You wake up in the morning; it’s warm outside without a snowflake in sight. At lunchtime, you’re taking a chairlift up the mountain to ski some of the best powder in the country. Time to snap out of your daydream? Not at all. For those living in Texas, skiing may not be a part of everyday life, but you do have short and relatively inexpensive flights to Salt Lake City, which is less than an hour away to 10 different Utah ski resorts. Plus you gain an hour by traveling to the mountain time zone, giving you that extra hour on the mountain on the way out. So what’s stopping you? Planning a quick trip to Utah is easy. And the quick access from airport to resort makes it one of the fastest ways to get on the slopes. Here’s how you can make it happen:
Early Morning Flights
You’re not the only one who wants to get to Salt Lake City early enough to spend the day on the slopes. A wide variety of airlines offer early morning flights that can make your ski vacation start that much sooner. Delta Airlines has a 6 a.m. flight from Dallas on most days, arriving in Salt Lake City at 7:56 a.m.—you may even make it to the slopes in time for breakfast. If you don’t want quite so early a wake-up call, there’s also an 8:25 a.m. flight that arrives in Salt Lake City at 10:26 a.m., still with plenty of time to get to the mountain and spend the afternoon on the slopes.
From Houston, Delta offers a 7:53 a.m. flight that arrives in Salt Lake City at 10:25. From Austin, hop the Delta plane at 5:36 a.m. and be in Salt Lake City at 7:39, while from San Antonio you can take 6:40 a.m. flight to get to Utah at 8:44 a.m. You can also find morning flights on United, American, and Southwest. Booking early usually helps ensure a cheaper flight, but you never know when seats are available. Set up e-mail alerts to let you know when deals come up and you can often get a cheap getaway weekend. Of course, all of these flight times are subject to change, but they give you a great place to start dreaming.
Arrival in Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City International Airport is a major hub, but it isn’t so big as to overwhelm you. It’s also generally ranked as the top airport in the country for on-time departures. It’s easy to get around, and with the constant supply of skiers coming into the state, the airlines are quick to handle your ski equipment and baggage and get you out the door. But even better than the airports efficiency is its location: Ten of the 14 winter resorts in Utah are located within an hour’s drive. In fact, the four ski resorts nearest to Salt Lake City (Solitude, Brighton, Snowbird, and Alta) and both of Park City’s resorts (Park City Mountain and Deer Valley) are less than 45 minutes away, via easy-to-drive interstate. The Ogden-area resorts (Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, and Nordic Valley) aren’t much further, as is the Sundance Mountain Resort in Provo Canyon.
OK, your flight lands on time. You get your luggage and maybe a quick snack, and it’s off to get transportation to the mountains.
Driving to the Mountains
If you plan on hitting multiple resorts on your trip, it makes sense to rent a car, and ALL rental cars are located at the airport with no shuttle necessary. Hertz, National, Avis, Dollar, and Enterprise are all there. You can be out of the airport with your equipment in no time. Check with your resort for shuttle options, and consider taking the All Resort Express Shuttle or Canyon Transportation, which can take you right to the slopes. Or take advantage of Lyft and Uber, which both operate in Salt Lake City. Grab your gear and you’re off to the snow.
So where do you want to sleep? You can stay in downtown Salt Lake City if you want a trip with more of an urban feel, which allows you to check out a different resort each day. Park City features an excellent mountain atmosphere, with the resorts literally within walking distance of its historic Main Street. Ogden has cool urban options in the city not far from the resorts, and you can find everything from condos to luxury homes available for rent in the Ogden Valley. Or stay slopeside at most of the resorts for easy ski in/ski out access to that powder—you know, the reason you woke up so early this morning. But you made that decision before you left this morning. And checking in now would only waste valuable slope time. So head straight to the mountain so you can get started.
OK, one last thing to deal with. If you didn’t bring your own gear, you need to get equipped before hopping on the lift. Luckily, you can usually arrange for equipment rentals in advance, like with Ski Butlers and Ski ‘N See. You took care of that before you left, right? Plus you grabbed that snack at the airport, so you’re ready to go straight to the chairlift. You look at your watch: 12:30. Many of the skiers are taking their midday break, and you’re able to enjoy that Utah powder you’ve been dreaming about.
Still haven’t had enough when the sun goes down? Park City Mountain, Brighton Resort, Sundance, and Nordic Valley all offer night skiing, which is an excellent way to extend a great day even further. If you aren’t staying at these resorts, don’t worry, local ski buses serve many resorts throughout the day and evening, so you can stick around for last chair and still catch a ride back in the toasty-warm bus.
What a day! Now get some rest so you can take advantage of a full day on the slopes tomorrow.
Originally written for Ski Utah.