Why is Utah so excellent in the winter? Let us count the ways...
Many folks lament the turn of the seasons and dread the onset of winter. However, Utah's unique offerings make winter one of the best times of year. Here, we have some ideas about how to bide your time and make the most of the snowy season and shorter days.
Solitude's Nordic Center on a sunny day
If you stop to consider the number of activities offered up in Utah’s sprawling winter wonderlands, you begin to realize how lucky we are to have access to such a wide array of fun diversions. Here’s a few fail-proof and fun activities to enjoy the outdoors
Cross-country skiing or snowshoeing at Solitude Nordic Center, Sundance Nordic Center or Soldier Hollow
Night skiing at Brian Head, Brighton, Cherry Peak, Nordic Valley, Powder Mountain, or Sundance
Training, coaching, camps, lessons, hot laps or clinics at Woodward Park City (more info here)
Cat skiing or guided backcountry tours with Powder Mountain Guided Snowcat Expeditions, Snowbird Mountain Guides or PC Powder Cats & Heli-Ski
Demo the latest Rossignol gear—for free—at Deer Valley's Rossignol High Performance Test Center
Experience one of Sundance's many winter adventures from throwing pottery in the Sundance Art Studio to fly fishing or the exhilarating Sundance Zip Line.
UTAH'S GREAT SNOW
There’s a reason one of Utah’s tourism slogans is “The Greatest Snow on Earth.” There's a pretty funny story about the history of how that slogan came about and you can read about it here. But according to our highly respected local forecaster, Evan Thayer of Open Snow's Utah Daily Snow Report, it’s the quantity, quality and frequency of Utah’s snow that sets it leagues apart.
Utah mountains frequently receive large amounts of snow each winter with a fairly consistent base from top to bottom. Even in drier years, Utah's snowfall total often exceeds the average snow total for hundreds of resorts across America and Canada. If it isn’t dumping as frequently as we’d like, the coverage is still impressive and skiers and snowboarders can expect a large variety of terrain to be open even in lean years.
Just another Tuesday in Utah...
Utah snow weighs in at about 7-8% water content for the average storm. While not as dense as “Sierra Cement” and not as light as what you’d see in Taos, New Mexico, this 7-8% range is ideal. It’s light enough to dole out explosive face shots, but dense enough to support the weight of a skier or snowboarder. In deeper storms, this gives a legendary feeling of weightlessness unique to Utah snow. Our climate also promotes “right side up” storms where the storm starts warmer with wetter, denser snow and subsequently cools down and finishes out with a layer of drier and lower density snow. This is the ideal formula for face shot nirvana.
Thanks to Utah’s unique location, topography and the typical weather pattern from the northwest, the state rarely goes without a storm per week. It’s close enough to the Pacific Ocean so the access to moisture is ideal but located far enough inland to avoid the denser snow produced by maritime climates. According to Evan, Utah enjoys cold continental air masses and is perfectly positioned to benefit from a diverse set of weather patterns. Our mid-latitude locations grant Utah access to both the Northern and Southern branches of the jet stream. This dependability gives travelers confidence when booking trips to Utah and treats the locals to a regular refresh.
UTAH DISTILLERIES & MICROBREWERIES
Yep, you read that right. Utah booze is great! While many misconceptions remain about Utah’s teetotaling past, nowadays you can’t take a walk without running into a new distillery or microbrewery. When the weather is sunny, I enjoy pedaling my bike from the Sugarhouse district to downtown Salt Lake City and hopping from patio to patio sampling some of the finer IPAs. I also try to support local distilleries when making craft cocktails at home because our local options are so delicious!
My favorites include High West Distillery and Saloon's Campfire, a divine blend of scotch, bourbon and rye whiskeys. This smoke show of a spirit isn’t for the faint of heart but I view it as a flavor to savor. For the lazy mixologist, simply procure High West’s Barrel Finished Old Fashioned and finish off with a couple of Luxardo Maraschino Cherries—YUM!
Park City based Alpine Distilling makes a mean bottle of gin and as someone who loves a G&T, their Alpine Gin can’t be beat. In fact, it’s one of the globe’s most decorated gins having won numerous awards and international accolades including a top US Gin in the World Spirit Awards, the London Spirit Awards and honors from Women’s Wine & Spirits.
If you fancy something a bit more casual, check out the beer selection at local favorites Squatters or Wasatch Brew Pubs. Don't miss Snowbasin's 80th Anniversary Pale Ale from Roosters Brewing Company.
Utah's incredible access to the outdoors leaves visitors and locals alike fulfilled and feeling closer to nature. One of my favorite winter pastimes is hiking, walking or running on one of our many trails or urban thoroughfares. Here's a list of our favorite places to meander.
Visiting Salt Lake's Allen Park is like playing a game of whimsical I Spy
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