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Airport to Slope Travel Time
An underrated aspect of ski vacation travel is the time it takes to get from the airport to the slopes (or more likely, to the lodging). We hear many people talk about how it is only a 2 hour flight to so-and-so mountain town airport. But what about after that? The fact is that many airports that sell themselves as the municipal airport for a ski town can be 30, 40 or more minutes away from the lifts and lodging. Be sure to factor in the time it takes to get from the airport to the resort. In many cases, the cost for transit will increase as the distance and time increases.

Here are a few examples:

Denver: Lots of people view Denver as a viable destination airport for resorts along the I-70 corridor. It certainly is, with most good resorts being 2-4 hours from DIA (assuming no traffic or snow). But saving $50 on a flight by flying to Denver when you're trying to get to Aspen/Snowmass is silly, considering that flying to the Aspen airport will save you hours dof driving that could be spent seeing the town or skiing. For resorts like Winter Park or Breckenridge, however, Denver is among the best options.

Utah: In addition to the powder, one of the best aspects of skiing Utah is the short distance to the slopes from a major airport. The Salt Lake City airport leaves you a mere 35 miles from Park City, 33 miles from the Canyons, and 40 miles from Deer Valley. This is practically unheard of in other parts of ski country. By flying that extra 40 minutes to Salt Lake, you might more than make up for it on the time it takes to get to the resort.

Vail, Steamboat, Big Sky: Even though airports for places in the rockies have the Ski Resort in their name and literature, they can leave you with a hike to get to the resort. Vail is 30 minutes on I-70 from the Vail Airport, Steamboat is about 30 minutes from the Hayden/Steamboat airport, and the Bozeman Airport still leaves you 45 minutes from Big Sky. The good news is that these drives are usually scenic -- The Bozeman to Big Sky drive, along the Gallatin River, is about as pretty as it gets.

Aspen: As mentioned above, Aspen/Snowmass wins our award for proximity of the airport to the slopes. The drive time from the airport to either resort is usually 10-15 minutes, something that justifies a higher flight cost for us. Plus, it is one of the world-class resorts.

The conclusion? Don't be penny wise and pound foolish when booking travel to a resort area. You'd have to save alot of money to justify the 4 hour drive to Steamboat from Denver instead of flying into Hayden.