Best Ski Towns: Salt Lake City vs Denver
If you and your family are planning on hitting the slopes this winter, we have created a simple guide to help you choose which ski town is the best for you. Most would agree that two of the best ski towns in America are Salt Lake City, Utah and Denver, Colorado. Both are located in the Rocky Mountains where the air is dry and the snow falls fresh. From expansive back bowls to powder-filled chutes, this guide will break down the stats and detail the highlights of three top ski resorts from each city as well as the cities themselves.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah has been nicknamed “Ski City” by locals and visitors alike. With an average annual snowfall of 500 inches, it’s no wonder Salt Lake City is a top ski destination. Just an hour from the city, there are 14 ski areas to keep you busy from dawn to dusk — and even after dusk when you decide to go night skiing! Once you are ready to lay down your head for the evening, check out these extended stay rooms located in and around the city.
Snowbird Ski Resort
One of the closest ski resorts to Salt Lake City is Snowbird, just 24 miles from downtown. Snowbird Ski Resort is home to 13 lifts spaced out over 140 different runs, the longest being 2.5 miles. Jump on their 100-capacity Aerial Tram for a breath-taking view of the 2,500 skiable acres.
Snowbird also offers backcountry exploration with snowmobile tours, heli-skiing, and snowcat skiing. Or you can take your time and experience the mountain on snowshoes. Snowbird Ski Resort is our top pick in Salt Lake City for beginner and intermediate skiers.
Brighton Ski Resort
Brighton Ski Resort was the first ski resort in Utah and one of the first resorts in the US. Just 31 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Brighton is considered a “no-frills” resort — it’s all about providing an abundance of slopes and fresh powder for skiers and snowboarders. Brighton Ski Resort is home to 7 lifts, 1,050 skiable acres, and 66 runs, the longest of which is 5.5 miles.
Known for being family-friendly, Brighton is always free for kids under 10. Their Twilight Pass can be purchased for night skiing from 2 pm until closing on over 200 lighted acres
Solitude Mountain Resort
Just over the edge of the mountain and slightly north, you will find Brighton’s neighbor — the Solitude Mountain Resort. Solitude is a family-oriented resort with daycare available at the main base for babies and toddlers. Solitude Mountain Resort’s expansive terrain has 1,200 skiable acres with 82 runs and 9 lifts. The longest run at Solitude is 3.5 miles.
One of the best-kept secrets at Solitude is their Nordic Center. They have both classic and skate style Nordic skiing available with over 12 miles of trails to explore. Solitude is the best ski resort to visit in Salt Lake City for the more adventurous and experienced skiers.
Denver, Colorado has been deemed by many the “Mile High City” due to its official elevation being exactly one mile above sea level. But the mountains next to Denver are the real summits you want to experience! Within a two hour drive of Denver, you can reach 12 amazing ski resorts. Denver’s average annual snowfall is around 360 inches so there are loads of winter activities to enjoy.
What makes the mountains of Colorado just too good to resist is the extended skiing season. Skiing starts as early as October and can end as late as July. No matter when you decide to visit Denver, there are great nightly and weekly rates at these nearby extended stay hotels.
Just 17 miles west of Denver off I-70 is a ski resort made famous by Hollywood, Copper Mountain. This mountain was the central location for the 1983 film Copper Mountain and the 1994 film Dumb and Dumber. But the real draw of this resort is the 2,490 skiable acres with 126 runs and 25 lifts throughout.
Copper Mountain is noted for having the most organized layout with the slopes for beginners starting on the right and progressing in difficulty to the left. The longest run at Copper is 1.7 miles. There is fun for the whole family at Copper Mountain which also offers ice skating, snowmobiling, and tubing.
Loveland Ski Area
Holding the record for the earliest opening date of October 7th in 2009, Loveland Ski Area is the resort to visit for more experienced skiers, just 56 miles west of Denver. There are 10 lifts, and the longest run at Loveland is 2 miles.
Loveland is divided into two ski areas — Loveland Basin and Loveland Valley — for a total of 1,800 skiable acres and 100 hike-able acres. The Valley is just for beginners, but once you get your ski-legs, it’s a quick bus ride over to The Basin where the majority of slopes are located. Loveland Valley is the home of the annual Loveland Derby, the largest and oldest slalom ski race in North America.
Last but definitely not least is the Arapahoe Basin, located 68 miles west of Denver. It has been nicknamed The Basin or A-Basin. The Basin is most well known for two things: it’s extended season (opening around mid-October and usually staying open until early June) and it’s “local’s mountain” vibe.
Arapahoe Basin now has over 1,400 skiable acres with 9 lifts. The kids can enjoy the Aerial Adventure Park while the adults jump on some of the gnarly steeps and extreme chutes that A-Basin has to offer across its nearly 150 runs. Arapahoe Basin is our top pick for expert skiers to visit in the Denver area.
Locals of Salt Lake City and Denver both claim their mountains are the best. One final comparison for you to consider is the base level and summit elevation of each mountain resort. The choice is yours.
We hope this guide has assisted you in making your decision on the best ski town to visit this season. But no matter which city you pick, you are sure to enjoy the snow, the chutes, and the peaks. Happy skiing!