Park City and the Wasatch Range
Immediately east of Salt Lake City, the Wasatch Range soars to over 11,000 feet. These mountains are characterized by their steep canyons and abundant snowfall, the combination of which makes for legendary skiing. Big Cottonwood Canyon, home to the Solitude and Brighton ski and snowboard areas, is just south and east of the city; the next canyon south, Little Cottonwood Canyon, has Snowbird and Alta, two world-class ski resorts (snowboarding is permitted at Snowbird, but not at Alta). When the snow melts, the hiking is every bit as great as the skiing and boarding.
About 45 minutes east of Salt Lake via I-80, and a thriving city in its own right, Park City is home to three major ski areas: Park City Mountain Resort, the Canyons, and Deer Valley. Park City hosted many events during the 2002 Winter Olympics (the Cottonwood Canyon resorts stayed out of the Games) and is also well known as the site of the annual Sundance Film Festival.
Though the entire northern Wasatch region is within commuting distance of Salt Lake, skiers who can afford the somewhat pricey accommodations should try to spend at least a couple of nights at one of the many lodges, which range from Alta’s friendly, down-home places to Deer Valley’s equally friendly but ultra-chic digs.
When the snow melts, many of the resorts have summer operations, with lift-assisted mountain biking being the most popular activity. There are also hiking trails, picnic areas, and campgrounds across the region.
Even in the summer, nights can be cold in the mountains, but sunny winter days can bring warm afternoons where it’s possible to unzip your parka and bask in the thin-aired glow.
© W.C. McRae and Judy Jewell from Moon Utah, 9th Edition