This fall it's like old times in Utah, in the best possible way. Unlike the five or six past years, Utah's snow resorts haven't had to wait until January for storms to roll in while spending millions of dollars on snowmaking just to be able to open (which often adds a hike to the following year's lift ticket and season pass prices). Two enormous storms in just the past few weeks have coated the mountain resorts with about 30 inches of snow, with (as of this writing) three more storms scheduled over the next four days.
Kaitlin Furin, Director of Communications for marketing group Ski Utah, says, "In the middle of November, the mountains saw anything from 15 to 30 inches of snow. Brighton Resort came out on top, they are the ones that got 30 inches. Recently, (we) have seen a pattern of low snow years, but this year it looks like we're on track for a good season."
Furin goes on to say, "Though even during a low snow year, our average snow fall is a lot higher than most resorts in other states. Utah averages 500 inches of snow per year. Alta, located at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, usually measures at about 545 inches of snow in a season. The snow of the first big storm was thick with water and heavy, but recent snowstorms have been coming from a different direction, so we're now getting the light powder snow for which Utah is famous."
At the moment, Utah resorts are basking in the snow coverage that numbers a much higher snow base than their Rocky Mountain rival, Colorado. In that state, most resorts have not yet been able to open all their lifts. That won't be a problem this season for Utah.
Brighton, at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, isn't quite as well known as legendary resorts such as Snowbird or Deer Valley, but Utah snowriders want it to stay on the down low because they feel there are too many tourists on Brighton's slopes. The increased traffic is understandable, because Brighton has a lot to offer. It has two mountains: Brighton itself and Milly's, which offers more challenging terrain.
When asked why Brighton is so popular among the locals, General Manager Randy Doyle at first modestly demurred, but then said "Well, we're a great area. We're at a high elevation, we get great snow, we have two mountains to ride, and we have lower lift ticket prices than the other resorts."
There's also night skiing, which runs from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., with more illuminated night trails than any other resort in Utah. Between that and the low price of day lift tickets ($89), it's understandable why Brighton's parking lot fills up fast and stays full until the lifts close. Brighton also has a small motel with a hot tub, called the 'Brighton Lodge.' It's only about 100 feet across the snow from the Crest Express, the main base lift which allows skiers and snowboarders to access the rest of the resort. To make reservations, call (855) 201-7669, extension 120.
Brighton's day lift ticket price is nearly half the price of a lift ticket at Deer Valley. Here are prices for lift tickets at other major resorts in Utah:
Alta: $116; Brighton's 'super pass,' from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, $92; Deer Valley: $169; Park City: $132; Powder Mountain: $88; Snowbasin: $115; Snowbird: $125; Solitude, $99; Sundance: $80.
Most resorts offer big discounts for those who order tickets in advance or online. Check out each resort's website to get the best deals. Families will save the most by purchasing online, because many resorts extend the age of their "kids ski free" offer for ticket prices bought online.
Wina Sturgeon is the editor of the online magazine Adventure Sports Weekly , which offers the latest training, diet and athletic information.