SouthwestTop Nature Vacations

From Baggage Claim To The Ski Slopes In One Hour Or Less

By , October 27th, 2014

When you take a ski trip to some locations, the getting there can be more trying than a black diamond slope full of moguls. It’s a different story in Utah, where a ski trip is a real vacation, not an exercise in multiple air connections and long mountain drives through winter weather. Park City, one of North America’s preeminent ski areas, is less than 40 miles from the Salt Lake City Airport, with three separate resorts that frequently top “best of” lists in ski magazine readers’ polls.

Here are four ski resorts that will have you swinging from baggage claim to the ski slopes in one hour or less, with the possibility of being on a ski lift less than an hour after leaving the terminal in your rental car.

Knee Deep in Solitude

Solitude Resort

Photo by Peter Oelschlaeger CC BY

Estimated Time of Arrival: 40 min

The last 12 miles of the 33 from the airport here is up in the Big Cottonwood Canyon, which is no big deal unless you visit right after a two-foot snowfall, as I did on my first visit. After the bus put on chains and got us up there, I skied dry powder up to my knees and barely heard a sound besides an occasional other skier swooshing by. They get 500+ inches of snow a year, so this isn’t unusual. If you’re a blue square slope fan, this is your place, with 51% of the terrain marked as intermediate and most of it blissfully uncrowded.

Enjoying the sunshine at SolitudePhoto by Solitude Resort 

Warm and Cozy in the Canyons

Heated Chairlifts will keep you cozy in the CanyonsPhoto by Canyons Resort

Estimated Time of Arrival: 1 hour

This is the closest Park City area resort you can get to after landing, 32 miles and around an hour depending on traffic. Part of the Vail Resorts Group, Canyons is where to go if you’re a serious skier or snowboarder. It’s the largest Utah resort and in the 182 runs on 4,000 skiable acres, 46% of the terrain is marked as expert territory.

Also come here for pampering: there are luxury lodges, high-end restaurants, and a “bubble chairlift” that’s heated inside. It’s hard to imagine how welcome this is on a blustery January day until you experience it.

Snow park at the CanyonsPhoto by Canyons Resort 

For Skiers Only

Skiers-only on freshly groomed slopes Photo by Alta Resort

Estimated Time of Arrival: 45 min.

The sister resort to Snowbird and just three more miles up the road, this is a purist “skiers only” mountain where you won’t be clipped by snowboarders doing leaps off the bank beside you. It’s one of the area’s oldest, established in the late 1930s. Ten lifts serve 116 runs that are evenly divided between beginner, intermediate, and expert, so it’s a good choice for groups of mixed abilities. You’ve also got a good chance of snow here: they average 560 inches a year (a dream come true).

The last bit of sunshine in Alta

Blue Bird Skies at Snowbird

Waiting for the Gondola at Snowbird Photo by Snowbird Resort

Estimated Time of Arrival: 40 min.

At just 29 miles from the airport, this is the closest option if you want to be slopeside in a hurry after landing. You can head to the aerial tram and be skiing 85 runs on a 3,250-foot vertical drop after snapping on your boots. This is also the resort with the longest season, so if you’re coming in December or are up for some sunny spring skiing in May, this is your spot. Of course, if you’re arriving in the afternoon and don’t plan on skiing until the next day, this arbitrary one-hour arrival time won’t matter much and there are plenty of other resorts to choose from. You only have to go a few miles further than these to reach upscale skiers-only Deer Valley, family-friendly Park City, plus Brighton (with night skiing) and Snowbasin.

The perfect apres ski at Grand Summit Resort Photo by Canyons Resort 

If you need some help deciding where to go, the Ski Utah has a great resort comparison tool with 13 data points. You can see pull up annual snowfall, number of lifts, percentage of beginner terrain, or walk-up lift ticket prices. (Deer Valley is the highest, at $114, Nordic Valley is the lowest, at $39.) They also have detailed resort information for each option in one place. You can also find info on what else to do by day or night on the Visit Park City. What you won’t need from any of them is complicated instructions on how to get to the resort.

View hotels near Park City!

* Cover photo courtesy of Snowbird Resort

More travel inspiration on trivago magazine:

5 Off-The-Radar Ski Resorts

Eat And Ski Your Way Through Park City, Utah

The Coolest Hotels In Salt Lake City Keeping Things Hot