Unlike Colorado and California, most of Utah’s world-class skiing is less than an hour’s drive from its metropolitan airport. In fact, there are 10 such resorts in the vicinity, spread across the famous Cottonwood canyons, Park City, and nearby Ogden and Provo.
Better yet, Utah is billed for having “the greatest snow on Earth,” thanks to its light, dry, and fluffy flakes, plus several resorts that record over 500 inches of annual snowfall — the most in North America. As a bonus, the state is home to the largest resort in the nation and filled with welcoming people, making Utah a remarkable and easy place to ski or snowboard.
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Picking the ideal Salt Lake area ski resort is like splitting hairs. All of these resorts rate 4.5 (or higher) out of 5 stars, according to online reviewers. They’re almost all easy to access, relatively affordable, and largely family-friendly.
Which resort is right for you? Before booking your next winter visit to Utah, consider our round up of the best Utah has to offer.
1. Big Cottonwood Canyon
Best all-round value
Located just 40 minutes from the airport, Brighton is one of the first and oldest ski resorts in the state, and it has remained one of the best for nearly 80 years. In short, Brighton is both awesome and affordable, with beautiful spacious runs between tall trees, and $90 lift tickets with kids 10-and-under skiing for free.
The food and lodging may be lacking, but with 500 inches of annual snowfall across fantastic terrain for all levels, you’d be a fool to turn your nose up at this place.
Next door you’ll find the similarly-sized and snow-heavy Solitude. As its name suggests, it’s one of the least-visited resorts in Utah, except on days when other resorts’ roads are closed – it’s then that local expert riders flock to Solitude for its equally technical terrain. This isn’t an ideal place for beginners, but lots of fun for everyone else with lift tickets averaging $120 per day.
Getting to Big Cottonwood Canyon: You can drive, take a public bus, or rideshare up Big Cottonwood Canyon Road to either Solitude or Brighton.
Pillows of new fallen snow bedeck pine trees in the Utah mountains © Tom Kelly Photo / Getty Images
2. Little Cottonwood Canyon
Best for serious skiers
If you want two of the nation’s top ten resorts with the continent’s deepest snowfall that happen to be within 45 minutes of the airport, come to Little Cottonwood Canyon. Stay away, however, if you’re a beginner or intermediate skier — Little Cottonwood is too steep for most beginners and intermediates to fully enjoy.
For big amounts of challenging runs, a terrific tram (the only in Utah), and excellent on-site lodging, head to world-renowned Snowbird. And with several more feet of snow than in the already impressive levels in Big Cottonwood, expert skiers and riders will love Snowbird.
For even more snow and slightly better accessibility for intermediate skiers, head a little further up the road for the similarly famous Alta, the first resort in all of Utah. Sadly (or thankfully depending on which team you play for), snowboarders are not allowed on Alta lifts, although they can ride down the mountain via the connecting top access from Snowbird.
Lift tickets for Snowbird vary but start at $130 per day; Alta’s run $120 per day. Either way, both are brimming with powder.
Getting to Little Cottonwood Canyon: Like Big Cottonwood just to the north, you can drive, take a public bus, or rideshare up Little Cottonwood Road to either Snowbird or Alta.
3. Park City Mountain Resort
Best For families, nightlife, and the most terrain
There’s a reason most out-of-staters ski here. For the largest, most popular, most crowded and second-most expensive resort in Utah, drive 45 minutes to Park City Mountain Resort. Since merging with the already gargantuan Canyons Resort, the new Park City is absolutely massive with 341 total runs and 35 lifts.
Although the skiing is admittedly good (and the terrain park is killer) at Park City Mountain Resort, the night life and amenities are even better, which is a big draw for visitors. Lift tickets cost upwards of $150 per day, but you can stay on the Canyons side to avoid some of the crowds.
Getting to Park City Mountain Resort: You can drive or rideshare east up I-80, then south on 189 to famous Park City, which features two resorts, the other being…
Deer Valley resort illuminated at dusk under a starry night sky © Adventure_Photo / Getty Images
4. Deer Valley
Best resort for luxury
Located on the opposite face of Park City (i.e. the east side of town), Deer Valley resort is the finest resort in Utah with lift ticket, restaurant, and accommodation prices to match. Deer Valley also has the best “groomer” runs that are corduroy, comfortably wide, and lined with attendees that can help you find your way or make recommendations. It’s also home to some of the nicest restaurants in the entire state.
If budget, exciting terrain and snowboarding are important to you, however, Deer Valley probably isn’t a good fit. Lift tickets cost over $199 per day and overnight rates are even more. But it is an excellent place to ski with nearby access to the same après ski nightlife that Park City Mountain Resort enjoys.
Getting to Deer Valley Resort: You can drive or rideshare east up I-80, then south on 189 to Park City, where Deer Valley is located.
Family making snow angels together © Tetra images RF / Getty Images
5. Sundance Mountain Resort
Best for scenic views
If you don’t mind driving more than an hour from Salt Lake airport, there are some notable resorts at your disposal. Although small, the film festival namesake Sundance Mountain Resort in Provo Canyon (formerly owned by Robert Redford) is probably one of the most scenic resorts in the state and great for families and expert riders alike.
Getting to Sundance Mountain Resort: Sundance is located about an hour’s drive south from Salt Lake International airport.
6. Snowbasin Resort and Powder Mountain
Best for avid skiers who want to avoid the crowds
In Ogden, just north of Salt Lake, you can find the equally beautiful but much larger Snowbasin Resort with its Olympic downhill runs and three terrain parks. It, like Sundance, enjoys a respectable average of 300 inches of snow per year. Also in Ogden: Powder Mountain, which gets even more snow — a whopping 500 inches to rival the Little Cottonwood totals. With lift tickets for just $90, this is a popular out-of-the-way spot for snowhounds.
Getting to Ogden: Snowbasin is about an hour north of Salt Lake airport and Powder Mountain is a little further along – about 75 minutes.