Utah offers some of the steepest and deepest skiable terrain in the country. But the ride is just as spectacular for people who are still learning to ski or snowboard. The Wasatch Mountains are as accommodating for beginners and intermediates as they are gorgeous—with plenty of mellow terrain at all 14 resorts and top-notch ski school instruction on-site.
But once you get comfortable on skis, you start looking for those truly great beginner and intermediate runs. We’re talking about those long, scenic trails that are the whole reason you came to Utah in the first place. They allow you to stay in your comfort zone, but offer the opportunity to push yourself as you become a better skier. So where are those green and blue runs that will put a smile on your face? Here are some of the best that Utah has to offer.
Alta boasts a lot of classic expert terrain, but it also offers one beautiful bonus to beginners—the “ Sunnyside @ Three ” program. For just $10, you get a lift ticket to access its three most beginner-level lifts: Sunnyside, Albion, and Cecret. Whether you’re taking advantage of the Sunnyside deal or cruising these lifts all day, they offer almost all green runs (with a couple of blues if you’re feeling wild). Ski the gently winding Dipsy-Doodle or Sunnyside runs, enjoying jaw-dropping views of the surrounding peaks as you go.
Located near the summit of Logan Canyon near Logan, Utah, Beaver Mountain is a family-owned and operated resort that caters to, you guessed it, families. With 824 skiable acres, the place isn’t huge (Park City Mountain Resort, for comparison, has 7,300 skiable acres), but beginners and intermediates can find a lot of terrain, and the east-facing slopes make for nice sunny runs in the morning. Plus you’ll find 75 percent of the runs are beginner or intermediate, making it very easy to explore the whole area. Take Harry’s Dream Lift to the summit, where the Gentle Ben green run will take you from the top to about midway down the mountain, where you can switch to another green run, Blind Bull, which takes you to the lift servicing the other summit, Marge’s Triple. From here you have several blue and green options that will keep you busy for the day.
Located in southwest Utah about a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, Brian Head Resort draws a lot of visitors from the west to enjoy its 71 runs and three terrain parks spread over two mountains. Since the resort is further from a major city, you’ll find very affordable lift tickets here, plus you’ll still get that great Utah snow (more than 360 inches a year) and the state’s highest base elevation. Of the 71 runs, 65 percent are ranked beginner or intermediate, giving you plenty of room to play. Beginners will want to stick to Navajo Mountain , which features almost all of the green runs and quite a few blues as well. The Navajo is a nice, long cruiser for beginners. When you tackle that, take the Kodachrome—a green/blue mix—to the other side of the mountain to access the intermediate trails from the Giant Steps Express lift to Brian Head Peak.
Many Salt Lake families bring their kiddos to Brighton to learn to ski or snowboard, and for good reason. The resort is un-fussy, affordable, and offers wonderful family-friendly ski instruction with has ample beginner terrain. Sound good? Then head on up Big Cottonwood Canyon and grab a Learner lift pass. It permits skiing off its Explorer and Majestic lifts, which access plenty of wide-open green and blue runs. Explorer is the gentlest of the bunch, and it’s a great place to get your bearings. From there, give Mary Back and Lost Maid a try. Oh, and did we mention that all kids 10 and under ski free with a paying adult?
Located north of Logan, Utah, near the Idaho state line, Cherry Peak is the newest resort in the state, having opened during the 2014–15 ski season. Take advantage of one of the best bargains in the state with the Mega Deal, which offers first-time skiers or snowboarders a group lesson, rental equipment, and a single-day ski pass for just $60. Once you get your ski legs, take a ride on Longmozy , a long green run that twists and turns across the mountain, with plenty of opportunities to hop on a blue run to challenge yourself.
Deer Valley Resort
Deer Valley is a favorite among many beginners because the resort is particularly attentive when it comes to both grooming and guest services. (For instance, they’ll “valet” your skis overnight at the base of the hill so you don’t have to carry them all the way to and from your hotel room.) You’d be hard-pressed to find a finer, more consistent corduroy anywhere—which makes for smooth, easy learning surfaces for people learning to carve. Ride the lift to the top of Bald Mountain and survey the miles and miles of gorgeous scenery in every direction. Then cruise down the winding Homeward Bound run, which never reaches too steep a pitch and simply ambles along. You’ll also want to jump aboard the Quincy Express lift to the top of Flagstaff Mountain, which is equally beautiful. The Bluebell run rolls off the top and side of the mountain, gliding along at a mostly-blue pitch till you get back to the bottom.
Another southwest Utah destination, Eagle Point is located in Beaver, Utah, about three hours from Las Vegas or Salt Lake City by car. It averages about 450 inches of snow a year and features more than 40 runs to explore, 57 percent of which are rated beginner/intermediate. You’ll also find two completely renovated lodges and a new warming station called The Lookout to enjoy. If you’re learning with your child, consider Eagle Point’s Learn Together Program , which features a one-hour private lessons for a parent and child together. Intermediate skiers, take the Lookout Quad Chair to the Paiute Crossing blue run, which follows the mountain’s ridge and offers great views of Puffer Lake before turning into Country Road and taking you back to the base of the lift.
Nordic Valley, located in Eden, Utah, just outside of Ogen, offers the most night skiing in the state, with 100 percent of the mountain covered by lights. Whether you come day or night, you’ll find that an impressive 70 percent of the mountain is targeted at beginners and intermediates. Beginners will also find a magic carpet conveyor belt, which is the easiest way for first-timers to get up the mountain. Once you’re comfortable on skis, take the Apollo Chairlift to the Old Barn Run , a beginner trail that winds its way across the mountain. It’s a great way to take in the whole mountain on a relatively easy run.
Park City Mountain
Park City Mountain, known for its family-friendly atmosphere, is a great place for beginner and intermediate skiers. It’s the biggest ski resort in the U.S., meaning that you’ve got lots of territory to explore. It also features the 3.5-mile long Home Run , one of the longest green runs in the state. By taking Crescent Express from the main base area, you can access more than a dozen intermediate runs and more than a half dozen beginner trails. These trails lead you to the King Con Express, where you can make laps for hours. King Con accommodates up to 6 people, so the whole family can ride together. Or take the Silverlode Express Lift to take you higher up the mountain to access Home Run. When you’re ready for a break, check out the Miner’s Camp for an unforgettable mountain-side lunch.
Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah, is colloquially known as Pow Mow. But more importantly, it is Utah’s favorite secret stash for powder. East of the Ogden Valley, Powder’s vast terrain consists primarily of intermediate runs. While most people will be lapping the Hidden Lake Express, you should head over to the new Mary’s Lift. The slopes in Mary’s Bowl allow intermediate skiers to experience the seclusion that typically accompanies expert terrain, while the manicured tree runs are a confidence inspiring introduction to glades skiing.
Home of the 2002 Olympic Downhill races, Snowbasin Resort certainly has some steep terrain. But don’t let that deter you. The resort is also very welcoming for beginners and intermediate skiers alike. Their First Timer program provides lift tickets, rentals, and a lesson for just $99. The Little Cat Lift , located at the base, offers many green options and is a kid-favorite with it’s Terrain Based Learning features. Think of a terrain park made for beginner skiers. Intermediate skiers can take the Becker Quad to Bear Springs down to the Strawberry Gondola. From here hop on the gondola to gain 2,500 vertical feet, take in some breathtaking views, and enjoy your choice of more than 10 blue runs on your way back down.
Snowbird is certainly known for its expert terrain, but beginners and intermediates skiers can still have a great time at “The Bird.” Beginners who are arriving with their own gear, may prefer to park at Entry 1—you’ll have immediate access to Baby Thunder. Intermediate skiers looking for a test? Take the aerial tram to the resort’s summit and ski down Chip’s Run, a 2.5-mile blue run that winds its way back down to the base.
Solitude Mountain Resort
If ever a resort was aptly named, it’s Solitude. It features more than 500 inches of snowfall a year, and it’s the closest resort to Salt Lake City, yet it’s never crowded. It’s a mystery how it remains so. The lack of big crowds at Solitude is one of the primary reasons that it is a welcoming resort for skiers of all ability levels. Intermediates will get the biggest bang for their buck with a top-to-bottom run down Dynamite.
Sundance Mountain Resort
Sundance Mountain Resort is situated at the foot of Mt. Timpanogos, and it offers some of the most unique and awe-inspiring views in Utah. Beginner and intermediate skiers visiting Sundance will be happiest sticking to Ray’s and Jake’s lifts. Ray’s lift has multiple exit points, providing many options to suit your ability. Never-evers are welcomed with a free rope tow to begin their skiing careers, but should be prepared for a bit of a walk to get there.
Originally written for Ski Utah.