Utah is the land where holiday dreams are made. Home to a huge variety of adventure in one state, you can explore 15 world-class resorts and many famous national parks, discover the old-school mining history and rub shoulders with celebrities in luxe ski towns.
Since the best part of travelling is discovering local secret spots, we’ve gathered up all our favourites in the one place to help with your trip planning.
Read on, choose what calls to you and get planning as you uncover all the magic of Utah waiting to be found.
1. You can ski amongst the red rocks at Brian Head
One of the world’s truly unforgettable winter getaways, Brian Head is a Utah local favourite. Think big, deep, red rocks that contract with pristine white snow, not a lift line in sight and plenty of homegrown Utah hospitality to boot.
The rocks are courtesy of Cedar Breaks National Monument, and Brian Head itself is just 90 minutes away from the famous Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park, or three hours from glitzy Las Vegas.
Beyond skiing, you’ll also find snowmobiling, ice skating and snowshoeing here. Plus just five minutes away you’ve got the International Dark Sky Park Cedar Breaks National Monument, making for a seriously unique night skiing experience as the stars twinkle overhead.
2. Salt Lake City is a destination in itself
Every winter, Salt Lake transforms itself into ‘America’s Ski City’ – the urban basecamp for skiers and riders who enjoy the winter playground of the Wasatch Mountains.
Snap up a brewery tour pass or go hiking and biking in one of the local canyons – then discover the ski resorts nearby. 10 resorts are less than an hour’s drive from the airport (SLC), making your life that much easier.
The best bit? For Aussies, it’s easy enough to get to their international airport. Just connect via Los Angeles or San Francisco.
3. Park City is home to the USA’s largest ski resort
Park City Mountain has no less than 7,300 acres of terrain, offering over 330 trails, 43 lifts and six terrain parks. That’s a whole lot of skiing and boarding to do.
It’s also home to Sundance Film Festival, Utah Olympic Park and a historic main street home to 140 dining options to choose from, as well as some famous street art by the man himself, Banksy.
Did we mention it’s a mere 35 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport, making it one of the most easily accessible ski towns in the world? Go, and take us with you.
4. You can do yoga on a stand up paddle board… in a thermal spring… inside a cave
Yoga, while floating on a paddleboard, in a geothermal hot spring inside an ancient crater beehive-shaped cave…? Only in Heber Valley, and only in the Homestead Crater for a yoga class like no other you’ve ever experienced.
Encased in ancient stone and fully protected from the elements for year-round enjoyment, the water is beautifully warm – which is positive because you may just end up in it. Perfect for stretching the legs before or after a big day on the slopes, or you can tack on a snowshoe for an experience beautifully immersed in nature.
5. There’s a mammoth terrain park to try
Park lovers unite: Woodward Park City is where you need to be. Loved by Winter Olympians and X Games medalists such as Scotty James, this is a state-of-the-art network of terrain zones with everything from beginner to expert areas for freestyling.
The features all encourage intuitive growth and safe progression, so you’re in a great place for playing with new skills with your mates.
The adrenaline doesn’t stop on the terrain park slopes, either; indoor and outdoor facilities for skateboarding, BMX, scooter, parkour and cheer are also available year-round, plus snow tubing on the longest lanes in Utah.
6. Two resorts are “skiers only” – Deer Valley and Alta
Some resorts are steeped in tradition, and if you’re a skier that wants to experience what it’s like to spend the day in a resort that’s skier-only – Utah is home to two of the three remaining resorts in the United States that are ski-only.
Deer Valley is one of them, continuously ranked the Number #1 Ski Resort in the United States. It offers 2000 acres of terrain with 103 runs and six bowls to discover; plus ski valets to unload your skis at their curbside valet; complimentary s’mores by the fires every afternoon and boujee après at the Stein Eriksen Lodge.
There’s also Alta, home to the amazing steep and deep. With 617 metres of vertical rise, 55% of Alta terrain is dedicated for experts, featuring some seriously challenging chutes and bowls to get the legs shaking.
7. There’s a resort that caps numbers
If you’ve ever been frustrated with a crowded resort, head to Powder Mountain. The numbers are capped to 1,500 lift tickets per day, it very much feels like you have the entire mountain to yourself; and what a mountain it is.
The views are incredible, the terrain is varied for all levels, the lift tickets are well-priced and the most experienced skiers of the family can supercharge their day with snowcat assisted laps up to the expert terrain off Lightning Ridge or Raintree, with single rides available to purchase.
Kids will love the upside-down nature of the two upper parking areas requiring you to ski down to the chairlift, along with the secret jumps hidden through the trees, offering up a serious dose of adventure.
8. Salt Lake City has its own ski pass
Five words for you: Salt Lake Ski Super Pass. You can get access to four incredible resorts on the one pass – Alta, Snowbird, Brighton and Solitude. Combining all four resorts, it’s a total of 427 runs to explore, spread across 33 lifts so it might just keep you busy for awhile.
Customise it for any length of trip between three and 10 days. You’ve got 14 days to use it, meaning you can pick and choose the best conditions and enjoy off-snow activities on the other days. You’ll also get discounts at the rental shop, along with free transportation on UTA ski buses and TRAX light rail.
9. You can find ice castles at Heber Valley
Located less than an hour from the Salt Lake City International Airport and only 15 minutes from Park City, there’s Heber Valley, former site of the 2002 Winter Olympics biathlon and cross-country ski events.
It’s now become a stomping ground for family-friendly adventures, offering snowshoeing, snowmobiling, skiing, and ice fishing – plus the most incredible Ice Castles experience.
The castles are carved by hand each year by 20 to 40 ice artists, and were inspired by a local Utah parent, Brent Christensen, making his children an ice cave in their front yard to combat their boredom.
10. It’s home to The ‘Greatest Snow On Earth’. Truly.
We know, we know – it’s a big call, but Utah is scientifically proven to have the Greatest Snow on Earth®. You see that registered trademark? That’s how confident they are about it.
It’s all thanks to getting over 13 metres of light, dry, fluffy, blower powder every year. You probably won’t be able to make a snowman or snowball, but you’ll be too busy lapping up the powder, so we suspect it’s a trade-off that most will be happy with.