Utah’s Year-Round Mountainous Family Fun
Utah boasts that its 14 distinctive ski resorts have the “Greatest Snow on Earth” but slope side fun doesn’t end when the snow melts. There’s still time though to make tracks in April but book soon. With 14 resorts it may seem hard to decide which one. But why choose one when most resorts are neighboring and situated less than one hour from Salt Lake International Airport.
Flights from Los Angeles to Utah are less than 90 minutes, which means you’ll be carving tracks in no time. Once the snow melts, there’s still good reason to flock to these resorts. Mountain biking, hiking, fishing and scenic chair lift rides are exciting ways to explore the area.
On a recent ski trip with a group of women journalists, I had the pleasure of skiing and feasting at four ski resorts in one week – Sundance, Canyons Resort, Solitude and Brighton Resort. Ski Utah graciously hosted us to show off the state’s diverse and easily accessible ski resorts.
This western-style four season resort offers great skiing but peaks in summer with wildflowers, concerts, plays, film screenings and other activities. It’s also the site of the annual Sundance Film Festival in January.
Robert Redford bought the resort in 1969 and shaped it into an intimate, sustainable mountain arts community. As a ski resort, it’s ideal for families yet still packs enough punch to challenge intermediate and expert skiers. Lift tickets: $49 adults, $27 ages 6–12.
Après ski, there’s plenty to do in Sundance Village, which has casual and fine dining restaurants, an art shack, screening room, general store and market with deli. There’s a cozy walking trail that meanders among the mountainside cottages, and runs alongside a gurgling river.
Lodging is ultra comfortable. Rustic yet luxurious cottages sport Native American arts and crafts, stone fireplaces, and plush furnishings.
Park City-area skiers can rent the newest and most innovative skis at Experience Centers at Deer Valley and the Canyons. These skis feature “auto turn rocker,” a design that helps skiers turn and maneuver more easily through both powder and groomed runs.As an intermediate skier, I was outfitted with Rossignol Temptation 88 skis, which helped me slice through Canyon’s powder.
At this sprawling slope side resort, you’re on the mountain in minutes. This was handy because we signed up for the First Tracks program ($74), which got us on the slopes beforeeveryone else and includes breakfast and skiing from 7:30 – 10 a.m. The purchase of a regular lift ticket is required: $96 adults, $57 juniors.
Right outside the hotel doors is the Orange Bubble chairlift, which has a retractable shield and heated seats. Although I initially felt intimidated, I had a blast skiing with Olympic skier Kaylin Richardson, who is Canyon’s ambassador and steered me toward runs that put a smile on my face.
Skiing at Canyons is no small feat. It’s huge! It has 4,000 acres, 19 lifts, a mile long terrain park and six half pipes. After a few hours of skiing we indulged in spa treatments at neighboring Waldorf Astoria Golden Door Spa, followed by an elegant dinner at the resort’s Slopes by Talisker. Another must-try restaurant is Talisker on Main (allow about three hours for gourmet courses).
Summer activities are as expansive as the property: gondola rides, zip tours, mountain biking, fishing, hiking and live music concerts.
This family-friendly village, which has a European ambiance, has many amenities: cushy two and three bedroom condos, restaurants, an ice skating rink, market and shops. Even the slopes are congenial for family skiing. Long, wide open trails offer a variety of runs and plenty of space for playing “follow the leader.”One night we signed up for an adventurous dinner at The Yurt accessible via cross country skis or snowshoes in winter and hiking in summer. After strapping on our skis, a guide led us through the lantern lit forest to the Mongolian yurt where a chef prepared a delicious five course meal for us. Cost: $100/winter, $65/summer.Lift ticket prices: $68 ages 14 and older, $42 ages 7-13, and $78 for a Solitude/Brighton Day Pass.
A popular resort with locals for its accessibility, Brighton is near Solitude. It’s a no frills resort with large rolling hills that mimic a roller coaster. What’s cool is that 100 percent of the terrain is accessible via high-speed quad so your family can ride together regardless of ski ability. Ride to the top and find a variety of beautiful trails – ski down in winter, and bike or hike in summer.
Lift tickets: $62 adults, $29 ages 8-12. >
Los Angeles-based family travel writer Mimi Slawoff has monthly column in L.A. Parent magazine (www.laparent.com), and writes for the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Trip Advisor. Follow Mimi on Twitter @mimitravelz.