I've only been to SLC once, with my nephew. Last season, Martin Luther King Day weekend. Based on his recommendation we stayed in the Red Lion Inn just outside of the center of town, rented skis at Utah Ski and Golf right across the street, and used public transportation to get up to Alta./Snowbird.
The hotel was maybe ten miles north of LCC, and there was a bus stop in front of the hotel with a route that went right up the canyon.
In past years apparently the bus to the canyon had a lot more runs, but the schedules had been cut back a lot and so the earliest bus would get you to the hill about an hour after it opened. (Note that anyone looking for lessons at Alta would miss the morning group, and thus sacrifice an entire afternoon of post-lesson reinforcement unless you went for a private lesson.)
So instead we walked three or four blocks to the light rail line (lugging our gear) and took that south to the end of the line, connecting with another bus up the canyon. From hotel to hill took maybe an hour and fifteen (?). One day the canyon was closed due to weather, so we were stuck for about an additional hour standing around in an open bus depot in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do.
I had a 5:00 or 6:00 PM flight back east. Turned out that from about 11:00 to 2:00-something there were no buses leaving the top of LCC, which put me at SEVERE (about guaranteed) risk of missing the flight unless I left the hill after only a couple of runs (or made a really good new friend who gave me a lift back to the hotel, which is what happened).
Next time I'll rent a car at the airport, and stay closer to the canyon. Otherwise, I'll study the bus routes closely, then cross-reference hotels, rental shops and restaurants to find a spot at the base of the canyon with everything close by. In either case I'll take a much later flight home. And I'll go maybe a month later.
I had a good time in SLC: the people were nice, there were a lot of good restaurants, and the skiing was great. All of the locals were apologizing for the crappy conditions, it was all tracked out and rained like hell one day. But since I'm in Michigan it was like being at home, only a lot taller and prettier. I plan to go back.
Edited by chilehed - 12/22/11 at 5:58am