Wasatch Mountains

4 Days   •   130 Miles

Ski City Downhill + Downtown

Salt Lake City isn't your regular ski town. It's the only Ski City. Big city amenities support 10 different resorts within an hour of SLC International, which means the best in downhill meets the best in downtown.
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Explore the itinerary, then start planning your Utah ski vacation.

Salt Lake City isn't your regular ski town. It's the only Ski City. With big city, world-class amenities galore and 10 different resorts within an hour of Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), a trip to Ski City can satiate any skier's or snowboarder's bucket list, whether you come just for the weekend or add on some additional days.

Why Ski City? Salt Lake City provides all the landmark establishments, high-rated dining and nightlife, mass transit, creative culture, urban edginess and local events you expect to find in a thriving metro area, with the convenience and affordability of a place that hasn’t been discovered by the masses. Salt Lake's official elevation is 4,330 feet (1,320 meters) above sea level, giving it a mountain town quality without the overload of quietude. We call this Life ElevatedⓇ.

Looking to the east, the foothills quickly give way to the airy 11,000+ feet peaks of the Wasatch Mountains, home to the Cottonwood Canyons and world-renowned ski areas of AltaSnowbirdBrighton and Solitude, all within less than an hour's drive from downton Salt Lake. And while each resort offers slopeside accommodations running the full spectrum of amenities and budget, you can also ski like a local and make the easy run back down the mountain for dinner, a drink, a concert, a show, a Utah Jazz game or whatever suits your mood.

While we've set you up for a weekend of skiing options, we've given you enough ideas to fill at least four days, whether or not you ski everyday and whether you choose to apply your skills at a single resort or try sampling all four. (For the latter choice, we recommend the Ski City Super Pass, a lift ticket multipass for the Cottonwood Canyon resorts loaded with deals and discounts.)

How to use this itinerary:

  • Day 1, we've filed an overview of Salt Lake City's coffee, dining and drinks. In other words, the essentials.
  • Days 2 and 3 offer up ideas for two days of skiing the backyard Wasatch Mountains that can easily expand to four or more.
  • Day 4 rounds out the itinerary's options with a few more stories about the city's culture, urban vibe and events.

Day 1

Dining and Drinks

5 Miles

While this isn't intended to occupy an itinerary day, visitors to Salt Lake could certainly spend a day exploring the best in craft coffee, cuisine and cocktails alongside a chocolate and cheese tasting or a trip to one of multiple local breweries or brewpubs.

Start your day getting to know the city's caffeinated brew scene in More Than Coffee, then take a fantasy journey through Salt Lake City's best eats. In its World’s Best 2021 Awards survey, Travel + Leisure cited Salt Lake City’s “booming food and drink scene” as a reason why readers love traveling to Utah.

Finish things up with a distillery tour for a behind-the-scenes look at craft distillation in Utah or drop into one of downtown Salt Lake's popular cocktail bars to see these libations put to work.

Day 2

Downhill to Downtown

60 Miles

Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC) offers quick metro-to-mountain access and the option to pick a single resort, purchase a combined lift ticket, such as Alta-Bird, or a multipass, including Ikon or Ski City Super Pass. You’ll also find plenty of retail or rental gear outfitters if you don’t have your own equipment. If you’re worried about winter driving or powder day traffic in LCC, take advantage of the affordable Cottonwood Connect Ski Shuttle or try the UTA Ski Bus, which is free with most passes and a great way to find out from Utah’s friendly powderhounds where to find the best snow.

The Alta-Bird Pass enables skiers to access both resorts' terrain via a connection gate at the saddle separating Alta's Albion Basin (top of Sugarloaf lift) and Snowbird's Mineral Basin (top of Baldy lift). The result is a combined 4,700 acres and some 283 runs. Though there’s a good balance among beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain (with the edge going to intermediate and advanced), both resorts offer some of Utah’s best steep and deep.

Alta Ski Area is a skier's paradise (no snowboards allowed) that receives 550 inches of the fluffy white stuff per year on average and features a vertical drop of more than 2,000 feet and some of Utah’s most storied ski runs, like the infamous High Rustler. Rustic lodging, old-school bars and a range of accommodations round out the resort.

While there’s great terrain for beginners at Snowbird, expert skiers and riders can carve first tracks in wide-open bowls, fly down steep chutes, and make their way through the mountain itself on North America's only ski tunnel. Check out The Summit restaurant, which offers a local-inspired menu with an 11,000-foot view and the flagship Aerie Restaurant (home to one of Utah's most impressive wine collections), among seven sit-down restaurants, four bars, and four cafeterias.

After two days of skiing, relax at The Cliff Spa and loosen up in the rooftop hot tub before heading out for an evening on the town. Salt Lake City boasts the metropolitan culture and nightlife of a world-class city — including a complete portfolio of professional performing art companies.

Looking to explore more of SLC's unique, downtown neighborhoods? Check out An Insider's Guide to Salt Lake City Neighborhoods.

Day 3

On Repeat: Downhill to Downtown

60 Miles

The neighboring Big Cottonwood Canyon also offers easy access, combined resort passes (Ikon and Ski City Super Pass) and gear rental and retail outfitters. 

The amenities, accessibility and affordability of both resorts make Brighton and Solitude a great deal. Brighton, in particular, is renowned locally for its ski school and Solitude ensures a classic aprés ski experience. Between the two resorts, you'll have access to numerous high-speed lifts and over a combined 2,250 skiable acres and 140+ named runs.

Brighton has one of Utah’s longest ski school traditions, multiple terrain parks for riders and excellent night skiing, including expanded access to the Snake Creek lift and its runs. Milly Bowl is a powdery playground that can keep you interested all day.

Solitude starts with a European-style village (complete with a Nordic center) and mid-mountain base with some of the best powder stashes for advanced skiers in Honeycomb Canyon.

The après-ski scene features a number of popular spots for unwinding, including choices near the mouth of the Cottonwood canyons or in downtown Ski City. From there, the town is yours. Book a second show, check out some live music, sneak in some shopping or just explore the city. You'll find more inspiration on Day 4 of this itinerary.

Day 4

More Salt Lake City

5 Miles

Below are a few more ideas to flesh out your itinerary. We're particularly partial to the video The Salt of Sound, which visits some of the city's best music venues.

First-time visitors might also include a trip to Temple Square. The spiritual center for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Temple Square offers free walking tours of the Temple grounds available in forty languages. The area also provides access to one of the most extensive collections of genealogical records in the world and performances by The Tabernacle Choir. (Due to ongoing renovation of the Salt Lake Temple through 2026, please note that access to Temple Square is limited.)

Pro tip: As you're navigating the city (walking, bike share, taxi, Uber, Lyft, public transit or car), Temple Square is (0,0) on a grid. Each street heading north or south adds 100 and each street heading east or west adds 100. Thus, nine blocks south and nine blocks east you'll be at 900 South and 900 East, locally known as 9th and 9th. (Read about more Salt Lake City neighborhoods here.)

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