SLC is the code for Salt Lake City’s excellent airport, but it could easily stand for Snow Lake City. This is now the fastest ski destination for Australian & New Zealand skiers to get to in America, with fast connections from LA on Delta & Virgin or Qantas & American. It’s also undoubtedly one of the best American ski destinations, with so many great, and greatly varied, resorts just up the road.
Picking up a car at most foreign cities can be unnerving, finding your way and (for us Aussies & Kiwis) coping with driving on the wrong side of the road. But Salt Lake’s relatively empty freeways, and incredibly wide downtown streets, make cruising around a breeze, and staying downtown a smart option.
Normally I am all for the convenience of ski in/ski out or close to slopes accommodation, but after getting a handle on the variety of skiing on offer around Salt Lake City, and how easy it is to access – the main resorts range from 30 to 45 minutes from downtown, or a bit more if it’s snowing, I changed my mind.
Salt Lake is a clean, super relaxed city with friendly, helpful people and plenty to offer the visitor from some superb restaurants and funky bars to great shopping, the chance to take in a Utah Jazz game if you like basketball, and the impressive Mormon Temple complex and zone.
The streets were originally laid out at 132′ wide because founder Brigham Young wanted people to be able to turn their ox-wagons around in one go – well, it worked back then for the pioneers and it worked for us easily navigating around even when Siri failed us due to wifi drop outs.
You actually don’t need to hire a car – the excellent light rail costs just $2.50 from the airport to downtown, and there are free buses to the resorts with lift passes – e.g. the Ski City Super Pass multi day passes which let you ski either Alta, Snowbird, Brighton or Solitude each day.
With so many Aussies already possessing a Park City pass via Perisher’s Epic Australia Season pass, and wanting to maximise their value from that, it’s a good idea to spend some time there staying in this bustling resort town to ski the amazingly huge new combined Park City – Canyons area. It’s America’s largest single resort by a stretch, and will take more time than you have available to even get a feel for how big it is.
Park City town is party central, with lots of great bars and restaurants, mostly easily found strolling along Main Street. But these do get very busy, so if you’re dining out make reservations. From Park City it’s easy to ski neighbouring Deer Valley too, for a mellower and snowboarder free experience.
But to ski the great resorts up the Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons it’s just as easy, and cheaper, to base yourself in Salt Lake City, rather than one of the resorts.
Little Cottonwood Canyon offers the incomparable Alta, and impressive Snowbird, while Big Cottonwood offers the old school charm and killer terrain of Brighton and inter-linked relaxed cruising and uncrowded steep zones of Solitude.
We will have more on the individual resorts and why one might suit you over another later, but in the meantime check the links for below for more info and definitely put Salt Lake City high on your list of options for your big 2016-17 snow mission.