It’s almost impossible to go wrong in planning your Utah ski vacation, but here are some pointers for choosing your home-base and then some.
Sponsored by Visit Utah | Written by Jill Robinson
With the seemingly endless opportunities for families to create their own Utah ski vacation, starting at the beginning may be intimidating, but it’s almost impossible to go wrong. Consider four different home-base options in the state, and then choose your perfect trip from there. And before you travel to Utah, make sure to review these tips for responsible and sustainable travel.
Home base: Ogden Valley
Set your home base in or near the town of Ogden for a fun mix of experiences on and off the mountain. Sometimes, it’s that blend of ski time and free time that really makes a family vacation memorable.
A great option is to stay in Ogden proper (where it’s about a 30-minute drive to Snowbasin and Powder Mountain). We loved our time at the Courtyard by Marriott, which has an indoor pool and hot tub for winding down after the ski day, an in-house bistro and access to Ogden’s Nine Rails Creative District. In the heart of Ogden Valley closer to the ski resorts, the Compass Rose Lodge in Huntsville is a small boutique property that blends historic and modern elements into a farmhouse experience. Even better, the onsite Huntsville Astronomic and Lunar Observatory (HALO) provides views of spectacular celestial bodies and far-off galaxies, when the sky is clear.
Snowbasin’s wealth of amenities includes majestic lodges with stunning views and marble bathrooms. Snowbasin’s dedicated instructors for private and group lessons at any age tailor on-mountain lessons around the needs and abilities of students. With 70 percent of the mountain’s trails for beginner and intermediate skiers, there’s plenty of space for your family to play together.
Although it is evolving every year, Powder Mountain reminds many of a cozy ‘70s family ski resort frozen in time, yet its more than 8,464 skiable acres is the most of any ski resort in the United States, where skiers are guaranteed 3 acres per skier even on their busiest day. Its snow sports school includes a flexible Powder Club for kids, and families skiing together can take advantage of the regular and unconventional lifts (including bus and snowcat) throughout the resort (read: Ogden: A Whole Other Utah).
Home base: Ski City
Extensive time on the road from the airport to the ski resort can start a family vacation off on the wrong foot. There’s a reason that Salt Lake City is often called Ski City: there are 10 resorts less than an hour’s drive from the airport. Some of the closest are in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.
Both Solitude Mountain Resort and Brighton Ski Resort make their homes in Big Cottonwood Canyon. In Little Cottonwood Canyon, skiers head to Alta Ski Area (skiers only) and Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. Alta’s Rustler Lodge is beloved by families and its included breakfast and dinner make everyone feel at home. The multi-bedroom condominiums at Solitude’s Powderhorn Lodge have fully equipped kitchens for home-cooked meals.
Solitude’s Ski & Ride School has a wide variety of group and private lesson options for kids and adults. No need to only stick with downhill skiing here, as the Solitude Nordic Center has 20 km of trails for cross-country skiing and 10 km of snowshoe trails. Brighton has long been a favorite for families for their policy that kids 10 years and under ski free, but it’s also known as the place where Utah learns to ski and ride for its excellent program of classes for all ages and abilities. (read: Family and Budget Guide to the One and Only Ski City: Salt Lake).
Home base: Park City
A short distance beyond Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons (and 35 minutes from the Salt Lake City airport), Park City is a wonderland for a family ski vacation. With two resorts, a wealth of off-mountain adventures and a town with plenty of restaurants that welcome kids, you may be wishing for more days to do it all.
Unpack at the Washington School House Hotel, a preserved 1889 limestone schoolhouse turned bed-and-breakfast with rooms and suites that are warm and welcoming when you return after a winter day outside. Add a heated pool and spa, hearty mountain breakfast and apres-ski fare, and ski valet, and you may never want to check out.
Spend your ski days at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort, where both properties have a great mix of beginner, intermediate and expert level terrain to accommodate a wide range of levels. Both resorts have private and group lessons for kids, teens and adults. Woodward Park City’s action sports hub and mountain park please park fans with outdoor terrain zones and indoor ramps and trampolines.
When you need some off-mountain fun, head to Utah Olympic Park to celebrate the spirit of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games with a walk through the Alf Engen Ski Museum and a speedy zip through the bobsled track. Put your family strategy skills to the test at Escape Room Park City, where you can choose from a variety of independently created experiences for old-school enjoyment (read: 1 Destination, 2 Resorts).
Home base: Southern Utah
Head to the red rocks of Southern Utah for a very different ski getaway. Both Brian Head Resort and Eagle Point Resort are great road-trip options, being three or more hours from Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. Cut down on the ski commute once you get to Brian Head by staying at the Best Western Premier Brian Head, which provides a free shuttle to the ski resort. Village condominiums at Eagle Point vary in size to fit your family, and some even have ski-in/ski-out convenience.
At Brian Head, the whole Navajo Mountain and Navajo Lodge side of the resort is dedicated to kids, beginners and low intermediate skiers and boarders — which gives families a relaxed and easy start to their day. Snow-tubing hills at both base lodges allow kids of all ages to let go and enjoy the ride. The resort’s proximity to the snow-dusted red rock hoodoos from Cedar Breaks National Monument and Bryce Canyon National Park give families the ability to add off-mountain adventures to their vacation.
Known as Utah’s most secluded resort, Eagle Point’s spot in the Tushar Mountains area near Beaver is beautiful and serene country. Dedicated fans of Eagle Point say it feels like having their own private resort. Group and private lessons for all ages are available, and the more than 600 skiable acres and 40 runs range from tree-lined groomers to steep, challenging runs. Beyond the slopes, a progressive terrain park, snowshoeing trails and endless backcountry entertain the whole family (read: Ice and rock, snow and splendor: Winter in Southern Utah).
Getting ready to take the next step?