driving from SLC to jackson? to big sky?

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  1. #1

    driving from SLC to jackson? to big sky?

    I'm going to Utah 12/15-23. even if this storm next week delivers, they still won't have very much terrain open. I have a rental car with unlimited mileage, and a 4-6 hour drive is nothing considering I do Vermont every weekend. my only concern is the driving conditions in a relatively shabby rental car. guaranteed 4wd is just prohibitively expensive.

    both routes look like they are predominantly flat, but each with some mountain passes towards the end of the drive.



    Jackson is closer, but not on my pass, and cheap lift tix are not available
    Big sky is an hour+ further, but is on my pass.

    I have cheap refundable accomodations in both locations

    what do we know about the roads involved here? anyone ever do these drives? @thetrailboss?
    ~the stars turn, and a time presents itself~

  2. #2
    Wow, who knew Big Sky was under 6 hours from SLC airport... I sure didn't. I always assume everything out west is 40 hours away from everything else.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Jully View Post
    Wow, who knew Big Sky was under 6 hours from SLC airport... I sure didn't. I always assume everything out west is 40 hours away from everything else.
    Hah! I thought the exact same thing!

  4. #4
    Smellytele's Avatar
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    I drove SLC to Jackson in the summer. We went through Logan on 89. I don't think I would want to go that way in the winter as it was very deserted and probably wouldn't be kept up well in the winter. On the way back we went over Teton Pass which might be dicey in the winter as well.
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  5. #5
    I think you will be fine unless there is a big storm. Might want to check on open terrain at Big Sky before driving up there though.
    form is a 4 letter word

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by crank View Post
    I think you will be fine unless there is a big storm. Might want to check on open terrain at Big Sky before driving up there though.
    I agree that the driving should be fine unless its snowing hard when I'm actually going thru the passes. I'm more interested in intel on slc>big sky cause that's where I'm more likely to end up

    re: terrain - jackson and big sky are both not even close to fully open, but they've both received lots (>100") of upper mountain snow. then they got rained on for 4 days straight. now they both have another 2 feet coming in the 10 day forecasts. relative to Utah right now, Jackson and big sky are powder paradises. Utah has no base to work with. i'll end up in SLC anyway for the second half of the trip. I don't need to commit to plans until about 12/13 when I would need to cancel some reservations.
    ~the stars turn, and a time presents itself~

  7. #7
    Shortest mileage route to Jackson is I-80 past Park City then through Evanston and Star Valley. There's only one smallish mountain pass called Salt Pass. Most of the mail/package/food deliveries for Jackson go that way daily year-round.

  8. #8
    Sorry, I've never driven specifically from SLC to Big Sky or Jackson, but have driven numerous other routes in UT, WY, NV, CA, OR, CO and NM in recent years. There is a 75% chance you will be fine in regular car without 4wd, but you can always buy chains for $50 and keep them for emergency. I did that once in the Tahoe area and used the chains on a powder day, then threw them away the night before returning car at airport. Saved me $800 on a two week rental. If bought at store with numerous locations you may be able to return for refund at end of trip if unused. A lot of the ski areas in WY and UT are approached from flatlands without many mtn passes between interstates and the ski area base lodge/parking lot. Approach to Jackson from the south is pretty friendly. Even road up BCC to Brighton is not too bad most of the time. Haven't heard a lot of stories about hairy drives into Big Sky. I got delayed for a day one time in early January near central WY when police closed I80, but it was caused by blowing snow and low vis, rather than steep, snowy inclines.
    There is a good chance I will make the drive from SLC to Jackson (then on to Banff and back to Sun Valley) on a cross-country drive this March. I'll be using my own Outback with only all season tires. We can compare notes after the fact

    PS: I usually rent cheap economy cars when I fly to the West for ski trips. However, there are a couple places where I've arranged for a 4wd SUV or bought chains; 1) Tahoe during a snowy stretch when they are likely to impose (and enforce) chain laws in the mountains and 2) if staying in SLC in the heart of winter and planning to commute up to Alta/Bird a bunch of days. If I traveled more with other people and splitting costs with them, I'd be much more likely to rent a pricey SUV on western ski trips for ease of use.
    Last edited by jimk; Nov 27, 2017 at 2:01 PM.

  9. #9
    thanks for the information. much appreciated.
    ~the stars turn, and a time presents itself~

  10. #10
    x10003q's Avatar
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    Sun Valley is about 300 miles from SLC. They have a ton of snowmaking. I have not done the drive from SLC, but the skiing is big fun.

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