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Utah trip: need advice on staying in SLC over holidays

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm considering Coming to Utah for 5 days around December 20. I've read the posts about holiday crowds and think it makes sense to stay in Salt Lake City to maximize flexibility (and Save money).

So, here are my questions:are there efficient shuttles to the resorts or do I need to rent a car? Does anyone have a decent cheap hotel to recommend?

I know that Alta/Snowbird are about 30 miles from the city. Is Solitude about the same distance (I'm intrigued by "untracked lines").

If there's a better Strategy (or someone wants to offer me a place to crash), I'd really appreciate some advice. Thanks!
post #2 of 12


There are city buses that run to the local areas (not Park City). This service has been recommended by locals, one of whom no doubt can fill you in on the best place to stay to catch them.
post #3 of 12

Big vs Little Cottonwood Canyons...

Hey SB, I am including a link below that SHOULD show the relationship between BIG Cottonwood Canyon (Brighton/Solitude) and LITTLE Cottonwood Canyon (Snowbird/Alta).

http://mappoint.msn.com/(m51dul45slfc3545pislw1jy)/directions.aspx?C=40.602079795602%2c-111.723794442803&L=USA&A=50&PN=1798671369&S=800%2c 740&P=|40.6235984712839%2c-111.711391154677|flag_start|Start|L1||40.588542502 3735%2c-111.645835032687|flag_end|End|L1|&TI=Peruvian+Acre +Rd%2c+Midway%2c+UT+84049
(you might have to zoom out, etc. to see the whole route???)

The green line shows the actual driving route between Brighton and Alta, but I'm sending it that way to highlight the canyon routes. The highlights make a "C", the top arm of it is BIG Cottonwood, the bottom is LITTLE Cottonwood.

A different way to describe what you see there; The suburbs of Salt Lake run right up to the edge of the first hills/mountains... (That would be where the vertical part of the C is) then narrow canyon roads zig and zag up to the two resort areas. In those nearest suburbs, Sandy and such, there are regular subdivsions, strip shopping centers, big box stores, restaurants, etc. I'm sure most of the national chains also have hotels in those nearest suburbs too. It's basically normal suburbia, but without liquor stores since it's utah!!! (there is 3.2 beer in the grocery stores, and a goverment liquor store is maybe 20 minutes from Sandy???)

I would think others will have specific recommendations for a place to stay for you, but as long as you are along a more major street I would think you could catch a bus? Haven't taken them though.

I have a buddy who lives a mile from the entrance to Little, so haven't ever had to find another place to lay my head. Speaking of it, he has a 1,200 sq.ft. walk-out BASEMENT finished with a guest room + the 2nd gorgeous kitchen (much nicer than mine) + media room with 72 inch high def TV and that BASEMENT has views out over the whole city of Salt Lake... glittering lights at night everywhere. I should hop in the car and head there right now!!! Dick & Cathy, I'm on my way, whooo hooo. (grin leaves my face and turns to horror as I realize I'm NOT really jumping in the car right now, dangit)

I've had turns at 3 of the 4, been with my family and had younger kids along so have NOT explored every part of the resorts... but that won't stop me from giving you an opinion will it? Availability of some easier terrain to those with little of it would be IMHO; Brighton, Solitiude then Snowbird.

post #4 of 12
Christmas eve and Day are usually quiet. The day after and then the whole week gets busy, especially at PCMR. Alta is usually fine and judging by that, Solitude should be even better. Deer Valley is busy, but they limit skiers. Sundance is never crowded and I'll bet Snow Basin and Powder Mountain aren't either. As for the rest, Canyons,SnowBird or Brighton, I've not been there on Christmas. Avoid PCMR Christmas week. It's like a New York sidewalk.
post #5 of 12

Someone to call about places...

Also, if I were you I'd call (or email?) The Lift House ski shop located right at the base of big cottonwood canyon... someone there MUST know all the hookups?

(801) 943-1104

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone, this is a great start. Tim, the map was very helpful. Obviously, it seems to me that you'd want to stay in Sandy or some adjoining town that is closest to the slopes.
I'll call the lift house ski shop to confirm if buses are really practical and report back here. I don't want to wait too long for a bus if there's pow up top, but I like the idea of using public transport (and saving money) if it's practical.
Hopefully this thread can be useful to many people. Thanks again.
post #7 of 12
I'm not a local but did your trip last year. Staying in Sandy would give quick access to Alta / Snowbird but is a suburban experience, though very inexpensive for motels/hotels.

The buses are an easy way to get up to Alta or Snowbird, and I can recommend them as an alternative to driving up the road yourself (would not be fun to chain up a rental car if required). There is a program called the "Super Pass" which includes a lift ticket to one of those plus the round trip bus fare. Take a look at http://www.visitsaltlake.com/ski/superpass.shtml for additional details.

I'm not sure which of the hotels are adjacent to the bus, but if you stay in Sandy (or Cottonwood) it would seem to make sense to rent a car so you can get around, or drive to downtown or Park City for a change of pace (though staying downtown is more convient to PC).

I would note that the LCC park and ride filled up very early (well before lifts open) so it might make sense to park one or two stops up the line if possible.
post #8 of 12
Squawbomber, I'm going to your area 12/27-1/5, then Mammoth 1/6-11!

Been to Utah many times, heed what stever said and the link. We used the Super Pass last year, great! We had a car, so stayed in downtown SLC at Crystal Inn, cheap and excellent breakfast, really. Rented at Canyons Sports within walking distance to hotel, excellent service and lowest rates of all (I researched everything).

If you can swing a car, don't miss The Canyons in Park City (30 min.) and Snowbasin in Ogden (45min.)

The only serious crowds Ive experienced were Snowbird and PCMR.

post #9 of 12
if you want "untracked" lines think Power Mtn or Snowbasin. But only if is has recently snowed. Sure, while you are in a good dump, and still snowing, you can find untracked lines at any of the cottonwoods. Don't except untracked lines to last very long "after" the storm. Things will stay nice and soft but get chopped up pretty quick. Now saying that, you can go off the beaten path, to the side, through the woods, on the roads less traveled and find powder well after a storm, even at Snowbird, but not what you might be hoping for.

Solititude and Brighton are what I call 1/2 day resorts for my type of skiing. Snowbird and Snowbasin I can ski all day without going near the same run twice. Alta, it doesn't ski nearly as big. However, for your first trip, it won't matter whatsoever. No crowds - Snowbasin, Solititude, Brighton. Crowds - Alta/Snowbird. Can't comment on PC resorts, haven't really bothered to ski them much.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Well, I'll be staying at the Super8 Hotel in Midvale from December 16-Dec. 21.
Super8 has a great package: I'll be getting the Superpass for 4 days, which gives access to Snowbird/Alta and Brighton and Solitude and includes ski bus fare. The buses sound great; it loads right across the street. For more info, check out the link in Stever's post above. Also, both Skiing and Powder have big ads about staying in SLC.
Plane fare was only $200 from Oakland and hotel and lift tix, with bus, are only $450, for 4 days of skiing. Can't beat that!
If anyone wants to get together and ski, let me know.
post #11 of 12
Good choice! Make certain you get the first bus up the canyons, they get crowded on good days. We'll be in your neck of the woods 12/27-1/4.

Do you think Squaw grooms more these days than a few years ago?
post #12 of 12
Hi, A question about the buses. I was looking at uta website, and on the schedule for the downtown slc ski bus, there seem to be just two buses in the morning and one at the end of the day. Is that right? And if so, can I be confident I'd be able to get on? The last thing I'd want would to stay in salt lake, walk to the bus stop and have it be full so I can't even get on.

Thanks for any advice.
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