Tuesday, February 16, 2016 12:00 AM
By Fiona Russell, Fiona Outdoors (Australia) — Last year, we headed to Utah for the first time. We loved the skiing so much that we returned again this winter. I have rarely returned at any destination for a holiday so this underlines how special the American state is for skiers.
In 2015, I wrote a blog 44 things to know about skiing in Utah. This time I want to tell you why I think Utah is such a great place for a skiing holiday.
1) Access to ski resorts is very easy in Utah. Flights take you to Salt Lake City. Within an hour’s drive of the city you can reach at least six ski resorts, including Deer Valley, Park City & Canyons, Solitude, Brighton, Snowbird and Alta.
3) The range of skiing in the ski resorts is breath-taking. There are easy graded green runs, intermediate blues and black runs that vary from quite difficult to jaw-droppingly daunting.
5) Annual snowfalls are stunning. Most years the resorts get at least five metres, sometimes eight metres. Each week, we were told, some 2ft can fall.
16) The four resorts closest to Salt Lake City, Brighton, Solitude, Alta and Snowbird, can be reached by free bus or TRAX light rail train if you purchase a Ski City Super Pass. This pass also means you avoid queuing to buy a lift ticket at the resort. You can also save up to 40% on ski rentals.
18) Alta is coveted by skiers who like steep and testing terrain. (No snowboarders are allowed.) It also offers great access to a wealth of back country routes. Alta and Snowbird receive the biggest snowfalls of all the Utah resorts.
19) Snowbird is my favourite of the four SLC “local” resorts. I love the huge expanse of the resort, the amazing Mineral basin with wide, wide blue runs and steep but just-about-manageable black runs. The views are incredible and the snow is superb, especially after a night of snowfall. This resort boasts a huge 100-person Tram that takes you from the base to Hidden Peak, some 11,000ft above sea level, and a one-of-its-kind ski tunnel.
20) Brighton is mellow and beautiful. The wide and open slopes are perfect for hero skiing and lots of breathers to look at the views.
21) Brighton is linked to Solitude, so you can ski both resorts in one day. I love the stats that go with gorgeous Solitude: “An average of 500 inches of annual snowfall, 1200 acres of terrain, 77 named runs and three bowls.”
22) The four resorts rarely feel busy despite being so close to Salt Lake City.
23) If you think that Utah is a dry state you should think again. Draft beer is a bit weedy at 3.2% (the law keeps it this way) but bottled beer is usually very strong. The G-Force enjoyed trying a range of bottled beers from 6% to 9% alcohol content. (After a Dry January it took only one or two bottles of the strong stuff to make him giggle!)
26) The ski resorts are super friendly. Fellow skiers talk to you in chairlifts. Ticket sellers, ski hosts, guides, check-out workers etc are wonderfully welcoming and very cheerful. At first I thought they were being fake and disingenuous but I believe now that most people want to be friendly and helpful so as to make your stay a great experience.