7 Utah Ski Resorts in 7 Days

Snowboarders in Park City, Utah. Photo courtesy Park City Mountain Resort Park City Mountain Resort
By Eric Peterson

Of the 14 ski areas in Utah, 11 are within a 90-minute drive of Salt Lake City International Airport, making the Beehive State the best destination for a quick weekend ski vacation in the West. (The three Park City resorts -- Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, and the Canyons Resort -- even accept a boarding pass instead of a lift ticket on the day of arrival.)

The Wasatch Mountains are blessed with numerous great ski mountains and bountiful snow, and lift tickets remain relative bargains at most resorts. The legacy from the 2002 Winter Olympics continues to shine brightly, and visitors can relive the experience by skiing the men's downhill courses at Snowbasin or taking a thrilling bobsled ride at the Utah Olympic Park near Park City.

Park City is one of the West's best ski towns, its streets lined with restaurants, bars, B&Bs, and ski lodges. You'll pay less for rooms in Salt Lake City and Ogden and still have easy access to the slopes.

Photo Caption: Snowboarders in Park City, Utah. Photo courtesy Park City Mountain Resort
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Skiers taking the Mount Allen Tram at the Snowbasin Resort in Huntsville, Utah. Snowbasin: A Sun Valley Resort
Snowbasin Resort is in many ways Utah's hidden gem, located in the Northern Wasatch Mountains east of Ogden. Snowbasin features the men's and women's downhill courses from the 2002 winter games, runs now respectively named the Grizzly and the Wildflower. Visible from Ogden, Strawberry Peak features its own gondola and plenty of expert terrain. Thanks to a major pre-Olympics upgrade, the resort features some plushest day lodges this side of Idaho's Sun Valley (its sister resort). There is no slopeside lodging, so you can stay in the Ogden Valley (I like the laid-back Atomic Chalet in historic Huntsville) or in the city of Ogden, where you'll find a revitalized downtown and a wide range of lodging options.

Details: www.snowbasin.com

Photo Caption: Skiers taking the Mount Allen Tram at the Snowbasin Resort in Huntsville, Utah.
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Skiing the slopes at the Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah. Rob Bossi
Canyons Resort, the state's largest in terms of lift-served acreage, has seen more change in recent years than any other resort in Utah. The new Orange Bubble Express chairlift features heated seats and pull-down orange windshields to stave off the elements, and the new Iron Mountain Express opened up 300 acres of terrain, upping the grand total of skiable acres to a lofty 4,000. There's also new lodging, highlighted by the Waldorf Astoria Park City, and new restaurants, including an award-winner in The Farm. I recommend starting your day at 7:30 with First Tracks: You'll get an hour-and-a-half head start on the masses, ski with an Olympian, and enjoy a hearty breakfast for a $79 upgrade on your lift ticket.

Details: www.canyonsresort.com

Photo Caption: Skiing the slopes at the Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah.
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Snowboarding and skiing the slopes at Park City Mountain Resort in Park City, Utah. Park City Mountain Resort
There's a lot to like about Park City Mountain Resort. The halfpipes and terrain parks are among the best in the snow-sports universe, and its history as the snowboarding venue from the 2002 games means numerous world-class athletes call this their home resort. You can catch Town Lift from downtown Park City to the slopes in a few minutes. The resort has an interesting mining heritage, and even once transported skiers via train in an old mining tunnel. Don't pass up on the resort's Signature Runs, steep black-diamond groomers that will slake your thirst for speed.

Details: www.parkcitymountain.com

Photo Caption: Snowboarding and skiing the slopes at Park City Mountain Resort in Park City, Utah.
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The ski slopes of the Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah. Deer Valley Resort
Deer Valley Resort is the most refined resort in Utah -- and it does everything right. From the impeccable grooming on the slopes to the culinary excellence at the restaurants, this is a refined ski experience (read: no snowboarding) with some of the best terrain in the Wasatch. Then there's the luxury lodging, with the crown jewels being the longstanding Stein Eriksen Lodge and the new Montage and St. Regis properties; all three are off the charts in terms of both style and service.

Details: www.deervalley.com

Photo Caption: The ski slopes of the Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.
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Skiing the slopes at the Alta Ski Area in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. Alta Ski Area
Alta Ski Area, Utah's classic ski area at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, is known for long steep runs, world-class hike-to terrain, and a distinct Utah-meets-Bavaria culture that prides itself first and foremost on great skiing. For example, the resort will turn away customers once it hits a preordained maximum capacity. At the base, the Alta Lodge is a classic ski lodge; rates include breakfast and dinner and usually range from about $300 to $500 a night for two people.

Details: www.alta.com

Photo Caption: Skiing the slopes at the Alta Ski Area in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah.
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Snowboarding at the Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort
Featuring a modern base village and serious big mountain skiing, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort is Alta's neighbor in Little Cottonwood Canyon, known for steep terrain (35% of its 2,500 acres are expert), deep powder (it got 783 inches of snow during the 2010-11 season), and its 125-person tram that zips 2,900 feet up Hidden Mountain in 7 minutes. Unlike Alta, snowboarding is allowed (and even encouraged) on the entire mountain at Snowbird.

Details: www.snowbird.com

Photo Caption: Snowboarding at the Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah.
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Skiing the slopes at the Brian Head Ski Resort in Brian Head, Utah. Brian Head Ski Resort
If you take the time to drive southwest on I-15 to Brian Head Resort, closer to the airport in Las Vegas than the one in Salt Lake City, you'll be rewarded with longer days and views of Cedar Breaks National Monument and red-rock wilderness on slopes that are usually crowd-free. Located about 275 miles from Salt Lake City, the base area is the highest in Utah at 9,600 feet above sea level, and the resort receives 400 inches in average annual snowfall. This is also a good choice for families and beginners: Navajo Mountain is a beginner-friendly area that's entirely green and blue runs. Lodging options include the Cedar Breaks Lodge & Spa and the newer Grand Lodge at Brian Head.

Details:
www.brianhead.com

Photo Caption: Skiing the slopes at the Brian Head Ski Resort in Brian Head, Utah.
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