Level Nine employee Peter enjoying some of the greatest snow on earth!
It can be argued why Utah is the best state for skiing for many reasons, but one of the reasons Utah skiing is so awesome is the convenience. There are 11 world-class ski resorts within an hour drive of Salt Lake City (7 within a 30-45 minute drive). Not only is it nice having so many choices for Salt Lake locals, but having so many different resorts so close to an international airport is a vacationer's dream. For someone not living in Utah it is incredibly easy to take a nice week-long family vacation while trying many new and exciting ski resorts. At Park City Mountain Resort, they'll even give you a free lift ticket for the same day you fly in!
Greatest Snow on Earth
Another huge reason why Utah is so awesome for skiing is the snow; our license plates don't say "Greatest Snow on Earth" for nothing! On an average year, the Wasatch range here in Utah will get around 500 inches of snow at high elevations. Not only do we get a lot of snow in Utah, but it's also some of the lightest, coldest, driest snow, giving us some of the best powder. You may be skeptical of such a claim, but it's scientifically proven. Since Utah is the 2nd driest state in the U.S., the snow crystals have a unique structure compared to other states. Combine the dry and cold weather and you get light, crystalline snowflakes that are thick and symmetrical. This unique snow crystal structure is what gives Utah the light powdery snow every skier dreams of.
The next best thing about skiing in Utah would be the variety of terrain offered by all of these ski resorts here. The resorts found in either Little or Big Cottonwood Canyons will feature much steeper, gnarlier terrain than those found in Park City. However, even those resorts in the Cottonwood Canyons offer their own unique terrain from resort to resort. In Little Cottonwood Canyon, at Alta and Snowbird, you'll be sure to find some of the gnarliest skiers in Utah; these resorts boast some of the steepest and rockiest terrain in Utah with a lot of backcountry access. In Big Cottonwood Canyon, you'll find Brighton and Solitude. These mountains also have some great backcountry access and can be just as rocky in places as the LCC resorts, but overall the BCC resorts aren't as gnarly and steep (and often less crowded). If you're a real classic skier who can't stand those on one plank, Alta is the place you'll want to be. It is one of 3 resorts in the U.S. that still doesn't allow snowboarders, so if you're old fashioned you can avoid the snowboarders up Little Cottonwood Canyon at Alta.
Terrain parks are pretty big here in Utah, just as much as the gnarly big mountain skiing is. While you won't find any crazy jumps or rails at Snowbird, Alta, and Solitude, most other Utah resorts offer some high-class terrain parks. Park City Mountain Resort is the obvious favorite, with expansions of their park almost yearly, a large park crew, a star-filled team of athletes, and the biggest jumps in Utah. While their terrain park maybe be impressive, their natural terrain is far more mellow than Alta or Snowbird. Canyons is another resort that has recently made some great strides in improving their terrain park, by moving it to a new trail to make it the longest park in Utah! Some people consider their natural terrain and backcountry access to be far better than PCMR, but that's just a matter of personal opinion. Brighton may be the best choice for those who truly enjoy to do it all - park, groomers, powder, and backcountry. Although their park lacks the big jumps of PCMR, the rails and various other unique jibs found in their park certainly make up for that. Known for being more of a snowboarder-oriented mountain, their park is often home to the most creative rails and jibs and on any given day you can see a snowboarder wearing jeans tighter than you could ever believe.
Besides the extreme terrain and terrain parks, Utah resorts also offer lots of family-friendly skiing with nice groomed runs, great ski schools, and mellower terrain. Park City Mountain Resort is one resort that caters to families and vacationers. There is a large ski school, multiple beginner areas (including a magic carpet and beginner access quad lift), and an abundance of groomed terrain. They also have many lodges all over the mountain, and a little village located at the base for pre or post skiing activities and shopping. Deer Valley and Canyons also offer great terrain and activities for families, in a very similar fashion to PCMR with a village at the base. While the terrain in the Cottonwood Canyons is on the steeper side, those resorts still offer great family-friendly skiing and ski schools. Really, any resort in Utah would be great for a vacation with the family!
So whether you want to ski some of the gnarliest lines, hot lap the park, relax in a deluxe lodge, or ski with your family, you'll be able to find what you want here in Utah with the great choices of resorts, the variety of terrain, and the greatest snow on earth!
For more information on skiing and all ski resorts in Utah, check out skiutah.com