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Photo from Vail Resort

Utah ski dreams

Whether you like to stay at one resort or ski several, Utah delivers, writes Rachael Oakes-Ash.

There’s a reason those in the know call Utah’s capital Ski City USA. Within a mere 30 minutes of flying into Salt Lake City International Airport you could be clicking into your skis at Park City or Deer Valley. Within an hour you could be on the tram to the peak of Snowbird or sipping hot chocolate on the deck of Solitude’s Honeycomb Grill. And that’s not to mention Alta, Brighton, Sundance, Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, Brian Head and beyond.

Utah is a skier and snowboarder’s powder dream, 14 resorts (nine within an hour of Salt Lake City) known for the driest, lightest, fluffiest snow on Earth, not to mention metres and metres and metres of heavenly snowfall each season. Luckily for us, Utah offers a number of ski passes to make the most of the resorts.

Try the Ski City Super Pass to access Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude; it comes with free transport on the Ski Bus. The pass has no blackout dates and you can purchase anywhere from three to 10 days of skiing. Ski Utah also offers The Yeti Pass for a day at every one of the 14 Utah resorts. Alta, Snowbird and Snowbasin are also on the Mountain Collective pass (as is Thredbo) and Park City Mountain is part of Vail’s Epic Pass.

Stay and play

Transport is easy with several shuttles and even Ski Uber – 4WDs with roof racks – from the airport to wherever you are staying. If you want to enjoy the benefits and attractions of a thriving city at night and the joys of skiing during the day, stay in Salt Lake City. Check out the Mormon Salt Lake Temple, pick up some bargains at the City Creek shopping mall and wander the lanes of the 9th & 9th District for shopping, coffee, bars and dining. Kids will love the Natural History Museum of Utah, complete with dinosaurs and dazzling gemstones.

If you want to be closer to the snow action, Park City is for those who like a side order of family fun, après, shopping, dining and dancing with their main serve of big time skiing. Home to Park City Mountain’s 2954 hectares of skiable terrain and the lush rolling slopes of Deer Valley’s skier-only luxury mountain, Park City has more than enough ski and snowboard action to keep those thighs burning. Terrain parks keep the groms happy on the snow and skate parks for when the chairlifts close.

Park City has a free bus system throughout the town that services both Park City Mountain and Deer Valley, so once you arrive in the ski town you won’t need your car anyway. Little miss and mister will get a kick out of riding the historic tram up and down the streets of this former 19th-century mining community.

Or you can experience both places – spend most of the time in Park City and spend a couple of nights in Salt Lake City on your way in or out.

Feeding time

Try Handle and Firewood restaurants for seriously good food with a buzzing atmosphere, Five 5eeds and Harvest for Australian hipster cuisine with flavour and decent coffee, No Names for burgers and beer, and OP Rockwell for live music. Kids will love Oishi sushi, Silver Star café and The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Shop plus the free s’mores at Montage Deer Valley every afternoon at 4pm.

Families can take in a dog sled ride, go snowmobiling at Deer Valley, roller coaster on the alpine coaster in the snow at Park City Mountain and hit up the trampolines at Black Diamond Gym.

The skiing and boarding

The resorts of Salt Lake are divided into two canyons, Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon. You’ll find the steeps and deeps and uncrowded mid-week slopes of Alta and Snowbird in Little Cottonwood. This is old-world skiing in Utah that draws local devotees. Alta is for skiers only so if you have a mix in your family they can split between the two as the resorts are linked if you buy the right day pass.

Big Cottonwood is home to Brighton and Solitude, again linked if you buy the right ski pass. Solitude traditionally gets the most snow from the storms and you’ll find fresh tracks for days. It is possible to drive to both these canyons from Park City (45 to 60 minutes) so they can be done in a day.

Further afield sits the artsy ski resort called Sundance. Owned by Robert Redford, Sundance sits in a stunning amphitheatre of mountain peaks and has a plethora of activities for kids who like to explore their creative side.

Snowbasin and Powder Mountain are found an hour from Salt Lake on the backside of the Wasatch Mountain Range. Snowbasin boasts luxury base lodges with swinging chandeliers and big mountain terrain, but no on-mountain lodging. Powder Mountain has over 3237 hectares of skiable terrain and still reveals an old-world retro ski feel.

Head south to Brian Head and prepare to ski among Utah’s giant red rock features. This laid-back family-owned resort is close to Zion Canyon so you can experience the world’s most spectacular desert canyons while skiing.

Whether you base yourself in on the mountain, stay downtown in Park City or in Salt Lake City, Utah is more than an option for any skiing family; it’s a no brainer.


Mogul Ski World

Getting there

Qantas flies to Los Angeles with easy connections to Salt Lake City with American Airlines.

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