Utah is a great location to ski. I don’t think there is anywhere in the US there are this many resorts within a metropolitan area. Even the smaller resorts in Utah are bigger than your average East Coast resort. Due to its super dry conditions, it’s snow is called the World’s greatest snow. We also have another added bonus of Lake Effect snow. This is when the Great Salt Lake helps supercharge storms and then dumps the snow in both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. This ensures that the Cottonwoods have snow even when the rest of the state might not. It is normal for the Cottonwoods to have at least 500 inches a year which not many places in the US even come close to. The snow was still good in the Cottonwoods in the winter of 2015/16 even with the super drought Utah had that year. The Cottonwoods were still skiable even though those conditions else where in the state were bad.
We all want to know what resorts we can hit for the lowest prices. If you are coming from out of state you need to check Super City Ski Pass. This gives you access to all the resorts of the Cottonwoods (Brighton, Solitude, Snowbird, and Alta) with No Black Out Dates, direct to lift accessibility, free transportation using UTA and TRAX, and equipment rental discounts. Sometimes you can get this ticket “free” with some hotel deals. One special deal called the Mountain Collective and we feel this to be a good deal whether you are local or a visitor. The Mountain Collective will get you 2 tickets at Snowbird, Alta, and Snowbasin after that tickets are 50% off and the price for this pass is between 399 to 469. If you got it early you got a free day at a resort of your choice of the 16 resorts they give you access to. I picked Snowbird as I can enjoy this one with my snowboarder friends also (Alta is skier only).
What if you live local? When skiing you always got to ask yourself how many days am I going to get in this year. When will a season pass pay off? Both Snowbird and Alta have 10 packs which most of those are between 559.00 at Snowbird (this one can be shared between two people but not at the same time) to 700.00 (this one can be used next year) at Alta. These are both good deals for someone one who knows they are skiing 10 times only. Of course, both resorts have their season passes (799 to 999). They also have a joint season pass that retails for about 1399.00. If you ski a lot this can be a deal especially if you want to put two of Utah’s largest snowiest ski resorts together.
Call me prejudiced but both Solitude (1200 acres) and Brighton (1050 acres) are ski once resorts. Some people have told me they both have some good backcountry. They also have been praised for not having the crowds Snowbird has. I might try to ski them once a year on a discount ticket through Liftopia or other similar organization. I do like to take beginners to both these places as they are cheaper and usually have fresh powder. Last time I took two newbies and they enjoyed both and they were plenty big enough for them.
Snowbasin has the greatest deal for beginners. For 429 USD it is called the Learn and Earn. You get 3 Lift Tickets, 3 Lessons, Season-Long Rental Equipment and a SEASON PASS for the remainder of the season upon completion of the program! They also have a good value pass at 529.00 also for someone who is tagging along with the Learn and Earner, of course, that is the early season price. Beyond price, Snowbasin is the second biggest resort in Utah and with an area of 3,000 skiable acres and 2,959 ft vertical it is definitely a favorite of ours. The only thing we would change is to make the base higher. Did we mention Snowbasin has some of the best bathrooms in the US?
Training Day at Snow Basin
The other Ogden Valley Resort, Powder Mountain says they cap their sales at 1500 tickets a day. They also say they have 8,464 acres. Though most of that is not lift served, Powder Mountian has the special deal of being able to buy Cat Skiing tickets for 25 USD per ride. I don’t think there is another resort that offers that single ride cat skiing over such an amount of terrain. Their lifts tickets are 80 USD a day and the season pass is between 735.00 and 935.00 if you can manage to get one. Having skied this location twice I can tell you there are some days when no one is around. I think it is really hard to find that anywhere these days. If you do get their season pass they have some reciprocal agreements with other resorts for free tickets. We love this place for some after work night skiing and the tickets are only 27.00 USD. They even have a cheap night skiing pass at 135.00 USD.
This year we spent a couple days at Nordic ski resort also in Ogden Valley. This resort is smaller and has only 3 lifts and a carpet lift. There are talks of making it bigger and we sure hope not as it is the last bottom dollar resort in the metro area. We spent a bunch of time training our toddler on the carpet lift (and my wife Helen also). Their tickets were all over the place this year starting at 15.00 then jumping to 35.00 and again finally jumping to 50.00. They were priced slightly over what Snowbasin’s training area tickets are. So their final price jump pushed us back to Snowbasin. Either way, it is a good place to train people due to having that carpet lift right there in the front.
We have yet to do Park City. We can’t wait to tackle this Mega Resort with 3200 verticle feet, 300 plus trails, 41 lifts and over 7300 acres. It is hands down the largest lift served resort in the United States and the second largest in North America. It’s lift tickets are as much as Deer Valley but worth so much more. Yes, they are Vail Resorts owned which means you get to take part in the Epic Pass for only 859.00 USD (Epic Local 639.00). We plan to get that Epic pass when we can truly enjoy it and this means a long road trip.
The Utah northern resort of Beaver Mountian (828 acres, vertical 1700, 48 runs) seems to be a hidden gem as we have seen some super powder days that can be had there. It appears to have lift tickets for only 48.00 USD. The season pass is 345.00 to 590.00. Cherry Peak is a new addition to the greater Logan area. It’s small and their full day ticket is only 39.00. It has two triple chairlifts. Both of these locations are really meant for Logan area locals and are not what we would call destination resorts.
Let’s not forget the resorts to the south. I have seen stats on Brian Head showing it with the largest dump in a single day for Utah. Mountain stats consist of 650 acres and 1370 vertical feet with 8 lifts and 71 runs. This resort has ticket prices from 39.00 on weekdays to 59.00 on weekends to surging at 79.00 for holidays. Season passes are 529.00. Of course Brian Head also has Utah’s highest base of 9,600 ft which it probably needs being that far down south. This is probably a better destination for those from Vegas than those Salt Lake.
Notice we didn’t mention Deer Valley? We won’t as the daily ticket price is ridiculous at 135.00 to 145.00 a day so why would we? This resort’s season pass costs $2555. This pass is not meant for us average people. That’s right totally not worth it! This resort is made for the well to do not the adventurers. Not that us adventurers having anything against champagne and caviar we just don’t plan our ski trips around it. We also heard that it is mostly just groomers there.
We haven’t bothered with Sundance either. We know this is supposed to be Robert Redford’s special resort but it is only 450 acres so to drive down south for it just does seem worth it. If you live in the Provo area this is the closest one to you and you might want to put it on your list. This is the only resort that we say pass deals last year at in Costco. It was 2 passes for a 100 dollars. Pretty good markdown from their standard pass.
If you have any questions about skiing in Utah don’t hesitate to ask us here or in the forums!