A Guide to Spending the Holidays Skiing in Utah

A Guide to Spending the Holidays Skiing in Utah

Travel Tips and Deals

By Travel Tips and Deals \ December 3 2018

The first time I spent the holidays in Utah I was on vacation and didn’t know what to expect. It sounded fun, skiing, lots of snow, and warm drinks by a fire, but it was also very different.

Whatever holidays are part of your tradition, one thing is constant – celebration. Often with friends and family. It may seem counter-intuitive to leave home, but the holidays are a great time to gather your crew, experience adventure and create new traditions along the way!

Utah ski resorts and towns don’t hold back when it comes to festivities! In fact, Park City Mountain has been named one of the top ski areas to spend Christmas by Liftopia.com and Curbed.

If snow conditions are your priority, Alta Ski Area is considered one of the most reliable destinations for holiday turns (Ski.com, Zrankings.com, Snowpak.com). “On Christmas day, an average of 96% of Alta's terrain is open for business,” explains Christopher Steiner on Zrankings.com.

On Christmas day, an average of 96% of Alta's terrain is open for business

Spending the holidays skiing in Utah will deliver lots of powder, cheer, and fun, for the whole family, but a pinch of planning can make your stay even more enjoyable. 

Snow Play Off the Slopes

Don’t limit your snow play to skiing and riding. Try something new or different! Sneak out with the kids to build a snowman or ride a sled. Snowshoeing is super fun, especially early or late in the day when the light is low and wildlife is browsing about. Many ski reposts offer guided snowshoe tours and rentals so you don’t even need to travel.

As odd as it may sound, another fantastic activity is riding fat-bikes. Their huge tires float across the snowy trails, a perfect mix of exercise and adventure. The first time I rode one I couldn’t stop smiling. They are available to rent at Jans Mountain Outfitters, White Pine Touring, and several other locations across the state. 

While all of these ideas sound fun, one of my favorite things to do on a snowy day is curl up by the fire with hot tea and good book. Now there’s a tradition I’ll keep!

Santa and Skiing Child - Ski Utahjpg


Food is a central theme throughout holidays across the world. Luckily, Utah has some of the most progressive food scenes in the country. During the holidays, local chefs unleash their creativity.

Holiday meal reservations book up early, so make yours as soon as possible.

For my first Thanksgiving in Utah, I made reservations for the Lodge Bistro at Snowbird. The menu was a perfect balance between creative and warmly familiar…nostalgic flavors of warm squash and tart cranberry, without grandma’s fruitcake and green Jell-O mold. 

Holiday meal reservations book up early, so make yours as soon as possible.

Traditions and Faith on Snow

Holiday travel doesn’t mean giving up fun traditions or observation of faith, but it does provide a new setting. From Santa to Christmas Eve Service, Carols to Shabbat, there’s no need to forsake either.

For example, Deer Valley Resort offers ski-in/ski-out Shabbat services on Fridays and Non-Denominational church services on Sundays. Snowbird offers Hanukkah Candle Lighting December 2nd to 9th, a Christmas Eve Parade and Candlelight Service, plus Mr. and Mrs. Clause “Ride the Bird” on Christmas Day. 

At Park City Mountain you can see Santa ride down the town lift on December 15 and a Christmas eve torchlight parade on December 24. 

The key is planning ahead so you are in the right place at the right time. Visit our events calendar or holiday events post for more information. 

Gifting on the Go

Traveling may complicate gift-giving depending on the size. A great way to gift large items without complicating travel is to wrap a picture of the surprise waiting at home. Our family did this and it’s still super exciting.

Wrap a picture of the surprise waiting at home

Naturally, this strategy works best with older children and adults. For the younger set, you may want to pack a few small gifts and save the rest for a “mini-Christmas” after returning home.

Celebrating with Family and Friends

Okay, I saved the toughest one for last. What about family and friends who can’t travel with you? I’m going to answer with a brief story.

I was a firefighter before moving to Utah. My 24/48 shifts lined up such that I worked nearly every major holiday. But we didn’t let that dampen the celebration; we simply looked forward to a different date than most. Our whole family still shared big meals, opened gifts, and made beautiful memories.

You can do the same thing. Plan an early or late celebration with family and friends on a date that works for you.

And Don’t Forget…

If you’re staying near Salt Lake City, take a break from the slopes to see the lights at Temple Square. With easily a million lights, the display is spectacular beyond words. Dress warm and plan to grab a bite while downtown. Some of our best restaurants are in the area.

Do you have a non-traditional way of celebrating the holidays? How to do YOU balance tradition with flexibility? Please share so that we may all get some new ideas!