Utah is renowned for its stellar list of ski resorts. But which are the gnarliest? Which have the best après? Well, grab a seat and find out. Here’s our ranked list of Utah ski resorts.
There is no shortage of stoke at Park City. Whether you’re looking for demanding freestyle terrain, imaginative terrain parks, or some coasting groomers, Park City and Canyons provide. If you’re an expert looking to push the limits, the area around 99-90, Portuguese Gap, and Jupiter Peak are some of the best skiing in the country.
But sometimes, Park City can be too big, making it extremely difficult to navigate. If you want to get the most out of your time here, plan for what you want to hit and stick to it.
Regardless, Park City offers the best balance in all of Utah.
There is no shortage of on-site lodging across the Park City and Canyons base areas. The Park City side offers some surprisingly cheap slope-side options, while the Canyon side tends to be a bit more on the expensive side. Other off-site lodging options are only a short drive from the base but will be the cheapest.
In terms of après, Park City offers an extensive list of nightlife options with bars and clubs all within walking distance of downtown. O’Shucks is a personal favorite, providing an upbeat local feel with a pool, darts, good music, and great people.
There’s no running from the snow at Snowbird, and that’s why it earned a number two spot on our list. In fact, Snowbird receives more snow than any other resort in the country. But we’re not talking about the hard packed-in pow that requires the strength of Atlas to shred; this stuff is dry, airy, and easily maneuverable, even a few days after a big storm.
Pipeline Bowl, Gad Chute, and Silver Fox are just a couple of iconic must-shred spots at Snowbird.
While the snow and terrain diversity are unmatched, Snowbird does lack trails for beginner and low-intermediate skiers and snowboarders.
Snowbird’s proximity to downtown Salt Lake City is why its lack of on-site lodging didn’t hurt its score too much. There are slope-side options, but those will tend to be on the expensive side, with most people considering staying downtown.
The après-skiing at Snowbird is relatively limited, but there are a handful of fun ski bars that offer some tasty happy hour specials. But if we’re talking sheer popularity, the Tram Club sports bar is the place to be once the final chair unloads.
While Alta doesn’t offer the most expansive skiing in Utah, it’s surely unbeatable regarding extreme terrain, snow quality, and affordability. Being such a competitive mountain, Alta offers a good number of beginner and low-intermediate terrains to choose from.
For those of you lookin’ to rip some steep grade and a couple of jump turns, head over to Alf’ High Rustler off the Collins Lift.
If Alta allowed snowboarder access, it easily would have taken the number one spot.
Unfortunately, the lodging at Alta is extremely limited, and whatever lodging is available will cost you a pretty penny. Many visitors look to Snowbird and downtown Salt Lake for more reasonably priced lodging options.
At Alta, skiing comes first. If you’re looking for a standout nightlife, you won’t find it here, but what you will find are some cozy bars with hard-to-beat happy hour deals connected to the resort hotels.
Snowbasin sort of takes a backseat when people think of Utah ski destinations. But with roughly 2,200 skiable acres, Snowbasin actually competes relatively well with other local mountains like Alta and Snowbird.
Known mainly for its wide variety of terrain, Snowbasin offers a little something for everyone, from gently rolling slopes and wide-open bowls to sharp mountain rock faces and tight glades, but you’ll find some of the best terrain off the Needles Express chairlift.
Another bonus of its low-keyness is that crowds at Snowbasin are relatively thin, and the mountain gives off a local vibe. Combine that with Snowbasin’s high-speed chairlifts and state-of-the-art on-mountain lodges, and you have the perfect mountain.
The only real downside is the resort’s lack of snowfall.
While Snowbasin’s on-mountain facilities remain unbeaten, to many people’s surprise, there isn’t any on-site lodging. Those who do visit Snowbasin normally look to the town of Ogden or downtown Salt Lake City for accommodations. Snowbasin recently announced a series of real estate investments and is on track to build some on-site lodging that will be available in 2024.
Snowbasin’s lack of a base village pretty much eliminates any chance of après-skiing.
For those looking for death-defying chutes and tightly woven glades, Deer Valley isn’t where you’ll find it. Deer Valley caters specifically to beginners and intermediates with gentle corduroy runs and groomed black diamonds. While the mountain isn’t on the extreme side, there are a few expert areas, specifically around Daly Chutes. Deer Valley does do a great job of mitigating crowds and minimizing on-mountain traffic with clear signage and quick lifts.
If you are an expert skier and find yourself at Deer Valley, check out Centennial Trees off of the Lady Morgan Express lift. They’re tight, but if you get into a flow, they’re remarkably fun to rip.
While Deer Valley looks to include everyone in the fun, it doesn’t allow snowboard access, which is a huge ding in my book.
Deer Valley prides itself on its lodging and hospitality. Several slope-side accommodations await you in the base and mid-mountain areas, though they are definitely on the expensive side. If you’re looking for cheaper options, Park City is your best bet.
Given its fantastic hospitality, it’s hard to believe that Deer Valley, outside of its slopes-side hotel bars, lacks après-skiing. The closest nightlife you’ll find is a brief Uber away ride in Park City.
If you’re a Powder Hound, you’ll want to rip a day at Powder Mountain. Most of the terrain here is reliant on snowcat tours; in fact, 44% of it. But its reliance on snowcat-only terrain makes for outstanding powder retention. Plus, the crowds are low, even on powder days!
The rest of Powder Mountain’s 5,200 acres of in-bounds skiing is pretty top-notch as well. Although it doesn’t have the highest snow totals, there’s plenty of fun to be had for any skill level. Powder Mountain has plenty of soft groomers, intermediate powder runs, and steep chutes and tree runs for experienced skiers and snowboarders.
I hear from locals that anything off of Sanctuary is primo if you don’t want to splurge on a cat pass.
The downside is that Powder Mountain’s snowcat reliance has made for an uncoordinated entanglement of chairlifts which seem to take you everywhere but where you need to go.
Powder Mountain scores extremely well on lodging with a wide variety of ski-on/ski-off lodging options across the resort. You won’t find any hotels at Powder, but there are plenty of condo rentals across the resort that come with amenities like pools and hot tubs.
The après around Powder leaves a little bit to be desired, although the Powder Keg bar at Timberline Lodge serves drinks until 5 pm on weekdays and 7 pm on weekends. Besides that, the day usually ends at the last chair.
Solitude sits in Utah’s Big Cottonwood Canyon, just a short drive away from Salt Lake City. Since the 1950s, Solitude has continuously provided skiers and snowboarders with tons of powder-packed days throughout the season. Its unique location allows Solitude to receive powder that’s about as dry and light as it gets. Despite its size, Solitude offers a ton of demanding expert lines that hold their value lap after lap.
But its size does seem to hurt its score. With only 1,200 acres of skiable terrain, Solitude is comparable to larger East Coast mountains rather than its Rocky Mountain neighbors, limiting terrain options specifically for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders.
Solitude offers a modestly sized base village with limited on-site accommodations. Those who want to stay on-site can choose from either the Inn at Solitude or the list of condo rentals around the property. Those staying off-site can look for lodging throughout Cottonwood Canyon, Cottonwood Heights, as well as downtown Salt Lake City.
One glaringly obvious low point at Solitude is the parking situation. Solitude requires all guests not staying on-site to pay for parking, but that price does shrink if you decide to carpool.
The après here definitely misses the mark with very little in terms of restaurants or bars—many who do stay at or around Solitude head into Salt Lake City for some post-skiing shenanigans.
Day or night, the skiing at Brighton is fantastic. Sitting comfortably in the middle of Big Cottonwood Canyon, skiers and snowboarders are greeted with tons of snowfall each year — sometimes up to 500 inches! The mountain is definitely on the smaller side, with less than 1,000 acres of skiable terrain, but its high-speed lifts and powder stashes make up for what it lacks in size.
Along with the snowfall and accessibility, Brighton is also a great spot for budding skiers and snowboarders with tons of mellow, widely spaced groomers, as well as bowls and mogul runs for intermediate shredders.
Though, Brighton is far from an expert mountain. Blacks and double-blacks only make up a small percentage of the terrain on offer. That said, Brighton does offer easy access to some gnarly side country terrain packed with natural features like boulders and cliffs.
Like a lot of the smaller mountains in Utah, the on-site lodging at Brighton is limited. Its one hotel option is the rustic, upscale Brighton Lodge, which offers ski-on/ski-off accommodations.
Besides that and a handful of rentals, most people decide to stay down at Solitude or elsewhere throughout Cottonwood Heights.
You don’t go to Brighton for the afters, but the resort does offer some good après at their base bar with deals on drinks and plenty of bar games.
Brian Head is the most isolated mountain on the list—roughly three and a half hours from Salt Lake City. Not far from Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, this mountain resort, perched in Utah’s southern desert, offers a decent variety of beginner, intermediate, and expert terrain among the awe-inspiring red rock topography.
While it is a smaller mountain, Brian Head does receive over 200 inches of snow annually, which is more than enough to create a solid natural snow base.
Its distance from Salt Lake City means that crowds are relatively thin, and even during the busiest peak dates, the mountain remains relatively empty.
The downside is that, unlike other mountains in Utah, Brain Head doesn’t have any long runs. The mountain is designed for quick laps rather than quad-burning treks down the mountain. Brain Head is also susceptible to high winds which tends to cause delays over the day.
Despite being on the smaller side, Brain Head does offer an impressive list of lodges and rentals with amazing deals.
The après aren’t in abundance at Brain Head, but there are a few joints here and there that can add a little something extra to the post-ski festivities. Last Chair Grill offers a dive bar with 17 different beers on tap, while the Lift Bar and Patio serves food and drinks until 10 pm.
At Sundance, you get low crowds, stunning views, and awesome night skiing. The mountain offers a well-balanced mixture of beginner, intermediate, and expert terrain. Skiers and snowboarders who are after breathtaking views of the Rockies while perched within the trees will find solace at Sundance. Seriously, these views are not to be missed.
The skiing is, well, what you would expect from a mountain with just over 500 acres of skiable terrain. The highs you’ll find are off the Red’s and Flathead Lifts, providing stunning views with terrain ranging from steeped groomed runs to high-alpine bowls like Bishop’s Bowl.
Sundance is compact and intimate but not so much that you feel suffocated and crowded. On a peak day, you may see the lift wait increase from one minute to five.
The downside is that Sundance isn’t as tall or as lucky with the snowfall, meaning powder days are few and far between. There are a few lifts that are on the slower side of things as well, but the views from them make up for the slow ride.
Sundance is fantastic when it comes to on-site lodging. The resort offers suite rooms as well as ten different luxury mountain homes. There are also tons of AirBnbs in the area, along with several major hotel chains in Provo and Orem, about 15 minutes away from the mountain.
You may have to look for it, but Sundance does have options for afternoon après. The White Owl bar, a resorted 1890s bar that was transported from Wyoming, opens when the lifts close at four and features live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
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