How to Ski in Utah - Page 2

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The Town Lift to  Park City Mountain Resort, Utah
Ski lift to town, Park City, Utah  (Dan Campbell/Park City Chamber & Visitors Bureau)

Serious Skiers and Riders
Anyone who has expressed a years-long love for skiing or riding already knows about Snowbird Resort, the biggest and flashiest, Western-style resort of the seven SLC-area spots. And the Bird definitely lives up to its reputation—a snow patroller told us recently that the mountain caters to advanced and expert skiers, with quick, easy access from the Tram to some serious lines spread across its 2,500 acres. The village boasts lots of shopping and dining, the lodging covers a comfortable range of pricing options, and après can get slightly crazed (in a good way).

Alta, meanwhile, is a pure skier’s mountain (read: no snowboards allowed). This is a family-owned resort for skiers, by skiers, with nominal infrastructural flair to distract you from the countless lines and turns.  People here know how to ski, and the lower-cost dining and lodging options speak to this singular focus. If you’re a serious skier, you have to go here—and it may become the only resort that matters.

Of course, if you consider yourself a serious skier or rider, you know to follow the snow. The resorts in the Cottonwoods typically get more snow than those in Park City, but the ease of reaching nine resorts within 55 miles of SLC means that you can easily go where the snow is falling (provided you have transportation). Mobile snow report apps (like the one from Ski Utah) will help you find the best conditions; we recommend staying in an SLC-area hotel so you can easily strike out at the first ding of a powder alert. That said, avalanche safety concerns can lead to temporary closures on the roads that carve into the Cottonwoods (with dedicated skiers lining up for when the roads open), so there is something to be said for bedding down at Alta and crossing your fingers…

Don’t Miss: Market Street Grill, in downtown SLC, proves that you don’t need to have an ocean view to get great, fresh seafood. We also love Epic Brewing Company, which has a small restaurant and tasting room, as well as both Squatter’s and Red Rock Brewing, two traditional brew pubs located downtown.

Essential Logistics
If you need rental equipment, organize and pick it up before you reach the mountain. We suggest foregoing on-mountain rental spots for in-town operators like Ski’n’See. It’s exponentially easier to grab your kit the night before, rather than fighting the chaos of a resort shop. The crowds are thinner, the prices and equipment are better, and you can drop your skis off at any of 12 locations. You can even reserve your rentals online prior to landing in Utah.

Also look to score your lift tickets before you get to the slopes. Ski’n’See offers discount lift tickets, and tickets can be purchased from local grocery stores, Costco, or from discount online retailers like Liftopia.

Finally, unless you plan on resort-hopping (or following the snow), you don’t need a rental car. This holds especially true for those bound for Park City, where free in-town busses can get you to any place that’s not within walking distance. Transport services like All Resort Express will take you from the airport to any of the area resorts (and back). But if you’re staying in SLC or plan on visiting several resorts, rent a car to take full advantage of the different conditions of Utah’s many resorts. This will also let you imbibe in some of SLC’s nightlife.

And one last thing: If you’re staying in Salt Lake City and wake to see gray skis (or freezing rain), don’t assume that the resorts are experiencing the same weather. The city sits in a bowl hemmed-in by the Wasatch Mountains, and this geographical composition traps the cold air—and the city’s smog and pollution—in what’s called an inversion. It’s very typical to experience freezing temps and dense smog in the city and witness bluebird skis and warmer temps on the mountain.

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