Less Hassle, More Time on the Slopes: Why Utah Will Be the Easiest Ski Trip of Your Life

From the airport in Salt Lake City, you can be on the slopes in just an hour.
From the airport in Salt Lake City, you can be on the slopes in just an hour. Chris Pearson
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What’s the highlight of your ski vacation? It may be the skiing itself, it may be the mountain landscape, or it may be relaxing moments shared with friends. But it’s a pretty safe bet that time spent in transit doesn’t make the cut as the most enjoyable component of your trip.

While most ski destinations require a dedicated slog to get to—multiple connecting flights, trains, buses, and hours in rental cars—Salt Lake cuts that hassle out of the equation. There are several world-class ski resorts LESS than 40 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport. Which means many people can catch a flight, grab a rental car or a shuttle, and be on the slopes the same day!**

Here are the three biggest ways Salt Lake makes ski trips to Utah easier—and more fun.

1. A Convenient Base Camp!

Stay in Park City and it’s easy to access many Utah resorts.
Stay in Park City and it’s easy to access many Utah resorts. josephdepalma

On most ski vacations, you’ve got to pick pretty much one resort and stick with it. Not so with Utah. Several resorts are all within 40 minutes of each other, so you can pick one—then try the rest, too. If you stay up one of the canyons, it’s easy to try a neighboring sister resort—Brighton is a mile from Solitude, and Alta’s connected to Snowbird. Deer Valley is similarly close to Park City Mountain.

Located about 40 minutes from Salt Lake City, Ogden, Utah, is steeped in frontier history and the site where the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869. It’s now a hub for winter sports in the Ogden Valley, where you’ll find Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, and Nordic Valley all less than 20 miles from the town and featuring more than 10,500 skiable acres. You have dozens of lodging options in the area ranging from boutique bed-and-breakfasts to family-friendly hotels.

So just choose a neighborhood and make merry. Or choose a hotel or rental home in Salt Lake and make a rental car your chariot, allowing you to can check out a different resort every day of the week if you like.

More likely than not, you and your group will be best suited to one kind of resort, whether that’s family-friendly, steep and deep, or mellow and rustic. The good news is, you can sample around and decide for yourself.

2. Ski All Day—or Evening

When the sun sets, you can can still ski at several Utah resorts under the lights, including Brighton, pictured here. 
    Photo courtesy of  Ski Utah
When the sun sets, you can can still ski at several Utah resorts under the lights, including Brighton, pictured here. Photo courtesy of Ski Utah

All the resorts are open during the day, but there are also several options when it comes to night skiing. Nordic Valley features the most terrain for night skiing, with 100 percent of the mountain under the lights. In the Ogden Valley you’ll also find night skiing at Powder Mountain, which like Nordic Valley is open until 9 p.m. Sundance Mountain has night skiing on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday until 9 p.m.

Park City Mountain Resort and Brighton Resort both have lighted ski runs at night, plus local ski buses serve both 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. Bundle up extra warm and experience the magic of skiing under the stars. It’s generally less crowded, less expensive, and an excellent way to earn a nine o’clock nacho platter.

3. The Biggest Base Area

In many parts of the country, your "resort base area" is limited to a ski village. And if you choose to stay right at the base of a resort, you’ll enjoy that cozy village feel. But in Salt Lake City, Park City, and Ogden, you have the option of staying right in town, within driving distance of the slopes, yet you can still enjoy the urban benefits of restaurants and entertainment.

Downtown Salt Lake, Main Street in Park City, and 25th Street in Ogden are food-lovers’ havens, with countless interesting and award-winning restaurants and bars to try out. If you’re attracted to the big-mountain feel of the Cottonwood Canyons, situate yourself in a hotel room or rental house right between the two and enjoy the increasingly ski-bum-friendly culture of the foothill suburb Cottonwood Heights. The Hog Wallow Pub and Porcupine Pub may not technically be ski resort bars, but you wouldn’t know it once you’re inside, surrounded by fellow revelers in waterproof ski pants and puffy jackets.

City living is a boon for adult-only trips and family trips as well. You can break up a succession of ski days with a trip to the Natural History Museum, a sledding hill, skating rink, snowshoe hike, Clark Planetarium, City Creek Center shopping, or yoga studio. And if your muscles are in need of post-ski recovery, there are excellent spas to pamper you.

The world-famous powder is the reason most people choose Utah as their ski destination. But it certainly helps that when it comes to lodging, amenities, entertainment, and easy-access to the slopes, making the trip is easy.

Originally written for Ski Utah.

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