One of the greatest things about living in Salt Lake City is having seven world-famous ski resorts within an hour's drive. Each of the Salt Lake area's ski resorts has its own personality, pros, and cons, and most Salt Lake skiers have a favorite.
Alta is for skiers only (no snowboards) and shares Little Cottonwood Canyon with Snowbird. Fortunate geography blesses Alta and Snowbird with more snow than other Salt Lake area resorts. Alta is great for no-nonsense advanced skiers, but beginners and intermediates will also find plenty of runs at their level. Alta is sometimes described as "steep, deep, and cheap," a skier's ski resort with not too much emphasis on dining or nightlife, although you can certainly find plenty of good food and drink. To stay right on the slopes for a ski-in-ski-out experience, book a stay at the Alta Lodge, open since 1939.
Brighton is an SLC local's favorite for its low prices, kids ski free policy, and popular ski school. Many Salt Lake residents learn to ski at Brighton, continue to ski or board there as high school and college students, and take their own children for skiing and boarding lessons. Brighton has a great mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain. It shares Big Cottonwood Canyon with Solitude.
Deer Valley is the most luxurious of Utah's ski resorts, for skiers only, and with amazing customer service, incredible dining, and incredible lodging. Deer Valley was rated the number one ski resort in North America by readers of SKI Magazine in 2008, 2009 and 2010. You'll be pampered and well attended from the moment you arrive. It's pricey, however. Deer Valley has the most lifts of any Utah ski resort but not the most overall acreage, so it's highly developed, with a lot of beginners and intermediate terrain and some advanced. Overall, Deer Valley is great for intermediates and lovers of luxury.
Park City Mountain Resort is huge, with the most intermediate terrain of any Utah resort. It has a great ski school with instructors from around the globe. PCMR is known as much for its atmosphere as for the snow, and the resort is well integrated with the town of Park City (Town Lift connects directly with Park City's Main Street). It's also renowned for its huge halfpipe and terrain parks. Stay with the higher runs for the best snow and least crowded conditions.
Snowbird, in Little Cottonwood Canyon, is a hip, elegant resort, and an advanced skier or boarder's paradise, with piles of Utah powder and acres of challenging terrain. Along with Alta, it gets more snow than any other Utah resort, with the season sometimes extending from October to May or even June. It's truly one of the best ski areas in the country and has repeatedly been rated number one in top ski magazines and websites. One tip: the ratings on Snowbird's runs are a little low -- their greens would be other resorts' blues, their blues other resorts' blacks, etc.
Solitude, in Big Cottonwood Canyon, lives up to its name with uncrowded conditions and untracked snow, especially in its famed Honeycomb Canyon. Like Brighton, the other Big Cottonwood resort, it supplies a good mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain. Solitude includes a small village with some good lodging options.
Sundance, in gorgeous Provo Canyon, is Utah's smallest ski resort at 450 acres, but smaller crowds and a quiet, rustic atmosphere can be perfect for a relaxing getaway. Dining and lodging options are terrific at Sundance and reflect the tastes of the resort's founder, Robert Redford.