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Old 07-20-2011, 10:47 AM
 
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This may be a bit broad of a topic for this forum, but perhaps someone can give some insight. I've lived in many states and visited the rest. I'm currently in VT spending time with family but plan to return to the west in a couple of months. I work from home so work at the moment is not a consideration. I've done research up the wazoo but visiting a place, looking at pictures and living are all very different. If anyone can give input on any of these questions, I'd be appreciative.

1. How do the High Rockies of CO (ie, Steamboat Springs) compare to Northern ID in terms of scenery? Steamboat is one of the few places in CO I haven't seen so I can't make a visual, but it does appear to be more high desert and lacking in the greenery. I've been to WY a few times to visit but I'm thinking I haven't seen the best parts.

2. Traffic - is the traffic between Denver through the mountains and those smaller towns really as bad as I've been reading about? Keep in mind that I've spent many years in Montana and grew up in CA so I know traffic and the lack thereof.

3. Peacefulness - obviously the population in CO is much higher than both ID or WY, but when you're in the mountains of CO, is it that noticeable?

Appreciate any insights.
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Old 07-20-2011, 11:51 AM
 
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I'm sure you can find plenty of pictures elsewhere, but I just went to google images and ran a search for "steamboat springs" and a ton of good ones popped up. Steamboat Springs actually looks amazing in the pictures. The entire town is blanketed in trees and there are mountains very close to town. Lots of green and right in the mountains.
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Old 07-20-2011, 12:00 PM
 
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Wink Rocky Mtn sojourn

In order to your questions:

1) Scenery. I have not seen all of northern Idaho, but it does differ from that of Steamboat Springs, CO. I've yet to see Sun Valley, ID, but would imagine it is somewhat similar in appearance to Steamboat, only perhaps a bit more barren in appearance than Colorado. I say that as it appears not all the hillsides are heavily forested.

In Idaho I'd probably choose Sandpoint over Coer d'Alene to its south. Both are on bodies of water, but my fleeting impression was that the Sandpoint region more serene and less congested. Either should offer a good variety of recreational opportunities. Off hand I know of no downhill skiing in the area, though.

Steamboat Springs will probably feel more the resort town, particularly in winter. It also enjoys a good mountain for skiing, with reputedly some of the best powder snow in the Rockies. The town has a certain charm, although my feeling its location if scenic enough does not compare with the best Colorado has to offer.

If you have not been to northwest Wyoming then you have not seen the best that state has to offer.The whole area, from Cody to the east, well south of Jackson Hole to the south, and beyond Yellowstone National Park to the north, is some of the finest country in the Rocky Mountain West. If your objective is some primo skiing in a very beautiful place then Jackson Hole should be high on your list. One downside, which would also apply to Steamboat Springs, and surely a lesser extent northern Idaho, would be the cost of living. One has to pay to play there, at least insofar as real estate is concerned. Not only the skiing, either, but within a short distance one also has the option of visiting two great national parks. The other, and closer, is Grand Teton National Park, basically on your doorstep. There is also a ski area around the corner on the opposite side of the Tetons, in Idaho, but Jackson is probably where you want to be.

2) Traffic. Traffic on I-70 through the mountains is not as bad as the I-405 in California. In fact it is a lovely drive between Denver through Summit County and Vail. Personally I generally avoid it save off-peak times, but can attest to traveling west once and viewing a long parking lot of shorts for many miles eastbound on either side of Idaho Springs. Anecdotal accounts are that unless loving traffic one would best avoid I-70 during heavy commute times. Summer in my experience is generally tamer, so the height of such a mess probably from Friday afternoon on westbound, and from Sunday noon on eastbound, with fairly heavy traffic sprinkled in either direction between.

What can make that all the more fun is snow. There are a lot of idiots on the road with little appreciation for snow, traction, and the law of physics. So during heavy periods expect at least the possibility of some 'accident' that may tie up you and traffic for several hours extra.

Basically, it is a real nice drive, if on an interstate. But one best avoided at certain times. If thinking of living in Denver and joining all the others on their weekend ski pilgrimages, good luck. One would be far better off, if so possibly arranged, of living in Summit County. From that vantage one could leisurely catch the last runs of a Sunday afternoon (assuming you even deign to ski on weekends), watching in bemusement as other skiers begin to vanish early, and yourself ever so glad not to be joining them together on I-70.

3) Peacefulness. There is a lot to be said for peacefulness, but do not expect it under some conditions. Such as aforementioned ski weekends in Summit County. One could have a certain serenity there, at home, assuming enough money to have a decent home, versus maybe down-rent apartment with party hard neighbors. It really depends on what one's definition of peacefulness is. Summit County, for instance, is a fairly active place, particularly in winter. However I know of a place next the river in Frisco which seems fairly serene and peaceful, with but a few nearby neighbors to possibly bother them, and yet a walk of but blocks to the center of town.

If looking for something even quieter, or remote, then one might venture farther afield to place such as Crested Butte or Silverton. Or maybe back at Steamboat Springs.

If money not the object it usually is, then there are a lot of options. It is possible to live in or near resort towns and enjoy peacefulness at home. It can be the best of both worlds, but at a price. Otherwise one can move well out into the woods somewhere and enjoy peace as well more remaining in one's purse. If the latter, areas in northern Idaho may be more to one's liking, or the center of the state if really into wilderness. But it is as well possible to place oneself off and beyond, but in roads or something else still find yourself beset with all sorts of unwanted noise and activity. Specific location, location, location - with an eye towards it.


Something else which bears a brief mention in such a discussion is our current unnatural plague of the mountain pine beetle. While they are primarily responsible for killing entire forests of lodgepole pine, many other species of tree are now susceptible to unnatural deaths due our rapidly changing climate.

A place such as Summit County is unfortunately quite hard hit, with the good majority of trees there now dead. Still standing for now, but dead. This incredibly tragic situation has been playing out across the entire Rocky Mountain West, from New Mexico well into British Columbia. Colorado already has some 3,000,000 acres of forest affected, but that paling in comparison to British Columbia with, by some accounts, 50,000,000 acres. Places such as Yellowstone NP are not immune, either.

In brief, even now, but in a few short years this entire region will regrettably be and appear much different. Not all regions, or areas within them, are presently affected to the same extent, but the prognosis is not good. This reality, aside from related water issues, is something to consider if one's interest extends beyond just skiing, with even that affected in some respects.

Oh, and a road trip will do wonders in helping to resolve all the many questions and notions in your head.
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Old 07-20-2011, 12:09 PM
 
Location: Rocky Mountain Xplorer
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Colorado Rockies best in US, but a notch below what our neighbors up in Alberta & B.C. have to offer.
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Old 07-20-2011, 01:37 PM
 
578 posts, read 766,316 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HighlandsMT View Post
Steamboat is one of the few places in CO I haven't seen so I can't make a visual, but it does appear to be more high desert and lacking in the greenery.
You obviously have a computer or access to the internet. There are zillions of photos of Steamboat available to you (as Iowaguy said) on the internet. If you "can't make a visual" how does it "appear to be more high desert lacking in the greenery"? Take a moment to look at some photos and you will see that you are incorrect in that assumption.
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Old 07-20-2011, 01:40 PM
 
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Idunn - thank you for the information. Unfortunately all the road trips I've taken still leave me without all the info, so I appreciate your input. I was only in Jackson once many years ago and don't remember much about it, but I'll definitely be looking around that area a bit more.
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Old 07-20-2011, 02:39 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Hi, I used to live in Colorado and I've been all over the Rocky mountain states....

Quote:
Originally Posted by HighlandsMT View Post
1. How do the High Rockies of CO (ie, Steamboat Springs) compare to Northern ID in terms of scenery?
It's kind of a tough call but I think Idaho wins. Yes, Colorado is more arid than northern Idaho. The mountains throughout Colorado are really pretty too, including the Steamboat Springs area, but northern Idaho is incredibly beautiful.

Quote:
I've been to WY a few times to visit but I'm thinking I haven't seen the best parts.
The only interesting parts of WY I've seen are the northwest corner (Jackson Hole, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone) and also the Wind River mountain range.

Quote:
2. Traffic - is the traffic between Denver through the mountains and those smaller towns really as bad as I've been reading about?
I don't think it's that bad. However, I wasn't a skier so I didn't try to get from Denver to the slopes every weekend like a lot of people do.

Quote:
3. Peacefulness - obviously the population in CO is much higher than both ID or WY, but when you're in the mountains of CO, is it that noticeable?
Most of population in Colorado is in the Front Range (I-25 corridor). Outside of this area there's a drastic drop off in populations, so my opinion is that it's not noticeable except if you're driving on I-70 or you are downtown in one of the resort towns. You can very quickly remove yourself from people with a short distance from these downtown areas, and even more once you are in the mountains. I have hiked and backpacked in many parts of Colorado and once you are a half mile or mile away from the trailhead or campgrounds, you are on your own.

If I were in your situation, it would be a tough decision between the high rockies of Colorado and Northern Idaho. The deciding factor for me is the cold in the winter. If this weren't a factor, I think would choose Idaho due to it not being as arid, more water (lakes, rivers), more of an "untouched" mountain experience.... Although the nice thing about the arid states is that there's not an issue with insects/mosquitos/etc which is a real plus when you're camping. So it's a tough call.
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Old 07-20-2011, 02:44 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iowaguy23 View Post
I'm sure you can find plenty of pictures elsewhere, but I just went to google images and ran a search for "steamboat springs" and a ton of good ones popped up. Steamboat Springs actually looks amazing in the pictures. The entire town is blanketed in trees and there are mountains very close to town. Lots of green and right in the mountains.
This varies from year to year depending on how dry of a season it is. Some years have rainfall and things really bloom. Other years are really dry and the area doesn't look green at all.
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Old 07-20-2011, 08:41 PM
 
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I lived in Steamboat, a lot of it is surrounded by high desert and that butts up right to the town. There is green on the ski hill and some higher elevation wilderness beyond.

Steamboat is isolated, I did one winter there, couldn't take it and it accelerated my departure from Colorado. I was like a cat scrambling at the walls to get out and was hugely relieved when I did. Probably if I had never went there I would not have been so eager to leave Colorado, but it helped on the other hand accelerate my career into something new so I don't regret it.

The other thing is the winters are harsh. Many times I would visit Vail and going back to Steamboat it would easily be 20-30 degrees cooler. And frequently when I got up for work the temp would be -10 to -30 as the rising sun squeezed cold air down into the valley. After that winter my car was never the same and several years later there is still stuff on it I need to fix that those harsh conditions caused.

It was a big let down for me after Vail, Summit County and Aspen. Those places had a lot more friendly and interesting people, with lots more to do and didn't feel as isolated. The culture is just different in Steamboat and I never felt at home.

I was up in the northern Idaho and the Spokane, WA area back in 2008. I have no reason to live there, but I thought it was a pretty cool area and would like to see more. People were real friendly and it seemed to have a nice mix of things to do. If someone forced me to choose, I would pick that over Steamboat and Wyoming any day.

Traffic on the I-70 corridor is a problem on weekends in winter and summer. Otherwise it is like any other normal 4 lane interstate. Obviously weather is always a factor in winter.
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Old 07-21-2011, 10:06 AM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
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80skeys wrote:
Hi, I used to live in Colorado and I've been all over the Rocky mountain states....

It's kind of a tough call but I think Idaho wins. Yes, Colorado is more arid than northern Idaho. The mountains throughout Colorado are really pretty too, including the Steamboat Springs area, but northern Idaho is incredibly beautiful.
Ditto! Though I never lived in Idaho, I visited Northern Idaho frequently when I lived in Nelson, BC just north of Idaho. Southern BC, is my overall favorite of the many places I have ever lived. Except for being in the US, northern Idaho is quite similar to southern BC.
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