Utah Advice / Trip Report

skirickskirick intermediate
edited February 19 in NELSAP Forum Posts: 55

Going to Utah in February for the 1st time ever and looking for advice/local knowledge. We are staying at a friends house at Deer Valley. Its just my adult son and I so our main objective is skiing and not so much amenities. We'll be there for four days but probably only ski for three unless the legs haven't given up. We are both advanced skiers, so we're not going out there for the groomers if you know what I mean. Looking at maybe Alt/Snowbird and Deer Valley or Solitude.

 Also, what is the feeling about renting vs bringing your own gear?


Thanks!


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Comments

  • rickbolgerrickbolger expert
    edited January 9 Posts: 1,061
    Great!  Enjoy!

    I bring my stuff west because 

    1. it's free on the airlines I use, 
    2.  I'm cheap, 
    3. I try to get to a hill as quickly as possible after landing and only stop I make is Carl's Jr  (out west I stop for beer AFTER skiing)
    4. I don't kid myself that I'm a powder skier.

    If I had more time and more money, I'd rent.  

    In general I'd add that if you are looking for ticket deals, usually less $$ in Big Cottonwood versus others.  Generally Brighton, Solitude, Sundance can be had lower $$

    Park City tix are pricey and deals are hard to find.  DV has some discounts out there, but still $$

    Also don't wear a backpack if you go to Sundance   
    ;)

    On behalf of your fellow SJers please tip your cap to the Stein statue at DV!!!
  • LiftGuyLiftGuy advanced
    Posts: 126
    Can't give you local info but can give you some incite on gear. Take your own boots for sure. As for skis- how are yours in 12" of fresh powder? Hopefully while you are there (and you should give Alta/Snowbird at least one day) you'll hit a powder day then you want the latest in ski technology to make it a day to remember. The other thing to consider is the cost to bring your own skis. Unless you're flying Southwest you are probably going to pay at least $25 each way for a ski bag. Top shelf rentals in the Park City area run between $40-$60 a day and can be reduced if you reserve on line before hand. That way you could start on an all mountain ski and if conditions change also change the ski you are on.
    I traveled for years in the Ski Industry and seldom took my own skis. JMHO.
    Have fun!

  • JimKJimK advanced
    Posts: 213
    I made three trips to UT last winter and going out again in a couple weeks. The entire region has received lots of snow over the last month or more. Although I more often ski Snowbird, I visited Deer Valley last March for the first time. I liked it. Good food. World class groomers. Here is my report on my two days there. It includes some terrain suggestions for advanced skiers: http://www.dcski.com/articles/1501

    You could easily spend many days there and take advantage of the proximity to your accommodations, but nearby Park City would be an obvious second venue. Snowbird and Alta (about an hour away) offer a snowy and higher alpine environment with fabled double black diamonds, but in a good snow year like this one there is plenty of that at Deer Valley and Park City too, esp for three to four ski days.
  • 210210 novice
    Posts: 18
    To save a few bucks buy pre-sold lift at the Lift House at the bottom of Big Cottonwood Canyon:

    You will save money and won't have to waste precious time buying tickets at the resort.  Since you are coming from the east and are used to the eastern time zone which is two hours earlier, get up early and get an early start -- stand in line for the lift to open on a powder day.  The best powder goes early.
  • 210210 novice
    Posts: 18
    And I would highly recommend Solitude (and Alta).

  • NJSkiNJSki advanced
    Posts: 269

    I think you can't lose no matter what you choose.

    That said, I would agree with JimK, take advantage of your proximity. If you are at Deer Valley, ski there, and a day at Park City...at least.

    Alta/Snowbird and Solitude/Brighton are an honest hour drive each way. All great places, but so are the ones at your doorstep.

    If I was going to take the ride, (and I have), I would do the following order.

    1. Alta

    2. Bird

    3. Solitude

    4. Brighton

  • CannonballCannonball advanced
    Posts: 123
    You already have some solid advice from the rest of the replies.  My only 2cents is that Brighton is far better than Solitude for the advanced skier.  If you are heading up BCC anyway and have to choose just one, pick Brighton. 
  • Frers33Frers33 novice
    Posts: 8
    Ski Deer Valley, Snowbasin and Solitude.  Deer Valley has some great ungroomed terrain and can remain pretty much untouched for days after a dump.  Additionally, Deer Valley has a Rossignol ski demo yurt (no charge).  You will need skis to get to it.  Solitude is worth the ride and you could keep busy in Honeycomb Canyon for non groomed skiing. Snowbasin, ya gotta ski it.  Regarding Alta and Snowbird,  Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC) is prone to delayed openings, closures and restrictions and the red snake. (Subscribe to Unified PD Canyon Alerts for info).   If you decide to take the ride over to LCC be at Alta or Snowbird by 0815 hrs.  Alta has a lot of ungroomed terrain that is easy to access and Snowbird has massive amounts of ungroomed terrain.  You can purchase a combined AltaBird ticket and ski both areas.  

    Try getting your tickets online unless you are near a shop that discounts tickets the day before you plan to ski. Disclosure, Alta is my home area.  






  • slopefillersslopefillers novice
    Posts: 17
    As a Utah local of off-and-on 20 years, if I were coming to Utah for a trip and wanted to hit four resorts I'd mix the famous stuff with the less famous stuff. 

    The one thing I'll also say is that this season has been really strange. Rarely if ever will we get mid-season rain at the resorts. This year, we've already had rain up to 9000' about 4 times. If that pattern continues (and it seems to be), I'd steer clear of lower elevation stuff like Park City, Deer Valley Snowbasin, and Sundance.

    Anyway:

    Day 1 - Little Cottonwood Canyon
    Alta or Snowbird, both are incredible as everyone has already pointed out.

    Day 2 - Big Cottonwood Canyon
    For the sake of nostalgia I'd pick Brighton over Solitude (lots of good memories on Millicent). On a powder day, though, Solitude will be much less crowded and you can ski untracked as long as your legs can handle it.

    Day 3 - Ogden Valley
    Snowbasin is starting to make more and more folks Utah trip lists, but I'd highly recommend Powder Mountain as well. The road is steep and can get sketchy, so take the UTA Ski Bus up. This is an especially good resort if you don't get lucky with a storm cycle during your trip. PowMow is the best chance you'll have of "Utah snow" a few days or week-ish later.

    Day 4 - Smaller Mountain
    I'd go with either Beaver Mountain (about a 2 hr drive North of SLC) or Sundance (about 1.5 hr drive South of SLC). Beaver is a really, really fun mountain and the snow stays soft and fun nearly all season long. Like I said, Sundance is a little lower elevation, but has awesome views as well as some great skiing on the upper mountain. And if you time it right, they can get hammered with snow like they did last week.

    Either way, hard to go wrong. Have a great trip!
  • JimKJimK advanced
    edited January 10 Posts: 213
    Excellent input from Slopefillers, a Utah local.  I'm just an interested observer from VA.  I didn't know about the recurring rain events in between snows.  My son lives near Snowbird and all he's talked about is snow, snow, snow.  I'd still recommend doing a day or two at Deer Valley since that's where OP will be staying, but maybe leave a day or two open and follow snow reports for where to go next.  It's true that many times conditions at higher elevation LCC and BCC ski areas can be markedly different than lower elevation UT resorts.
  • DrJeffDrJeff advanced
    Posts: 272
    The reality is as a 1st time Utah trip person, the OP could probably spend the whole trip at Deer Valley, exploring the HUGE amount of terrain they have there, and be very happy at the end of the 4 days on the hill.

    I've had about 10 weeks in Utah over the years, and spent many day at Deer Valley, and we keep going back, because of the great terrain, and by far and away it's way more than just groomers!

    I can also say from past trips, some of my families "worst" ski trips out to Utah is when we tried to hit a different area every day as we never really got a chance to actually explore each area as we were trying to cover as much as possible.  

    You have to keep in mind just on a shear size factor, how BIG the areas are out there!  It would in East Coast terms, proportionately, like trying to check out all of Killington, but only in a half day, (even the "small" Utah areas around SLC are over twice the acreage (if not like 3 to 5 times the acreage) of Killington, where you may end up spending more time moving sideways across an area trying to see as much of it as possible as opposed to actually getting to spend time exploring the area and getting to spend a bunch of time actually skiing down rather than across
  • NJSkiNJSki advanced
    Posts: 269
    Totally agree with DrJeff. That was my experience the first time I went to Utah. Stayed in Park City and tried a different area each day. I did not like Park City Mountain the first time I was there because it was a day of getting around, not skiing down.
  • z1000307470z1000307470 intermediate
    edited January 10 Posts: 85
    Another vote for the Dr Jeff recommendation. Park City is surrounded by almost 10,000 acres of terrain. If you are staying in Deer Valley, keep it simple. You will find loads of excellent terrain at DV, PC/Canyons and you will have a much more relaxing vacation. Why jam up a 3/4 day trip with long bus rides?
  • skirickskirick intermediate
    Posts: 55

    Thanks for all of the great tips!

    Good point DrJeff about trying to hit too many places on one trip - i'll keep that in mind.

    Liftguy, my new skis are Head Super Shapes with an 80mm waist, which is much better than my old RX7's but still no where near powder boards. I'm a decent east coast powder skier but as rickbolger said, i'm not going to kid myself and say I could drop right into Utah pow on wide boards without much adjustment - but I sure would like to try! Jet Blue hits you up for $100 on anything checked over 62", which mine are, so it's looking more like we are going to bring the boots and rent.

    Anybody have any thoughts about renting multi-day off mountain vs on?

    Thank again everyone

  • trackbikertrackbiker intermediate
    Posts: 93

    I've used these guys in the past for rentals and was very pleased. They even let me pick up the skis a day early once with no extra charge. The also sell discount tickets but mostly for LCC and BCC.

    https://www.skinsee.com

    I also agree with Dr. Jeff. Don't try to ski too many areas in 3 days. Most places out there you can't ski in a day even skiing bell to bell.

  • bubblecufferbubblecuffer advanced
    Posts: 262
    Jetblue doesn't have any size limit for skis or boards, it simply counts as a checked bag.

  • CannonballCannonball advanced
    Posts: 123
    FWIW: I've never seen anyone at the airport actually measure and confirm the 62".  It's a self-answering question during your check-in.  Last year I flew with ski bag that was ~70".  I clicked the option of "no oversized bags" during check-in. They took it no problem and I didn't get charged.  Obviously this is riskier than planning ahead, but if you are already accepting of a bag fee it's worth a shot. 
  • LiftGuyLiftGuy advanced
    Posts: 126
    skirick said:

    Thanks for all of the great tips!

    Good point DrJeff about trying to hit too many places on one trip - i'll keep that in mind.

    Liftguy, my new skis are Head Super Shapes with an 80mm waist, which is much better than my old RX7's but still no where near powder boards. I'm a decent east coast powder skier but as rickbolger said, i'm not going to kid myself and say I could drop right into Utah pow on wide boards without much adjustment - but I sure would like to try! Jet Blue hits you up for $100 on anything checked over 62", which mine are, so it's looking more like we are going to bring the boots and rent.

    Anybody have any thoughts about renting multi-day off mountain vs on?

    Thank again everyone

    Looks like Jet Blue will take your skis and boot bag for $35 each way and since you're comfortable in your own equipment, why not? If you do hit a powder day then it's only a one day rental charge for some fat boards!
    Have fun.
  • ERockWERockW novice
    Posts: 5
    Look into Fed Exing your skis to your friends house.  It might be cheaper than renting especially if you might be going to different resorts.  I have done that and loaded my ski bag with all of my cold weather gear to lighten the airline load.
  • ski_itski_it expert
    edited January 13 Posts: 1,651
    Altitude affects everyone differently. If you are going from sea level directly to stay over 8000 ft, you may want to make your first day a rest day, avoid alcohol & caffeine the first day. At the very least take it easier the first day and hydrate hydrate hydrate. IIRC Deer Valleys base is under 7k so that's good but if you feel headachey or tired the first day, drink lots of water.
    And now, ...many people will tell you they never had a problem.

    People have been skiing powder fine long before they invented these water skis so don't worry to much about not having powder boards.
    And Frers33 (Alta is my home mountain), I hate you!
    ;)
    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • DrJeffDrJeff advanced
    Posts: 272
    If the friends house is at Deer Valley, you can actually Fedex your skis if you want to to/from the ski check at Deer Valley.

    Back when my kids were much younger and couldn't as much gear as they can now, my wife and I when the family went to Utah would always ship our skis to the hotel in Park City where we stay and then planned our last day to be at Deer Valley so that we could just Fedex our skis right from the ski check area at the Snow Park Lodge.

    If you have a week, Fedex's ground shipping rates from Utah to the East Coast aren't much different that what mosty airlines charge for a checked bag these days, and that's one less bag to lug around and/or worry about if the airlines will loose it or not
    ERockW said:

    Look into Fed Exing your skis to your friends house.  It might be cheaper than renting especially if you might be going to different resorts.  I have done that and loaded my ski bag with all of my cold weather gear to lighten the airline load.


  • JMaulJMaul advanced
    Posts: 224
    ... avoid alcohol & caffeine the first day.....
    I was thinking about a Utah trip in the future but if I have to do this, fuggedaboutit.   <:-P
    You ski because even if you don't do it well, it's still a blast....
  • trackbikertrackbiker intermediate
    Posts: 93
    JMaul said:

    ... avoid alcohol & caffeine the first day.....
    I was thinking about a Utah trip in the future but if I have to do this, fuggedaboutit.   <:-P
    Utah elevation is not that high. I wouldn't worry too much about alcohol sickness. You'd probably just get buzzed a little quicker due to the thin air.
    <:-P
  • Frers33Frers33 novice
    Posts: 8
    Ski It,

    Wife just had ACL surgery this morning at Jordan Valley.  She was cuttin' it up late afternoon a few weeks ago and tore it in Nina's.  I won't be up again till Monday and just to ski with a friend that wants to give his new AT gear a try.  We'll take a few chair rides than skin up above Albion lift and maybe out to Catherine's.  This is the third pair of AT boots this season.  The boot guy is a straight shooter and has taken responsibility.  

    All in, the season has been stellar and skirick shouldn't worry about altitude, alcohol, conditions or bringing his skis. Skirick, Jmaul, It's all good and take the time to enjoy every turn.
  • ski_itski_it expert
    edited January 14 Posts: 1,651
    Sorry to hear of her injury. That stinks.. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    Your last paragraph is spot on and rereading mine I can see it is too much of a Debbie downer. I did not mean to imply it would incapacitate anyone or everyone. It's not Everest base camp but some of us old flatlanders will feel something or at least our toothpaste tubes will. Travel guides to the ranges all mention it but 99.99% of you youngins will be oblivious to it.
    And I'll stop using the word hate, I just have to find that super jealous emoticon instead.
    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • pagamonypagamony advanced
    Posts: 117
    And now, ...many people will tell you they never had a problem.

    I've never had a problem :)  

    Some people like to plant, some like to explore.  I am the latter.  If nothing else if you are a skier and you are in Utah for the first time I think you have to go to Alta.  Even if it is not your cup of tea, do it just for the experience.  And you know the skiing is not too shabby; hell, I can spend a full day there just on the Wildcat lift and be happy. 

    Wherever you are get a local or mountain guide to show you around.  

    Don't worry, this cannot go bad.
  • skirickskirick intermediate
    Posts: 55
    LiftGuy said:

    skirick said:

    Thanks for all of the great tips!

    Good point DrJeff about trying to hit too many places on one trip - i'll keep that in mind.

    Liftguy, my new skis are Head Super Shapes with an 80mm waist, which is much better than my old RX7's but still no where near powder boards. I'm a decent east coast powder skier but as rickbolger said, i'm not going to kid myself and say I could drop right into Utah pow on wide boards without much adjustment - but I sure would like to try! Jet Blue hits you up for $100 on anything checked over 62", which mine are, so it's looking more like we are going to bring the boots and rent.

    Anybody have any thoughts about renting multi-day off mountain vs on?

    Thank again everyone

    Looks like Jet Blue will take your skis and boot bag for $35 each way and since you're comfortable in your own equipment, why not? If you do hit a powder day then it's only a one day rental charge for some fat boards!
    Have fun.
    LiftGuy said:

    skirick said:

    Thanks for all of the great tips!

    Good point DrJeff about trying to hit too many places on one trip - i'll keep that in mind.

    Liftguy, my new skis are Head Super Shapes with an 80mm waist, which is much better than my old RX7's but still no where near powder boards. I'm a decent east coast powder skier but as rickbolger said, i'm not going to kid myself and say I could drop right into Utah pow on wide boards without much adjustment - but I sure would like to try! Jet Blue hits you up for $100 on anything checked over 62", which mine are, so it's looking more like we are going to bring the boots and rent.

    Anybody have any thoughts about renting multi-day off mountain vs on?

    Thank again everyone

    Looks like Jet Blue will take your skis and boot bag for $35 each way and since you're comfortable in your own equipment, why not? If you do hit a powder day then it's only a one day rental charge for some fat boards!
    Have fun.
    LiftGuy said:

    skirick said:

    Thanks for all of the great tips!

    Good point DrJeff about trying to hit too many places on one trip - i'll keep that in mind.

    Liftguy, my new skis are Head Super Shapes with an 80mm waist, which is much better than my old RX7's but still no where near powder boards. I'm a decent east coast powder skier but as rickbolger said, i'm not going to kid myself and say I could drop right into Utah pow on wide boards without much adjustment - but I sure would like to try! Jet Blue hits you up for $100 on anything checked over 62", which mine are, so it's looking more like we are going to bring the boots and rent.

    Anybody have any thoughts about renting multi-day off mountain vs on?

    Thank again everyone

    Looks like Jet Blue will take your skis and boot bag for $35 each way and since you're comfortable in your own equipment, why not? If you do hit a powder day then it's only a one day rental charge for some fat boards!
    Have fun.



    Interesting, read that a couple of times and they seem to say that a ski bag along with a boot bag = 1 checked item. seem odd that the "charge for everything" airline industry would do that. But then again its jet blue and they seem to be more accommodating than most.

    You guys are getting me pumped!

    LiftGuy said:

    skirick said:

    Thanks for all of the great tips!

    Good point DrJeff about trying to hit too many places on one trip - i'll keep that in mind.

    Liftguy, my new skis are Head Super Shapes with an 80mm waist, which is much better than my old RX7's but still no where near powder boards. I'm a decent east coast powder skier but as rickbolger said, i'm not going to kid myself and say I could drop right into Utah pow on wide boards without much adjustment - but I sure would like to try! Jet Blue hits you up for $100 on anything checked over 62", which mine are, so it's looking more like we are going to bring the boots and rent.

    Anybody have any thoughts about renting multi-day off mountain vs on?

    Thank again everyone

    Looks like Jet Blue will take your skis and boot bag for $35 each way and since you're comfortable in your own equipment, why not? If you do hit a powder day then it's only a one day rental charge for some fat boards!
    Have fun.

  • Frers33Frers33 novice
    Posts: 8
    Ski it, Pagamony,

    Thanks, she is on the traverse to recovery.  Not to worry about the flatlander thing, I'm a swamp yankee.   I am at sea level for 6 months and need a few hikes and a few yoga classes to help get my lungs in better shape when I get back to Utah.  As far as Alta is concerned, think of it as a large Cannon or Wildcat. The snow isn't quite as firm but the ambiance is about the same.
  • ski_itski_it expert
    Posts: 1,651

    Hmmm I never once thought of comparing it to Cannon or Wildkitty when I was there... but I guess I can see it, all are kinda laidback with great views across the valley (canyon).

    Can't wait for your trip reports

    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • skirickskirick intermediate
    Posts: 55


    Ok , sadly our 1st Utah trip is over but thankfully the
    memories will last forever.



    Just a few notes about how things went; First off Jet blue
    did not even bother to check the boot or ski bags for other items in there so I
    was able to stuff them for the trip back.



    The proximity of all the ski resorts to a major city/airport
    like Salt Lake City just can be beat. Although there was not one bit of snow in
    the city, the snow levels, like the excitement level grew with the altitude on
    the ride up Rte. 80 to Deer Valley.



    BTW, we caught an Uber ride for $44 Airport to Deer Valley
    for the two of us which was excellent.



    On our 1st day out we skied Deer Valley. We were
    able to sample most of the mountain but ended up lapping the Lady Morgan lift
    and Empire Mountain down the traverse to the Daly bowl and chutes. The cornice
    at the top of the bowl and chutes meant a mandatory drop of about 12 feet down
    to the actual slope which was exhilarating to say the least. The first things
    that stuck out was the lack of that scrapping noise I’m used to on the east
    coast which once you gain confidence in it not being there makes just about any
    terrain navigable without worry. The other thing that was noticeable was the
    lack of boarders with the DV skiers only policy.



    After watching the weather reports we decided to take the
    second day off to visit the Olympic sites which was fantastic. As JimK advised,
    they were calling for rain below 7000 ‘ so we were off to Snowbird on the third
    day and were not disappointed. On the way up we stopped at The Lift House as
    210 said and picked up really good discounted tickets for Snowbird ($84 vs $106
    at the window).



    Got the last ride on the tram after the wind shut it down
    for the day. We spent a good portion of the morning at Peruvian Gulch,
    traversing across to find some fine untracked stuff in the trees and chutes.
    The rest of the day was over at the Gadd Valley.



    We enjoyed “The Bird” so much that we came back there the
    next day also. The sun was out and the wind was down but a lot of the light
    powder from the day before was a little more condensed from the overnight
    winds. The guns (avi control type) were active especially in mineral basin
    which was closed the day before. When they finally dropped the ropes, it was an
    amazing sight, seeing the line of skiers all charge down the bowl at once. On
    the way back out, I had to take the tunnel just to say I did. It’s quite
    interesting and the have a lot of old mining equipment set up on display. Although
    SB seemed to be much more of a skier’s mountain with seemingly more rugged
    terrain than DV, I was pretty amazed to be served water while having lunch in
    the tram lodge.



    All in all it was an outstanding trip and we can’t
    wait to return to try the other areas that we missed.

    Thanks to everyone for all of the great advice!

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