Get Out! Utah ski trip provides variety — and pastrami
Last year wasn’t the best snow year, but that didn’t stop my boyfriend and me from heading west to Utah for a quick getaway in Salt Lake City.
We have friends there, and my boyfriend has spent many past winters skiing at Alta and Park City. It was a first for me, though, skiing outside of Colorado.
Before we even set foot on a mountain, though, we had to make a stop by Crown Burger. While you’re in the city, you might as well enjoy some unique foods. Get the original Crown Burger if you go. It’s a giant burger topped with salty, savory pastrami.
There are Crown Burger locations all over the city, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding one. Once you’re energized with pastrami goodness, it’s time to hit the slopes.
Located at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, Alta is one of the oldest ski resorts in America. A true skier’s mountain, it disguises the best of its skiing terrain behind a ridge.
Looking up at the slopes from the parking area, you’ll see one or two lifts and blue and black runs funneling into a narrow valley. Once you reach the top of the Collins lift, however, the terrain really opens up. From here you can make your way to the Sugarloaf lift and then, if you want, the Supreme lift. There is even a nice area of beginner terrain at the upper end of Alta’s lodge area.
To me, Alta is like lift-accessed backcountry skiing. There are so many lines to take and trees to ski around that you often don’t feel like you’re on a designated run. You can traverse out to the “Ballroom,” a small bowl-like area off the Collins lift, or hike out to Catherine’s from the Supreme lift.
Alta doesn’t allow snowboarding, so moguls are much more uniform, and lines around and between trees are easy for skiers to follow.
With mostly intermediate and expert terrain Alta is a great place to explore if you’re in the area, a good skier, and looking for something different.
While I really enjoyed Alta’s unique terrain, our day at Park City was the most awesome day we had in Salt Lake.
We already had our tickets, so from the parking lot we walked about 25 yards to the Eagle Lift and hopped right on. From there we were able to access the rest of the mountain via the King Con lift, Silverlode, Motherlode and Thaynes.
It’s very easy to move around the mountain here. Park City has a huge variety of runs, from groomed blues to the Jupiter and Scott’s bowl areas. One of the areas where we had the most fun was skiing a little blue glade called Powder Monkey off of the McConkey’s lift. The views from the top of this lift into the backcountry were breathtaking, and this little run was just a relaxing jaunt through the trees.
If it’s steeper terrain you’re looking for, then skiing the Motherlode Meadows or Jupiter Bowl might be right up your alley. You can ski a blue run called Jupiter Access and look up at the Jupiter Bowl area before you decide to ski it. If it looks too steep, just keep going past the Jupiter lift and around to the Thaynes Canyon run. This will take you back to Thaynes and the Motherlode lift.
If you have the time and inclination, you can visit the other two ski resorts in Park City: Deer Valley and The Canyons. We had other plans, so at the end of our day we skied down, had some apres ski beverages and snacks and then skied along the edge of the resort almost all the way back to our car.
On our final windy day of skiing in Utah, we drove to Brighton Ski Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Brighton just feels like a nice, homey place to be. Looking up from the lift, you can see 10,000-foot-plus peaks all around Preston Peak, Mount Millicent and even in the background Mount Timpanogos. Brighton is really interesting because it seems every lift goes right over the steepest terrain accessible from that lift. The Crest Express goes right over an area of terrain that isn’t even skiable.
Don’t let this deter you, though. The intermediate terrain at Brighton is great fun. Like our own Powderhorn resort, there are runs on which you can veer off into the trees and back onto a groomed trail, or veer off onto a short bump run before meeting back up with a main trail.
The middle of the mountain contains most of the green and intermediate terrain. The far west area, accessed by the Great Western Express, provides a section of advanced runs near and around glades. The other side provides access to Milly Bowl via the Millicent lift. Even if you have no desire to ski the bowl and rocky terrain around it, this is a unique area to check out. There are green and blue runs accessible from the top of the Milly Express lift (to the right as you exit the lift).
If big-time resorts with lots of close-by amenities are what you’re looking for, then Park City is definitely where you should explore.
If low-key resorts with lots of varied and interesting terrain are more your thing, then you might enjoy checking out Alta or Brighton. Remember though, if you’re a snowboarder, Alta is off the list.
Keep an eye out for new trip reports as the winter progresses and get out and do a snow dance.