The MSC’s Red Eye skiers headed in January for Salt Lake City’s great adjacent ski areas are truly in for some of the world’s best skiing. Annually averaging 500-inches of mostly dry, white powder, the Wasatch Mountains, just east of Salt Lake City, house several first-class ski areas and resorts, all mostly within an hour’s drive of Utah’s capital city. The combination of choosing great lodging in both Salt Lake City or the nearby major ski resorts truly make this part of the skiing world Valhalla.
Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, Solitude and Snowbasin (the latter nearer to Ogden) will welcome the Red Eyes in January.
Snowbird opened in December, 1971, 29 miles from Salt Lake City. Snowbird boasts 3,240 feet vertical with its highest elevation at 11,000 feet. The lowest chairlift sits at 8,100 feet, ready to transport skiers to at least one part of 2,500 skiable acres. With 169 runs, 27 percent are easiest, 38 percent more difficult and 35 percent most difficult. The longest run, Chip’s Run, is 2.5 miles. Snowbird’s 13 lifts can transport 17,400 passengers per hour. Night skiing at Snowbird is unlimited. Snowbird shares Little Cottonwood Canyon with Alta Ski Area to the east, just up the canyon, over a ridge that separates the two.
Alta (skiers only, no snowboarders) shares joint day passes and joint season tickets with Snowbird. Both areas offer the aforementioned 500 inches of snowfall each year, partly because of the lake-effect enhancement from the Great Salt Lake, making them the second snowiest ski areas in the U.S., second only to Washington State’s Cascade Mountains.
Solitude offers 65 named runs and three bowls spread across over 1,200 acres and features terrain for every skiing level (20 percent beginner, 50 percent intermediate and 30 percent advanced/expert). Highest elevation is 10,035 feet, with the base elevation 7,988 feet, serving a 2,047 foot vertical drop. Solitude’s 1,200 acres include snowmaking covering five lifts, 21 runs and 150 acres. Three high-speed quads, one triple and two double chairs round out the lift numbers.
Brighton, situated in Big Cottonwood Canyon, has a 1,745 foot vertical, with a base elevation of 8,755 feet and a summit of 10,500 feet. There are five quads, one triple and one magic carpet, serving lift needs. With 1,050 skiable acres, Brighton has 66 runs.
Snowbasin, near Ogden off I-84, is a large Sun Valley Resort, Its good selection of runs on varied terrain, hosted the Downhill and Super-G events for the 2002 Winter Olympics. It’s less crowded than most of the other Utah resorts.
If you’re a Red Eye, and even if not, you can now see what you’ll look forward to when you visit Salt Lake’s outstanding ski and boarding (except for Alta) perpendicular playgrounds.
Editor’s Note: See a link to Barry’s book