Adam Loomis (6) competes in the U.S. Olympic Team trials for Nordic Combined at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017 (Photo by Kiffer Creveling)


Skiing is undeniably one of the most popular hobbies on our campus. With the University of Utah being nestled in the perfect location for the activity, many students relish the arrival of the cold weather because it means that ski season is just around the corner. In returning from Thanksgiving break and holding out for the end of the semester and the relief of Christmas break, ski resorts are opening up and many students are itching to get out on the slopes.

There are nine ski resorts within 50 miles of our campus, so it is only a quick drive to any resort of your choosing. With so many options to choose from, which resorts are the best to visit this season?

Mountains to Miss

Deer Valley, Snowbasin and Sundance

With Dec. 1 being the opening of many ski resorts, the hills are not yet in their prime. Several ski resorts will be waiting on snowfall until the New Year, including Deer Valley Resort, Snowbasin and Sundance. Deer Valley Resort, located in Park City, 34 miles from Salt Lake, boasts one of the largest vertical drops of any ski resort in the Wasatch Range. Its December snow quality leaves much to be desired, however. The same goes for Snowbasin Resort on Mount Ogden, 43 miles north of Salt Lake. Though a local favorite and one of the oldest continually operating ski resorts in the U.S., the best snow falls later in the season. Sundance Mountain Resort doesn’t even open until later in December. Located 50 miles from Salt Lake near Provo, Sundance’s snowfall is estimated to be the lowest of the ski resorts in the Wasatch. Though these three ski resorts have their pros, hold off until later in the year, or hold off entirely.

Bryan Fletcher (9) competes in the U.S. Olympic Team trials for Nordic Combined at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017
(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

Powder Mountain and Park City

North of Salt Lake in a town called Eden is Powder Mountain Ski Resort. One of the favorite ski hills for residents of the Wasatch region, Powder Mountain flaunts some of the best snowfall. It just comes later in the season, towards the end of January or early February. This resort covers incredible acreage and massive runs, but it is better to visit its majesty in the new year. Despite its overwhelming quantity of runs, Park City Ski runs have the same problem: It is probably one of the greatest resorts to visit, but the trip is better saved for February. Trust me, these hills will be worth the wait.

Secluded, but Solid Snowfall

Brighton and Solitude

Brighton Ski Resort is a rare gem. While many tourists take to the bigger names in Utah resorts over the holidays, this resort may feature some of the best powder this December. Only a short drive away, its snow quality is rivaled only by the biggest names in the Rocky Mountains, already gaining inches overnight. Solitude Mountain Resort is the same. It’s the shortest drive from Salt Lake, and it is usually the least busy of the Cottonwood ski areas on days where it gains some of the best powder for skiing. These two resorts are the overlooked gems that are the best to visit at this time of year. Plus, spring skiing is the actual best. 

Annika Belshaw (4) competes in the U.S. Olympic Team trials for ski jumping at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017
(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

Best Overall Trips

Snowbird and Alta

Finally, everyone’s favorite resorts, ranking first and second in ZRankings Best Snow in North America: Alta Ski Area and Snowbird. Snowbird exhibits some of the best snow from their opening to their closing, with an incredible vertical drop and a wide spread of course difficulty. Snowbird is regarded as incredibly consistent, in both snow quality and runs, making it accessible to anyone at anytime. One of its most exciting qualities is the tram running from the base to the top, a feature not usually seen in American resorts.

For the true king of all North American ski resorts, the crown is given to Alta. Alta Ski Resort features snow quality ranked at 100 percent against any other resort at any point in the season. With incredible views and a legacy as rich as any hill, it’s the perfect place for novices or experts. Just be mindful of the 10,000 feet elevation if you’re new to the sport. It’s regarded for its mystique and status and, of course, the numerous powder days. So at only 29 miles from Salt Lake, it is an absolute must for any skier worth their salt. 

Wherever you choose to ski this December, the U is the perfect place to be in proximity to some of the greatest hills on the continent. So, bundle up and get on out there!


Hannah Keating is a freshman in the Musical Theatre Program at the U. In her first year as an Arts & Entertainment Contributor at the Chronicle, she is delighted to take part in the work she loves, on the stage and on the page.


  1. Hi. I’m the GM of Snowbasin in full disclosure. Just read your article.
    Is this from 2018? Because Snowbasin was one of the first resorts open in Utah in 2018. In fact it opened the earliest than its almost 80 year history. It’s early December and we are almost 100% open with 3,000 skiable acres. A simple search online with have helped you fact check your article. Or even better, come on up and ski. Oh and we are a host resort for the U of U ski team to train in full disclosure.

  2. Skied opening day at Sundance yesterday and it was great. Full coverage from top to bottom to to unseasonably cold early storm. Get you highly discounted lift tickets at Liftopia.

    Heading to Deer Valley on Monday where there master grooming, snow making and our great early storms will make for superb. I will enjoy my student discounted IKON pass at Deer Valley and later at Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton. The IKON pass with 25% student discount in the summer is a real bargain.

  3. This is a good analysis of Utah ski resorts, but it would be great to also get the average prices of tickets at each resort as that is one of the main reasons people stop skiing.

  4. It’s almost as if ski resort preference is S U B J E C T I V E and varies on the individual’s level of ability. Also none of these resorts can control when mother nature decides to lay down some pow, let alone a journalist. Figure out WHAT you want to shred and then pick a mountain accordingly- they’re all great in their own way (but only one will charge you upwards of $2,000 godforsaken dollars to have the privilege of stepping foot on their hallowed grounds for a season)


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