April 15, 2019

Skiing in Utah- a local’s perspective

Utah boasts at being one of the best ski destinations in the world, it has even adopted the slogan, “Greatest Snow on Earth”. People come from all around the world to enjoy the different varieties of ski resorts, its well-known ski culture, and its world-renowned powder days. Over the past 10 years Utah ski resorts have averaged over four million “skier days”, and has had one if not more of its resorts consistently voted among the top 10 resorts in the world. When tourists or travelers come to visit and ski in Utah they are often confronted with the decision, “which resort should I ski at, which resort is best for me?”. With 7 resorts within an hour drive from Salt Lake City it is often hard to decide where to ski or snowboard. This article gives you a local’s perspective on the question, giving you a true unbiased look into the differences, pros and cons, and culture of the many beautiful resorts in Utah.

Hank Stewart

Age: 23

Home Town: Salt Lake City, UT

Years’ Skiing Experience: 17

Skill Level: Expert

Background:

Hank grew up skiing at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Ski resort, starting at the age of 6. From the ages of 12 to 16 he was apart of a competitive freestyle skiing club and competed in local events. For the past 3 seasons he’s only got a season pass to Brighton Ski resort because, “that’s where all my friends ski and I ski less park now and more all mountain. Also, they get more snow in the Cottonwood canyons (Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, and Solitude) than at the Park City resorts (Deer Valley and Park City)

Local Insights on Utah Ski Resorts:

One of the main advantages of skiing at Brighton is that it has a really fun park along with great all mountain and backcountry conditions. No matter what ski conditions are there is something good to ski. The main disadvantage from Hanks perspective about Brighton and Solitude is the parking. He said, “The congestion of the Cottonwood Canyons is really bad on most days, Parleys (Park City) is never blocked or really even slowed down.” Along with bad traffic the Brighton and the other Cottonwood Canyon ski resorts suffer from bad parking. Alta and Snowbird have the more parking than Brighton and Solitude but it can still be a struggle to find a close parking spot. Talking about the advantages of Snowbird Resort he said, “Snowbird has steeper and more advanced terrain and a tram that a lot of people like. The snow seems comparable between the two Cottonwood canyons.”

Suggestions on Where to Ski:

For someone less advanced or with little ski experience who is looking to enjoy safe and simple terrain Hank recommends going to Park City or Deer Valley to ski or snowboard. People looking for the best skiing and not amenities he recommends going to Brighton or Snowbird. Brighton has the best local and authentic ski and snowboard culture.

Luis Ruano

Age: 24

Home Town: Fort Smith, AR

Years’ Skiing Experience: 2

Skill Level: Beginner/ intermediate

Background:

Luis grew up in Arkansas until the age of 18 and then moved to Utah for school. Prior to coming to Utah, he had only skied once on an artificial course. Wanting to learn a new skill and join all of his skier friends he bought a pass and started skiing weekly. This year, using his IKON Base pass, he skied over 30 days at almost all the resorts in Utah.

Local Insights on Utah Ski Resorts:

In terms of resorts his favorite resorts Luis said, “My favorite resort is Alta because I really enjoy tree runs and backcountry. It just has the best skier’s community and is just never crowded. I never had to deal with lines or parking.” He also really enjoyed skiing at solitude because of the different spread of conditions to ski. He was able to ski beginner runs when he was learning and then by the end was able to do all the difficult black diamond runs. He enjoyed the pros of deer valley as well siting the size of the resort, luxury of the lodges and food, and the speed of getting to the lifts from the parking lot. He also liked the respect and kindness of the workers at Deer Valley.

Suggestions of Where to Ski:

He felt that the best all around resort for all skill levels was Solitude. He said, “There are just a lot of fun runs for a lower cost. The conditions and workers are great there and it was just always a good day.” He also talked about how it was the best resort to really advance and progress as a skier. As far as the best resort for families he recommended Deer Valley or Park City because of their ease of asses and multiple “first run” lifts. Park City and Deer Valley are more for ease of skiing and prestige, Solitude and Alta are more for Die-hard skiers and Snowboarders.

Eric Bowen

Age: 23

Home Town: Salt Lake City

Years’ Skiing Experience: 18

Skill Level: Intermediate/Expert

Background:

Eric was born in Salt Lake into a family that loved skiing. His dad took him up skiing with him as a baby and he skied frequently from the age of 5 on. He has had various passes to almost all the Utah resorts. Because of his love for skiing and his desire to “mix up his skiing habits and try new things”, he has bought an IKON pass and has been able to ski at 6 different ski resorts this year.

Local Insights on Utah Ski Resorts:

When talking about where he loves to ski it is clear that he has love for lots of different resorts. He said his favorite all around resort is Brighton because of the backcountry options along with the simple layout of the resort and good spring skiing in the park. The only thing he didn’t like about Brighton or any of the other Cottonwood canyon resorts is the bad road conditions going up the mountain and the lack of sufficient parking. Eric enjoys skiing at Snowbird as well because he like the tram going up the mountain and how steep certain parts of the mountain are. His only draw back about Snowbird and Alta are that the snow gets tracked out the quickest and some skiers are less friendly. For days where Eric is trying to have a more relaxed, chill experience, he likes skiing at Deer Valley. He loves the variety of fast groomers and the ease of parking and riding. Deer Valley has, “the best food, and the nicest employees. It is easy to really enjoy your time skiing there, even if the snow isn’t that great.”

Suggestions of Where to Ski:

Eric recommended that anyone who is newer to skiing or is looking for a more relaxed experience should go to Deer Valley. If people have the means to ski at Deer Valley they should, it is the most luxurious resort in Utah. For those who are wanting to get their kids involved he recommended Park City Mountain Resort, because it is very kid friendly and has lots of beginner runs and carpets. It is also located in the heart of Park City, the location of the Sundance Film Festival. For those who are looking for powder and lots of it, Eric recommended Brighton or Snowbird. They receive the most snow and both have certain runs and conditions that create the softest, most enjoyable snow in the state. Lastly, Eric recommended trying a few of the resorts out and seeing for yourself which one fits you the best, as they are all different and all have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Index

Deer Valley Ski Resort- Located just outside of Park City, Utah. About a 40-minute drive from Salt Lake City, accessible through Parleys Canyon. This resort is only open to skiers, not snowboarders.

Park City Mountain Resort- Located just off of Main Street Park City, Utah. About a 40-minute drive from Salt Lake City,
accessible through Parleys Canyon. This is the biggest resort in Utah and second biggest in the US.

Brighton Ski Resort- Located up Big Cottonwood Canyon, about a 30-minute drive from Salt Lake City. Brighton has been awarded with the most snow in Utah the past two years (2018 and 2019). Also well known for its apres ski spots.

Solitude Mountain Resort- Located up Big Cottonwood Canyon, about a 30-minute drive from Salt Lake City. Solitude has some of the cheapest day passes in the area without sacrificing any of the amazing snow.

Alta Ski Resort- Located up Little Cottonwood Canyon, about a 30-minute drive from Salt Lake City. Alta is world-famous as one of the oldest ski resorts in the country, opening in 1939. Be sure to look at our ultimate Alta post, it gives you all the details for you to have the best day ever at Alta, click here!

Snowbird- Located up Little Cottonwood Canyon, about a 30-minute drive from Salt Lake City. Snowbird has some of the most competitive and advanced terrain in Utah.

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