Advice for a Spring flight to Denver
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wgo
4 months ago (edited 4 months ago)
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,451 posts
The eternal question - when to buy plane tickets? My teenage son and I are looking to ski for a couple days at A-Basin at the end of April/Beginning of May. We live in Charlottesville, VA and will be flying out of our little regional airport. I can get a ticket now for $314 roundtrip. I have no idea what a good price is - I usually make the drive to one of the DC area airports when I fly so I have no idea what a decent price is flying out of a smaller airport. Can anyone offer any insight?
marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
4 months ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,800 posts

wgo wrote:

The eternal question - when to buy plane tickets? My teenage son and I are looking to ski for a couple days at A-Basin at the end of April/Beginning of May. We live in Charlottesville, VA and will be flying out of our little regional airport. I can get a ticket now for $314 roundtrip. I have no idea what a good price is - I usually make the drive to one of the DC area airports when I fly so I have no idea what a decent price is flying out of a smaller airport. Can anyone offer any insight?

 For late season, there isn't much reason to buy months in advance.  Especially for a short trip.  How do you know that A-Basin will have good weather the weekend you have available?  There will be snow, yes, but how much open terrain are you hoping for?

For the next few months, any past experience with plane ticket prices may not apply.  The pandemic is not over and the airline industry might not go back to any sort of consistent pricing approaches for another year or more.  Same for rental car rates.

bob
4 months ago (edited 4 months ago)
Member since 04/15/2008 🔗
707 posts

I pretty much agree with marzNC about when to buy the ticket. There's no need to do so now. Mostly nobody will be flying to Denver to ski end of April beginning of May so you don't need to worry about full planes. I'd say 4-6 weeks in advance would be plenty. 

As far as how much terrain A-Baisn would have open - the answer is pretty much everything - based on my 30 or so years experience skiing Summit County. Altitude and north facing is the key. A few weeks later and Pali might be closed for fear of slush slides.

As a point of reference, my best day of skiing EVER in Summit County was May 10, 1993 when the Basin got a 2 foot dump. I-70 was closed and Denver couldn't get there. I have a 5 foot by 2.5 foot pic of that day on my wall.

wgo
4 months ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,451 posts

Thanks Bob and MarzNC. We have a narrow window between the end of indoor marching band (april 23) and the start of a series of AP exams, so the last weekend in April is the only time we can do a trip out west. Everything I have ever heard about A-basin indicates that it will be mostly open during that time.

Bob - any advice on where to look for lodging and for ski rentals?

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marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
4 months ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,800 posts
For my trip to Summit County last Feb, my friends and I stayed at the Best Western Ptarmigan Inn in Dillon.  Some of the rooms have exterior doors.  The back building building only has relatively few rooms so not that likely to run into people in the hallway.  There were a few good restaurants in walking distance.  I was sharing a room with a kitchenette so it was easy to eat take out food or heat up stuff with the microwave.
wgo
4 months ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,451 posts
Ok, cool. Looks like Dillon is the closest population center to A-Basin?
marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
4 months ago (edited 4 months ago)
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
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wgo wrote:

Ok, cool. Looks like Dillon is the closest population center to A-Basin?

 What I learned SkiSE folks years ago was that Dillon and Frisco were the places to stay for bargain hunters.  Leadville is an option too but there are fewer motel options for a short stay I think.  At least that was my impression driving through last February.  My friends and I stayed in Dillon first, drove to South Fork to ski at Wolf Creek, and then went back to Dillon for to ski a bit more at Copper and A-Basin.

The drive from Dillon to A-Basin is relatively straightforward.  No need to get on I-70.

You're aware of the traffic situation on a Sunday afternoon on I-70 heading back to Denver, right?  Not as big a deal in late April but still worth taking into account depending on your flight schedule.

JohnL
4 months ago
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,537 posts
Keystone, Dillon, Silverthorne.
bob
4 months ago (edited 4 months ago)
Member since 04/15/2008 🔗
707 posts


 

JohnL wrote:

Keystone, Dillon, Silverthorne.

Agree. Plenty of "cheaper" hotels in Dillon and Silverthorne. We've used the Days Inn at 1_70 and CO9 or the super 8 a half mile south of that Both are pretty basic .Snagging a place at Keystone might be good since Keystone will  be closed by then. Deals to be had?? Don't even think about Leadville unless you want an hour and a half drive (or more) - across Hoosier Pass and thru Breckenridge.

Rentals? The Basin will have them. Christy  sports  (many locations) one on the South side of Dillon on the way to the Basin is an option 

JohnL
4 months ago
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,537 posts

Ground transportation will be by far your biggest challenge. More so than flights. I’d maybe make that central to your planning.

As to snow/terrain, AB/LL, Tahoe and Mammoth are your best (just about only) options in the US during the end of April/early May timeframe. Snowbird also comes to mind.

If you are locked into that timeframe, I wouldn’t overthink the choices, especially if you find a deal or very convenient flights.

bob
4 months ago (edited 4 months ago)
Member since 04/15/2008 🔗
707 posts

as an added point, Vail Resorts has developed an operating plan. Keystone is open early, and Breckenridge late. So unless the snow is really bad, Breckenridge will be open. Problem is only Peak 8 will be open. A Basin will have more / better terrain open. Since A-Basin is north facing and higher and Breck east facing, A-Basin's snow will be better.

Unless the snow is bad, Loveland is always  open thru the first Sunday in May.

I agree with JohnL about ground transportation. Rent car prices are pretty outrageous.. 

I guess I'd recommend occasionally looking at flight  and car  prices as time passes.  If something looks good price wise, just grab it.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
4 months ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,800 posts

Mt. Bachelor is also an option for late April.  But not as easy to reach as taking a flight to Denver unless you are willing to fly into Medford or Redmond.

Denver car rental prices were on the high side even pre-pandemic.  Meaning in comparison to other major airports that serve destination resorts.

wgo
4 months ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,451 posts

Thanks all. I have a benefit from work that gives me a discount on car rentals, hopefully that can change the price from unbelievably outrageous to just outrageous.

I'll obviously be keeping an eye on the public health situation as well. Hopefully things will be ok by April.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
4 months ago (edited 4 months ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,819 posts

I've stayed near Dillon-Keystone in a small 1 bdrm Queen bed with sleep sofa condo for low 100s per night using VRBO at that time of the spring.  Airbnb ought to be pretty cheap too.  You are going when most lodging will be low tide, but skiing can still be real good.

PS:  be sure to price out flying to SLC and total cost for car and lodging.  LCC and BCC can be very good in late Apr and you might get free guiding from moi :-)  These pics are from Apr 27, 2021:

1640886483_szshtwtyuxxe.jpg1640886509_lqrpwwbyrrbw.jpg

wgo
4 months ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,451 posts
With my discount from work I can get a full size car at Denver International airport for $57 a day or a SUV for $80 a day. Seems reasonable.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
4 months ago (edited 4 months ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,819 posts
rbrtlav
4 months ago (edited 4 months ago)
Member since 12/2/2008 🔗
537 posts
If you are flying southwest and will fly again in the next year they will always issue you credit if the price goes down. For one of the dc airports I usually aim for $250-280, so $314 doesn’t sound too bad if it’s convenient.

Other airlines aren’t nearly as flexible, but in general with southwest if I see a reasonable price I book it and just check every so often to see if it goes down.

If you are staying in silverthorne I’d also check out copper if they are still open, it’s a really fun mountain.
jpetraiuolo
4 months ago
Member since 02/11/2020 🔗
54 posts
I went to A-Basin just before the pandemic hit and it was one of my favorite experiences. Dillion is kind of annoying because you need to drive past A-basin to then drive east on I-70. It’s nice cause it has more of a town but you can also look at Georgetown. It’s about a 15 minute drive. I always pick rentals up in Idaho springs because it’s cheaper and right off the highway. It’s the same major company they have at all the resorts. Hope this helps!
bob
4 months ago
Member since 04/15/2008 🔗
707 posts

The risk with Georgetown is snow. To get to the basin you have to drive over Loveland Pass -- not an issue when things are good, but big issues if they are not.

Plus There used to be only one legitimate hotel in town. Has B&Bs though.

 

jpetraiuolo wrote:

I went to A-Basin just before the pandemic hit and it was one of my favorite experiences. Dillion is kind of annoying because you need to drive past A-basin to then drive east on I-70. It’s nice cause it has more of a town but you can also look at Georgetown. It’s about a 15 minute drive. I always pick rentals up in Idaho springs because it’s cheaper and right off the highway. It’s the same major company they have at all the resorts. Hope this helps!
JohnL
4 months ago
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,537 posts

bob wrote:

The risk with Georgetown is snow. To get to the basin you have to drive over Loveland Pass -- not an issue when things are good, but big issues if they are not.

Plus There used to be only one legitimate hotel in town. Has B&Bs though.

 

jpetraiuolo wrote:

I went to A-Basin just before the pandemic hit and it was one of my favorite experiences. Dillion is kind of annoying because you need to drive past A-basin to then drive east on I-70. It’s nice cause it has more of a town but you can also look at Georgetown. It’s about a 15 minute drive. I always pick rentals up in Idaho springs because it’s cheaper and right off the highway. It’s the same major company they have at all the resorts. Hope this helps!

 Agree with Bob. In general, even that time of the year, dont rely on going over Loveland Pass. I’ve skied AB 4-5 times in that timeframe.

Stay in Keystone, Dillon or Silverthorne. If you are heading back to DIA for an evening flight back - or staying in DEN for morning flight, can consider taking LL Pass if conditions are right. But don’t count on it.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
4 months ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,800 posts
Hopefully by late season, Southwest will have figured out a "new normal."  For the trip I and quite a few friends planned months ago for Taos, almost everyone had flight changes to deal with during the fall.  Most people are flying from the east somewhere.  There were a few times when a schedule flight disappeared and there was no automatic notification of a change.
wgo
3 months ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,451 posts
Late April/Early May - historically, has A-Basin still been fully open at that time?
marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
3 months ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,800 posts

wgo wrote:

Late April/Early May - historically, has A-Basin still been fully open at that time?

 Sometimes, but not sure what has happened in past seasons is really that useful to know.

A-Basin is always open for Mother's Day, but the amount of terrain open has varied quite a bit in the last decade or so.  Most people are done skiing by noon and then just stay to party with friends at what's called the Beach.  Can reserve a spot to set up chairs, a tent, and generally settled in to enjoy the sun.  There are times when they push snow around so that there is enough near the base for people to get back down.  The backside gets so much sun a friend who has an A-Basin season pass says it's not worth skiing after mid-March.

A few years ago, my ski buddy who lives in NM drove to A-Basin after he dropped me off at the Las Vegas airport on May 11.  We'd been skiing Bachelor and Mammoth.  He had a good time but I don't remember what terrain was open.

wgo
3 months ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,451 posts
Looks like Bob already answered this question when I started this thread a month ago. Sorry about missing that!
wgo
3 months ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,451 posts
I asked this over on skitalk but figured I would do so here as well. Has anyone rented from either Virgin Island ski rentals or Columbine ski and sport? Thoughts?
superguy
2 months ago
Member since 03/8/2018 🔗
353 posts

A tip for finding the best fares : cheapest days to travel are generally Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Wednesday can be hit or miss, but it's more often than not good.

Sundays, Mondays and Fridays are more expensive due to higher business travel.

That doesn't mean you can't get good deals on business days - a flight I just bought was just as cheap on a Monday as it was Tuesday. It's just less likely.

Also look alternate airports, like BWI vis Dulles and Reagan, or Denver or Colorado Springs vis the smaller regionals close to the resorts. Price differences can be quite substantial.

It usually comes down to what you value: cost vs time and convenience.

wgo
one month ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,451 posts

Back from A-Basin - we needed to move the trip up to the first week of April due to a conflict with a school event at the end of April. It was great! First couple days were cold and very windy but with a good amount of drifted snow to play in. 3rd and final day was a gorgeous bluebird spring day. We hit a good deal of the mountain - Lenawee face, runs below the East Wall traverse, trees in the Beavers, Montezuma Bowl, Pallavicini area. I have posted a few pics over on the Photo of the Day thread.

Couple non-skiing notes: The food was good - brisket sandwiches and bison stew at the Black Mountain Lodge

We took the red eye flight home Friday into Saturday morning. I don't think I will be doing that again...

superguy
one month ago
Member since 03/8/2018 🔗
353 posts

Most prices remain pretty flat. Airlines sell tickets in fare buckets, or tiers, and allocate so many at each price point. That's why you'll see different codes like T, S, H, etc for your fare code. Each one has different sets of rules for changes, dates, routings, advance purchase, etc.

ALWAYS READ THE FARE RULES BEFORE YOU BUY THE TICKET!!!

If there are distant fare buckets combined into a ticket, the most restrictive set applies.

Best days to travel are midweek (generally T-W, often TH) and Saturday. Fares are almost always higher on Sunday, Monday and Friday and that's when business travel mostly happens, so they raise the fares.

Nothing is etched in stone as fare sales and demand can impact pricing.

Best bet would be T/W-Sat for a short trip or Sat-Sat for a week trip.

billroa - DCSki Supporter 
16 days ago
Member since 02/6/2017 🔗
8 posts

wgo wrote:

I asked this over on skitalk but figured I would do so here as well. Has anyone rented from either Virgin Island ski rentals or Columbine ski and sport? Thoughts?

 It's after your trip and maybe doesn't matter now, but yes I rented some powder skis from Virgin Island rentals and had a good experience.  Good skis at a good price.

Glad you had a good trip. I've never skied at A-Basin. I was skiing at Copper on that trip with the rental and considered going to A-Basin for a day but the road and resort were closed because of all the snow that week. I-70 was a mess and closed at times. Great snow at Copper that week.

wgo
12 days ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,451 posts


We did end up going with Virgin Island. There was a minor issue where I needed to get one binding recalibrated after the first day but overall I liked them and would rent from them again. 

billroa wrote:

 It's after your trip and maybe doesn't matter now, but yes I rented some powder skis from Virgin Island rentals and had a good experience.  Good skis at a good price.

wgo
12 days ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,451 posts

Also of note RE: A-Basin - last day for the Pali chair was this past Sunday, May 8. Here is a list of closing dates for the Pali chair over the last decade (taken from a thread over at skitalk). Overall closing date this year is scheduled to be June 5.

2011: May 30
2012: April 2
2013: May 15
2014: May 20
2015: May 25
2016: May 22
2017: May 14
2018: May 9
2019: June 2
2020: Covid (did run the chair a few days during the limited reopening but not the terrain)
2021: May 16
2022: May 8

marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
11 days ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,800 posts
My ski buddy who lives in NM had a good time skiing ABasin May 6-8.  The snow was still good apparently.  Only issue was wind hold for a couple lifts on Sat meant the liftlines got a little long on the open lifts around midday.
wgo
11 days ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,451 posts


 Yes - my understanding is that it has been a particularly windy spring. Our first day there (April 6) the backside lift was not running (and nearby Loveland resort was not open at all). Next day all lifts were open but there were some pretty heavy gusts up top to contend with. Advice from the regulars on skitalk is to stick with the lower lift and Pali lift on those days, but with our limited time there we decided to brave the winds (and were glad that we did).

marzNC wrote:

My ski buddy who lives in NM had a good time skiing ABasin May 6-8.  The snow was still good apparently.  Only issue was wind hold for a couple lifts on Sat meant the liftlines got a little long on the open lifts around midday.
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