14 Ways To Enjoy The Greatest Snow On Earth By Skiing In Utah
“The Greatest Snow On Earth” is found in Utah according to the people who live here. And skiing in Utah is the only way to experience it. But Utahns aren’t the only ones saying it. SKI Magazine is saying it too. Utah resorts earned the top four spots and six of the top 10 in their “Best Snow” ranking. How much snow falls in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains each year? Try 500 inches in an average skiing year.
Why do such unbelievable ski and snowboarding conditions exist in Utah? Well it’s simply the good luck of geography. Location. Much of the state of Utah is sandwiched between the western edge of the Rocky Mountains and the eastern edge of the huge Nevada desert. That desert starts just directly west of Salt Lake City.
This location results in the fluffy powder skiers lust for. Most of Utah’s winter storms originate in the northern Pacific Ocean. As they move over the Cascades and Sierra Nevadas, they lose much of their moisture. And as these storms hit the high mountains of Utah, even more moisture is squeezed out. Under cold and relatively dry conditions, the resulting snow floats to the ground like fluffy down or “powder”.
Floating down the hill. That’s the feeling powder skiers have when skiing. And skiing in Utah means powder. But there’s a wild card … a multiplier … which makes these conditions even more spectacular. The Great Salt Lake lying just west of Salt Lake City. As storms pass over it, they suck up moisture and carry it up into the Wasatch Mountains. When it falls as snow, this multiplier effect will often dump 2-4 feet of the white stuff in one storm.
I’ve got to admit, once you experience that first fall or winter snowstorm in Salt Lake City, you may be hooked. The Wasatch Mountains are literally part of the city. They rise up from the east side of the city and are part of our every-day life. Drive a few minutes and you’re right in the middle of them.
Yes, the mountains of Utah offer spectacular scenery. But they are also part of the most accessible winter … and year-round … vacation playground in the world. Local residents tend to take this convenience for granted. But the Salt Lake International Airport is within a 2 hour flight of half the people in the US. And once you land, you’re no more than an hour away from 11 world-class ski resorts.
Brooke Williams said in his book Utah Ski Country, “To ski powder is to be engulfed by nature.” And Utah means powder. In last year’s SKI Magazine survey, the Little Cottonwood Canyon resorts – Alta and Snowbird – finished right at the top in the “Best Powder” category. Alta was #1. Snowbird #2.
Photos of powder skiing in Utah often look like they’ve been retouched. But there’s really no need to enhance them because that’s the way it looks. As the slopes become more crowded though, it seems like those perfect conditions powder skiiers crave become harder to find. They still exist. You just have to put the odds in your favor. Do a little planning and try to put yourself in the right place at the right time.
But that’s why you want to keep coming back. Once you experience it, you can’t get enough. The 14 Utah ski resorts are grouped in three geographic areas. The northern Wasatch. The southern Wasatch. Southern Utah. As you can read more about each resort, you’ll find there’s a skiing experience for every budget and type of skier.
Utah Ski Resorts
1. Alta – Little Cottonwood Canyon
2. Beaver Mountain – near Logan
3. Brian Head – in southern Utah near Cedar City
4. Brighton – at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon
5. The Canyons – less than 5 miles from Park City
6. Deer Valley – Park City
7. Eagle Point – formerly Elk Meadows, near Beaver
8. Park City Mountain Resort – Park City
9. Powder Mountain – Eden
10. Snowbasin – near Huntsville
11. Snowbird – Little Cottonwood Canyon
12. Solitude – Big Cottonwood Canyon below Brighton
13. Sundance – Sundance
14. Wolf Mountain – Eden