Oh skiing, it’s one of my favorite outdoor activities but it can be hard to do if you don’t live near a mountain. The logical solution is to plan a ski vacation, but there are so many options for where to go in the U.S. alone. On the one hand, you’ve got the convenience and affordability of the Northeast. On the other side of the country, the Sierras offer exposed volcanos, the beautiful scenery of Lake Tahoe and almost year-round skiing at Mammoth.
But of the three U.S. mountain ranges, I think that the Rockies definitely win over East Coast ice and Sierra cement. However, even within the Rockies there are a plethora of options – do you go for the always popular Colorado or the more isolated mountains in Wyoming, Montana or Idaho? There is a happy medium: Utah, specifically Salt Lake City. Not convinced? Here are 10 reasons that you should choose Salt Lake City for your next ski vacation.
Utah’s powder has literally been trademarked as the greatest snow on earth. And it’s not just empty words, it’s proven by science that the Cottonwood Canyon has the perfect weather conditions for dry snow – giving you that floaty skiing-on-a-cloud sensation that is so addicting. Especially when you’re planning a ski trip more than a week ahead of time (which most of us do), you need to pick a place with reliable snow. Mother Nature is of course not completely predictable but Utah is as predictable as it gets for good snow.
Compared to other ski destinations in the lower 48 (cough cough Colorado), Utah has fewer people fighting over the fresh snow. While you’ll be hanging out in the I70 parking lot and waiting in endless lines to get into the fresh powder stashes at Vail, Utah’s lift lines fly by in comparison. And while there are definitely hidden powder stashes at Vail, you don’t need to be a local to find untouched powder at Alta or Snowbird.
Salt Lake City Is Easily Accessible
Salt Lake City is a perfect ski vacation destination because the city is so easy to fly in to. It’s a hub for Delta and there are a ton of other airlines that fly into the airport: American, United, Alaska, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Frontier, British Airways, Southwest, and Aeromexico just to name a few. Having so many options makes it easy and cheap to fly in. Plus, the airport is really accessible to the city, it’s only a 10 minute drive from the airport to downtown. So you can spend less time in layovers and Ubers and more time skiing or riding.
Lots of Amazing Ski Resorts
With nine ski resorts within an hour of the Salt Lake City airport, there are a plethora of mountains to chose from. You can find mellow local vibes, upscale resorts or skiing-only spots all within close distance. That means you can try out a new spot every day or you can just keep going back to your favorites during your stay. With all these options, it’s not surprising that there’s something for everyone here.
A Variety of Terrain
Salt Lake City is a great ski vacation destination because it offers lots of terrain options to suit everyone in your group. You’ll find steep and deep minutes away from beginner-friendly slopes. If you’re a skier, you can avoid the snowboarders at Alta, but conversely, there are enough freestyle options elsewhere to satisfy even the hungriest of park rats.
Other Fun Activities
This article may be about Salt Lake City as a ski vacation destination, but there are lots of other things to do if someone in your group isn’t as enthusiastic a skier or rider or is nursing an injury. Being in a real city and a vacation destination means there are lots of other things to do besides hit the slopes. You can check out the art galleries in Park City, learn about the Mormon religion and history at the Mormon headquarters (it’s actually super interesting) or stretch your tight muscles in a yoga class.
If a relaxing vacation to you includes alcohol, there is great beer and spirits to be found in the area. There are a ton of breweries (more on that later), but if whiskey is more of your thing, Park City is home to the High West Distillery. You can sample their spirits and eat delicious food at their saloon and they even offer free tours there and at the distillery.
If you decide to stay in the city during your stay, you don’t have to deal with driving in the snow or worrying about passing up aprés ski, there’s public transportation that takes you straight to the mountain. It’s really painless, there are places to corral your skis and you can make friends and swap stories on the ride. Plus, the public transportation options all around the city eliminate the need to rent a car, saving you a ton of money that you can use for more exciting things like…
Utah has a reputation for its conservative Mormon values but it’s a fallacy that you can’t drink good beer here. The culture in Salt Lake City is rapidly changing from a Mormon hotspot to a hip outdoor lover’s paradise and the laws around alcohol are changing as well. There are still restrictions but you just have to be aware of them to get around it. For example, beer on tap can only go up to 4% ABV but ordering a bottle or can will get you the full alcohol content of the brew. There are also citizen groups advocating to increase the alcohol percentage for draft beers so maybe by the time you visit the law will have already changed!
So go explore the many brewery options in the city, I especially enjoyed Red Rock, Wasatch and Squatters. If you’re feeling like you want to try them all, try the Salt Lake Brewery Pass. For $15 for a one-day pass or $20 for three days, you can get a $5 voucher at each of the 14 participating breweries. So try to get your money’s worth and spend the afternoon hopping from brewery to brewery.
Salt Lake City residents are generally a friendly bunch. We made friends with people on the ski bus, at yoga class, in the lift line, on the chair, pretty much everywhere. Even our tour guides at the Mormon temple were super friendly and accepting of all our questions. It’s easy to feel like you belong here even if you only stay for a short time.
Fun and Casual Vibe
I know that I’m talking about the same area that includes Park City but in general, skiing at the mountains near Salt Lake City is more about having fun and getting stoked and less about showing off your newest fur coat as you pick up your kids from their private ski lesson. There’s a laid-back, casual vibe here in the city and on the slopes where the only thing people are serious about is getting fresh powder turns.
Are you convinced yet that you need to go to Salt Lake City for your next ski vacation? I hope so. I’ll be doing all the snow dances so that Ullr treats you well. ❄ ❄
Let me know if you have any questions or pin this to come back later.