Ski All of Utah

For once a PR term—"The Greatest Snow on Earth"—rings true.

Think of the reverberating explosions that wake you in Park City as the tell-tale sound of powder. As the Gods of Gravity applauding, low and rumbling and muffled by the whisper-quiet fall of snow on three world-class ski resorts. At Deer Valley, the Canyons, and Park City resorts, small-package charges ignite and World War II-era howitzers fire in an effort to reduce the risk of avalanche. The same sound echoes through Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood canyons, which slice into the Wasatch Mountain Range adjacent to Salt Lake City and lead unto the base of four more epic resorts, Brighton and Solitude to the north, Alta and Snowboard to the south.

And when the ski patrol completes their white-gold alchemy, only your skills and stamina stand in your way…should you be lucky enough, of course, to actually time your ski trip with such a morning call to action.

As any skier or 'boarder who just missed a big dump knows, skiing and serendipity are eternally linked. Unless independent wealth affords you the ability to follow the snow like an Am Ex-wielding pro-boarder, destination skiing typically means making an educated bet, booking airfare and a hotel room, and then hoping for the best.

That said, there is one way to stack the decks in your favor: Utah. The state's epic snowfall illuminates part of the tale; year in and year out they get over 500 inches of the softest Champaign powder around. Add to that a profusion of resorts—seven within 40 minutes of the airport alone, with another six within a few hours drive—and, provided global warming doesn't have its way, you're guaranteed to find something to inspire an ear-splitting grin. What's more, with so many resorts in such close proximity, there's something for every skier or 'boarder. Family-friendly? Try Park City Resort or Brighton. Corduroy groomers and haute cuisine (even in the buffet)? Deer Valley provides. Endless powder stashes and a local's feel? The Canyons and Solitude will drown you with options. Then there's the old-school charm of Alta, the big-league wonders of Snowbird, the mom-and-pop vibe and the endless acres of Powder... Want to taste a bit of them all? Consider enrolling in the backcountry-specific Interconnect Tour, a guided trip that hits six resorts—in one day. Or better yet, give Utah three weeks and play resort hop-scotch by spending a day or two at each resort. We say start in the Cottonwoods, then ski the Park City trifecta before branching out to the other SLC-area resorts, and then jump to Brian Head Resort and end your trip in Vegas.

Whatever you want, Utah will provide. And hopefully, explosions will serve as your alarm clock.


Near Park City
This is old-school skiing at its best (read: no snowboarding), with expert-only terrain, ample blue and green runs, and no flashy base-level circuses to get in the way of a day full of turns. Better still, you can purchase a ticket that lets you ski both Alta and Snowbird.

With all the ink dedicated to other Utah ski resorts, this one typically flies under the out-of-towner radar—which is just why the locals want it. Epic powder, solid slopes for all skill levels, ample off-piste routes, and one of the family-friendliest resorts out there.

As close as the Cottonwoods get to a typical Rocky Mountain resort, this well-oiled machine marries spectacular skiing of all levels across 2,900 acres and 89 runs. And—a North American first—they've got a magic carpet ride through a mountain. The 600-foot-long Peruvian Tunnel now offers easy access to intermediate runs in Mineral Basin.

The name ain't hyperbolic. The 1,200 acres of this Big Cottonwood Canyon resort are typically less crowded then its neighbors—and if the parking lot does fill up? They stop letting folks on the mountain. If you long for deep powder, glades with a 40-degree pitch, relaxed vibes, and a chill base scene, you've come to the right place.

Park City Resorts
Deer Valley
Groomed runs, gourmet cuisine, valet parking, and lodging that makes you wish you were born in the right family—it's all here. And since most stick to the carved routes, the easy hike-in powder stashes can stay fresh for days.

Park City
The rolling-hills expanse hides 100 runs—from cruisers to nail biting drops—married with ski-in, ski-out convenience and easy access to downtown Park City swank.

The Canyons
Somehow this resort, which consists of 3,190 skiable acres spread across eight peaks, remains overshadowed by the other two Park City resorts. And we wouldn't want it any other way. You can find untracked pow weeks after the other Park City resorts are skied out—and the Canyons also sport one of SLC's best base setups.

Further Afield
Beaver Mountain
Family-owned, laid back, and seldom traveled…which is reason enough to visit.

Brian Head
This resort, practically equidistant between Vegas and SLC (a three- and four-hour drive, respectively), offers variable intermediate and beginner terrain in one of the most scenic locales in the state—and considering we're talking Utah, that's saying something.

Embracing the feel of the cowboy-infused West, this no-frills resort delivers lots of snow, loads of terrain (like 5,500 acres worth), and slim crowds. No surprise it's become the favorite of discerning locals.

Snow Basin
Host to the 2002 Winter Olympic downhill, Super-G, and combined, the variety of terrain—from hardcore to meandering—is no shocker. The dearth of other skiers, however, is a welcome discovery.

This quiet little resort—and town—is more than just Robert Redford's slice of mountain paradise; it's also one of the best places in the state to mix gravity-fueled skiing with romantic appreciation for the fine things in life.

Published: 27 Apr 2007 | Last Updated: 6 Apr 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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