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The Where and Why of Utah Ski Resorts

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Choosing between the several Utah ski resorts can be daunting when you're not from the area, and once you have you may think the snow is whiter on the other side of the mountain. First things first: consider Utah climate and geography.

Storms visit the Beehive state by way of the Pacific Northwest and on average dump two thirds of their snow on the western slopes. The eastern resorts still get plenty of snow, mind you. Park City is eastern facing and incredibly famous.

The northern (Beaver Mountain, Snowbasin, Wolf Creek and Powder Mountain) and southern (Brian Head) Utah ski resorts are eastern as well, and get about the same amount of snow as Park City. This clears up a common misconception that being farther to the north means colder temperatures and more snow. Not true, at least about the snow, but because the mistake persists the prices for these resorts are much cheaper and the slopes less crowded.

Physical realities in hand the choice usually comes down to weighing accommodations, slope features and competition with fellow visitors. Weekdays and Sunday mornings are best.

Alta and Deer Valley are for skiers only, Deer Valley catering to larger budgets with condos and such. Snowbird ("The Bird") and Brighton are loved by locals but Snowbird is more of a resort while Brighton sticks to quality slopes and very basic everything else. If Brighton is too bare bones turn around and drive 5 minutes back to Solitude, which looks and feels like a Swiss village.

Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort are huge and very popular with visitors. They are easy to get to and offer world-class accommodations. Sundance is similar but smaller, more isolated and home to a film festival every January.

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