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This past weekend I went skiing out West, which was great! I grew up skiing in the Northeast, so being able to ski without ice is amazing! While most Utah residents would say that the skiing conditions are pretty poor (they haven’t seen this little snow since 1976), it was better than your normal day in New Hampshire and Vermont! As my seatmate on the MegaDO said: “A bad day in the West is better than a good day in the Northeast!” This is my second time out West and I LOVE IT! It makes me never want to ski back home again.
Getting to the mountains from the airport is so easy. I personally like the Park City area as it is only 25 miles from the airport. Part City is also the only place where you can stay right on the mountain for free by using your points (Hyatt, Hilton, Starwood, and Marriott – check out this post by The Points Guy for redeeming your points in Park City). There are three mountain areas all less than an hour and a half from Salt Lake City airport:
- Cottonwood Canyons: Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, and Solitude
- Ogden Valley: Powder Mountain and Snowbasin
- Park City: Deer Valley, Park City, and the Canyons
We flew in Friday night and stayed at an airport hotel. Since we arrived so late there was no reason to stay at the mountain and spend the money or points. I was able to get a room at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Salt Lake City Airport for $56/night as it was part of Marriott’s weekly eBreak special. The AAA rate was only slightly more expensive, so still a good option if you arrive late at night. The hotel has free parking and a shuttle from the airport. There are a bunch of restaurants in downtown Salt Lake City and only 10 minutes away from the hotel and airport. If you are on a budget, staying in Salt Lake City is not a bad idea as you can get to the mountain quick and easy and can find some really inexpensive hotels. I personally, however, prefer the mountain resort feel.
We woke up early Saturday morning and within 30 minutes we were at Park City Mountain! We skied the first day at Park City. Even though it was a Saturday, you still felt like you were alone on the mountain. Although we had no fresh powder days, the conditions were still good with no ice or bare spots. Many of the trails are very wide and well groomed. The mountain is not nearly as big as some of the surrounding mountains so we were good with just one day here. The other cool thing about this mountain is that they have a lift directly to the town. So if you stay in town or want to hop over for lunch, you can have access in just 13 minutes!
We then spent the next two days at the Canyons Mountain. The conditions were similar as Park City as there was no new snow fall. This mountain is huge with about 20 lifts! I personally enjoyed the left side of the mountain (Peak 5, DreamCatcher, and DreamScape) where it was pretty empty and the sun shined on almost the entire day. This is on the other side of the mountain from the base lifts so not nearly as crowded (although I did not think any of the trails were crowded at all). These trails also loop through an area called “The Colony” which has the most amazing ski houses I have ever seen.
Unfortunately, I did not check out Deer Valley as it is a skiers mountain only and Mr. Deals is a snowboarder. From what I have heard though, it is a great mountain and not to be missed!
The great thing about skiing in Park City is that you can get lift ticket MUCH cheaper than purchasing one at the mountain. I wrote more about this last year during my first trip out West and this will save you a boat load of money! There is absolutely NO reason to pay full price for lift tickets in Utah! In addition to the methods I listed in my prior post, you can also get many discounted lift tickets at hotels in Salt Lake City and through Working Advantage.
And one more tip – if you are going to Park City and there is not much snow in the forecast, do not let the car rental place convince you into an SUV for 4x the price. However, if a huge storm is coming an SUV might be necessary as they sometimes only allow 4-wheel cars to drive from the mountain to Salt Lake City.
Stay tuned for my Hyatt Escala Lodge review!