Ted Nelson, Chicago Adventure Travel Examiner -- Chicago skiers can hit the slopes by noon at a Salt Lake City, Utah ski resort. Brighton ski resort, Solitude ski resort, Snowbird Ski Resort, Alta Ski Resort are all ski resorts adjacent to Salt Lake City. All four ski resorts are within an hour of Utah's capital and more importantly only forty-five minutes from the Salt Lake City airport.

According to Kayak, Chicago adventure travelers can book a flight on Friday, December 3 through Delta and leave O'Hare at 6:15am and arrive at Salt Lake City by 8:40am for $290 round trip. Another option is to fly through Frontier out of Midway and depart at 6:00 and arrive at 9:42am after a stop over in Denver for $286. Both options will get the eager skier to Salt Lake in time to rent a car at the airport and cruise in to the resort of choice by 11:00am. After check in at the resort there is still time to hit the slopes by noon.

In the same amount of time it takes to fly to Salt Lake City, Utah, Chicago residents can drive to Wilmot Mountain or Cascade Mountain in Wisconsin. Instead of an afternoon on a mediocre Midwest hill fly to Salt Lake City and experience top notch downhill skiing on the western range of the Rocky Mountains.

Although there are other great downhill ski locations in America, there are none that have the convenience of being close to a major airport like the Salt Lake City area ski resorts. Fly to Denver and then it takes another four hours to drive to Telluride or Vail. This means that almost a full day is taken up by travel.

The snow in Utah is second to none. Storms pass over the Sierras and then dry up over the desert. They then dump copious amounts of powdry snow in the mountain valleys of the Utah Wasatch Range. Many call this snow the "greatest snow on earth. " Jarred Ishkanian from Snowbird and formerly of Boston has skied all over the west and in his experience the quality of snow found in the area is second to none.

There is also plenty of this snow and it lasts from Thanksgiving until at least mid April. Unlike the Midwest when skiers must plan for a ski trip when it snows, snow between these dates in Utah is as dependable as the Chicago weather is undependable. The area has received an astounding 600 plus inches each of the last two winters and usually averages over 500.

The 2002 Winter Olympics came to Salt Lake City for a reason. Not only is the snow awesome and reliable, the ski runs are also fantastic. There is a great mixture of beginner, intermediate, and advanced runs at these four resorts. For example, Snowbird boasts 27 percent beginner, 38 percent intermediate, and 35 percent advanced/expert.

This winter instead of wasting days on travel getting to Colorado ski resorts or settling for the glacial or manmade hills of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota book a stay at Brighton, Solitude, Alta, or Snowbird. Salt Lake City, Utah is a destination where Chicago skiers can hit the snowy slopes by noon.