Salt Lake City Utah is the perfect ski destination. The four Salt Lake City ski resorts offer world class powdery snow within forty minutes of downtown. This local’s guide to “steep and deep” Salt Lake skiing will give you a rundown on each resort so that you can find the sweetest slopes for your optimal ski experience.
Salt Lake Skiing With Trusted Tips from Locals
I used to live in SLC, learned how to ski there and have experience with ski resort marketing. This guide has sourced tips from local Salt Lake skiers who are skiing marketers, ski industry consultants and rabid enthusiasts. You can trust us to give you the real scoop on the Salt Lake City ski resorts. I would also like to thank Visit Salt Lake for supporting this piece with sponsored ski passes.
Skiing isn’t cheap but you don’t need to pay full price if you use this guide to score discount ski tickets for Salt Lake and Park City.
Salt Lake City Ski Resorts for Every Type of Skier
There are four resorts located within Salt Lake City proper. They all get the same powder dry snow that Utah is famous for but each resort has it’s own particular type of terrain and vibe. You can chose whatever’s best for you, or take the sampler platter and ski all four resorts.
Solitude Ski Resort: Family-Friendly Terrain & Lots of Elbow Room
Solitude is located up Big Cottonwood canyon and is the closest resort to downtown. It’s known to have a cult following for it’s wide open terrain. The expansive space not only makes for nice intermediate cruiser runs, but it also means that Solitude doesn’t have choke points that make you feel like you are skiing in a bowling alley. (I’m talking to you Park City).
Solitude also offers the best discounts of all of the Salt Lake City ski resorts and they also have 10-day passes if you are doing a longer stay. Solitude is friendly not only for skiers but also for snowboarders and snow bikes.
“(Solitude is)…like taking a big breath”
Solitude Fast Facts:
- 77 runs, 8 lifts, 4 Terrain parks, 2,030 ft (619m) of vertical
- 10% beginner, 40% intermediate 50% expert terrain
- Full day, full price adult lift pass: $88
“I like Solitude because it’s solitude“
Brighton Ski Resort: No frills But Well Groomed
Brighton is a no-frills resort popular with snow boarders and college age skiers. They only have one base lodge so it doesn’t offer much in the way of an apres skiing experience. However, they know how to rock their grooming equipment. Brighton is right next door to Solitude and I skied them both in the same week in low snow conditions. Of the two, Brighton had much better coverage.
The parking lot has very easy access to the lift base so trudging from the car (which, let’s face it, is the hardest part of skiing) is kept to a minimum.
Brighton Fast Facts:
- 66 runs, 6 lifts, 5 terrain parks, 1,875 ft (572m) of vertical
- 18% beginner, 37% intermediate, 45% expert
- Full day, full price adult lift pass: $85
” The terrain is sweet and has a lot to offer”
Snowbird: Puts the “Steep” into Steep and Deep
Back in the day, when I worked on advertising for Snowbird, they kept trying to market themselves as a family resort. Um…yea…if your kid is the genetic love child of Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller. They have since unapologetically embraced their position as the Salt Lake ski resort with the most challenging terrain.
The eight minute tram ride takes riders 2,900 vertical feet up the mountain and skiers with larger balls and better skills than I race the full distance to beat the tram down. I like Snowbird for the variety of terrain that skirts the space between upper intermediate and lower-level expert. On a fresh snow day, nothing beats the Little Cloud bowl in Gad Valley.
“Snowbird is the biggest and baddest terrain”
Snowbird Fast Facts:
- 170 runs, 10 lifts, 1 tram, 2,900 ft (884m) of vertical
- 1% beginner, 23% intermediate, 68% expert
- Full day, full price adult lift pass: $129
“The Tram gives you the ability to ski more vertical feet in a single day than most people are in shape to ski”
Alta Ski Resort: The Deepest Snow…But Only for Skiers
If Snowbird is “steep” then Alta is “deep”. It sits at the dead end of narrow Little Cottonwood Canyon and when mother nature dumps snow, she dumps the most on Alta.
Several of my local sources expressed an emotional attachment for Alta and I agree. I learned how to ski there and it remains my favorite for it’s pure devotion to the art of skiing. In fact, they don’t allow snowboarding at all.
While Alta does have on-site lodging and an assortment of eclectic base and mid-mountain lodges, it’s not about the apres ski– it’s about the mountain. So just show up, strap on your skis and hit the lifts.
“Bump fields for miles”
Alta Fast Facts:
- 116 runs, 6 lifts, 1 rope tow, 2,020 ft (616m) of vertical
- 25% beginner, 40% intermediate, 35% advanced
- Full day, full price adult lift pass: $104
“Long winding trails for all abilities”
Have an apres beer when you are finished for the day by checking out this complete guide to Salt Lake brew pubs.
Why Stay & Ski Salt Lake City?
Here are six compelling reasons why you should not only do your skiing in Salt Lake City, but also why you should consider staying there too.
- Steep and deep powder skiing…’nuff said.
- Fewer crowds.
Utah ski resorts get less than 10% of the US snow sport traffic. So go ahead, ski in Colorado of you want to spend all of your time in lift lines. But if you want maximum time on the slopes, then choose Salt Lake.
- Major international airport.
The SLC airport lands over 340 flights per day, is served by all major airlines and is a Delta hub. You can land at 10am and be on the slopes forty minutes later. You can’t do that in Colorado. Or California. Or Washington.
- Skiing Salt Lake is less expensive.
Skiing around Salt Lake City is less expensive than going to Park City. It’s also cheaper than all of the major resorts in Colorado and most of the large ski areas in California. You can save even more with this guide to getting lift pass discounts.
- Staying is less expensive.
You can do a ski in/ski out at the resorts if you wish, but even the four star hotels downtown are cheaper than staying up the canyons. Check out the lodging guide below for a few ideas.
- SLC is fun.
Salt Lake has a lot going on with their new Eccles theater and the Utah Jazz basketball team. They have a remarkably robust craft beer scene and the coffee is pretty good too. You can also take a break from skiing but still get exercise with one of these easy to access downtown trails.
Score a deal on your rental car by using this link to compare pricing.
Getting to the Ski Resorts
- By Car: All of this Salt Lake skiing can be accessed with a 35 minute drive from downtown. On weekend days after a big snow, be prepared to wait at the mouth of the canyon for traffic control. Salt Lake does a good job of keeping the roads clear but during a heavy snowfall, there will be 4WD or chain controls in the canyons. They have all of the major car rental companies at the airport.
- Using Public Transportation: Tickets are $2.50 one way. If you purchase a Salt Lake City skiing SuperPass, then public transportation is included. For Solitude and Brighton, take the TRAXX light rail blue line down to the Fort Union station and transfer to the 972 ski bus. For Alta and Snowbird, take the blue line down to Fort Union and transfer to the 953 ski bus OR go one stop further to the Sandy Station and transfer to the 994 ski bus. Check out the route map here.
- Using both: On busy ski days the parking lots at the SLC ski resorts can get very full. You can save yourself the hassle of schlepping your skis from the the parking lot hinterlands by using the park & ride lot at the mouth of each canyon. The bus will drop you off right at the base lodge.
Where to Stay in Salt Lake City for Skiing
(These hotel links are affiliate links which means that if you choose to purchase, I’ll make a small commission but it won’t cost you extra.)
At the Resorts
- Snowbird – The Cliff Lodge & Spa: 3.5 star resort with spa, pool, hot tub and several restaurants sits right at the base of of the tram. Check reviews or book at Hotels.com or Trip Advisor.
- Alta – Alta Peruvian Lodge: 3 star accommodation with a rustic ambiance at the base of Wildcat. Check reviews or book at Hotels.com or Trip Advisor.
- Solitude/Brighton– There are a number of condos and private homes available for rent which are either ski in/out or an easy walk to the base lodges.
Downtown Salt Lake
- Luxury – The Grand America: “Big lux views of the mountains and city”, large fancy rooms, spa and buffet breakfast. Check reviews or book at Hotels.com or Trip Advisor.
- Boutique – Hotel Kimpton Monaco: This cute hotel is right in the thick of downtown and it offers a mod design, free happy hour and on-site restaurant. Check reviews or book at Hotels.com or Trip Advisor.
- Budget – The Metropolitan: 2.5 star basic budget hotel 5 blocks walk to downtown restaurants and free breakfast. Check reviews or book at Hotels.com or Trip Advisor.
- Vacation Rentals – You can check them out on AirBnB or VRBO. AirBnB has more inventory near downtown and VRBO has larger houses closer to the canyons.
Salt Lake calls itself “Ski City” for good reason. Check out any (or all) of the above Salt Lake City ski areas and you’ll find great snow, varied terrain and a relaxed vibe. Happy skiing.
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