Utah with its diverse terrain and big mountains that receive some of the best snow on the planet is a powder hound’s paradise. The best ski resorts in Utah can average up to 500 inches of light dry powder annually, flaunting Utah’s image of having the ‘greatest snow on Earth.’
Utah’s ski resorts came into the public eye when the 2002 Winter Olympic Games happened in Salt Lake City. Deer Valley Resort and Snowbasin were both venues for the games. Skiers soon realized how great the powder in Utah was and began to hit the slopes here.
Prior to this, most headed to the ski resorts in Colorado mostly because of the misconception of Utah being a dry state where alcohol is banned. You definitely won’t suffer a parched throat in Utah, but what is super dry is the snow. The renowned Salt Lake Effect is the reason for the dry powder. Since the lake never freezes, winter winds pick up the moisture from the lake and deposit it on the mountain as light dry snow.
While many of the ski resorts in Utah are quite close to each other they all have their own distinct identity. Park City and Snowbird are popular with the crowds while Powder Mountain and Eagle Point have great terrain but are significantly low key in comparison. Some resorts have a ban on snowboarders which makes them ideal for skiers.
The Resort: Located in Southern Utah, Eagle Point is more low-key than most ski resorts in Utah. However, this does not mean that the resort lacks in any way. It still has Utah’s famed ‘greatest snow on Earth’ but what it does not have are the crowds. Eagle Point Ski Resort is inexpensive and largely unspoiled. Many skiers from Las Vegas, Arizona, and Salt Lake City converge on this resort because of its convenient southern location.
There are two fully renovated day lodges on site that have most of the ski facilities and services. While the Skyline Lodge has a cafetaria that has all the regular ski nosh, Canyonside Lodge is popular for its Outpost Grille and Lounge open till the evening.
The Terrain: The terrain is ideal for beginners and is a good place to learn to ski or snowboard. There are well pitched fall-line black runs that are much better than Brian Head and plenty of dry desert Utah powder. However, more experienced skiers may get easily bored since the terrain is not very extensive. Another downside, (depending on how you look at it) is that during some parts of the season the resort is open to the public only on Friday to Monday.
The Town: Eagle Point Ski Resort sits high in the Tushar Mountains not too far from the town of Beaver. Although there is a village connected to the resort, there’s not much to the village. The Canyonside Lodge is a good place to stop for dinner but that’s about the entertainment you can enjoy here after the slopes.
- The lack of crowds means that there are shorter lines for the lifts
- Reasonably priced lodging, lessons and rentals
- Good beginner terrain
- Plenty of Utah’s famed powder
- Don’t expect any fancy lifts
- Not much activity off the slopes
- Small terrain may not be to everyone’s tastes
Opening and Closing: Eagle Point usually opens in late December and closes by the last week of March.
Where to Stay: You’ll find a few affordable ski-in-ski-out lodging options on the mountain. There are also quite a few vacation homes a little further than the slopes. For a wider range of choices you could try Beaver.
Brian Head Resort
The Resort: With a base elevation of 9,600 feet, Brian Head Resort is one of the highest ski hills in Utah. Although it has 650 acres of ski-able terrain it’s one of the smaller ski resorts in Utah. It receives an average of 360 inches of snow per season.
There are two central base lodges that provide various amenities. Skiboard rentals and repair, a ski gear retail shop, dining, and a ski and snowboard school are some of the facilities you can look forward to across the two lodges.
The Terrain: Spread across two peaks, the terrain is relatively small compared to the other resorts. More green and blue runs are located on the smaller peak, Navajo, while the Brian Head Peak has more blue and single black diamond runs. You won’t find any steep black runs but what you will find are short mogul fields and quick glades. The resort has 10 lifts which include one high-speed quad, 71 runs, and 650 acres of ski-able terrain. Given the small size of the ski area, the resort is ideally suited to families, especially those with beginners.
The Town: Situated in the Dixie National Forest in the Southern Wasatch Range, the small town town offers affordable lodging and quite a few activities. The town has a limited number of restaurants and an almost non existent nightlife. One of the most popular activities in Brian Head is tubing and you’ll find two tubing parks at each base area. Other activities that you can enjoy are snowshoeing, snowmobiling and day trips to Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park. Alternatively, you can choose to pamper yourself at one of the two day spas.
- Family friendly
- Snow is generally dry
- The resort offers some breathtaking scenery
- Less crowded
- Good for beginners and intermediate riders
- For someone used to bigger resorts, Brian Head may be a tad disappointing
- Advance riders and experts will be at a loss for things to do
Opening and Closing: The ski season begins by mid November and closes mid April.
Where to Stay: You’ll find a couple of hotels, condos and cabins in the town. The Navajo side of the resort has various ski-in-ski out options and private condos.
The Resort: Snowbasin is one of the oldest ski resorts in the United States but that does not mean that the resort is stuck in a time warp. The resort has seen an upgrade over the years with significant investments in various essential areas. Better infrastructure for the lifts, the addition of two gondolas, an express quad, and a tram, plus extravagant day lodges have given the resort the required facelift.
The resort is also one of the most professionally run ski resorts in the world with excellent staff and services. That’s probably why it was the venue for the 2002 Winter Olympics. An upside to this resort is that despite its first class facilities and great terrain, it does not attract large crowds. Most of the crowd here consists of locals.
The Terrain: Snowbasin offers 3,000 acres of terrain with 107 designated runs. Although the resort has some great runs for all levels, most of the terrain is designed for advanced skiers. There are 9% expert runs and 47% advanced terrain with steep tree runs and open bowls. However, you’ll find plenty of green runs also down the lower regions of the mountains.
The Town: One of the main reasons why the crowds probably stay away is because of the lack of a town or on mountain accommodation. While the day lodges offer top notch amenities such as restaurants, grandiose fire places, giant chandeliers and bright open spaces there’s nothing else to hold your interest off the slopes.
- No crowds
- 3,000 acres of ski-able terrain with great snow
- First class service and day facilities
- No on mountain lodging options
Opening and Closing: Ski season begins in mid November and continues till mid March. The resort opens at the end of June until the end of September for the summer season.
Where to Stay: Snowbasin does not have a town or on-mountain accommodation. However, there are plenty of staying options in Ogden, a town about 30 minutes away. Alternatively, you could also choose to stay in Salt Lake City which is about an hour and a half’s drive from here.
The Resort: Brighton Resort has the distinction of holding two firsts. It was the first ski resort in Utah and also the first Utah resort to allow snowboarders. Despite being one of the oldest ski resorts in America it has moved with the times, offering some good value skiing and snowboarding.
You can’t really call Brighton a destination resort as there is limited accommodation on the mountain. Many people prefer it as a day trip from Salt Lake City which is about 45 minutes away. The resort attracts a larger local crowd than out-of-towners.
What stands out about Brighton is the great family vibe. One reason why its popular with families is probably because children 10 years of age and younger are not charged. Even though the skiable area is quite small, there is something for everyone on the mountain.
The Terrain: Brighton has two sides to it, the Majestic side which has more trees and the Millicent side with more open spaces. Majestic is more suited to beginners and intermediates with great tree skiing opportunities. Millicent on the other hand, is better for advanced and expert riders with bowls and drop offs. The resort consists of a little over 1,000 acres of ski-able terrain with 66 trails.
Brighton has an open boundary policy that allows you more terrain to ski or snowboard on. High-speed quads give you access to all the terrain. Another highlight of Brighton is that skiing is possible at night too with illuminated park and pipe areas. It’s also connected to Solitude Ski Resort by the SolBright Trail.
The Town: You won’t find much of a town here as Brighton is more popular as a day destination. However, there is a ski school, child care, an equipment shop and a few places to eat. The après ski scene is almost non existent here.
- Has the second-highest base elevation of the ski resorts in Utah
- Connected to Solitude Ski Resort
- Has an open boundary policy that opens up more areas for skiing
- Good family vibe
- Children ten years and below can ski here for free
- Four high-speed quads
- Limited lodging options
- No après ski scene
- Off the slopes there’s not much to do
- Small terrain
Opening and Closing: The season usually begins in mid November and continues till mid April.
Where to Stay: You’ll find affordable accommodations at the slope side and a few private vacation rentals. However, accommodation at Brighton resort is limited. A good idea is to stay at hotels in Solitude as the resorts are interconnected.
Solitude Mountain Resort
The Resort: Solitude Mountain Resort lives up to its name with fewer crowds. However, its recent takeover by Deer Valley will result in upgrades which means more crowds in the future. Although the resort is big on amenities it has always been more popular with the locals. In the past, the resort was nothing more than a ski hill for locals that’s probably why it has remained off the radar for crowds. The laidback culture at Solitude Ski Resort also brings in families in search of a quiet ski vacation.
The Terrain: With 500 inches of Utah’s renowned light dry powder annually, Solitude’s 1,200 acres are a skier’s delight. You’ll find open bowls, groomed cruisers, steep chutes, and 80 runs covering the ski area. Although beginner and intermediate runs dominate, more advanced skiers can enjoy the area in Honeycomb Canyon. Good downhill skiing plus an extensive network of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails are what you can look forward to at the resort.
The Town: Unlike many of the smaller ski resorts in Utah, Solitude Resort has a convenient luxury ski village close to the lifts. You’ll find sufficient lodging and dining options at Solitude. The base area is divided into parts Entry 1 which is targeted at day-trippers and Entry 2 for those staying over. It’s a good place to visit off-season too with many events and activities held in the summer.
- The uncrowded ski area makes it a great place for powder hounds
- Excellent snow
- The terrain is good for all levels of skiers
- Family-friendly resort
- Has a pretty village at the base
- Interconnected to Brighton
- Does not have a vibrant après ski scene
- Quiet nightlife
- Accommodation options are limited to the village
Opening and Closing: The resort generally opens at the end of November and closes in mid April.
Where to Stay: There are plenty of condos and ski-in ski-out options available in the village that offers some great facilities.
The Resort: Another hidden gem on the Utah ski scene is Powder Mountain with its limited crowds and enormous skiing terrain. It’s the biggest ski resort in the United States, with a whopping 8,400 acres. That’s much larger than the biggest ski resort in Colorado, Vail.
Despite the extensive terrain, the reason why the slopes are less crowded is that season passes are limited to 3,000 while the daily lift tickets are capped at 1,500. Also, Powder Mountain lacks the infrastructure that its neighbors have. It’s a great place for serious skiers with the added bonus of shelling out less money.
The Terrain: With an annual snowfall of 12.7 meters, Powder Mountain does not need artificial snow. If you love your powder, this resort will definitely appeal to you. There aren’t many vertical drops or steeps but the attraction here is the quality of powder skiing. 3,800 acres of this vast terrain is accessible by lift whilst the rest can be reached via a $25 single-ride snowcat ticket. James Peak is a good area for expert skiers with 2,500 descent to Paradise lift consisting of trees, open bowls, and drops.
The Town: Powder Mountain does not have much of a village at its base and that’s probably another reason why the crowds stay away. However, work on constructing a village is in progress but will take a few years to complete.
- Largest ski resort in the United States
- Great quality snow
- Good value for money
- No crazy crowds
- No village infrastructure
- Limited lifts
- The terrain is more suited to beginners and intermediates with a small number of steeps
Opening and Closing: The resort usually opens by late November or early December and closes by mid April.
Where to Stay: Although you won’t find a hotel at Powder Mountain, there are plenty of condos for rent. Alternatively, you could choose to stay at the nearby towns of Eden or Hunstville.
The Resort: Actor Robert Redford is credited with starting the Sundance Ski Resort in 1969. Located an hour’s drive from the south of Salt Lake City, it’s not much of a ski run with just 450 acres. However, the quaint charm of Sundance manages to pull in the crowds.
The facilities at Sundance are top class and at par with any high end ski resort. There’s a thriving art scene too at the resort which encourages active participation.
The Terrain: Although the terrain is relatively small, you’ll find a wide range of black, blue and green runs. There are 42 runs in total and a ski school. Three chairlifts take you up the hill from where you can survey all that the terrain has to offer.
The Town: At the bottom of the canyon you’ll find the charming resort village with some of the best restaurants in Utah. Throw in some great value shopping and good accommodation and you’ll have yourself one of the best ski experiences a town can offer. There’s a Winter Zip Tour and plenty of activities to keep you occupied off season too.
- Despite the smaller terrain, there’s something for everyone
- It has a charming village that offers quite a bit of activities
- The village has some of the best restaurants in America
- Exceptional service and facilities
- Fantastic scenery
- Only 450 acres of ski-able terrain
Opening and Closing: The resort is open from early December to early April for skiing. It’s also open from Mid May till October for the summer.
Where to Stay: You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodation in Sundance as you’ll find various accommodations in the woods or on the hillside. The accommodation here is top class.
The Resort: Another of Utah’s ‘oldest’ ski resorts, Alta has been around since 1939. Whilst it has upgraded and moved with the times there are still some old traditions that are intact here. One being that snowboarders cannot test their skills on these slopes. It’s only open to skiers.
Alta has two bases, Wildcat, the main base and Albion, further up the canyon. You’ll find plenty of parking and skier amenities at Wildcat but limited parking at Albion. Other than skiing you won’t find much else to do here. The facilities are also pretty basic. Predictably, the services at Alta are less expensive than most of the ski resorts in Utah.
The Terrain: Alta has only 2,614 acres of terrain but that’s more than enough for those serious about their skiing. There are 116 trails with plenty of off-piste powder lines and seven chair lifts that include two express quads. Alta is renowned for its challenging terrain but there is a good variety of slopes for less experienced skiers. What stands out is the powder which is the lightest and fluffiest that you can find in Utah. Another great thing about Alta is that it is interconnected to Snowboard via a gate at the top of Sugarloaf Pass.
The Town: The village at Alta is relatively traditional with no-frills amenities. However, the amenities that do exist are good enough for those whose main focus is the slopes. It has a good ski school and a sprinkling of restaurants.
- As one of the oldest ski resorts in Utah there is a fair amount of charm attached to the resort
- The powder is outstanding
- A good family friendly vibe
- Top notch extreme terrain
- Can easily access Snowbird as it’s interconnected
- There’s not much of a nightlife in the village
- Once off the slopes, there’s not much to do
- Snowboarding is banned on the slopes
Opening and Closing: Alta’s ski season begins at the end of November and continues till the end of April.
Where to Stay: Whilst there are a few options for staying, don’t expect anything too fancy. You’ll find some vacation rentals and condos plus five rustic ski lodges. Some properties also offer the convenience of ski-in, ski-out.
Park City Mountain Resort
The Resort: One of the best ski resorts in Utah for families is the Park City Mountain Resort, a 35-minute drive from Salt Lake City airport. This resort may not interest serious skiers all that much but it’s definitely a great place for a family vacation due to the vibrant town at the base of the slopes. In late 2015, it tied up with Canyons Ski Resort to become one of the largest ski resorts in Utah.
There are separate bases for both the resorts with each having its own distinctive character. Canyons the larger of the two resorts has a great mix of terrain while Park City has made its mark with intermediate runs. You can expect some great skiing facilities here.
The Terrain: Park City Mountain Resort covers a whopping 7,300 acres of ski-able terrain, with 341 marked trails and 41 lifts. It’s one of the best ski resorts for intermediates with plenty of groomed runs. You’ll also find quite a few beginner runs, lots of variety for advanced skiers and some steeps for experts.
The Town: The resort’s popularity largely stems from the vibrant Park City town at the base. One of the last American West ski towns, this town is no small ski village. In fact, it has a Main Street with great restaurants and hotels and a reasonable nightlife. You’ll find plenty to keep you occupied off the slopes.
Main Street is connected to the ski resort via a town bridge whilst the Town chairlift at the heart of Main Street will take you uphill.
- It has a whopping 7,300 acres of ski-able terrain to suit all levels
- Good for families
- There are plenty of activities in the town
- The nightlife in Park City is much more than other ski resorts in Utah
- When compared to most Utah ski resorts the off slope costs are much higher, especially accommodation
- With easy accessibility provided by the Epic pass, the crowds at the resort will probably get bigger
Opening and Closing: Winter season begins by the third week of November and continues till mid April.
Where to Stay: You’ll find plenty of accommodation in the town although most of it is upscale. However, if you’re lucky you may just be able to bag a moderate lodging. There are a few ski-in ski-out options near the main base and other accommodations around Main Street.
The Resort: Just two miles from downtown Park City, you’ll find the skiers-only Deer Valley Resort. This resort is top class with fantastic facilities and service. It has made a mark for itself with its outstanding service so expect to be pampered well on your arrival here. Although it’s the most luxurious, Deer Valley is one of the more popular ski resorts in Utah. Despite its ‘luxury’ tag, you won’t feel uncomfortable or out of your league here. Instead, it’s a relaxed atmosphere with many families around.
Besides the great service, another highlight of skiing at Deer Valley is the limited crowd. The resort limits the number of tickets sold every day so it’s best to turn up a little early at the ticket counter so you don’t miss out. Make sure you’re ready to splurge when you get here though as there’s a premium for everything at the resort.
The Terrain: Deer Valley’s 2,026 acres of terrain cover six mountains so you can expect a good variety of terrain here. With over 100 runs, there’s enough here to suit all levels of skiers. However, the terrain veers more towards intermediates with a large number of blue runs. Beginners and expert skiers will not feel left out though as there plenty of runs for these levels too. Green trails cut across four of its mountains whilst the steep Daly Chutes will lure the experts. Apart from the well-groomed terrain, the lift infrastructure is another standout of Deer Valley resort with well-placed lifts and plenty of high-speed quad chairs.
The Town: Like Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley is also located in Park City town. The town was originally a mining town but has more than evolved over the years. You’ll find plenty to keep you busy off the slopes in Park City with lots of restaurants and a shopping.
- Well groomed ski terrain more veered towards intermediates
- Exceptional service
- A wide range of terrain ideal for families
- Close to Park City so good options off the slopes
- Snowboarding is banned
- Quite expensive so be prepared to splurge
- Limited number of tickets
Opening and Closing: Deer Valley usually opens in the first week of December and closes by the first week of April.
Where to Stay: There are quite a few accommodations spread around Deer Valley with most providing ski-in ski-out facilities. Most of the lodging is 5 star and upscale. However, if you’re looking for something more affordable then you can take the shuttle bus ride to Park City where you’ll find plenty of options to suit all budgets.
The Resort: Powderhounds will feel right at home on the slopes of Snowbird Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon, the highest of the ski resorts in Utah. Given its elevation, Snowbird receives the maximum amount of snowfall in the area. That’s about 500 inches of the ‘greatest snow on earth.’
Adjacent to Alta Ski Resort, powder hounds can enjoy the best of both resorts that are connected via the top of Sugarloaf Pass. One thing to bear in mind at Snowbird is that even though some runs are labelled as green they may be a bit more difficult for a beginner.
The Terrain: Snowbird has 2,500 acres of beautiful powder for skiers with 169 runs serviced by 13 lifts. Whilst a major part of the trail is for advanced and expert riders there are plenty of greens and blues too. Expert riders however, are in their element here with the steep, chutes, bowls and trees.
Snowbird’s most famous means of transport is a 125 passenger tram that takes you to all the areas of the mountain via one lift. There is also a tunnel through the mountain with a conveyor belt for skiers.
The Town: Snowbird doesn’t have a real village or town to speak of. You won’t find a main street or shops here like other resorts but you’ll find a few lodging options within avalanche proof buildings. There’s also a limited nightlife and bar scene.
- You can look forward to some great snow here
- Snowbird has quite a long skiing season
- It has some exceptional terrain for advanced riders
- You won’t find economical lodging in Snowbird
- This may not be the best place for beginners
- Crowds from Salt Lake converge on the resort making it quite crowded
Opening and Closing: The winter season begins at the end of November and continues till May, making this one of the longest seasons in the area.
Where to Stay: Accommodation on the mountain is available in four condo buildings at the base. Cliff Lodge provides the convenience of ski-in/ski-out. You could also choose to stay in Alta which is nearby. However, for someone looking for more affordable options, your best bet would be to stay in Salt Lake City.