Utah is one of the best US states when it comes to skiing, snowboarding, and just good old winter holidays. But its reputation and resorts put it on the worldmap as well, in close competition with ski resorts in Japan, Europe, Canada, and South America.
Ski resorts in Utah are known for their scenic beauty, but also for their challenging ski terrain and super-fluffy snow. All of this is spiced up with the Great Salt Lake effect, which keeps neither too cold, nor too warm so the snow melts. Things are just perfect in Utah, but you know what else is perfect?
Its ski resorts. So if you’re a powderhound wondering where to get your adrenaline fix next, or a family looking for the best winter holiday destination in Utah, we got you covered. This is our list of the best ski resorts in Utah.
Brighton is one of the oldest ski resorts in the USA, and Utah’s very first one. That means that the place has seen entire generations ski here, which makes it one of the most reliable ski resorts in America. It is strewn across four distinct mountain sides, each with its own personality due to the differing terrain, satisfying even the most picky of skiers! Its proximity to Salt Lake City (less than an hour by car) is also a godsend, because it’s one of the least crowded ski resorts in the area. And it is very affordable too – children under the age of 10 ride and ski for free!
- Free tickets for kids under 10
- Plenty of variety in terrain type
- Less crowded than other popular resorts in Utah
- Underwhelming vertical drop
- Food and lodging can be somewhat mediocre
Known For: Affordable, quieter than the rest, and an excellent mountain with diverse terrain.
Brighton Ski resort sits perched 10,500 feet in the air on the very top of Big Cottonwood Canyon – but besides the impressive views, it also has the impressive terrain. Brighton has 66 runs spread over an impressive area of skiable terrain of over 1,050 acres, with 200 acres equipped for night skiing.
The runs themselves are tailored to satisfy both the beginners, and the experts. Here, there are 21% beginner runs, 39% intermediate runs, 25% advanced runs, and 15% of expert level runs. So, everyone’s covered! And everyone is also shuttled to and fro, flawlessly, by Brighton Resort’s 6, high-speed ski lifts in operation. Some of the lifts take you up to some of the highest trails for a hefty vertical drop of 1,745 feet, which, if we need to nitpick, can be a bit better.
But what if you’re not much of a skier, or you prefer some freestyle fun and practice? Not to worry, Brighton Resort has four terrain parks and a half-pipe (and a super-pipe) standing at the ready for anyone who wants to both show off their tricks, and get better at them.
When it comes to the town area and the amenities it offers, however, Brighton Resort is lagging behind the competition a bit. The daily lodging options and the food choice could definitely be improved – but if you’re not picky, it will suit you fine. Better accommodation can also be found down below in nearby Salt Lake City, which is just a short drive away, making it an option too. But despite those flaws, when it comes to what Brighton Resort offers on the mountain, it is definitely one of the top ski resorts in Utah.
But if Brighton Resort was small and cozy, Powder Mountain is even cozier! The skiing here is excellent, no question, but Powder Mountain ski resort goes a long way to preserve and enhance this ‘coziness’ too. The daily ticket sales here are limited to 1,500 skiers per day, so the crowds will never become oppressive. Which means that you can enjoy all that perfect snow – strewn over a massive area of over 8000 acres – in relative peace and leisure.
- Say goodbye to the crowds
- Lots and lots of snow (it’s not called Powder Mountain for nothing)
- Affordable Cat Skiing
- Slightly out of reach
- Amenities are somewhat limited
Known For: An intimate, cozy environment and a pleasant, uncrowded experience.
Less crowds, more skiing! That’s how it goes here at Powder Mountain. This ski resort has 167 ski runs sprinkled over a large skiable terrain of 8,464 acres, with most of them being geared towards beginners and intermediate skiers. The skill breakdown of the trails here is 25% beginner runs, 40% intermediate runs, and 35% advanced runs. If advanced skiers want to become experts, or experts aren’t completely satisfied with the advanced runs, no biggie – the off-piste terrain offers many more challenging trails to explore.
Visitors at Powder Mountain are serviced by a fleet of 9 ski lifts, which do the job very well, with the limited number of visitors. Finally there are 2 terrain parks here, and 300 acres for night skiing – for the night birds.
The town area of Powder Mountain can lack some of the comforts the largest, most luxurious ski resorts offer. After all, this is not that kind of a place – what Powder Mountain is known for is its simplicity and intimate atmosphere. So, expect limited entertainment, dining, and lodging, or at least – not to contemporary standards. But none of that will stop either families, friends, or lone powderhounds to have the time of their life here, at one of the best ski resorts in Utah – the warm and charming Powder Mountain.
Deer Valley Resort
Like Powder Mountain, Deer Valley ski resort lives up to its name too – the many charming lodges are sprinkled over the mountain sides like spots on a deer’s fur. But that’s just scratching the fur of this winter wonderland. Deer Valley is known for its desire to pamper its visitors, and welcome them to excellent food, impeccable amenities, and the warm, family-friendly atmosphere. There’s even a valet who carries your skis right after you park the car… First class? World class! But only if you’re a skier.
- Only for skiers
- The lifts are as fast as galloping deer
- World class skiing school, and world-class service and amenities
- Competent snowmaking
- Only for skiers, sigh
- Spicey, as in very pricey
- Not a lot of off-piste terrain
Known For: Deer Valley excels at treating every visitor like a celebrity, showering them with five stars service. All that plus the perfect snow and the excellent skiing.
Excellent skiing, that’s right. Deer Valley has 103 runs spread over respectable 2,026 acres of skiable terrain, with skill levels adjusted to everyone. Here, you will find 27% of beginner runs, 31% of intermediate runs, 10% advanced runs, and 32% of expert runs. The longest of these is 2.8 miles long, which is enough to get everyone’s blood pumping fast. At Deer Valley, skiers can enjoy a 3,000 ft vertical drop, and when the snow falters, 660 acres of snowmaking capacity stand ready. Stick to the trails here, though – much of the off-piste terrain is limited and exposed to unpleasant winds!
But if you feel the chiiiiillllllllllsssss and come back running to the trails with your tail between the legs, you’ll be expertly taken care of. Deer Valley ski resort possesses an impressive network of 24 lifts ski lifts and 12 high-speed quad chairlifts, which makes this resort capable of moving 50,470 skiers around – every hour.
Yes, we have already established that Deer Valley is impressive, but also wildly popular. And this is despite its total ban on snowboarding. It’s unfortunate, but if you’re a snowboarder, you won’t be welcome at Deer Valley. It remains one of the last three ski resorts in the USA to uphold this “no poaching” policy, together with Utah’s Alta Ski Resort and the Mad River Glen Cooperative ski resort over in Vermont.
Well, we guess there’s something to be said about principles!
But how’s the accommodation and everything else? One word – world-class, which admittedly, often means a world-class price tag. You will rarely find discounted tickets here, but that doesn’t mean Deer Valley excludes anyone. Restaurants and grills, both modern and rustic, that offer something for everyone’s budget dot the area, as do plenty of cafes and bars. Moreover, Deer Valley is one of the best family friendly, kid-friendly ski resorts in the US. After a good meal, kids here can choose from the Adventure Camp, the Adventure Trails, or even decide to spend a day or two at the excellent Children’s Center.
Meanwhile, you go have fun, with some fine wine under the stars. Deer Valley is one of the best ski resorts in Utah, and all it takes to get here is a 45 minute drive from Salt Lake City.
Park City isn’t just the largest ski resort in Utah, it’s the largest ski resort in the entire United States. It has a huge total skiable area of 7,300 acres rich with all the terrain features both imaginable, and believe us, unimaginable. You can explore Park City ski resort for days and barely make a dent in the place. And did we mention the exceptionally crunchy, smooth, fluffy snow here? Since Park City opened back in 1963, it has been attracting both winter tourists and professional winter sports athletes like a magnet – and what it offers has a very powerful pull.
- Did we mention how unbelievably huge Park City is? It’s why it’s called “city.”
- Hundreds of activities and attractions in town
- If you haven’t skied at Park City, you haven’t skied Utah
- It’s popular to a fault, so expect major crowds
- Lodging could be better
Known For: The number one ski resort in the US when it comes to size, topped off with excellent natural powder, and diverse skiing experiences.
Park City has a whopping 341 runs swirling over its vast area of 7,300 acres, and the runs themselves are more than sufficient to allay any desire for off-piste excursions. The skill breakdown is 8% beginner courses, 41% intermediate runs, 28% advanced runs, and 23% expert level runs. The longest of these is an impressive 3,5 miles long, while the vertical drop at Park City is exciting 3,200 feet. Which, admittedly, is sort of broken in smaller, less exciting bits.
In addition to this, Park City has 8 excellent and fun terrain parks on your disposal, with a snowmaking capacity of almost 800 acres. There are 41 ski lifts in operation here, shuttling thousands of visitors up and down, this way and that, every minute.
If the crowds overwhelm you though, and you find yourself stuck in a line, check out Park City’s impressive town area. Resembling an Old West mining town true to itself, Park City’s town has plenty of interesting drinking and dining on offer, along with a long catalog of accomodation options. In the past, the resort and its town have been the home of a giant Olympic slalom competition, including snowboard half-pipe competitions and snowboard parallel giant slalom. A remnant of this Olympic past is a bobsled course too, which you can ride.
When you get tired of anything snow-related and happen to visit in January, you can get some popcorn and enjoy a good film at the Sundance Film Festival.
Finally, Park City offers excellent family-friendly services and amenities as well, with many entertaining and educational programs for kids. Be it skiing or snowboarding lessons, sleigh rides, alpine coasters, ice rinks, zip lines, or riding the gondola strung between two mountain peaks, Park City will put a big, happy grin on your kid’s face. This, beside its size and impressive entertainment options, makes Park City’s place among the best ski resorts in Utah extremely well deserved.
I mean, sure, Park City is big. But you know what? Size doesn’t matter, it’s all in the comfort of the ski resort. Let us introduce you to Snowbasin – Utah’s hidden gem of a ski resort, often overlooked in favor of the bigger, more popular resorts. The terrain here is pure snowy gold, made up of terrain suitable for everyone from absolute beginners to absolute experts, winding between pretty trees, steep steeps, challenging glades, wide open bowls, three large terrain parks and tons of off-piste mountainous mysteries. And did we mention it’s just a few miles from Downtown Ogden? Name us a more legendary duo!
- Pretty well mix of terrain for everyone’s needs
- Lots of vertical, adrenaline-pumping runs
- Mountain dining is great
- Close to Ogden city
- Lacks a base village/town area, so you’ll have to drive or use public transport
- No ski-in/ski-out lodging
Known For: Exciting, often vertical terrain, plus amazing food, plus few crowds, and 15 minutes from Downtown Ogden.
From the peak sitting 9,350 feet high, one can spot the neighboring states on a clear day here. Or just admire the sheer beauty – while riding one of Snowbasin’s 107 satisfying runs. These are criss-crossed over a skiable area of over 3,000 acres, and are designed to cater to every skier – or snowboarder’s – skill level. The skill breakdown of the courses is as follows: 7% beginner runs, 37% intermediate runs, 47% advanced runs, and 9% expert runs.
Despite its proximity to Ogden, it’s a wonder that Snowbasin is generally uncrowded. There are 11 ski lifts in operation here, which, so far, are more than sufficient to move winter admirers around the resort. The verticals are especially exciting at Snowbasin, even though the absolute vertical drop (2,900 ft) isn’t the highest in the state. However, the runs are well designed and will keep your heart racing downhill – along with you and your skis.
The longest run at Snowbasin is impressive as well – it’s 3,5 miles long. Should you fail at mastering it, there are 4 terrain parks on your disposal to practice your moves. The average snowfall will keep everything well-covered in powder here at all times, but just to make sure, Snowbasin has a snowmaking capacity of over 625 acres as a backup.
As we mentioned above, though, Snowbasin is just a ski resort – it lacks a town area. This means that you may have to find accomodation in nearby Ogden city, or if you’re lucky, nab one of the beautiful mountain lodges built here especially for the 2002 Winter Olympics. You will also find many quality wine and dine options in the area as well. All of this, and much more, earns Snowbasin a high spot on our best ski resorts in Utah list.
Alta Ski Resort
Notice the “ski resort” in the official name? That’s not by chance, Alta is indeed a ski resort, but a ski resort only. That means there are very limited lodging options here, but it also means that it is only for skiers. Yes, Alta Ski Resort is one of the three ski resorts in the US that still maintains a ban on snowboarding. A disappointed snowboarder? We can’t blame you. But if you’re a skier? Oh boy. Welcome to Alta Ski Resort – the Heaven on Earth for skiing.
- Yes, it’s for skiers only!
- Gargantuan volumes of high quality snow
- Adventurous, fun terrain to ski on
- Has one of the top ski schools in the US
- Oh no, It’s for skiers only
- It’s a ski resort, so shopping and nightlife is lacking
Known for: No-nonsense ski area, light and fluffy powder
Alta prides itself on being a ski area, and it excels at it. This is also greatly helped by the very specific microclimate in the area, which showers Alta with supremely dry, light snow, touted as the greatest snow you can find on Earth. With nature on its side, then, Alta is a ski area that is uniquely blessed with the perfect conditions for the perfect skiing. And the resort makes the perfect use of these circumstances.
Alta Ski Resort has almost 120 exciting runs, spread over a respectable skiable area of 2,200 acres. The skill level composition of the courses is 25% beginner runs, 40% intermediate runs, and 35% advanced runs. While it seems to lack any extreme runs, make no mistake – there is very little difference between Alta’s advanced (black diamond) runs and the extreme runs you’ll find elsewhere (double black diamond). Alta simply doesn’t joke when it comes to skiing, so hold onto your hats because you’re going to be reaching impossible speeds here!
The longest course at Alta is 1.3 miles, but paired with a vertical drop of over 2,500 feet, it’s enough excitement to cause even the expert skier to produce some extra adrenaline. Not only that – the terrain here is exceptionally diverse, bombarding you with twists and turns, steeps and lows at every turn. And all of that is wrapped in spectacular scenery of the surrounding winter wonderland. Those, in turn, can also be enjoyed by beginner and intermediate skiers, who are also offered tracks for their suitable skill level, and all of that on perfectly groomed snow.
This impressive ski area is serviced by 11 ski lifts that shuttle everyone efficiently from peak to peak, regardless of the numbers of visitors. As we said, Alta is subject to huge quality snowfall every year, but they still have a snowmaking capacity of 140 acres, just in case.
Alta is close to Salt Lake City and its international airport (just a 45 minute drive), so while accomodation here can be limited (there’s just a handful of luxurious lodges), you can always find something in the wider area and take short skiing trips. Ditto for drinking, dining, and exciting nightlife – the city below is your best bet.
It should also be noted that Alta Ski Resort sits close to the excellent Snowbird too, and the proximity offers some boons. For example, you can buy the Alta-Snowbird Pass, and ski at both Snowbird and Alta as you please. Or ski at Alta and snowboard at Snowbird. What can we say? One way or another, you’ll be spending time in the two very best ski resorts in Utah.
Right next to Alta, Snowbird benefits from the same microclimate that produces some of the best quality snow on the Earth. For this reason, Snowbird often boasts of offering the longest ride and ski season in Utah, remaining open from the middle of November all throughout May. Unlike Alta, however, Snowbird at least has some bars, restaurants, shopping, lodging, and entertainment options. You’ll also find spas here and many other unique pampering options. All of that, of course, combined with the godlike snow outside, and the best, most challenging skiing and snowboarding Utah can provide. Beginners beware – Snowbird is hardcore!
- World class snow, both quantity and quality-wise
- Incredibly stimulating terrain
- Fast and efficient lift system
- One of the longest season in the US
- Not friendly to beginners
- Shopping and nightlife and can still be limited
Known For: Deep layers of quality powder, with rugged, challenging terrain offering lots of adrenaline for powderhounds and expert skiers alike.
Snowbird prides itself on being the premier skiing and riding resort for experts, throwing its rugged mountain sides against its visitors and polishing them into gems. However, that doesn’t mean Snowbird doesn’t offer excellent terrain for beginner and intermediate skiers – it just means that its advanced and extreme rides are out of this world. With an abyssal vertical drop of 3,240 feet and a longest run of 2,5 miles, Snowbird will make you sweat and really work for it. Is it any wonder that one of its runs is called “Barry Barry Steep”?
The ski area is impressively diverse in terrain features as well. It’s not all just steeps. Here you will also find fairytale-like tree glades (cough cough “The Black Forest”), but also many bowls, chutes, as well as long, straight, tame trails. Additionally, there’s also an excellent terrain park for everyone to practice their tricks in peace – even during night time, thanks to Snowbird’s 2,5 acres reserved for night skiing. Should beginners want to do a proper trail, they can hop on one of the 11 ski lifts and be on the mountain in minutes. From there, they can even board a tram – that moves through a tunnel! – to reach the other side of the mountain and admire the awe-inspiring views.
Damn. Snowbird is really something, you know?
But where it sort of falls behind is in its so-called town area. There is a town here, for sure, but it’s far from impressive, and it mostly resembles an institutionalized area where you can enjoy a limited variety of food and drinks. There is good accomodation here though, the rooms are clean and comfortable, and the customer service is world-class. In addition to this there are also a number of adjacent bars and restaurants for unwinding purposes. After that, you can recharge at the spa, and hit the endlessly entertaining mountain again!
And hey, Snowbird doesn’t stop being fun once winter gives way to spring and summer. The resort offers many summer activities as well, including summer tubing, rope courses, wall climbing, an alpine slide, a mountain coaster, and even a lift-operated mountain biking during summer.
If you happen to bring your family with you, seniors over 65 and children under the age of 6 are provided with free access, and you can also get the Alta-Snowbird Pass, if you’re curious about the neighboring ski (only) resort. But, if you’re already considering leaving your snowboard behind – why not take a trip to nearby Salt Lake City? It’s less than an hour away, and it’s rich with tons of food, entertainment options, and historical sights and sounds.
Snowbird barely leaves a mark unchecked. Beginner runs? Check. Extreme runs? Check. Excellent snow and town amenities? Check. Family-friendly services? Check. Easy to reach and close to an urban centre? Check and check. All of this, and more, moves Snowbird very close to the top – the very mountain top of the best ski resorts in Utah!