How affordable are Utah ski resorts?

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Utah’s Brighton Ski Resort, photo by Jackson Blackhurst

UTAH (ABC4) – It can be hard for Utahns to take advantage of local skiing, even with the plethora of options practically in our backyard. Factors like time, traffic, parking, and cost can deter potential skiers from hitting the slopes. And while it’s hard to consider a ski vacation a low-budget option, an affordable mountain getaway might be more accessible than Utahns think.

“While skiing is definitely a financial commitment, it doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank,” says Alison Palmintere, director of communications at Ski Utah.

A new study reveals that five Utah resorts rank among the 40 least expensive ski destinations. The report, conducted by vacation search rental company Holidu, evaluated the prices of lift tickets and accommodations to determine which resorts were the most budget-friendly. The Holidu team took prices into account during both the high and low seasons and calculated the average cost per day.

The study revealed that Utah’s Powder Mountain, located a little over 50 miles from downtown Salt Lake and just northeast of Ogden, provides skiers with the most bang for their buck. According to Holidu, the average combined daily cost of a lift ticket and accommodations at the Northern Utah resort adds up to only $74. The resort – which is the largest in North America – has a whopping 135 km of skiable terrain and a relatively balanced amount of runs for skiers of all levels. Powder Mountain came in ahead of the runner-up, Idaho’s Schweitzer Mountain, by only four dollars, though the Utah resort boasts 40 more km of ski territory.

Another local favorite, Alta, also made the list, coming in at No. 4. This Little Cottonwood Canyon resort is home to 85 km of skiable terrain, with a variety of options for the more advanced, intrepid skier. Holidu’s study priced an Alta vacation at $109 per day. The resort has 12 lifts and 19 restaurants, in addition to five hotels and a good mix of rental condo options. Guests at Alta should also budget a little extra time and money for parking on weekends and holidays.

Snowbird, which shares Little Cottonwood with Alta, ranked 18th on the list. The resort has mostly intermediate and advanced terrain within their 2,500 acres and is home to a rooftop pool/spa, in addition to 15 restaurants and 5 bars.

In a move that might be surprising to Utahns familiar with local resorts, both destinations located in Park City ranked on the top 40 list, too. Deer Valley came in just below Snowbird at No. 19, and Park City Mountain Resort brought up the rear at no. 29. An average Deer Valley day is priced at $203.51, while a Park City vacation goes for approximately $249.88 per day.

With daily prices starting at the relatively affordable rate of $74 and quickly jumping to triple digits by the third resort on the list, it’s clear that skiing might not always be attainable for some vacationers. But with the most affordable ski destination within driving distance of Salt Lake, it may be possible for Utahns to cut down on costs even more by nixing on-mountain lodging.

“We have everything here in Utah from luxury accommodations, all the way down to accommodations that would fit larger families looking to keep things on a budget,” Palmintere says.

In addition, some Utah resorts have programs for free skiing for children under age 12. Ski Utah also offers programs for children – like the $45 5th and 6th-grade ski passport – that help to keep skiing available to children in Utah.

Palmintere notes that another barrier to entry for some potential skiers might be the cost of gear. She notes that Utah is home to plenty of budget-friendly gear options, too, with ski swaps and rentals from less expensive gear shops.

“There are deals to be had, if you are looking for them,” she says.

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