USA / CAN Trip without booking anything

Neslot

One of Us
Jul 7, 2002
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Hi All,

As the title suggests, I'm considering a USA / CAN Trip without booking anything (other than flights). Dates are likely to be around the end of January, and that's about as far as I've got.

There's been multiple times over the years where we have been locked into accommodation when the snow cover is poor, but an hour away is dumpsville.

Has anybody done this? I understand that accommodation can become slim pickings during peak season and solid conditions, but something about it really appeals to me.
 

absentskier

Smug bozo
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Jun 10, 2010
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Hi All,

As the title suggests, I'm considering a USA / CAN Trip without booking anything (other than flights). Dates are likely to be around the end of January, and that's about as far as I've got.

There's been multiple times over the years where we have been locked into accommodation when the snow cover is poor, but an hour away is dumpsville.

Has anybody done this? I understand that accommodation can become slim pickings during peak season and solid conditions, but something about it really appeals to me.
Lots of people have done this. If you can be flexible, great. Only you know how prepared you are to jump in a car and chase the snow. Works for some but not others. Comes at a cost of course (in terms of lift tickets).

Hard to go wrong by flying to say Salt Lake City. From there you can ski locally or drive to Jackson Hole, Colorado etc and the driving is generally pretty easy.
 

newman

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Sep 8, 2016
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I did it in 2010.
It was easy. Just took my laptop with me. Wifi in Starbucks and off you go.

You can find good accommodation at discounts too using lastminute.com and expedia.com I am sure it is even easier since AirBnB has proliferated.

My trip went like this. LA-VEGAS- SALT LAKE- PARK CITY- JACKSON HOLE- STEAMBOAT- DENVER and hit 15 ski hills on the way. Got storms in all locations. Just make sure you rent a decent 4x4. We covered a lot of miles and some of the driving was punishing in the snow. The leg from Jackson Hole to Steamboat was hours of white on white.
 
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Summit

Old n' Crusty
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Good plan, late January until mid Feb is just before the start of peak season.
 

Budgiesmuggler

Part of the Furniture
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Just book ato LA or San Fran or somewhere with lots of connections. About a week or 2 out you'll have a good idea of conditions and likely storms and can then book internal flights to Canada or UT or wherever.
 

sly_karma

Green Bastard
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You need to understand that in Canada and northern US, people hunker down through winter and don't travel much. Only about 10% of people ski or board, and the ones that do ski won't book a ski trip during January because it's perceived as being too cold. Aussie visitors are a huge bonus to the resorts because they put heads on pillows in the slowest month of the season. Nonetheless January is still the quietest month in most resorts. You should have little problem finding accoms on the fly at attractive rates. And if you're willing to stay off mountain, you'll get really cheap rooms. The accommodations in most of the nearby towns and cities are geared to summer volume and so in January are virtually empty. You'll have your pick of the places and at a fraction of summer rates to boot.
 
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MarzNC

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whens peak season?
There are two U.S. holiday weekends in Jan and Feb that mean ski resorts are busier for those long weekends when snow coverage is usually the best. Easiest way to tell is to look at lodging prices and see which week is more expensive. For 2017, Jan. 15 and Feb. 18 are the Monday holidays. A few states give a winter break week, but it's rare. Easter is April 1, 2017 so this season the last week of March will be high season pretty much at all destination resorts in the Rockies and Tahoe. In general, school spring breaks happen from early March through early April, so doesn't have too much impact.
 

CarveMan

I Never Slice
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I did this a few years ago. Flew in to SLC with no more plans than a car.

As it turned out, the snow in SLC was all time the week we arrived, so we had fun there, then in a gap in the storm we drove to Tahoe, and it nuked over there, then in another gap in the storm we drove up to Jackson, had some great skiing there, then back to Utah for more powder before we left.

Epic way to spend 3 weeks.

PS I concur with every previous post in this thread.
 

Neslot

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Jul 7, 2002
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Thanks everyone for your helpful replies. I bought a Mountain Collective pass last week and used a couple 'free' days at Thredbo.

The plan remains to fly into San Fran and decide where to go from there (likely a few days prior). Two options that i'm looking at are:

1. Canada: Land in San Fran and fly to Calgary, ski Sunshine Village and Lake Louise, followed by Revelstoke.
2. USA: Land in San Fran and fly to Salt Lake City, ski Ski Alta & Snowbird then either drive to Jackson Hole or Colorado and ski Aspen & Telluride

Does anyone have some recommendations on accommodation? Looking to be as budget as possible. Had a look on AirBNB and maybe its because the dates are so far out but it didn't look cheap (More expensive than Japan/Europe).

Would love to hear any feedback on the above.
 

silva

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For Jackson if you are after inexpensive you can not beat The Hostel if you want to stay in Teton Village.
 

Legs Akimbo

Grumblebum
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The lodges in Alta all have share dorm rooms. Snowbird is not particularly cheap. Salt Lake City is just down the canyon and has cheap accommodation.

I agree with The Hostel in Teton Village. I am constantly surprised that the place has survived re-development.
 

MarzNC

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What about Snowbasin? On the MCP for the first time for 2017-18. Ogden is inexpensive.

For SLC, I've stayed at the LaQuinta in Midvale and was happy. There is a Motel 6 next door that was renovated a few years ago. Have heard it's okay. But splurging for a few nights up at Alta is worth considering if you want some really good food for dinner. Included in the price.

The Motel 6 in Jackson was renovated a few years ago too. Can take the bus into JH from town or the free lot at the turn towards Teton Village.

For Aspen, can find reasonable motels in Carbondale or Glenwood Springs. Need to get going a little earlier to beat the traffic in the morning. Park in the main lot (just past the airport) and take the free shuttle buses from there. Unless you have 4+ people in the car. In that case, there are places to park for free at Aspen Highlands and Snowmass.

As for Telluride, finding budget accommodations is tough.
 

Zeroz

A Local
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The Hostel in Teton Village was sold in 2008 for redevelopment but the GFC threw a giant spanner into those plans.
Book well ahead for cheap rates. Primo location + JH popularity makes it a popular choice.
Alternative is one of the many hotels in Jackson. Only a 20 min drive from JH and winter is low season so deals available

As far as the rest of your trip, are you doing a Mountain Collective tour or searching for powder? Pick one.

Canada. If you are on a powder trip then Lake Louse and SV aren't your places.
Your goal is the Powder Highway and places like Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Red Mtn, Whitewater, Fernie, etc
It's not ridiculous to drive to Canada from San Fran, going via Tahoe and maybe JH, Big Sky, Whitefish, and many more.

USA - as everyone said SLC is easily your best bet for powder, access and accom. But for Colorado, whatever you save on MC pass for Aspen and Telluride lift tickets you'll pay for in accom. If you do that route then continue on to Taos.
 

Doonks

Let's cook!
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No bookings

We just drove up to the tourism office in each town, told them our requirements, they gave us the options, we chose, they made the booking there and then. It was easy
 

sly_karma

Green Bastard
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General principle, stay off mountain for lowest price and easiest availability. Americans and Canadians do the great majority of their domestic travel and tourism in summer, so most places have tons of empty hotel and motel rooms in winter. Don't bother booking, in fact, better to rock up to an independent motel, find the owner and make an offer for room rate. For most places they'll take almost anything, some cash is better than no cash at that time of year.
 

pedub

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Jul 26, 2015
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This is the main whammy now that we are in the era of cheap season passes and expensive day tickets.

I strongly suggest getting a Mountain Collective pass to offset this.

Can someone post a link for mountain collective pass?
Im planning to do the same as the OP, I've booked 2 nights in Fernie then we'll follow snow.
Is the pass useful for fernie, red mtn, whitewater, revelstoke, KH?
Are there any other lift ticket deals?
 

absentskier

Smug bozo
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Jun 10, 2010
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Can someone post a link for mountain collective pass?
Im planning to do the same as the OP, I've booked 2 nights in Fernie then we'll follow snow.
Is the pass useful for fernie, red mtn, whitewater, revelstoke, KH?
Are there any other lift ticket deals?
MC not going to be of too much use for a Canadian trip.

Http://mountaincollective.com

It covers:

  • Alta Ski Area
  • Aspen Snowmass
  • Banff Sunshine
  • Coronet Peak | The Remarkables
  • Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
  • Lake Louise Ski Resort
  • Mammoth Mountain
  • Revelstoke Mountain Resort
  • Snowbasin Resort
  • Snowbird
  • Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
  • Sugarbush Resort
  • Sun Valley
  • Taos Ski Valley
  • Telluride Ski Resort
  • Thredbo Alpine Village
 

LDJ

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I'm assuming if I'm hitting fernie, whitewater, red mountain, revelstoke and KH for around 3 days each in January I just need to suck it up and pay day ticket prices. Any cheaper way of doing it? Online or discount sites?
 

essjaywhy

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Jul 24, 2012
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Akl NZ
flexibility is key.
best way is a smaller RV camper/ & stay motels , hostels half the time.
the $100 LLouise card has very good discounts also
definately better to pay full price at some resorts and get the goods, than to stay for days at tracked out fields just to gain free passes.
 

Zeroz

A Local
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I'm assuming if I'm hitting fernie, whitewater, red mountain, revelstoke and KH for around 3 days each in January I just need to suck it up and pay day ticket prices. Any cheaper way of doing it? Online or discount sites?
Once the season starts deals will appear here for USA and Canada resorts. Best deals for January, April and midweek.
I bought tix for Revy and KH a week before. Use MC pass for Lake Loiuse and Banff (you'll drive past them on the way).

https://www.liftopia.com/region/western-canada
 

pedub

One of Us
Jul 26, 2015
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FYI Fernie and Kicking Horse are in a competitor pass.

Http://www.themaxpass.com

Ahhh these are the same 4 resorts on the RCR card
To extract most value from the RCR card you have to pay ~$435cad - 7 days at any resort
The maxpass (for bc only) gives you 5 days at each for $729cad
RCR card better (for my situation in bc only)


@Zeroz Thanks for the tip on Liftopia :)
 

chunky

Pool Room
Jul 24, 1998
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Did it many times before kids and had no issues whatsoever. We also didn't care much about the quality of accommodation as much. Nowadays I have to plan a bit more. 4 cranky tired kids and a wifey is worse than having a shit day at work so knowing I have a place now is more beneficial for us in our situation presently.
 
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sli1

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Jun 15, 2001
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Hi All,

As the title suggests, I'm considering a USA / CAN Trip without booking anything (other than flights). Dates are likely to be around the end of January, and that's about as far as I've got.

There's been multiple times over the years where we have been locked into accommodation when the snow cover is poor, but an hour away is dumpsville.

Has anybody done this? I understand that accommodation can become slim pickings during peak season and solid conditions, but something about it really appeals to me.
Neslot, been in the situation described too many times and what you are proposing is how we roll these days. We do it as Budgiesmuggler described:
We currently have return flights in and out of LA booked on FF points. Nothing else. A week out from leaving Oz we will make a call on the LAX to next point flight (Denver, SLC, Albuquerqe or Calgary) based on the current snow conditions and what might be coming up weatherwise in the near future + our biases on where we would prefer to go.

Some tips -
1. After finding out that the car I had booked at Budget in SLC didn't let me drive into Canada, I basically walked around to about 3 counters getting their offers and finding out the exact model I would get (can't do it online) which took all of 15 minutes. Book a car in advance but realise you don't actually have to take it and you can shop around.

2. I don't think a 4x4 is worth it. I'm not bothering with one year as I have in the past. Hideously expensive and the tyres provided are so crap that I still did a 180 spin at 10km/hr at the last intersection before Revelstoke with numerous other bits of "excitement" on the 15 minute drive on a powder morning. I can fit chains in less than 5 minutes. Of course, chains are not practical for a long drive when snowing but I would be doing the longer transition days when it isn't snowing.

3. Powder chasing trips are tiring. Taking all your gear into and out of motels most nights and mornings is much harder work than staying in one place. Have a bag dedicated to taking in and out of motels, leave the rest of the stuff in the car. Cover it with a blanket.

To this end, I'm buying a boot heating bag to heat (dry) the boots on the drive off the hill and the drive up in the morning - that way they can stay in the car and we can actually get them on in the car park in the morning.

Also conventional ski bags in cars take up a lot of room. Get a Douchebag (Carveman sells them) so you can it leave rolled up and out of the way once you are on your road trip.
 
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sli1

One of Us
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[QUOTE="
USA - as everyone said SLC is easily your best bet for powder, access and accom. But for Colorado, whatever you save on MC pass for Aspen and Telluride lift tickets you'll pay for in accom. If you do that route then continue on to Taos.[/QUOTE]
So true. I love Aspen and Telluride and have an MC pass this year but the expense of going to these places on a road trip, relative to other US states, BC and Alberta is huge!
 

sly_karma

Green Bastard
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I think you'll find the flight is SYD-YVR then a short hop to SEA. To the best of my knowledge, AC doesn't fly any trans pacific routes directly out of Seatac. From YVR they service Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne as well as all their Asian destinations, it's a major hub for them.
 

Crystal

Sand skier extraordinaire
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Crystal

Sand skier extraordinaire
Moderator
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Far far away Aussie expat
We were booked on United..... missed connection in Sydney and ended up on a Qantas... went via San Fran on way over. Came back on United Ticket YVR- SEA-LAX-Melb.... super cheap ticket it was

Ahh yes, now you made me think it is not what he was quoting above. whooops.
 

Crystal

Sand skier extraordinaire
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To many flights Sly......they all get blurred and as I'm not loyal to any one a carrier we fly the cheapest way we can each year (with some exceptions). One year we had a whirl wind trip through the Orient to get to Vancouver...fun that was. Another year we flew through Frankfurt and had 8 hours running around in the airport...sensational for the kids to practice their German :)
 
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