It’s the heart of winter, which means there are three more school vacations (President’s Day, Winter Break and Spring Break) that are ski-worthy. This past December, we spent our holiday skiing at two great family ski-only mountains in Utah.
We are big fans of Home Exchange and exchanged with a Salt Lake City family over the Christmas holiday. We exchanged our New York City apartment and our unlimited Metrocards for their 4-bedroom home and use of their car. (More on our winter Home Exchange experience at a later post!). We had a FABULOUS time in Salt Lake City – and their home was only 35 to 40 minutes from Utah’s two ski-only resorts: Alta Ski Area and Deer Valley Resort.
If you’re looking to do some family skiing in Utah, here are my Top Two Tips, plus my reviews on Alta Ski Area and Deer Valley Resort.
Tip #1. Rent your skis locally. Instead of lugging skis from New York City to Utah, we reserved our skis online at Ski n See which has several locations in Salt Lake City. Since we reserved online, we received 20% off our order, and it was much cheaper to rent at Ski n See versus renting at one of the ski resorts.
Tip #2. Purchase a Ski Salt Lake Super Pass. Another must is purchasing the Ski Salt Lake Super Pass. This pass is phenomenal. My 5th grader and I used it when we skied Alta (my 1st grader didn’t need a lift pass). It is an easy-to-use lift pass that can be redeemed at Alta Ski Area, Brighton, Snowbird or Solitude. Depending on how many days you buy the Super Pass for, your lift ticket is $69-$73 per day, or up to 20% off. You can also get free transportation to/from the above resorts on UTA Ski Buses and TRAX lightrail (we didn’t take advantage of this). You can also rent equipment at 20% off at participating resort rental locations.
Alta Ski Area Review:
Pictures from our Alta Ski Trip
The runs at Alta Ski Area were big and empty (at least from an East Coast perspective) and the snow was amazing. The highest peak is over 10,000′ above sea-level. So there is a ton of great mountains. Alta uses the updated ski lift tags which made the lift lines go pretty fast. The runs for me were challenging (I do easy blues) and my ski instructor was attentive and knowledgeable. (I still hear him telling me to keep my chest up and to look ahead.) A 2-hour group adult lesson at Alta is a very reasonable $60 for 4-6 people .
We put the girls in Alta’s Alf Engen Ski School for two full days (9:15-3:15) which was $125 for 4 hours of skiing plus lunch and snack. You also had to buy a kid’s lift ticket for $42 for a total of $167. The process was super-easy and not crowded. They don’t take reservations for ski-school, so you should go early, between 8:30-9:15am to sign up and get your kids into the class. They had many helpers to help put on ski boots, sun screen, help them with going to the bathroom and having snacks. My older daughter got a lot out of her two days of ski school and became a solid advanced beginner. My younger one had a different experience. She never left the small bunny hill and never learned to make her turns. After Day 1, I thought, well, she would surely learn on the second day. But on the second day, I checked in on her late in the afternoon, just before pick-up, and she still hadn’t left the bunny area—and she still wasn’t making her turns! She was just going straight down the hill! I felt that the instructor kinda gave up on her, which was a shame for the $250 we spent on her.
There are 9 dining options at Alta, but The Hubby and I met up for lunch at Albion Grill for lunch every day (lunch date!) since the girls were in ski-school. It was never crowded, and we never had to wait for a table. The food was good and hearty (I loved the meat + vegetarian chili mixed together!) and not expensive at all.
Deer Valley Resort Review:
Scenes from Deer Valley Resort
We tried out the other skier-only resort in Utah: Deer Valley Resort. Deer Valley, along with Park City and Canyons is in Park City, Utah and is in more of the “chicer” side of the mountain (Kanye, Kim Kardashian and their entourage were at Deer Valley when we were there). Which means it’s expensive. But, as I have come to find out, the cost of skiing at Deer Valley is extremely worth it.
Deer Valley is a huge mountain, with three upper mountains and two lower ones. I easily could spend one whole day on one of the mountains. On my first day, I couldn’t figure out how to get from one mountain to the other and luckily, one of the many ski instructors was skiing next to me, and he was so nice and skied with me for 10 minutes to get me to the right ski lift. That is definitely one thing about Deer Valley: the service is impeccable. Everyone is friendly and willing to help. I had a group lesson at Deer Valley (4 people / $165) which turned out OK for the price. I had a young and new-ish instructor who was nice, but wasn’t challenging enough for me.
As you can see from the video, Deer Valley’s Ski School for our girls was AMAZING. It’s expensive, I won’t lie to you. It was $230 per day from 10am-3:45 which included lunch and hot chocolate. But you get what you pay for. Our 5th grader became a solid intermediate skier doing the blues with “grace”, according to her teacher, Miss Marie (who we will seek out next time we go), and Sydney was challenged and learned how to get on and off ski lifts and went down “Ontario” the big, long green run that kids at the Beginner/Advance Beginner get on. At the end, Olivia and I were skiing blues together, and the three of us skied “Wild West” the large and long bunny slope that you see in the video.
Food was also great at Deer Valley. Lots of fresh salads, fruits. My favorite was the turkey chili with all the fixings. Food is expensive. If you don’t watch out, lunch for one person can be $25-$30! There are lots of comfortable seating inside and outside the Snow Park Lodge, which was where I would meet The Hubby for our lunch dates.
We had a great time doing some family skiing in Utah and we would definitely go return! We are hoping our Salt Lake City family will want to exchange with us again so we can explore other ski areas and go back to Deer Valley and Alta.
Make sure to stop back back for more posts on where to eat in-and-around Salt Lake City, as well as the family friendly activities we did in Salt Lake City.