Alpine, Après and Arches
Is Utah more famous for its skiing or for its desert red rocks? It’s hard to say, and you needn’t choose between the two on this trip. Timed perfectly for winter, this journey takes you to some of the finest mountain resorts in the world, then to the most spectacular vistas of the scarlet-hued desert.
There are two sides to Utah — the alpine mountains famous for their skiing, and the brilliant red rock expanses of the southern desert. This unforgettable trip offers a perfectly balanced snapshot of both. You can experience both mountains and desert by setting up a “base camp” for the first few days with ski access in northern Utah, then heading south to Moab to set up shop for the next couple of days and explore the desert.
First, base yourself in or around Salt Lake for a central outpost from which to explore the surrounding resorts — you can get to ten of them within a 60-minute drive or less. After three days of some of the best skiing on the planet, you’ll be ready to head south to explore the desert’s natural wonders in two of the most popular national parks in the west, during its quiet season when you can enjoy some real breathing room.
While the geography of these two areas could hardly be more strikingly different, there’s not a large difference in winter temps between the Salt Lake area and the Moab-Canyonlands area, so many of the same winter layers you pack for skiing will serve in the south. Just pack sturdy hiking boots and plenty of layers (traction cleats may also come in handy depending on conditions). And use a good four-wheel-drive vehicle so the high canyons and mountain passes don’t feel stressful; they’re often snowy this time of year, but if you’re prepared, you can embrace it.
Start: Salt Lake City
Hours of drive time: 13-16 depending on ski destinations chosen
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