Skiing Utah – Park City and Alta (vs Colorado)

Went skiing for four days out in Utah with ten or so guys.  I’d been there before for the olympics in 2002 but wasn’t with my hard-core skier buddies, 

Kevin Fired up to Ski Jupiter Bowl, "Jupe"

so it was much more memorable this time.  I love that there are like ten resorts within an hour or two of Park City, and that Park City is only forty minutes or so from the airport.  Also the SLC car rental is small and easy to get to, both advantages over Colorado where the rental cars are off-site requiring a long shuttle ride, and the government slaps a giant tax on vehicle rental, then the 2+ hour drive from DIA into the mountains if there’s no traffic or snow, which there often is that can stretch your drive into 3+ hours, and you face the same drive on the return (however it is a gorgeous drive up and down I-70 and I love it).  Park City also gives you a FREE lift ticket on the day you arrive – we were on the slopes by eleven am counting gear rental, and didn’t pay a penny for our lift tickets.  Very cool setup.  Also this year the snow is superior in Utah, though that isn’t always the case but often is I hear.  Park City I found fun with a bunch of good steeps and short hikes to generally untracked terrain, especially Sunday after an 8-12 inch dumping Saturday nigh 


t.  However the runs were a bit short with a long runout at the bottom to the lift each time.  We did lap     



Some of the crew skiing at Alta


 after lap on Mcconkey’s and then Jupiter bowl, finding new untracked glades on run after run, brilliant.  The view from PC is very pretty but is more hilly out into the distance, it doesn’t compare to most Colorado resorts, which have considerably bigger, more dramatic peaks to be seen from about every resort.  Utah this trip we only skied Park City and Alta – and take away what I said about the Utah peaks not being stunning when we talk about Alta – from Alta the view is pretty sensational, smaller but no less dramatic peaks rise up all around Little Cottonwood canyon, and helicopters buzzed overhead all day long, ferrying the powder-loving faithful to long and steep happiness.  The inbounds resort skiing was stunning, with all manner of steeps and chutes  to hike to and traverse to, excellent snow, inexpensive prices, and a general feeling of hard-core-ness to    

High Rustler run at Alta


the place.  Felt much like A-Basin in Colorado but with many more runs to choose from, though I would bet shorter, don’t quote me on that.  Memorable to me was a girl’s shirt in the on-mountain lunch spot that read “Alta: anywhere else you’d be good”.  That about sums up the experience I had there.  I think I can hold my own on skis but that Alta shirt was exactly right, I felt like a putz and ski-slacker.  We had a blast, doing run after steep powdery ice-less run.  My buds I was with love the glades and steeps with trees – I do too but have always broken it up, a few tree runs here, bump run there, groomer for a break – these guys ran it hard, steep chute, tree run, steep chute, steep chute, tree run, etc all day for four days running minus maybe the third day (where a bit of over-indulgence with the “car-bomb” contraption at Flanagan’s     

Relaxing Apres Ski


 that automatically drops four Baileys shots into four guinesses with the push of a lever made us not so chipper Saturday).  The result of all that fast-paced, steep skiing was I got much better at that kind of skiing and began to really enjoy it.  Which is a good thing.  Stayed at the very generous Brian’s huge four bedroom ski-in/out place one night and equally generous John’s place – beautiful ski-in/out place he bought the day before we got there right in town, steps from the Town Lift, bars, restaurants, etc.  It was also fun as we happened to be there when the     

Park City Film Fest


Sundance Film Festival was there – why I don’t know as we saw zero films though did get to see a bunch of black suburbans rolling through town dropping ostensibly famous people off to their important engagements.  Going out was really fun each night with all the guys turning it on full blast being on vacation away from wives or significant others.  Now I’m back in Chicago… and it ain’t all bad, but what a life, living the dream in a ski town.  One buddy who came has recently moved to Telluride and absolutely loves it.  One of these days I plan to follow their lead and head west.


7 Responses to Skiing Utah – Park City and Alta (vs Colorado)

  1. Brings back fond memories of Alta, Snowbird, and The Canyons (The last time I was there is was still called Wolf Mountain.)

    I also haven’t been there since before the 2002 Games.

    Gotta get back soon.

  2. Weaver says:

    I hear you on the convenience of Utah. I’ll trade an extra hour of flying to save 2.5+ hours of driving! So far that was the best ski trip of the year for me!

  3. Will says:

    You said it all buddy, love the Utah!!

  4. anna says:

    I am going to Longmont, CO from 3/26 – 3/31 to visit family and go skiing for a few days. I have only skied at Park City and Alta in Utah. I am a Green skier and I absolutely hated the conditions at Park City and absolutely loved the conditions at Alta. At Park City I felt like I was trying to ice skate w/skis on. I need to know where to go in CO that has similar weather/snow like Alta closest to Longmont. Can you help me?

  5. Tom says:

    Hi Anna – the closest to Longmont is Eldora, I haven’t been there in a long time but they certainly have green runs and will be much cheaper than the other resorts up I-70. For the Summit county resorts, I really like taking beginners to Keystone, they have some great conditions and big long green runs. Enjoy!

  6. I just came back from Alta / Solitude / Snowbird. I loved the snow condition. Much better than Copper Mountain CO, where I usually go. This March is time to check Park City. We have to do something after 6PM. Salt Lake City doesn’t have much to offer.

  7. Best Ski Resorts America…

    […]Skiing Utah – Park City and Alta (vs Colorado) « Adventure from Chicago[…]…

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