By Larry Olmsted, Forbes — Avid skiers and snowboarders will go to great lengths to skip lift lines or get a shot at fresh powder, hiking for hours or doing costly heli-ski or sno-cat trips. Many other unique free programs are offered by top resorts, yet most visitors have no idea they exist. These are unexpected ways to change your annual ski trip paradigm for the better.
Ski City, Utah – Tour with a Ranger: Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, and Solitude, the closest four major resorts to Salt Lake City, comprise the Ski City consortium. It’s run by Visit Salt Lake, the city’s tourism bureau. All are within 30 minutes of downtown, and Ski City offers a variety of combined and discounted lift tickets, transportation options, rentals, and lodging packages combining the city’s burgeoning urban dining and nightlife scene with the “Greatest Snow on Earth.” Offered on weekends and at all four resorts, the Tour With a Ranger program seeks to connect guests with the natural history of the Wasatch Mountains by providing insightful details about the area’s geology, history, winter ecology, watershed, wildlife, and more. Free tours are led by experienced staffers and volunteers from the non-profit Cottonwood Canyons Foundation (schedule online).