At the top of Hidden Peak, Snowbird, Utah

Getting to Snowbird, Utah

After a very hectic first three days of New Year’s week, I finally wrapped up at work, grabbed my keys, and jetted home to embark on our long-weekend getaway to Snowbird, Utah! As we packed the night before, it was a grab the bags, energy drink, and go situation to get out of the house. Expecting holiday rush hour traffic at 4 PM on a Wednesday, we planned for lots of traffic time, but the travel Gods parted the highway seas for us and we arrived at the airport, checked our bad, and passed through security with 2+ hours to spare. Pros of being early – no stress. Cons of being early – spending 2+ hours in an airport…

Anyway, we squeezed into a two-top at the airport Chilis for a quick bite. I spent the majority of that dinner eavesdropping on the two single travelers next to us that serendipitously made a love connection over chips and salsa. Yay, airport entertainment!

Our plane boarded on time and I spent most of the 2.5 hour flight catching up on the gossip magazines and looking out of the window at all of the city lights. Flying over cities at night is pretty, but doing so while people still have their Christmas lights up is a completely different experience. There is something so enchanting about twinkle lights and it was just that much better once we landed, hopped on our Canyon Transportation van, and drove through the city where the twinkle lights combined with the snow’s reflection. Oh to live in a state with snow…

While we did have to wait about 30 minutes for our transport van to show up, our shared ride there was easy and warm, which was especially good because it was 0, yes 0, degrees out! We had some good conversations with the local driver and other fellow Snowbird travelers during the ride, arrived at the Cliff Lodge around 10:30, checked in, and then unpacked for our first day on the slopes!

Utah travel tips:

  • Bring eye drops, lotion, and chapstick as the air is very dry.
  • Hydrate starting the day before your trip and drink lots of water throughout. The elevation and dryness in the air will be much worse if you don’t.
  • Ask your hotel if they have a humidifier in the room. Most hotels have them and it makes a huge difference when you are trying to sleep.
  • Decided if you want to rent a car or get a transport to the hotel. If you feel safe driving in snowy conditions and want to go to multiple slopes / places, renting is a good option! If you are not a snow day driver and / or are only staying on-location, do the transport option.

 

At the top of Hidden Peak, Snowbird, Utah

Booking Ski Trips 101

When your travel buddy has 4.5 days of vacation left for the year, it’s basically a crime not to take advantage of them. For that reason, I suggested that we embark on a ski adventure. It took some elbow grease to get the idea set into motion, but one hour on the couch and a great deal on New Year’s travel later, we had a 4 night stay booked at a highly reviewed resort called the Cliff Lodge in Snowbird, Utah!

You know the saying “hindsight is 20/20”? Well that really applies to this trip. Immediately after booking, I clicked into the mountain reviews. They were extremely positive but I started noticing that very advanced skiers were the ones writing the reviews and they were raving about how fantastically challenging the mountain was. That is fine and good but Ryan, my travel buddy boyfriend, was a first time skier and I hadn’t thought to look up things like “best places for first time skiing”. (Duh…) I was basically having an “OMG, what did we do?!” moment on the couch approximately two minutes after booking! After researching more about the amazing ski school at Snowbird and learning that about 30% of the runs are green, I felt better about our decision, considering it was basically non-refundable.

Snowbird Mountain Trail Map

Unfortunately, I then had another thought. “What about the nightlife / other activities outside of skiing?”. Ryan and I planned a 4 day stay over New Years Eve and I wasn’t sure exactly how many days we would actually ski. What if Ryan didn’t like it or one of us got hurt? Snowbird had a spa but outside of that and snowshoeing, it didn’t seem as though there was much else to do for an entire day. Also, while its only 30 minutes to Salt Lake City or an hour to Gorgoza Park for snow tubing, the cost of transport to those places was a few hundred dollars – a big limiting factor. Again, our trip was booked so we couldn’t change the reservation, but this still made me nervous.

Fortunately for us, the Snowbird trails ended up being completely amazing and we were able to find plenty of slopes to fit our skill levels. Ryan’s ski class went exceedingly well and he picked it up like a pro! As you will read in the next round of Snowbird posts, we ended up skiing for 3 of the 4 days, but were also able to find things to do at the resort to fill our time off of the slopes.

Things to consider when booking a ski / snowboarding trip:

  • Proximity of the slopes to the airport – depending on where you choose, the slopes can be hours away, meaning lots of travel time through potentially snowy roads. Utah has a bunch of options within an hour drive of the SLC airport which is why we picked Utah in the first place.
  • Cost of lift tickets and gear rentals – prices vary from place to place so do some research before you book if you are on a budget.
  • Local area nightlife – each ski town has its own personality and size. Some places, like Snowbird, are pretty isolated so you stay on the premise. Other places, like Park City, have a much bigger “scene” with lots of options.
  • Non-ski activity offerings – consider the length of your stay vs. the days you will actually be on the slopes and if all of your party wants to ski / snowboard the entire trip.
  • Ease and cost of travel to other places – if you do want to explore other areas for skiing / snowboarding or for other activities, look up how far the distance between the areas is and call and ask local transport (your hotel will have this information) for costing. Snowbird’s slopes actually have a ski-in, ski-out connection to the neighboring Alta Ski slopes, so for $30 more a day, you have the option to ski either range. An awesome perk for a longer ski trip.

Skis on the lift - Snowbird, Utah