12 Must-Ski Runs in Salt Lake City

Land of mountains made of granite, quartzite and powdery snow

Salt Lake City must have been particularly righteous in the Cambrian period to become the skier’s heaven it is today. How else do you explain the perfectly unlikely geography—a great salty lake parked next to a huge mountain range reaching 11,000 feet—that produces all this divine powder?

Call it coincidence, call it an eternal reward, call it the “lake effect”…Just be sure to call in sick a few days this winter and hit the lightest, deepest powder in the world in Ski City.

BONUS: SLC’s four world-class ski resorts are just 20-30 minutes from downtown and 30-40 minutes from the airport. So once you’ve picked between Snowbird, Alta, Solitude or Brighton, we’ve compiled a list of each resort’s best runs so you know exactly where to go when you arrive.

SNOWBIRD

Where the locals learn to fly.

THE BETA:
Little Cottonwood Canyon
Average Annual Snowfall: 500 inches
169 runs | 2,500 acres

It’s no fluke that Snowbird’s sister resort is Zermatt, Switzerland. The terrain is just that good, whether you’re on the easy-peasy runs with your littles or shreddin’ pow like you’re still 17. In addition to the traditional lifts, hop on the tram, get a backcountry guide, and nail a mute grab like it’s 1998 in Nagano [crowd roars] when you throw down The Wave.

“The ‘Bird”

  1. Middle Emma | Easy | Green Circle
    Get over your fears before they even form at the terrain park. Practice “French fries” (skis parallel, faster speed, you’ll look like a pro) and “pizza” (ski tips together, slow and safe, kids dig it). Race the kiddos while you can still win. You know, before they turn 10. (Kids these days…)

  2. Bananas | Intermediate | Blue Square
    Stay on the groomed terrain or venture through the woods where pockets of powder can always be found. Connect to Lower Bassackwards and zoom down to the base where John Cusack lost his girlfriend to the ski team captain in Better Off Dead.

  3. Thunder Bowl | Technical | Black Diamond
    For those of you who play as hard as you work. Or even if you don’t work hard, this steep and deep bowl on the resort’s edge will still drop you for a rollercoaster ride of the scream-out-loud variety. You’ll swoop in again and again. And again.

ALTA

Hoarding powder since the Pleistocene era.

THE BETA:
Little Cottonwood Canyon
Average Annual Snowfall: 551 inches
116 runs | 2,200 acres

The resort that reminds you of your friend who builds her own wood furniture, reads a topo map every night before bed, and has been skiing since she was in the womb. Alta is the real deal and doesn’t waste its time with fakes, so be true to yourself and this mountain will give you its heart and soul. Bring your alpine, tele, or Nordic gear, but snowboarders need not apply.

  1. Sunnyside | Easy | Green Circle
    Classic. Alta’s easy runs are smooth as whipped cream and have just the right amount of winding terrain to increase your speed as you feel comfortable.

  2. Ballroom Traverse | Intermediate | Blue Square
    Think crisscrossing ski tracks is the truest manifestation of love? Here’s where your dreams come true. Wide-open terrain allows ski BFFs to hoot and/or holler with joy.

  3. Main Baldy Chute | Technical | Black Diamond
    You talk a good game on the lift, but now it’s time to walk the walk. Or, you know, ski the ski… “Slide the slide…?” Whatever. You get it. This chute is just right — not too narrow, not too wide. Instagram it for serious cred from the locals. #BaldyIsBeautiful

SOLITUDE

Giving away fresh tracks like they fall from the sky.

THE BETA:
Big Cottonwood Canyon
Average Annual Snowfall: 500+ inches
77 runs | 1,200 acres

  1. North Star | Easy | Green Circle
    This run will have the beginnerest skier up and moving by lunch time — the gentle land of milk and honey. You’ll be hopping onto the blue runs before you know it thanks to this good teacher.

  2. Dynamite | Intermediate | Blue Square
    A dynamic intermediate run that’ll groom you for Black Diamond. You’ll pick up speed, brush by the woods (choose to enter if you’re feeling adventurous), and twist and shout your way to flat ground. James Brown would have been an INCREDIBLE skier.

  3. Prince of Wales | Technical | Black Diamond
    The mountain really rolls out the red carpet for you, your highness, with trees perfectly spaced, powder lines any which way you turn, and an aspect steep enough you’ll have no choice but to look down your nose at your inferiors.

BRIGHTON

The resort that never sleeps, stops, or makes apologies.

THE BETA:
Big Cottonwood Canyon
Average Annual Snowfall: 500 inches
66 runs | 1,050 acres

This resort champions its locals and owns bragging rights for an awesome ski school where kids ten-and-under ski and ride for free — yes, FREE (check availability). Brighton benefits from its natural beauty at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Plan on the best of the best snow on earth.

  1. Sunshine | Easy | Green Circle
    This is the rare easy run that starts at the top of a peak, Preston Peak. It’s a good, long run — AKA a thigh-burner, a strength-builder.

  2. Thor | Intermediate | Blue Square
    Start to pick up your speed with a straight shot down the mountain while getting a nice hug from the surrounding pine trees. A good run to step it up.

  3. Snake Bowl | Technical | Black Diamond
    Quick & Easy Recipe for Delicious Bragging Rights:
    1. Ski something awesome
    2. With a GoPro
    3. Dub “Immigrant Song” over it
      Rock’n’roll fresh backcountry powder like you own the rights. Ah-AAAH-aaaaaaaah-AAAH!
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