Utah’s 14 ski resorts got plenty of snow this winter, which means now is an ideal time to plan a spring vacation on the slopes. Sunshine, blue skies and powdery slopes create perfect conditions for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Whether you prefer small, intimate resorts or expansive ski areas, you’re bound to find the perfect slopes for a few days of swooshing through powder or on groomed trails.
On a recent four-night girls getaway ski trip to Utah, we were lucky to ski bluebird days in Park City and carve tracks on fresh powder after a snowfall at Alta (one of the snowiest places on earth, averaging 551 inches of snow annually). New this year in Park City: The Canyons and Park City Mountain Resorts are connected via a new gondola, making the newly combined and renamed ski area (Park City) the largest in the U.S.
This charming town, steeped in a rich mining history, is a fun (year-round) destination whether you’re traveling with family or friends. For this girls trip (without kids), we stayed in a luxury five-bedroom vacation rental house (perfect for families, too!) in Deer Crest, overlooking the back side of Deer Valley. Right on queue we saw two deer on our drive to the house. The house was booked through Resorts West rentals (90 percent are ski in/ski out), which includes daily housekeeping and luxury amenities (like home theaters).
The most convenient feature of our stay was getting our rental ski gear through Ski Butlers, a rental service that brings skis, boots, poles and helmets directly to you. So from the comfort of our house, we tried on premium gear that fit like a glove. Where were Ski Butlers when my kids were little?
Deer Valley Resort
On our first day, we skied at Deer Valley, where each of us took a ski lesson to sharpen our skills with one of the resort’s veteran instructors. Many instructors (like mine) have been teaching kids and adults to to ski and improve their skills for about 30 years. And if you like your instructor, you can hire him or her to meet you at another Utah ski resort, so you’re not starting over with someone new each time. For example, if you click with your instructor at Deer Valley and want to continue the lessons at your next resort stop, you can ask if he or she is willing to meet you at Solitude, Alta or another resort.
Lunch at Deer Valley’s Royal Street Cafe was anything but typical mountain fare. Since blueberry mojitos are a signature drink here, we indulged. The drink complemented my delicious short rib tacos.
Utah Olympic Park
Later in the afternoon, we went to Utah Olympic Park, featuring bobsled rides and a ski museum showcasing exhibits about the 2002 Winter Olympics that took place in Utah. After a 30-minute orientation about bobsled riding, we donned helmets and gloves for a thrilling ride down the track, still used as a training center for athletes. Each bobsled holds one professional pilot and three passengers. In less than a mile (just a portion of the professional track), the bobsled rips through10 curves at speeds up to 65 mph (about 3 g-forces)! I was glad to sit in the third seat (passengers in seat two experience a more mild ride while those in seat four feel the full force of the ride).
We skied with a mountain guide who gave us a nice tour, and talked about the new gondola connecting Canyons and Park City resorts, which at a combined 7,300 skiable acres, is currently the largest ski resort in the U.S.
If you’re in town for Easter, you can join the hunt for treat-filled eggs on the mountain on March 27 at Park City. April events include Park City’s annual Spring Concert Series happening après-ski at 3 p.m. every Saturday at the Canyons Village Stage through April 9.
Alta Ski Area
In contrast to Park City, which has numerous après-ski options for dining and nightlife, Alta is a secluded ski area in the Wasatch Mountains. The mountain is for skiers only and ski in/ski out accommodations are classic ski lodges. I stayed at the Rustler Lodge in a no-frills room but sporting a luxury bed and balcony overlooking the slopes. I really enjoy these kind of lodges where I can step into my boots and ski out of the lodge, then return later in the day for complimentary hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and a Jacuzzi or swim in the outdoor pool. The Rustler Lodge (which includes breakfast and dinner in the daily rate) is a very congenial lodge for couples, families and friends.
While the steep mountain can look intimidating from the base, there’s a nicely balanced mix of terrain for beginner, intermediate and expert skiers. It’s a beautiful mountain to ski (and among my favorites). It snowed during our stay, and while that made for low visibility in the morning, by afternoon blue sky was peeking through the clouds as we skied on creamy fresh powder.
On our last night in Utah, we stayed at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, just a five-minute drive from the airport. Massages at the spa facility followed by a tapas dinner at the nearby Finca restaurant capped off a perfect girls getaway in Utah.