As the tens of thousands who came to the U (to study or work) because of the “greatest snow on Earth” can already attest, the proximity of mountains like the Wasatch and a city like Salt Lake is second to none. Just 40 minutes from four world-class mountain resorts, not to mention the backcountry, makes shredding the pow and powering through class on the same day a reality. It’s a setting so unique that Visit Salt Lake has leveraged the backyard winter wonderlands and dubbed SLC the “Ski City.”
Discounts to the four resorts — Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude — are available to students, staff and faculty at the Union or at the Outdoor Adventure Program. (Discounts are also available to Park City, Deer Valley, Snowbasin and Powder Mountain.) Throughout the season there will be additional deals and lift-ticket contests from the newly revamped Ski the U website.
Here’s a closer look at the mountain resorts that make “Ski City” so special.
At the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon sits Brighton at 8,755 feet. Known for spectacular tree runs, varied terrain parks and a local feel, it’s a haven for hot shots of all ages. Four terrain parks link the top of the mountain to the base. All trails can be reached by high-speed quads. Don’t forget to hit Milly Express for some steep, open runs down the sides of Mount Millicent. Afterward, hit up Molly Green’s for a burger and a beverage.
Just below Brighton is Solitude Mountain Resort, which is known for its short lift lines and “pure solitude” experience. Recently purchased by Deer Valley, Solitude has modified its lifts to increase accessibility to its 1,200 acres of terrain. Honeycomb Canyon is where the For those looking for a reprieve to the downhill and a solid workout, check out the Nordic Center, where you can try Nordic skiing or snowshoeing.
At the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon is Alta, the “skier’s mountain.” It’s a place of deep pow (in a good year), epic terrain and breathtaking views. The ski area officially opened in the winter of 1938-39, and is only one of three areas in the U. S. that does not allow snowboarding. Ski Magazine’s Reader Resort Survey consistently ranks Alta for Snow Quality and Overall Satisfaction. Alta, along with Snowbird, created America’s first lift-served interconnect in 2001.
A sprawling resort served by an impressive array of high-speed chairs and its Aerial Tram, Snowbird is a playground for those who like it fast, steep and deep. The 100-capacity Tram runs from the base to the top of Hidden Peak at 11,000 feet. To the left is Mineral Basin, a wide-open mix of blues and cliff-hucking black diamonds. To your right is the Gad Valley, topped with an imposing cirque that rolls out beneath the jagged peaks of the American Fork Twins. Behind you is Peruvian Gulch, accessed by Peruvian Express and connected to Mineral Basin via North America’s only ski tunnel.
Both Alta and Snowbird have the highest snow-base counts of all the Utah resorts, and their south-facing slopes mean that the snow stays around longer. Snowbird will stay open as long as it has snow; some years this has extended its season to the 4th of July.