When Is the Best Time To Ski and Snowboard in Utah?
There’s never a bad time to visit Utah — on and off the mountain adventure abounds all year. But if you’re wishing to ski or snowboard on The Greatest Snow on Earth® at one or more of our 15 resorts, Utah’s famous ski season runs from November to May.
When Do Utah Ski Resorts Open and Close for the Season?
Opening days at most Utah resorts typically occur in late November. Closing days usually take place in April (but Snowbird touts a May closure). Exact dates vary from resort to resort and are ultimately based on snow levels. Dates can be pushed up or extended with a few weeks' notice, so check the resort’s website for the most up-to-date information.
Best Time to VisitUtah resorts are as unique as their opening and closing dates. There are many ways to make the most of your Utah ski trip whether you’re learning to ski or living for powder days. From November to May, the Utah ski season — and ski towns of Park City, Ogden and Salt Lake City — provide an endless itinerary of snowy adventures, fresh air, après ski, and, best of all, quality time in the mountains with friends and family. (Read: Top Ski Towns in Utah)
"From November to May, the Utah ski season — and ski towns of Park City, Ogden and Salt Lake City — provide an endless itinerary of snowy adventures, fresh air, après ski, and, best of all, quality time in the mountains with friends and family."
November to January
November — Thanksgiving is considered early season but, assuming we all did our Snow Salsa, Powder Popping or Mountain Mambo dances, Brighton typically starts running its lifts by mid-November with the rest opening thereafter over the next several weeks. This is typically the best time to find great ski and lodging deals — even last-minute deals — making it a hit with families who want to learn to ski or snowboard and parents who don't want to cook (I convinced my family that Snowbird is the best Thanksgiving staycation and, I promise, it has nothing to do with its rooftop spa). You can, also, escape the kitchen on Saturdays at Brian Head, where the Southern Utah resort hosts weekly BBQs and live music at the Last Chair Saloon.
December — Christmas and New Year’s in Utah are famed for bright days and night lights. It is hard not to get into the holiday spirit on a ski vacation especially when accompanied on a lift by Santa or Mrs. Claus, The Grinch or Buddy the Elf. Utah resorts encourage young and old to celebrate the season. Costume contests awarding free lift tickets are common, and huge smiles are ubiquitous (check individual websites for details). As the sun goes down, resorts throughout the state host nighttime skiing, where skiers and snowboarders can explore the illuminated slopes. Nearby ski towns of Salt Lake City, Ogden and Park City also twinkle with light displays and holiday cheer. People who enjoy a classic winter experience will tell you that the end of the year is the best time to ski in Utah.
January — The powder is typically dumping in January keeping resorts busy and visitors happy through the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. However, the real buzz in The Beehive State occurs during the last half of the month when the Sundance Film Festival takes over Park City streets and theaters throughout the mountain and metropolitan areas. If you arrive after opening weekend, you can likely still score same-day movie tickets and celebrity sightings (my hubby has accepted that a selfie with Jon Hamm on a Tuesday morning is nothing he should worry about), but the real discovery is that the ski slopes are just about empty during Sundance (Also read: Sundance, Full Circle). If you prefer to see real stars or feel entire galaxies envelop you, then head to some of the darkest skies on the planet in Southern Utah or in the northern Ogden Valley.
February and Spring Skiing
February — Love is in the thin air of Utah this month. With a solid snowy base and storms refilling Utah’s ideal powdery base regularly (the word for it is “flotation”; to geek out, read The Science Behind Utah’s Snow), this is a great time to experience all this State has to offer and what draws people back each year.
Ask locals or the “lifties” at the resorts where the best runs and powder stashes are each day (Utahns are famous for their hospitality and are happy to share snow tips because, frankly, we get months and months of this stuff and are happy to spread the stoke). With the adrenaline rush of snorkeling through The Pow or cruising down your first groomer, you’ll feel excited and exhausted at the same time. To bring you back down and give you an opportunity to brag, enjoy a five-star aprés ski at St. Regis with hot cocoa made from melted European chocolate or its signature 7452’ Mary (the number represents the elevation and how many levels this cocktail stands above the traditional bloody fare).
Then, if it is early February, join thousands of fans below to watch Olympic hopefuls fly, twist and descend at Deer Valley Resort or over the Wasatch at Solitude Mountain for the FIS World Cup Championship. This amped-up event is like a Springsteen concert for thrill seekers and, after skiing those runs earlier that day, you’ll feel like one of them.
March — Spring fever hits Utah resorts in a variety of ways. One annual tradition is the 16-day Spring Gruv at Park City or Beaver Bash at Beaver Mountain (think: pond skimming, but on skis; you really have to see it to believe it). However, if you just want to wring out every last bit of winter, take your skiing and snowboarding skills to the next level (especially, if that’s from blue to black runs) and end with a bang, then spend the day cross-country skiing in the tracks of Olympians. It also produces an inordinate amount of artisan chocolate (although locals joke that what the state lacks in alcohol it makes up for in chocolate, there’s plenty of the former here, too).
April — The temperatures are warm, but there is typically one last powder storm before the arrival of “corn skiing,” a completely different texture of snow that is a lot of fun to ski on and is particularly forgiving. If you enjoy warm weather and smaller crowds, spring may be the best time to ski in Utah. If that is not enough reason to visit then, like the early season, the ski-and-lodging deals should convince you to sneak out here one last time. Most resorts close by month’s end with celebrations that rival opening day (like the live music and parking lot party at Alta’s closing day).
May — Yes, Snowbird is still open and, weather permitting, will remain so through Memorial Day Weekend and (with crossed fingers and more dancing) beyond. If you’re around, then this is a terrific time to pick up your season pass and discount gear for next year. With the best prices and extra perks, you’ll save enough to come back next season.
Busiest Days of Utah’s Ski Season
Winter holidays — the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King weekend and President’s Day weekend — draw the most ski and snowboard visitors. The resort energy during these holidays is electric and exciting, but you may want to book a day or two before or after the holiday to alleviate the stress of crowds. Additionally, be sure to book lodging, rentals, transportation and lessons at least two months prior to ensure availability during these peak ski days.