Utah with family - suggestions?

Discussion in 'United States' started by Genghis Khan, Jan 29, 2019.

  1. Genghis Khan

    Genghis Khan Early Days

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    I've been searching around the old posts and found the typical treasure trove of information but I had a couple of specific questions I was hoping for some further suggestions on:

    1. Assuming a typical morning will be getting a 5 year old and 8 year old to ski school and a 1 year old to either stay in a condo with a babysitter or off to a child care centre, are you best staying near the Town Lift, the Park City Mountain Resort base or the Canyons base?

    There is obviously the tension between ski in ski out convenience and the more interesting town vibe which is why the town lift seems such a great location but the added complexity of ski school is making me think we're better off up at the mountain and finding another way into town for those excursions.

    We would envisage staying in a condo rather than a hotel and eating dinner in on probably half the nights and eating out the other half. It would be the early family sitting for all those meals....

    2. If we stay up at the resort base, would you suggest a car to get into Main St for dinner etc - is parking a hassle down there? I'd be inclined to think cabbing/ubering around would be easier but interested in others experiences.

    In terms of the overall holiday, we are planning on splitting 3 weeks between 10-12 days based at Park City, 7 days at Alta and a few days transiting. This will be in January 2020 to come back just before school starts (missed out on the Northern Hemisphere ski trip this year with new born so planning early!). We'll be on our epic passes, hence PCMR as a natural base.

    The 8 year old is a competent enough skier through to gentle off piste (loves bumps!) and black runs, 5 year old just blue runs for now. Mum and Dad have done seasons and skied a lot, though mostly in Europe. When skiing for ourselves we try to get off the piste as much as possible (trees and bowls more than big chutes these days - not too keen on anything too exposed). On this trip though, we will be looking forward to skiing with the kids wherever they're having fun as much as we will be skiing on our own. Alta has been on Dad's bucket list forever, hence this Utah trip...

    Very open to any other suggestions or ideas of good options for a family ski trip in Utah as well.

    Thanks in advance to everyone.
     
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  2. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum
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    I'm not sure that Alta will work. There are very few stand alone condos (although there are at Snowbird just down the road and between the resorts). Most of it is lodge style accommodation. It is all very convenient because there is not much there.. Most Alta deals are half-board - dinner bed and breakfast. I'm not sure where kids' ski school is, but if it's at the Albion Base you will have to ride the Lateral Ground Transportation System (aka rope tow) to get from your accommodation to ski school.
     
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  3. MarzNC

    MarzNC Hard Yards

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    Can't help much with Park City, but I know Alta well. Where are you thinking of staying for the Alta days?

    One of the features of the Alta ski school that takes some getting used to is that they don't take reservations. The advantage is that parents can make a decision as late as breakfast time. But also requires dealing with the paperwork first thing in the morning.

    For more about Alta, check out the tabs for Lodging and Terrain here:
    https://www.snowpak.com/utah/salt-lake-city/alta

    The lodging at Solitude is good for young families. But need to have a car.

    For Park City and staying in the town of Alta, possible to avoid renting a car. There are ways to get from Park City to Alta via shuttle or Uber/Lyft. Even public bus is possible but wouldn't be fun with luggage and kids.

    The Park City free bus system is pretty good from what I've read. There are parking decks near the shopping and restaurant area but driving around town is a hassle.

    The Olympic museum in Park City is fun for all ages. I enjoyed the bus tour that included the Olympic ski jump.
     
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  4. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room
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    You don't need a car in Park City, the buses are fabulous. Every bus route goes through the PCMR Base and also the Main St town transportation centre. I'd stay at the PCMR base to make skiing/ski school easy and just bus around to the restaurants etc.

    Maybe consider Snowbird instead of Alta - they're joined anyway. The Ski School at Snowbird is good, they understand the needs of powderhound parents and cater for it, and the base area is a bit more integrated.

    There's not much to do up in that Canyon but the skiing is so good you should be exhausted enough that it doesn't matter, and if you're in Park City you can get enough apres/restaurants etc in.
     
  5. Harper11

    Harper11 Part of the Furniture
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    i just stayed in sandy Utah for snowbird/alta and drove up. Was good on what was a long ski trip in various locations to stay in a proper town and could do good shopping and normal stuff

    Park city had tumbleweeds blowing through it when i stayed there didn't have village atmosphere i was expecting, I skied DV mainly
    pcmr was underwhelming but fine i guess
     
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  6. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler A Local
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    I stayed in a condo in PCMR, was pretty much ski in ski out (green run) and just off main St. Good location and close to restaurants and easy ski to the base
     
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  7. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler A Local
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  8. MarzNC

    MarzNC Hard Yards

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    All depends on what type of budget and lodging is of interest. Plus the OP has Alta on his bucket list.

    All the independent lodges at Alta provide breakfast and dinner. The Peruvian includes lunch for those willing to head back at lunch time. Can get a condo with a kitchen at Snowbird but without a car, a bit hard to get food supplies other than at the little convenience market at the resort.

    Skiing between Snowbird and Alta only works for intermediates and up. Also requires that Mineral Basin is open. Low visibility and high winds will shut down Mineral lifts pretty quickly. Getting a free bus ride or a van ride from Snowbird to Alta or vice-versa is an option.

    Now that the Snowbird Children's Ski School moved over to Creekside, not much different from Alta having two bases with ski school at Albion. With the transfer tow, in some ways easier to get between the Albion and Wildcat than between the Snowbird Tram plaza (main base) and Creekside. Alta Ski School prices are lower than Snowbird. But I know of parents who think not being able to make a reservation is a disadvantage. Fair to say that there are plenty of Alta parents who are powder hounds too. Being able to decide in the morning that there is too much fresh powder to spend the morning skiing on groomers and not having to worry about being closed out of ski school . . . let's just say that it can be a bit busy doing registration on a powder day at Alta.

    I've been staying at Alta Lodge with kids under age 10 (my own and/or friends' kids) during late season for the last ten years. Parents get totally spoiled because the free kid's program means the kids ages 4-12 have fun without parents from 4:30 to 8:15. That makes enjoying the gourmet dinner a lot easier. Of course, the OP has a baby so that's a different situation.

    As for skiing with kids who aren't advanced skiers yet, I much prefer Alta over Snowbird. Not having to watch out for snowboarders is one factor but it's more that there are more areas to have a good time with a mixed ability group at Alta. Even just riding Sunnyside from the Albion base, there is legitimate black terrain on Vail Ridge after a powder storm. Short, steep, with trees. That's where instructors take the Level 7 classes to introduce them to deep powder. I got to watch my daughter and her friend head down that way from the lift when the snow was thigh deep on the girls since they were tweens under 11. Lots of ways to ski off the Supreme lift where part of the group goes down a blue groomer and the other people do a short black for powder or bumps.
     
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  9. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty
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    They have 3 little kids. No way on earth that they would / should want to stay in Sandy.
     
  10. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum
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    Not to mention one of the joys of staying in Snowbird/Alta. A Canyon closure when the great unwashed are stuck in SLC.
     
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  11. Harper11

    Harper11 Part of the Furniture
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    I guess the one year old makes it tricky
    But it will anyway
     
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  12. Genghis Khan

    Genghis Khan Early Days

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    Thanks for all of those fast replies! Much appreciated.

    Sorry my original post was a little confusing, the first questions were really intended for the Park City part of the trip we have planned. In summary, I think it sounds like staying at PCMR base with a plan to use buses (or uber as a backup) will be most suitable for our needs. Thanks for all the suggestions there.

    I understand Alta is a quite different set up (indeed that's part of the attraction - our home lodge in Australia is still bunk rooms and no TV, we like the idea of a 'lodge' environment). We are currently thinking we'd stay at the Alta Lodge which seems most kid friendly, and in particular offers a shuttle into the ski school which may be helpful if the rope tow proves to be too much hassle.... MarcNZs comment seems to support this idea so thats good.

    I had developed a preference for Alta over Snowbird on the basis of some romantic/retro notion I have of those old school lodges but will take a closer look at Snowbird again. As a couple of others have alluded to, convenience is king with three kids in tow, and to us that means staying no more than a couple of hundred metres from the lifts, so will have to cough up the dollars until the kids are a few years older yet I think!

    Thanks again for all of the comments.
     
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  13. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum
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    My recollection of Snowbird is that, unless you are staying in Cliff Lodge (which is expensive) you have to at least walk across the road and up some stairs to get to lifts.
     
  14. MarzNC

    MarzNC Hard Yards

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    I know families who book the a "dorm room" as a private room at Alta Lodge in order to make the cost a bit more manageable. There are rooms with two bunk beds that sleep four, and at least one with a bunk bed and a twin that is good for an adult and two children. Dorm rooms have a basin in the room. There are home-style bathroom across the hall (sink, toilet, bath/shower).

    I stay in one of the original lodge rooms with basin only. A bonus is that those rooms are a shorter walk from the main entrance and dining room. Of course, it pays to make a reservation early. 75% of Alta guests are returning guests who book their room for the next season when they are leaving. New guests cannot book rooms until about September, giving returning guests July and August to commit to a given week and room.

    As for getting kids to ski school, I've done it both ways. While taking the Alta Lodge van over to Albion can be good with younger kids, that requires walking up the stairs with their skis. By the second day of ski school during our first stay (2008), I opted to take my daughter (7yo) over using the transfer tow. It starts running by 8:30am. That way I was also ready to ski by 9:15 when the chairlifts open. Pretty much did the same in recent years with my friend's kids. They were 8 and 10 when they went for their first Alta Lodge stay for spring break a few years ago. Even their mother, who started skiing at the same time as her kids and was an advanced beginner, could handle the transfer tow with a little coaching the first time.
     
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  15. MarzNC

    MarzNC Hard Yards

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    For what it's worth, I've skied both Alta and Snowbird a fair amount in the last decade. Even as I became a solid advanced skier (after age 50) with the help of lessons, I much prefer Alta over Snowbird. I have clear memories of skiing Alta and Snowbird as an intermediate a few decades ago. I got bored at Snowbird because of the terrain that was available to me. Never had that problem at Alta for myself or friends or kids who were intermediates not quite ready for black terrain.

    At this point, Alta Lodge, Goldminer's Daughter, and Peruvian are still "old school" ski lodges. Not that true of Rustler or Snowpine.

    There is a free resort bus that circles Snowbird on a regular basis. Definitely need it to get from the condo buildings to the Children's Ski School at Creekside. That bus picks up anywhere along the road when someone flags it down.
     
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  16. TOFF

    TOFF Im kind of a big deal
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    Park City is where you want to stay for restaurants and other touristy bits for kids.
     
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  17. Genghis Khan

    Genghis Khan Early Days

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    Thanks again for all of that advice.

    I was pretty much there already but MarzNC, you've convinced me to stick to my guns with Alta (assuming we can get into the lodge - they indicated should be fine for the dates we suggested but won't confirm until later in the year....)!
     
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  18. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room
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    Yes even though they are adjacent to each other they are very different characteristically. Alta is wide open with a mini-Europe feel whereas Snowbird is more treed, steep and demanding. I love both.

    Also agree that Alta is likely to be more intermediate friendly in the Sunnyside/Sugarloaf area. I’ve skied there with my mum, she would ski the groomer under the chair, I would traverse into something hairy and we would meet at the bottom.

    Interestingly I’ve never skied them both on the same day, each has plenty to keep you occupied.
     
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  19. MarzNC

    MarzNC Hard Yards

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    You're most welcome. January is not that busy at Alta/Snowbird except for the MLK long weekend, which will be Jan. 18-20, 2020. As you've probably noticed, the rates are higher for Fri and Sat nights in general. For people who are flying out, sometimes worth moving to an airport motel for the last night. Saves some money. Also reduces any risk of being snowed in because of a closure of the LCC road. Although with a family, it's a lot easier to enjoy a last evening at Alta Lodge, and have plenty of time to pack up.

    Best time to contact Alta Lodge to try to confirm would be right after the U.S. Labor Day, which is Sept. 2, 2020.
     
  20. MarzNC

    MarzNC Hard Yards

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    The only days I've actively skied Alta and Snowbird on the same day was during late season. Mineral Basin softens first on sunny days, which matters when everything has frozen up after a warm day followed by a cold night. The few seasons that the MCP worked as an Alta/Bird combo pass, could go up Collins, up Sugarloaf, and take a few runs in Mineral Basin in the morning. When the lift line was getting long, could hop back over to Alta for the rest of the day.

    For trips staying in SLC, always stuck with just Alta or Snowbird for the day. Now that the MCP includes two days at Alta and two days at Snowbird separately, my ski buddy and I have to get a ride to Snowbird in the morning. At least it's possible to ski back to Alta after 3pm without using up an Alta day. Same holds for people who stay at Snowbird and want to ski Alta. Bus to Alta in the morning, then can cross over via Mineral Basin in the late afternoon (assuming the connection is open) or experts can ski back after riding the Wildcat lift.

    Supposedly an Ikon pass operates as an Alta/Bird pass. I'll test that out in April.
     
  21. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room
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    Yeah Alta is pretty miserable on the cold, grey day in spring where nothing thaws.
     
  22. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept
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    My FIL is in Utah again for his fourteenth season in a row. Stays in SLC and shuttles to Brighton

    80+ inches in the 10 days since he has arrived. Alta/Snowbird/Brighton are probably the most reliable destinations in the USA for pow.

     
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  23. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept
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    @Genghis Khan

    My FIL who has been studying Utah form for almost 30 years always departs very late Jan and stays 6~9 weeks. Feb is most reliable month (apparently) and whilst your children are so young you might consider missing a week or so of school as a possibile option.

    Case in point, last ten days snowfall posted above.