact your choice of where to go/stay if applicable.
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stanton wrote:
https://www.skimonarch.com/


Too far for the OP, but a great little mountain, when they have good snow.

I'm in the A Basin/ Loveland camp rather than any of the bigger places for the 2 days. Easy to have a good time at either or both, and save the destination resorts for a true trip. Madeye-Smiley
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+1 winter park

Smile

You’d be able to drive there and back in a day if you wanted (we did it in reverse for a trip to the Cheesecake Factory Shocked ) but it would make a long day.

Winter park is a great ski area
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v1cky24 wrote:

Winter park is a great ski area

Compare to what?

Colorado have something like 20+ ski mountains! Shocked Each have its strength and its unique character. If a recommendation were to be helpful, it should at least highlight WHAT is a particular mountain's strength.

OP like off-piste and steeps. While off-piste is taken for granted in American mountains, steep is not.

On that front, Colorado is not known for steeps. It’s best known as intermediate haven instead. It's just geology: that part of the Rockies are old, so peaks are rounded rather than jagged. The notable exception is A-basin. It's got a lot of steep 'wall' type terrain, many of them easily accessible from the lift, or with minimal hiking.

Having sung the praises for AB, I have a word of caution for the OP. Abasin is mostly above tree line. So, on days with high wind and poor visibility, it could be pretty miserable! (or boring, there's a little bit of tree-lined skiing, but quite limited, it gets boring fast)

Sure, you can tough it out above the trees, you're a regular in the Alps. But in Colorado, you don't have to suffer. That would be a day you look into other mountains that has more tree lined skiing.


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Wed 13-11-19 18:19; edited 1 time in total
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+1 for Loveland and A-basin, particularly if you want to keep the cost down. It's a while since I've skied Colorado, but Loveland is a real hidden gem with steeps, trees and wide open pistes, despite being probably the first ski resort that's accessible from Denver up the I-70. That's something to bear in mind if there's fresh snow! A-basin is good too, but I might also have a look at Copper as an alternative if you didn't want to do Breck. Oh, and if you want to max-out your ski time, there's night skiing at Keystone - wrap up warm!.

As far as I recall, there's little or no accommodation at Loveland so you'd either have to stay on the way up the interstate at somewhere like Georgetown that's a sleepy mining town, or head on through the Eisenhower Tunnel into Summit County where you'll find Silverthorne, Dillon & Frisco which aren't ski resorts, but are accessible to them.

Virgin Island Ski rentals in Silverthorne would be worth a look for getting your kit at cheaper-than-resort prices. My friends who live out there use them & that's where I bought my current Volkls out of their previous season rental stock (after blowing out an edge in the trees in Vail's back bowls)

Alternatively you could stay in one of the Summit County resorts proper, where your accommodation cost will rise accordingly but you will get the full resort atmosphere. Keystone & Breckenridge should have plenty of options whilst Copper Mountain might be a bit more limited as it seems to be focused around the likes of ClubMed type "resort" accommodation.

You can access A-basin from the Denver side of the Continental Divide, but its a typical windy mountain road instead of a 4 lane motorway, so not one to be tackled if it's been snowing, and/or you don't have 4-wheel drive & you're not used to driving in those conditions. No crash barriers! You're also likely to meet an artic or more on that route as certain load types aren't allowed through the tunnel.

If you were going to head on past Copper towards Vail, Beaver Creek will be a bit less crowded on snow days, but then Vail is so big the queues shouldn't be too bad once you make it off the front of the mountain. One hint is that on the last big snow day I experienced there, nearly all the Denver-ites who took the day off went to Summit County to ski. The traffic leaving then interstate at Silverthorne & Frisco was horrendous! We went on to Beaver Creek & had a day of knee-deep powder virtually to ourselves with hardly any lift lines at all.

I've driven as far as both Aspen and Steamboat from Denver for a day's skiing but, to be honest, it makes for a VERY long day and limits your ski time. There's plenty of skiing for two days much closer to where you'll be staying.

I'm really jealous! Embarassed Hope you have a great time! snowHead snowHead snowHead
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