ALTA — Not many people can claim they live an hour or so away from the ski resort named tops in the United States for five years running.
But we can.
Ski magazine readers awarded Deer Valley the top ski destination each year from 2008 to 2012. That Whistler bested it this year shouldn’t be taken too hard, not unless Whistler wins the next four years too.
Davis County residents have the rare privilege of living within 90 minutes of eight world-class ski resorts.
A trip to Alta last week confirmed that we locals aren’t the only ones enjoying Utah snow.
On one lift ride up, a couple from Austria was comparing snow levels at various Utah resorts. On another, a woman who more recently lived in Egypt told me of her experiences learning to ski here.
I met someone who is originally from China on one ride and several New Yorkers on another, as well as people from Phoenix, San Francisco and Chicago.
Deer Valley got my attention years ago when we first skied there. What most impressed me, I have to admit, was fresh flowers in the restrooms.
Fresh flowers in restrooms may not be the way everyone else ranks their resorts. Apparently the resort got high marks from other skiers for things such as snow, lifts, weather, food, service and grooming. All worthy considerations.
That there is a cost to some of those extras is true. But locals can get discounts on lift tickets at Deer Valley and most other resorts, if they buy before the season starts.
Lower prices are also available when purchasing lift tickets off-site at rental shops or even, in some cases, at Costco.
Non-skiers can take to the mountains in the winter as well, enjoying the many fine restaurants and hotel accommodations at each resort. Some resorts have facilities for cross-country skiing and other winter sports.
In January, many also offer discount lessons in support of Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month, a national promotion.
Inversions in the valley make the drive to higher elevations all the more tempting Р and rewarding.
Warmer weather can bring steeply discounted prices on room rentals, and many resorts are offering more and more summer fare, such as alpine slides and zip-lines, tram rides and even symphony concerts. Of course, hiking and biking are warm weather favorites in the canyons.
Each resort has its own unique personality, it’s own reputation for everything from slopes to lift chairs, from crowds to snow. If you are a snowboarder, Deer Valley and Alta are out. They’re only for skiers. If you like gentle slopes, be careful at Snowbird, which has lots of challenging terrain. You can ski between multiple canyons at Canyons. Oddly enough, you can ski between luxurious homes at Deer Valley.
Some resorts have courses for racing, and some have terrain such as half-pipes for even more adventurous ways to get downhill.
The more jagged mountains are in the narrow but steep Little Cottonwood Canyon. The more rounded peaks are around Park City’s resorts.
Whether at Snowbasin near Ogden Canyon or in the canyons east of Salt Lake, you’ll find incredible mountains amazingly close.
It’s rewarding to do more than drive by them, but to get in them.