The Best Skiing in Salt Lake City

Utah skiers on mountain

Utah is known for “The Greatest Snow on Earth,” and Salt Lake City skiers know that this is more than a slogan; it’s scientific fact. If you’re looking to hit the slopes near Salt Lake City, you can choose from nine major resorts, all in easy driving distance.

Solitude

Distance from downtown: 40 minutes
Ski season: mid-November to mid-April
2016–2017 season pass: $879/$979 (depending on purchase date)
Best for…intermediate and advanced skiers who want some alone time

Solitude Mountain Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon offers just what its name suggests: plenty of solitude. Solitude provides 77 runs at all skill levels and 1,200 acres of skiable terrain, including Honeycomb Canyon—a favorite among expert skiers for its untracked snow and narrow chutes.

When it comes to food onsite, choices abound, and as for cost, Solitude is a good middle-of-the-road choice for Salt Lake City skiing. Solitude has season passes and Ticket Paks, along with the Big Cottonwood Pass that allows you to enjoy both Solitude and nearby Brighton Resort for a lower combined cost ($1,199 vs. the $1,678 you’d pay for separate passes).

Brighton

Distance from downtown: 43 minutes
Ski season: mid-November to mid-April
2016–2017 season pass: $799/$899 (depending on purchase date)
Best for…families and those who want to ski like a local

Located a short distance from Solitude is Brighton Resort, a favorite ski spot among Salt Lake City residents. Thanks to its longstanding “kids ski free” tradition, plenty of local children gained a love for the mountains at Brighton and remain loyal to it as adults. Brighton also features a mix of beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert trails for groups of varying skill levels.

The family-friendly atmosphere emphasizes enjoying the scenery and sport rather than taking in extra luxuries. Incidentally, this approach makes Brighton one of the more affordable ski spots near Salt Lake City; the various season pass and day ticket options will fit anyone’s budget and schedule.

Snowbird

Distance from downtown: 38 minutes
Ski season: mid-November to late May
2016–2017 season pass: $999
Best for…advanced skiers and snowboarders ready to enjoy a long season

Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon best suits advanced skiers and snowboarders. It gets a lot of snow every year and can therefore have a longer season than other resorts in the area. The season typically lasts until Memorial Day but sometimes goes as late as the 4th of July. 2,500 acres of terrain give visitors all the Salt Lake City skiing they can handle. Snowboarders should find this resort especially enjoyable; it topped On The Snow’s 2015 list of best snowboarding spots in the world.

You can purchase season passes and single-day tickets for Snowbird online.

Alta

Distance from downtown: 44 minutes
Ski season: mid-November to late April
2016–2017 season pass: $999/$1199 (depending on purchase date)
Best for…skiing purists

Alta Ski Area’s reputation can be summed up in one simple tagline: “Alta is For Skiers.” Of the three resorts in the United States to ban snowboarding, two (Alta and Deer Valley) are located in Utah. The policy is controversial in some corners (a group of snowboarders sued Alta in 2014), but Alta has plenty of fans who find that the devotion to skiing makes all the difference.

Novice skiers will find several places to get their feet wet, but Alta is ideal for more well-practiced visitors. Take a look at the most current season pass and ticket info before your next trip.

Park City

Distance from downtown: 37 minutes
Ski season: mid-November to mid-April
2016–2017 season pass: $809 (includes entrance at partner resorts, such as Vail and Breckenridge)
Best for…skiers and snowboarders with a love of mountain resort towns

Park City Mountain Resort appeals to visitors with its generous size, great ski and snowboard school, and fine dining, but perhaps the biggest draw is the town of Park City itself. The resort and town are well integrated, complete with a lift that connects to Historic Main Street. Park City truly comes to life in winter, with a variety of activities, shops, and restaurants to keep visitors coming back every ski season.

Park City Resort absorbed nearby Canyons Resort in 2014 and now boasts some of the best snowboarding in the United States. Vail Resorts now owns the expanded area, so purchasing a season pass here gives you some added perks if you want to ski at other spots around the country.

Deer Valley

Distance from downtown: 43 minutes
Ski season: early December to mid-April
2016–2017 season pass: $2,185/$2,555 (depending on purchase date)
Best for: intermediate skiers with money to burn

Deer Valley Resort in Park City is all about luxury and accessibility, featuring more lifts than any other resort in Utah. Like Alta, Deer Valley restricts itself to skiers only, but what sets Deer Valley apart from its competitors are its posh environment and accompanying steep prices. Tickets and season passes are far more expensive here, and the resort’s lodging and dining options are similarly swanky.

There’s no denying that Deer Valley offers the excellent Salt Lake City skiing experience to justify its prices—SKI Magazine rated it the #1 ski resort in North America for three years running. Its 2,000+ skiable acres are easily accessible and best for intermediate skiers.

Sundance

Distance from downtown: 55 minutes
Ski season: early December to early April
2016–2017 season pass: $569/$699 (depending on purchase date)
Best for…beginners who are after a quiet day on the slopes

A bit south of the Salt Lake City ski spots sits Sundance Mountain Resort, located in Provo Canyon. This small skiing destination embraces rustic charm and offers a quieter atmosphere than the large resorts up the road. Though the space itself covers only 450 acres, Sundance’s season passes and lift tickets are significantly less expensive than most other options in the area, and with the opportunity to enjoy snowshoeing, winter fly fishing, snowboarding, and skiing of both Nordic and downhill varieties, this spot is definitely worth a visit.

Snowbasin

Distance from downtown: 50 minutes
Ski season: late November to mid-April
2016–2017 season pass: $799 (includes some benefits at Sun Valley and other resorts)
Best for…those who want an upscale option at an affordable price

Turning our attention north to the Ogden area, Snowbasin Resort is an often-overlooked gem. Developed in large part by the owner of Idaho’s legendary Sun Valley Resort and with easy public transit options from the Salt Lake area, it provides a welcome diversion from the more crowded spots down south.

Snowbasin’s various restaurants are all about fun, easygoing meals and drinks, even in the off-season (the Mountain Top Brunch and No Name Chili Fest are prime examples). Reserve your tickets or season passes now and prepare to enjoy the resort’s 104 runs, 3 terrain parks, and 3,000 gorgeous acres.

Powder Mountain

Distance from downtown: 1 hour 12 minutes
Ski season: mid-December to mid-April
2016–2017 season pass: $675/$870 (depending on purchase date)
Best for…skiing enthusiasts of all skill levels who aren’t interested in the extra frills

Powder Mountain Resort—or “Pow Mow,” as the locals call it—boasts the best open, untracked skiing around. With 144 runs on its 7,000 acres, visitors don’t have much chance to get bored.

Before you make the drive, know that Powder Mountain doesn’t offer much in the way of dining or the trappings of resort life (though nearby Ogden has a lot to enjoy). If you’re looking for a spot to enjoy the snow with no distractions, a season pass to Powder Mountain might be the perfect fit.

Which resort is right for you?

For beginning skiers: Alta and Sundance
For intermediate skiers: Solitude and Deer Valley
For advanced skiers: Alta, Solitude, Powder Mountain, and Snowbasin
For snowboarders: Park City and Snowbird
For ski lifestyle: Deer Valley and Park City

For budget-conscious customers: Sundance, Brighton, and Powder Mountain

 

Each resort has its own speciality and unique flavor, but no matter which one you choose to visit, you can expect beautiful scenery and incredible snow. If you’re a Salt Lake City newcomer, be sure to make ski trips a top priority this winter.