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Zand

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Tried this before a Colorado trip last year with great results. Looking at doing a 4-day trip to the SLC area Ikon hills (Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude). I work on Saturdays so was looking at flying out of Boston on a Sat night, skiing Sunday-Wednesday, then red-eyeing it back Wed Night. Still can't believe how cheap JetBlue flights are to SLC and Denver midwinter.

Was looking at staying in a cheap hotel in Midvale (Super 8 is coming up at $68 per night and I usually have good luck with those places). Looks like (assuming dry roads) a 30 minute ride to Snowbird and Solitude and a bit further to Alta. Looking at doing this the 2nd weekend of January (the week before MLK). Not booking ANYTHING this far out so I can see how the weather looks. Looking at doing a 2nd trip west at some other point so really trying to budget this one the best I can.

Main question is... how should I divvy up those 4 days? If I'm getting the wrong impression please correct me but it looks to me like Brighton and Solitude are on the smaller side. Could be dead wrong and please tell me if I am. If I'm right, should I just do all 4 days at Alta/Snowbird? I want good tree skiing, maybe some bowls (don't know how prevalent they are there compared to Colorado) but mostly just the best snow. Doesn't have to be butt-puckering steeps and that kind of stuff.

Is it worth driving all the way to Deer Valley for a day? I'm only taking the terrain into account. Could care less about villages and all that but if the terrain blows away any of the Cottonwoods then it'd be worth a day. If not I don't want to go anywhere near it.

Lastly...do I trust the discount car rental places at SLC? I got an SUV for $459 for 6 days from Denver last year at Alamo...Autoslash is quoting about the same for 4 days in SLC from Alamo but Advantage is showing $145 for 4 days. Do you even need an SUV as badly there as you do in Colorado?

EDIT: On second look Priceline is at about $180 from actual good-name rental places so nevermind on that above price.
 

KustyTheKlown

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Mar 1, 2013
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Brooklyn
Had an awful experience with fox car rental SLC. avoid. Allowed me to book a 5 AM pick up. Their shuttle didn’t run. Their phone number didn’t work. And no one showed up there til after 7 am. I was massively inconvenienced. suv is less of a must have than in co. But a snowy day in the canyon you’ll want 4wd

Brighton and solitude are both very much worth a day in good conditions, especially if you’re willing to venture into side country, but you could easily ski Alta bird for 4 days without being bored.

SLC is cheap and the skiing is great, but the town is so drab and boring. I’ve stayed in that super8 in midvale. it serves its purpose

I chose banff/revelstoke for my big trip. I looked at Slc but flights around mid feb from nyc were $650
 

drjeff

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Jan 18, 2006
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Brooklyn, CT
Brighton/Solitude while by "Utah standards" are on the smaller side, they're still HUGE by anything in the East standards!

The Honeycomb Canyon of Solitude is pretty darn close to in-bounds avalanche controlled back country skiing as most anything that Utah offers.

The reality is that you could spend your 4 days totally in Big Cottonwood Canyon if the snow is good and not leave disappointed. If anything, trying to do 4 different resorts, even in close proximity like Solitude, Brighton, Alta and Snowbird are, may leave you feeling like you didn't really get to experience what the resorts are about as you can easily spend a big chunk of the day going "sideways" across each resort trying to take as much in as possible and not spend much time going downhill getting to experience the good terrain that abounds all over Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons!!

My family about 3 years ago now in our week in Utah did a day at Snowbasin, a Day at Snowbird, a day on the combined Solitude and Brighton ticket (the run out going from Brighton to Solitude is basically a glorified cross country ski trail!!), a day at Deer Valley, and 2 days at Park City Resort (while it was still 2 separate resorts as opposed to the one HUGE one it is now) and the consensus of my family was that while we skied a bunch at a bunch of different resorts, and with the exception of Solitude resorts we had skied before, we tried to see too much and as a result didn't really feel like we skied a bunch of good stuff verses just skiing a bunch of stuff

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machski

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Sep 5, 2014
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I would say if you are driving up from Salt Lake, 4x4 is a must. No guarantee you don't get stuck in the Canyons if it starts dumping (if you don't know the term interlodge, research it) even with 4x4. Given what you are looking for, I'd say skip Deer Valley. It would be a bigger hike from where you are staying and while they have a bit of the terrain you are looking for, it is set back and no where near as plentiful as at the other 4 in the Cottonwoods.

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snoseek

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Jun 7, 2006
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NH
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Stay off the wasatch back unless you are craving some high speed cruising.

Cheap=take an uber to fort union, get a cheap place on the bus route and just allow a bit of extra time for the buses.

Ill be local this winter so if you need a lift back to the airport I may be able to assist. Ill be skiing alta alot on the midweek.
 

thetrailboss

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NEK by Birth; Alta/Snowbird by Choice
Tried this before a Colorado trip last year with great results. Looking at doing a 4-day trip to the SLC area Ikon hills (Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude). I work on Saturdays so was looking at flying out of Boston on a Sat night, skiing Sunday-Wednesday, then red-eyeing it back Wed Night. Still can't believe how cheap JetBlue flights are to SLC and Denver midwinter.

Was looking at staying in a cheap hotel in Midvale (Super 8 is coming up at $68 per night and I usually have good luck with those places). Looks like (assuming dry roads) a 30 minute ride to Snowbird and Solitude and a bit further to Alta. Looking at doing this the 2nd weekend of January (the week before MLK). Not booking ANYTHING this far out so I can see how the weather looks. Looking at doing a 2nd trip west at some other point so really trying to budget this one the best I can.

Main question is... how should I divvy up those 4 days? If I'm getting the wrong impression please correct me but it looks to me like Brighton and Solitude are on the smaller side. Could be dead wrong and please tell me if I am. If I'm right, should I just do all 4 days at Alta/Snowbird? I want good tree skiing, maybe some bowls (don't know how prevalent they are there compared to Colorado) but mostly just the best snow. Doesn't have to be butt-puckering steeps and that kind of stuff.

Is it worth driving all the way to Deer Valley for a day? I'm only taking the terrain into account. Could care less about villages and all that but if the terrain blows away any of the Cottonwoods then it'd be worth a day. If not I don't want to go anywhere near it.

Lastly...do I trust the discount car rental places at SLC? I got an SUV for $459 for 6 days from Denver last year at Alamo...Autoslash is quoting about the same for 4 days in SLC from Alamo but Advantage is showing $145 for 4 days. Do you even need an SUV as badly there as you do in Colorado?

EDIT: On second look Priceline is at about $180 from actual good-name rental places so nevermind on that above price.

Feel free to PM me for more specific info. Based on your needs, you can ski the conditions and call an audible based on weather and crowds. Solitude will be the least crowded. I’d try that Sunday. It skis small IMHO. Honeycomb is cool. Brighton has good snow and good trees. Lots of OB access. Locals place. Alta is Alta. Definitely worth one day at least. Alta has a lot of terrain that you have the hike to. It has some decent tree skiing, steeps, and great terrain variety. If it is windy Alta has some sheltered areas and in general is below the ridgelines.

Snowbird is just insane. It is very different from Alta in that you don’t hike to the bowls and expert stuff but instead ski right in. Snowbird lately has been having more crowds the last few years so midweek is best. Snowbird has much more expert terrain and more above tree line. Mineral Basin is absolutely incredible. Snowbird is much more of a resort then Alta. However, Weather can be a real issue at Snowbird. If it’s windy most of the mountain will be closed or very hard to ski.

The Little Cottonwood areas are really quite different from the Big Cottonwood areas. The Little Cottonwood areas feel like Switzerland while the Big Cottonwood areas are mellow.

And do not write off Deer Valley. If the snow is bad you at least get some good turns there because their snowmaking is very good. So is their grooming.
Nobody skis their expert terrain there or their many glades. If the snow is good you can have some great turns in the Daly Bowl and the Mayflower area where most of the skiers don’t even go. The food is amazing and actually not too expensive considering the value. You should try if you haven’t. You would be pleasantly surprised I think.


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thetrailboss

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I would say if you are driving up from Salt Lake, 4x4 is a must. No guarantee you don't get stuck in the Canyons if it starts dumping (if you don't know the term interlodge, research it) even with 4x4. Given what you are looking for, I'd say skip Deer Valley. It would be a bigger hike from where you are staying and while they have a bit of the terrain you are looking for, it is set back and no where near as plentiful as at the other 4 in the Cottonwoods.

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Agreed. There a good number of days where the canyons will be restricted to all wheel drive or vehicles with chains.


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Zand

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Spencer, MA
Yeah, trying to avoid that whole ordeal of trying to see too much that I end up missing out on the good things at each mountain. There's just so much to pick from lol. Sounds like if I do Sunday-Wednesday like I expect to, I should do Solitude on Sunday, then Alta/Bird Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday will be a wildcard day...if I fall in love with Alta and Snowbird like I expect to I'd just go back there but if I feel like I need something different I could go back to Brighton/Solitude or even Deer Valley which would put me closer to the airport anyway.

Last year I had planned on skiing Winter Park, Copper, and Steamboat all in 5 days but I'm glad I didn't. 2 days didn't feel like enough at Winter Park. Maybe it's because once I discovered Eagle Wind, I spent 80% of my time in there and didn't really get to explore much else. 3 days did feel like enough at Copper but that place skis smaller due to the fact that about 2/3rds of it is Okemo West (and the other 3rd is terrific). In this case, I feel like I'll need 3 days at Snowbird to fully enjoy it. But with the relative inexpensiveness of Utah I'll make it a yearly trip and get to check it all out over time. Colorado is tougher to do that.

Gotta love the Ikon pass though. Haven't even thought about expanding further out to places such as Aspen, Big Sky, Taos, Jackson, or Canada but that will come with time. Not to mention Killington, Sugarbush, and Sugarloaf (plus others) are a hell of an eastern trio.
 

Haas

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Mar 13, 2018
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Get an air bnb in sandy. Itll be cheaper than the motel, and you can get a place where you can walk to bus pickup. Take the snow bus to your resort of choice--that way you dont have to worry about renting a capable vehicle.

You could also bypass renting altogether and uber to/from airport and walk/uber for food and take the bus to ski. If you do rent, I would highly recommend Enterprise at the airport..just walking up to the counter or booking the day of online is fine. But you can really skip the car rental altogether IMO.

As far as where to Ski, I would do most of the time in little cottonwood..but it will be worth it to do a day at Solitutde. It is definitely big mountain skiing and you'll see why the name is so fitting. Brighton has pretty great night skiing, so consider that!

If I was in your position (which i have been many times and hope to be a couple more times this winter), my itinerary would be: Alta day 1. Snowbird days 2. A few hours at Snowbird day 3, then go home, eat, rest and cleanup then head to Brighton for night skiing. Day 4 hit Solitude then back to reality.

Whatever you do have fun!
 

jimk

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Typical January conditions in Utah, from 2017 :) (click on the smiley)
 
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crank

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I did a 5 ay trip to SLC last winter. Had MCP pass and skied 1 day at Snowbasin and 2 each at Alta and Snowbird.

Stayed at a cheap air b&b room in Sandy for about $30 a night. Decent place. I mainly picked it because they had some guitars on the wall and I am an avid player so was able to practice every evening.

Rented a small Ford 4wd SUV for about $35 a day from one of the major rental agencies.

I agree with skiing Solitude on Sunday. I would also consider avoiding LCC on a powder day just because it can be a real feeding frenzy up there... seems like every skier in SLC takes powder morning off and competition for fresh tracks is just that - a competition.
 

Boxtop Willie

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Feb 5, 2009
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I ski SLC a lot. When travelling solo and skiing BCC or LCC I usually stay in Midvale or Sandy. I don't rent an SUV anymore, I just take the bus. It's remarkably convenient, goes in any weather (unless the canyons are closed) and drops you off at the front door of all 4 of the areas. Inexpensive too. Solitude is the hidden gem, not crowded even on a powder day, great terrain and Honeycomb is fantastic....LCC is a zoo with fresh snow.
 

jaytrem

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I would also consider avoiding LCC on a powder day just because it can be a real feeding frenzy up there... seems like every skier in SLC takes powder morning off and competition for fresh tracks is just that - a competition.

That's what I didn't love about Alta, scored a midweek powder day and felt like I was at Mount Snow on a weekend. Even the hike to stuff was tracked out real quick. The boot packs had lines of 50 people going up. Powder day at Solitude was just the opposite. This was over 10 years ago though, so things may have changed at Solitude. I hear Alta is more crowded than ever though.
 

Boxtop Willie

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Did Solitude last March. Caught an 18 inch powder day on a Friday. Found fresh tracks all day...and for part of the following morning.
Shhhhh, don't tell anyone.
 

BenedictGomez

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PRNJ
Tried this before a Colorado trip last year with great results. Looking at doing a 4-day trip to the SLC area Ikon hills (Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude).

Variety is the spice of life, I'd hit each place once, next time you go back you'll know more what you like. Deer Valley is cool, but honestly given your time constraint, you may as well save the Park City areas for another trip.

Check out Airbnb rather than a hotel, you'll be floored how many places there are to rent from Cottonwood Heights down to Sandy, and some are really nice places with hot tubs, pool tables, etc... way better than paper thin Holiday Inn walls & children screaming & 6am.

If 4x4 rentals were cheap in winter, I'd go that route, but the price variance between 4x4 & non-4x4 in Utah winter is dramatic, and you may not even need 4x4. If you do for a day or two? Just take the bus from the parking lot at the bottom of the canyons. Easy way to save $300+ a week. And whatever you do, I'll 2nd the DO NOT EVER USE FOX RENTAL CAR........EVER...... had a terrible experience with them in Denver. Think Keystone Cops meets Hey Mon Airlines from In Living Color and you get the idea.

 
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abc

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Mar 2, 2008
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Trailboss' advise are the best and most comprehensive. After all, he's a eastern transplant, with a good understanding of what eastern skiers feels like.

What I'd emphasis:

1) Pick 2 mountains and get to know them a little. I'd say start with Snowbird. Then expand to Alta (the ticket is good for both anyway and you can ski back and forth). As you're there mostly in mid-week, non-holiday, crowding isn't as big a problem.

2) Brighton is one of my favorite. But I've been warned don't even think about going there on a Saturday. Not sure about other powder days. On the other hand, it has night skiing. So if your legs can handle it, it could be a very good option.

3) If the Big and Little Cottonwoods are closed due to avalanche control, go over to Deer Valley, QUICKLY. Other people probably have the same idea.

Rental car: I would get one. It helps to go out to eat if nothing else. Depends on price difference, you can definitely get away with just a non-SUV. Just watch the weather and be willing to take the bus.
 

Abominable

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Jan 18, 2013
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I did a great week in SLC two (?) years ago. I think I did a good compare / contrast on the mountains somewhere on here but can't find it. The folks here have given you good advice. I'll just add that the it's astonishing how much the snow can vary from canyon to canyon, mountain to mountain, on the same storm, and the difference between 12" and 6" is enough to make it really worthwhile to be flexible. We stayed in SLC and used the bus and it was great.
 

SnowbirdDevotee

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Just make sure you rent your SUV from an "at-airport" place, definitely stay away from Fox. Reserve one now and you can cancel it a few days out if there is no snow in the forecast. On a 4 day trip your chance of powder is about 35%, so don't count on it!
Tree skiing - I wouldn't worry too much about that. Of course there is some to be found(and some by necessity), but that isn't really the thing.
I don't really like a full day at either Brighton or Solitude, but they are fine for a half day (the day of travel).
Don't be afraid of Park City or Deer Valley, esp PC has the expert terrain. It wouldn't be a mistake to venture over there to check things out, unless of course you were leaving 12" in LCC for 4" over there! But with four days - 2 SB, 1 Alta and one in BCC for variety.
I just booked my SLC trip yesterday. My small SUV was $59/day.
One big problem is the traffic going up the LCC (and down too). It's been terrible the past few years!!!! But you should be fine Mon-Wed.
 
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