Ski Utah Hints and Tips:
love skiing Utah and have been skiing there on a regular basis
for many years. From a cost perspective, you can stretch
your ski dollar further here with a bit of planning.
Skiing is easily reached within a couple hours of your arrival, and Salt
Lake is a major hub servicing many airlines, so you can often
snag a pretty good airfare deal. Once here, you can choose
to stay in the city, valley, or on the mountain depending on
your time constraints and ski budget. Budget rates are
often available, even with short term planning, in the city and
valley. The mountains offer first class resort accommodations
with attractive rates before the Christmas holidays and just
after the New Year well into January. The snow is about as
reliable as anywhere we've ever skied, and if you are staying in
town or have the opportunity to stop in town, you can purchase
discount lift tickets at a number of ski shops or grocers
including Canyon Sports and Smith's. If you know you're
going to ski well in advance of your trip, you can purchase
blocks of tickets for as few as 10 days at reduced prices prior
to labor day for some of the resorts. (Check the web-sites
of individual resorts in later July to August for
details.) In addition, many of the downtown hotels offer
nice ski package deals that include lift tickets and UTA (Utah Transit
a short drive, you have access to a large number of first class
ski resorts that include:
Valley, Park City, The Canyons, Snowbird, Alta, and Snowbasin.
addition, there are a number of smaller but equally great
resorts such as:
Mountain, Solitude, Sundance and Brighton which offer even more
variety! Don't discount these resorts, as each has it's
own charm. Powder Mountain is an old fashioned resort with some
pretty unique ski opportunities. Solitude has made
significant improvements over the years and is now a really nice
resort with a European look and feel. We find the skiing
here to be more appealing to intermediate skiers, although
Honeycomb Canyon can be lots of fun and not very crowded for the
experts out there. Sundance is an incredibly beautiful
area and a nice diversion for a day or two. Brighton is a fun resort with a lot of
appeal for Snowboarders and the younger crowd in particular!
you just have to ski them all, and don't have much time...there
are guided ski tours available that go between a number of the
Salt Lake is a major city, fine dining opportunities abound, and
some pretty good deals can be found in the city.
just how do these resorts compare overall? Well, it really
depends on what you're looking for, so here's how I would
Valley - Think Upscale
in Deer Valley: The choice is enormous, and the lodges
are all beautiful. Fine cuisine is readily available,
and you will have no problem finding a special dining
experience here. The only problem is that you may easily
exhaust your budget.
in Deer Valley: A nice mountain with some fun glade
skiing opportunities. The day lodges are very
nice. Many of the runs are meticulously groomed, but
challenges can still be had for the adventurous. The
lift system here however leaves something to be
desired. For the price of the lift tickets, the lifts
are not up to par. Snowboards are prohibited.
City - Think Lively (at least as lively as it gets around here)
in Park City: Lots of different lodging opportunities
in a variety of price categories. This is a good size
ski town with many hotels and condominiums available.
Likewise there is a large variety of restaurants and bars,
and a variety of shops to walk about in town. This is
a good place to bring your family if not everyone really
wants to ski, as there are other things to do.
in Park City: A good mountain that has a lively
atmosphere. Skiing available for all levels with some
of the harder terrain to be found in Jupiter Bowl.
Probably the liveliest ski town of the bunch. (notice the
use of the word "town"...)
Canyons - Lots of Recent Upgrades
in The Canyons: A nice large time-share unit was
recently built at the foot of the hill. It is very
elegant, and no doubt a nice place to stay. You can
however easily stay anywhere in Park City and still ski The
The Canyons: Good skiing for all levels. Lots of
improvements have been made to the lift systems.
Skiing opportunities similar to that of neighboring Park
- A throwback in time.
in Alta: Think of the ski resorts you've seen in old
films. The rooms are generally small with shared
common areas. Breakfast and dinner are often part of
the lodging package, and you will likely be seated with
other guests. There is often some evening activity
available like a ski film. You'll be treated like part
of the family. You may even find yourself hooking up
with other guests to ski for the day.
in Alta: Alta has the reputation of never changing,
but this is not entirely true. Many aspects of Alta
have improved over the years, and in recent times they have
built two very nice modern day lodges on the hill. You
can even have a full service lunch mid-mountain (think
service, tablecloths, and china). Alta has great
skiing and generally satisfies all levels of skiers.
It once was a bit difficult to find the best slopes, as you
kind of had to know where to go, but the signage in Alta has
improved significantly over time. There are some runs
that require a bit of walking or traversing to access, but
they are worth it! Alta is for skiers....i.e. no
Lift Passes in Alta: Wow! Alta now uses rfid
lift passes...making their lift line management one of the
most modern in the region! (Who says Alta never
- Think modern (~30 years old) concrete construction
in Snowbird: Buildings are all poured concrete.
Nice comfortable hotel rooms, studio apartment units, and
condo suites are all available on the hill. Many of
the rooms have beautiful views of the ski hill. There
is a nice variety of restaurants, at least enough to keep
you busy for a week. There is usually some evening
activity planned within snowbird like a film or
lecture. Pick up the snowbird daily newsletter to find
out "what's up at the bird". Otherwise, it's
pretty quiet at night. Okay... in all fairness
Snowbird does make an effort to have some sort of musical
entertainment with some good apres ski music on the
plaza...but still it's pretty quiet. This however is a
good thing, as you should be pretty tired if you really
skied all day! There is a sports bar below the tram
that younger folks like to frequent.
in Snowbird: Snowbird has made significant
improvements to their lift systems and opened a good deal of
new terrain in recent years. Some of the terrain
requires hiking or traversing to access, so you need to
watch for the marked gates. However be aware that many
skiers find Snowbird a bit intimidating. With this
said let me make it clear that Snowbird has a variety of
skiing available to suit all levels of skiers, including
some really good intermediate runs. Snowbird offers a
tour of the mountain to new guests daily, and has many ski
hosts/hostesses available to help guests find their way
around...so be sure to take advantages of this service if
you feel the need. If you're beyond this, then just
get out, up, explore, and enjoy! This is a big
mountain with lots of hidden treasures waiting for you to
Lift Passes: You
can purchase a ski pass that combines Alta/Snowbird, however
this pass costs more than purchasing a ski day at either of
the resorts. It makes sense if you have only one day
to ski and want to see both, or you just love having all
that choice and don't mind the extra cost. The gated
cross-over is easy to ski, However, each of these
resorts has enough terrain to easily keep you on the move
all day...so don't concern yourself about lack of variety or
boredom! In fact, you will need to visit many times if
you wish to find all the terrain these areas have to
offer. Also be aware that the UTA bus is available for
transport between these two areas, so you can stay at either
resort and ski the other for a day!
- European Atmosphere
in Solitude: In recent years, Solitude has built and
developed into a nice modern resort. You can stay at
the lodge right on the mountain. Solitude has a relaxing classy
in Solitude: Good comfortable skiing especially for
the intermediate skier. Honeycomb Canyon in particular
offers challenges to advanced skiers, and is not crowded
allowing the snow to remain good even days after the last
- Good for Boarders
in Brighton: I don't recall this being an option, but
you can stay in Solitude and easily access Brighton.
in Brighton: Good lifts, but I'm getting a little old
for the usual crowd. This is a good mountain, but it's
pretty popular with the younger skier...and they're usually
on boards. Anyway, the mountain is good, and if you
get a good deal...by all means try it....or you're young and
like to board...you'll likely find a good time here!
- Think Wow
in Snowbasin: Well, maybe sometime soon...or so we've
been told the last couple of years. Until then, drive
from the Salt Lake Area for the day, or stay in Ogden or one
of the nearby small towns of the Ogden Valley region.
Snowbasin: This was the site of the Year 2000 Olympic
Downhill. The infrastructure improvements made
prior to the Olympics are astounding. The day lodges
are gorgeous and the lifts are modern and comfortable.
The skiing is great as are the views. If the weather
if nice, you will have great views of the Great Salt Lake
and the whole of the Ogden Valley. Skiing
opportunities abound for all levels of skiers.
Mountain - Unique
for Powder: I'm skipping over this as I don't have
much to say on this topic and it's unlikely you're traveling
just to come spend your entire vacation at Powder Mountain.
Powder Mountain. It has be feeling of "the
old local ski hang-out". It's friendly and
unrestricted. Some people even bring their grills and
tail-gate at lunch in the upper parking area. You
can't help but feel relaxed here. The skiing can
be quite an experience, with the lift transportation...well
just a bit different. Several of the advanced runs end
up at the road where you catch the resort bus to take you
back up (look for the gates to enter powder country). Powder often has good snow after the other
areas have been chopped up. We certainly enjoy it!
- Small But Sweet
in Sundance: Lodging is available but I don't have
experience staying here and once again I think it's unlikely
you're traveling just to ski Sundance. However,
Sundance is easily accessible if you're staying in Provo.
in Sundance: This can be a nice diversion especially
on a good sunny day. The surrounding area is just
beautiful and the day lodge at the top offers a nice sun
porch where you can lounge around and enjoy the view.
The lift ticket prices are reasonable, especially mid-week.
Daily guided mountain orientation tours are offered which
are friendly and informative.
you choose to ski in Utah, it is sure to be an adventure.
Hope to see you on the slopes!
p.s. This note is for those of you who occasionally enjoy
relaxing with ski mates over a cocktail after a great day on the
slopes. Over time, many of the once unique Utah liquor
laws have become more relaxed, but Utah may now be reverting to
their past. Legislation passed in 2011, (HB312) will
prohibit many of the daily drink deals that have been made
available in recent years. (Utah already does not allow
happy hour specials.) The concept of drink deals is
expected to vanish starting with the 2011/2012 ski season..
return to Ski Utah index