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Salt Lake City: more than just snow (so much more!)

You know Salt Lake City from its four enticing ski resorts, but did you know there are so, so many other ways to appreciate the majesty of Salt Lake City and its surrounds? Whether it’s hiking a picturesque canyon, biking down an epic trail, or soaking up the city’s vibes on an urban adventure, Salt Lake City does not disappoint.  

You know Salt Lake City from its four enticing ski resorts, but did you know there are so, so many other ways to appreciate the majesty of Salt Lake City and its surrounds? Whether it’s hiking a picturesque canyon, biking down an epic trail, or soaking up the city’s vibes on an urban adventure, Salt Lake City does not disappoint.  

The Greatest Snow on Earth 

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Ski Resorts Galore! ©Austen Diamond Photography

Whether you’re into boarding, skiing, tobogganing or on the slopes for the après ski, you’ll already know that Salt Lake City is one of the world’s most coveted skiing and snowboarding destinations.  

Four world-renowned winter resorts—Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, and Solitude—are within an easy 35-minute drive of the city’s bustling centre. With an average of over 1.2m of snow, it’s no wonder it’s considered “Greatest Snow on Earth®”.  

From family- and beginner-friendly slopes to steep and deep powder runs (and everything in between) Salt Lake’s world-class resorts can’t be beaten. And neither can the après ski thanks to its spas, high-end dining, microbreweries, distilleries, nightlife, and a slew of cultural performances—including an award-winning Ballet, Symphony and Opera company. Choose from 3,000+ bars and restaurants, 100+ live music venues from small indie clubs to outdoor amphitheaters, 21 museums and 40+ major attractions all within a short drive from the mountains. And immerse yourself in a unique local history where modern mountain lifestyle meets big city energy.

Salt Lake Ski Super Pass is your ticket to getting a whole lot of stuff for less. The multi-day Super Pass offers great discounts on any resort ski tickets for 3-10 days. Plus, every Super Pass comes with free public transportation to and from the resorts. There are also equipment rental discounts at participating locations.  

The best of nature

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Salt Lake City’s central ‘hood ©Austen Diamond Photography

Salt Lake is not all ski-focused! Those peaks and valleys, especially Utah’s best-known mountain range – Central Wasatch – offer all manners of adventures, no matter the weather. 

Access Central Wasatch’s high-alpine wonderland via a series of craggy canyons. These include City Creek Canyon, a hiking, cycling and picnicking haven accessible on foot from downtown Salt Lake City. Red Butte Canyon is home to the ever-popular Living Room hike. 

Emigration Canyon and Millcreek Canyon are also popular, especially for hiking and biking in summer, and cross-country and backcountry skiing in the cooler months. The serpentine Big Cottonwood Canyon is home to Solitude and Brighton. Little Cottonwood Canyon, a dramatic, glacially carved granite canyon, where you’ll find Alta and Snowbird.  

Trails to rock

Little Cottonwood Canyon ©Austen Diamond Photograhy
Little Cottonwood Canyon ©Austen Diamond Photograhy

Besides the trails along the epic canyons mentioned, hundreds of others spill out into the Central Wasatch. The new Foothills Natural Area & Trail System supports the expansive Bonneville Shoreline Trail.  

Rock climbers can rock on at Big Cottonwood Canyon’s hundreds of rock climbing routes. For the best kind of mountain biking, head to Solitude (there are lifts!) or hike destinations like Donut Falls and Lake Blanche. Fisher folk will enjoy Silver Lake Boardwalk and Loop Trail.  

Little Cottonwood Canyon is one of the Western U.S.’s most revered rock climbing and bouldering destinations. Hiking and biking routes take visitors deep into the mountains from the White Pine and Albion Basin trailheads.  

Alta and Snowbird come alive in the summer months, too. Snowbird allows hikers on its lifts, as well as by-your-own steam mountain biking along each respective trail system.  

Spin Lake City 

GREENbikers, Salt Lake City ©Austen Diamond Photograhy
GREENbikers ©Austen Diamond Photograhy

Road biking enjoys such a loyal following in Utah that ‘Spin’ Lake City might be a more apt moniker for its capital city. They even dropped the speed limit to 20mph on 70% of Salt Lake City’s streets to ensure cyclist safety!

You’re probably not travelling with your own bike, so rent one from the city’s GREENbike share. Get your bearings downtown on the Cycle the City loop featuring historic, urban, and natural points of interest.  

Other popular road biking routes include the Jordan River Parkway, Parley’s Trail, and City Creek Canyon, a leafy car-free paved pathway east of Memory Grove Park. Emigration Canyon is the perfect way to reach the spectacular views of Little Mountain Summit.  

For a challenge, head to Millcreek Canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon, or the pièce de résistance, Little Cottonwood Canyon, where road cyclists do the hard yards to reach Alta, elevation 2,600m!      

Get outside in more ways than one

Just south of Salt Lake City is Point of the Mountain where consistent updrafts attract paragliders and hang gliders from around the world to the Flight Park State Recreation Area. If you prefer to watch birds rather than fly like one, each year, thousands of migratory birds stop to rest and feed in the Great Salt Lake region.  

The region’s multiple reservoirs and rivers attract loyal advocates of almost all forms of watersports—paddleboarding, sailing, kiteboarding, waterskiing, rafting, kayaking, and fishing.  

Guided adventures

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Check out Salt Lake City’s downtown west area ©Austen Diamond Photography

If you love the history and trivia of guided travel, there are a ton of knowledgeable locals able to assist.  

The pros at Salt Lake City Bicycle Tours can show you around town or visit one of dozens of locally owned shops, like Bingham Cyclery, Wasatch Touring, Contender, and Salt Lake Ebikes. They offer rentals, guided group rides, route advice, and more.  

The seasoned guides at Utah Mountain Adventures share their passion for rock climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing and ice climbing in the Wasatch. Other local mountain experts include Wasatch Mountain Guides and The Backcountry Pros.

Discover more  

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Downtown west ©Austen Diamond Photography

So now you know. Yes, Salt Lake City is a snow-lovers dream, but there are so many more reasons to head there outside of the winter months. Which activity would you do first?  

To discover more about Salt Lake City and its fabulous surrounds, head here.