Adventure Travel

The ultimate ski guide to Utah

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Spectacular view to the Mountains from summit of Alta ski resort in Utah

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You may or may not be aware of this, but serious snow happens across Utah each winter. And you know what good snow means? Endless powder days! The Wasatch Mountains, a subset of the Rockies, are epicly steep, with countless ski areas to take advantage of. With steep mountains, fresh powder, and easy-to-access locales, it’s a wonder more people don’t head to Utah each winter. But the secret’s finally out: Utah’s ski areas are some of the best in the country and you’ll be putting them on your must-ski list soon.


For an exclusive skiers-only atmosphere, head to Alta. The seriously no-fuss attitude of the resort reflects in the steep, deep, and barely groomed runs throughout the area. But that’s the secret of Alta- it’s for expert skiers who don’t need extra amenities like perfectly groomed runs and fancy villages to retire to. Alta is notorious for it’s fine powder, which is perhaps the most alluring aspect (aside from the ban on snowboarding). And that’s not to mention the relatively cheap lift ticket prices, compared to larger resorts. So let’s get this straight: deep powder, steep runs, cheap lift tickets, and zero snowboards? Alta sounds like a dream!

Park City

Fresh Powder, Easter Egg Bowl, The Canyons, Park City, Utah

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Skiing or snowboarding Park City is an experience any powder lover must participate in at least once. Sure, Park City has a certain reputation. You can thank the Hollywood crowd around Sundance Film Festival time for that one! But the serious skier can easily look past the glitz and glamour to enjoy a few days on the slopes. With more than 3,300 skiable acres and a summit elevation of 10,000 feet, you can rest assured that the snow is excellent all winter long. And the runs are great for any level—the expert will have just as much fun as the beginner. To sum it up, Park City is overall a safe choice for a weekend on mountain. Plenty of excellent runs, powdery snow, and thousands of miles to explore. You really can’t go wrong!


Ski trails in Snowbird, Utah, USA

Image: Shutterstock/DonLand

Snowbird gets it’s name for a reason. The resort pulls some of the finest, freshest powder of any resort in the United States. You read right! Comparable only to Jackson Hole in Wyoming, Snowbird has expert terrain, deep snow, and fast lifts rolled into one place. The runs are tough, perhaps some of the toughest in Utah, and the atmosphere is electric. You’ll consistently see skiers and snowboarders tackle tough terrain with finesse and expert skill, which provides a great learning curve for emerging intermediate skiers. The 2,500 skiable acres are filled to the brim with steep runs and fresh powder, so you’ll definitely never regret choosing Snowbird.


snowy mountains

Image: Shutterstock/Tania Wood

As snowboarders are clearly unwelcome at Alta, Brighton is the next choice in the region. The friendly attitude and easy-to-navigate terrain at Brighton is infectious. Lift lines are short, the runs are steep, and the powder is fresh, so there’s everything to love and nothing to hate. In fact, the summit elevation at Brighton is even higher than at Park City (at 10,500 feet), so you know the snow is good. Brighton also has awesome backcountry opportunities for the expert skier or snowboarder. And lastly, locals love Brighton, so if you’re just passing through, you’ll have the opportunity to kick it with experts from the area. Nothing’s cooler than that! Brighton’s truly a perfect all-around spot to explore this winter.

Deer Valley

Sunrise above Deer Valley from Jordanelle Reservoir, Utah, USA

Image: Shutterstock/Johnny Adolphson

If you’re looking for a pre-packaged, commercially-good time, Deer Valley is the place to ski. Sure, it’s a bit crowded and slightly inflated, but those factors haven’t affected the serious terrain throughout it’s 1,750 acres. Come to Deer Valley for perfectly groomed runs, ski-in/ski-out condos, and lively apres ski opportunities. The snow is great all winter and the runs hit that even mixture of beginner, intermediate, and expert. All of these factors make Deer Valley a classic ski holiday destination, despite it’s reputation as overdeveloped and crowded. But don’t worry—you’ll be railing the off-piste bowls in the Bald Eagle Mountain section all day to care too much about the crowds down below!

Mandy Burkholder is a travel, adventure, and outdoor writer who honed her craft in the foothills of the La Plata Mountains of Southwest Colorado. After a stint in the Swiss Alps, she now resides in Tennessee. Follow her on twitter — @mandyburkhold3r

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