Where to ski in Salt Lake City: Insider tips from a Utah skier

Ready for world-class skiing? This is a great time to hit the slopes in Salt Lake City, Utah– arguably home to the best skiing in the United States.

As a Salt Lake City native, I grew up skiing at Alta, Solitude and other area slopes. The prices are more affordable, the crowds are smaller, and the skiing is as good or better than what you’ll see in Park City. The main Park City ski resorts all charge $96 for a full day pass, about a third more than resorts in Salt Lake.

There are four major ski resorts in the Salt Lake area, all located on the winding roads of Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon. All four are great, but each caters to a different type of skier and offers a unique experience.

Snowbird ski resort in Salt Lake City Utah

Salt Lake City resorts offer impressive mountain views.

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon is home to both Solitude and Brighton ski resorts. Both are smaller than the resorts in Little Cottonwood Canyon; they can be skied separately, or together with a more expensive combination ticket.


Solitude is a ski resort I know well, having skied there every Friday in high school. As the name implies, it is generally crowd-free and you’ll rarely face lift lines or busy slopes. The resort is relatively small and has the highest proportion of beginner and intermediate runs of any of the Cottonwood resorts. Solitude also has a large number of wide groomed runs, making this an ideal ski spot for less-experienced skiers and snowboarders. It is moderately priced, at $56 for a half day and $68 for a full day.
>> Website: Solitude
>> Twitter: @skisolitude


Brighton, right next to Solitude, is the smallest of the four area resorts. It’s also the cheapest, at $55 for a half day and $62 for a full day. Brighton offers less frills than some of the other resorts and focuses more on the skiing; as a result it is very popular with locals. They also offer more advanced runs than Solitude and are famous for their night skiing, where skiers and snowboarders can ride the slops until 9pm.
>> Website: Brighton
>> Twitter: @Brighton_Resort

Snowbird ski resort in Salt Lake City Utah

Light crowds at Snowbird resort, December 2011.

Little Cottonwood Canyon

Despite the name, Little Cottonwood Canyon is home to the two largest resorts in the area, Snowbird and Alta. Both are world famous and both offer some of the best skiing you’ll find anywhere. Like the Big Cottonwood resorts, Snowbird and Alta can be skied separately or together with a more expensive combination ticket.


Snowbird is the largest of the four resorts– in fact, it is larger than both Brighton and Solitude combined. Snowbird also has a higher percentage of advanced terrain, and is famous for its glades (steep trails running through dense pine forests).  Because of this however, Snowbird is the highest priced of the four resorts, at $68 for a half day and $78 for a full day. The photos in this post were both taken at Snowbird over the recent Christmas holiday; as you can see, the slopes are refreshingly free of crowds.
>> Website: Snowbird
>> Twitter: @snowbirdski


Alta is one of the oldest and most famous ski resorts in the country, and remains one of the best values.  Nearly as big as Snowbird and almost twice the size of Solitude or Brighton, Alta has surprisingly low rates: just $60 for a half-day and $72 for a full-day pass. Alta is also one of the only resorts in the country that still doesn’t allow snowboarders. This can be a welcome relief for skiers, as it keeps crowds down and the slopes clear. Alta is my favorite of the four area resorts; it has a good mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced slopes, and more than enough terrain to keep you entertained.
>> Website: Alta
>> Twitter: @myaltaut

Skiing Snowbird Resort in SLC Utah

Jake and Leslie at crowd-free Snowbird resort over the Christmas holiday.

For more info

If you are looking for a convenient way to visit multiple resorts, check out the Ski Salt Lake Super Pass. We were able to test out a Super Pass, courtesy of Visit Salt Lake, on our recent trip to Snowbird resort. You can purchase a Super Pass online or at your hotel and redeem it for a full-day lift ticket at any of these Cottonwood ski resorts. Rates start at $64/day and include a lift ticket (for one resort per day), a 20% discount on ski rental and a free ride up the mountain to the resort.

No matter what type of skier or snowboarder you are, or what type of terrain you’re looking for, I know you’ll find a Cottonwood ski resort to match your taste. For more details on Salt Lake City’s ski resorts, follow Visit Salt Lake on Twitter (@visitsaltlake) or visit their Facebook Page.

About Jake Semmel

I'm a blogger and round the world traveler. I'm always on the lookout for new places to scuba dive, hike and ski.