Utah and Colorado are arguably the best states for skiing in the USA, but which is the best of the two? In this article I’ll compare Utah and Colorado in terms of their snow quality, ski resorts, prices, accessibility and more so you can decide which to visit.
Utah vs Colorado for Skiing
Utah has better snow for skiing compared to Colorado, and has larger resorts. Utah has steeper, more challenging terrain whereas Colorado is more suitable for beginners. Utah has cheaper ski lift tickets and the resorts are easier to travel to internationally compared to Colorado.
|Largest Ski Resort||Utah|
|Best for Beginners||Colorado|
|Best for Intermediates||Draw|
|Best for Experts||Utah|
|Ski Season Length||Colorado|
|Cheapest Lift Tickets||Utah|
|Easiest to Get to the Resorts||Utah|
Comparing Ski Resorts
Here is a list of the top rated ski resorts in Utah and Colorado:
Here is a table summarising the top resorts. If you’re on mobile you can scroll sideways for more stats or turn your phone horizontally.
|Ski Resort||Skiable Terrain||Trails||Difficulty||Vertical Drop||Terrain Parks|
|Solitude, UT||1200 ac||82||Green: 10%|
|Telluride, CO||2000 ac||147||Green: 23%|
|Deer Valley, UT||2026 ac||101||Green: 27%|
|Beaver Creek, CO||2082 ac||149||Green: 19%|
|Snowbird, UT||2500 ac||169||Green: 27%|
|Alta, UT||2614 ac||119||Green: 15%|
|Breck, CO||2908 ac||155||Green: 15%|
|Steamboat, CO||2965 ac||165||Green: 14%|
|Snowbasin, UT||3000 ac||107||Green: 7%|
|Keystone, CO||3149 ac||130||Green: 12%|
|Vail, CO||5317 ac||195||Green: 18%|
|Aspen, CO||5517 ac||336||Green: 9%|
|Park City, UT||7300 ac||324||Green: 7%|
|Powder Mountain, UT||8646 ac||154||Green: 25%|
By total skiable acreage, Powder Mountain in Utah is the largest ski resort in North America with 8646 acres of skiable terrain, however only 2800 acres is lift-served. Hence, many refer to Park City in Utah as the largest resort in the USA with 7300 acres of easily accessible skiable terrain.
The largest ski resort in Colorado is Aspen Snowmass as this consists of 4 mountains with a combined total of 5517 acres of skiable terrain. Snowmass is the largest mountain of the 4 with 3332 acres of terrain. The largest single mountain ski resort in Colorado is Vail which has 5317 acres of skiable terrain.
Deciding between the flagship resorts in both states? Check out my comparison between Park City (Utah) and Vail (Colorado).
Best for Beginners
Colorado is a bit more beginner friendly for less experienced skiers and snowboarders compared to Utah, although there are plenty of resorts with a lot of beginner terrain in both states.
Vail is a good option in Colorado if you want plenty of beginner terrain, but also have a group of mixed abilities, as it is spread across the mountain. In Utah, Deer Valley has some excellent beginner/ low-intermediate terrain, but keep in mind this is a ski-only mountain.
Best Beginner Ski Resorts in Colorado:
- Beaver Creek
Best Beginner Ski Resorts in Utah:
- Powder Mountain
- Deer Valley
Best for Intermediates
Both Colorado and Utah are great for intermediate skiers and snowboarders. Utah tends to favour the more experienced intermediates, whereas Colorado is a bit better for low-intermediates trying to make the jump up from green circle to blue square runs. However, you’ll easily be able to find a suitable resort in either location.
Best Ski Resorts in Colorado for Intermediates:
- Beaver Creek
Best Ski Resorts in Utah for Intermediates:
- Deer Valley
- Park City
Best for Experts
For advanced skiers, Utah will provide a bit more of a challenge compared to Colorado. Alta in Utah is well-known for its challenging terrain, however Vail in Colorado also has excellent advanced terrain and a 53% share of Black Diamond runs so usually attracts more experienced skiers.
Best Ski Resorts in Colorado for Experts:
Best Ski Resorts in Utah for Experts:
- Park City
Which is the Least Crowded?
Utah on the whole, tends to be less crowded compared to Colorado. Even the super popular Park City in Utah doesn’t feel too crowded as its so large. In both locations, you’re likely to find it a bit busy during the peak season and weekends.
If you’re a skier looking for a quiet resort, check out Deer Valley in Utah. It is a bit more expensive compared to the other resorts but is ski-only and limits ticket sales so it never gets very crowded. It’s ideal if you want a more relaxed and peaceful skiing experience.
Utah has better snow for skiing compared to Colorado. On average, ski resorts in Utah receive 275″ of snowfall annually, compared to resorts in Colorado which receive 255″ of snowfall. Resorts in a Utah also have a deeper snow base depth averaging 45″ compared to Colorado which averages 35″.
Snowbird typically receives the most snow in Utah, averaging 423″ per year. In Colorado, Wolf Creek resort typically receives the most snow averaging 331″ per year.
Colorado is at a higher elevation compared to Utah, so usually has lighter and fluffier snow. However, Utah does receive a lot more snow so is usually favoured by powder enthusiasts.
|Ski Resort||Snowfall per Year||Base Depth||Summit Depth|
|Powder Mountain, UT||206″||31″||35″|
|Deer Valley, UT||227″||38″||36″|
|Beaver Creek, CO||230″||32″||31″|
|Park City, UT||243″||32″||38″|
|Aspen Snowmass, CO||295″||33″||43″|
|Wolf Creek, CO||331″||52″||55″|
Ski Season Length
Ski resorts in Colorado typically have a longer ski season compared to those in Utah. This is due to the higher elevation in Colorado which helps to keep the snow quality higher in the late season.
On average, ski resorts in Colorado open in mid-November and close in early April. Arapahoe Basin resort has the longest ski season in Colorado which usually spans from early November to early June.
In Utah, the average ski season starts in mid-late November and ends in mid-late April. Snowbird usually stays open the longest until mid-May on average, whilst Alta and Park City usually open the earliest in mid-November.
|Ski Resort||2021/22 Ski Season Dates|
|Deer Valley, UT||4th Dec – 17th Apr|
|Telluride, CO||3rd Dec – 3rd Apr|
|Snowbird, UT||1st Dec – 1st May|
|Aspen Snowmass, CO||25th Nov – 17th Apr|
|Alta, UT||17th Nov – 17th Apr|
|Park City, UT||17th Nov – 17th Apr|
|Vail, CO||12th Nov – 1st May|
|Breckenridge, CO||12th Nov – 15th May|
|Arapahoe Basin, CO||9th Nov – 6th Jun|
Lift Ticket Prices
On average, ski lift tickets are cheaper in Utah compared to Colorado. Adult weekend lift tickets typically cost $180-$220, whereas in Utah they cost approximately $150-$180. However, there are some expensive resorts in Utah such Deer Valley where ticket prices cost roughly the same as Vail (Colorado’s largest ski resort).
The cheapest major resorts in Utah are Solitude, Powder Mountain, Snowbird and Alta. The cheapest major resorts in Colorado are Breckenridge, Steamboat and Telluride.
|Ski Resort||Adult Lift Ticket||Child Lift Ticket|
|Powder Mountain, UT||$115||$69|
|Aspen Snowmass, CO||$219||$159|
|Park City, UT||$223||$149|
|Beaver Creek, CO||$247||$170|
|Deer Valley, UT||$259||$161|
Costs quoted above are based on the most recent ski season at the time of writing and are subject to change. Based on weekend rates when buying in-advance online (better value offers are available when booking for multiple days). Please check the resort websites for up to date prices. Prices are in US dollars.
Getting to the Resorts
In Utah, most of the major ski resorts are located near Salt Lake City, and are within a 45 minute reach of Salt Lake International Airport (SLC). In Colorado, the closest international airport to most major ski resorts is Denver and the transfer time is usually 2-4 hours and in some cases a transfer flight to a regional airport is required.
|Ski Resort||Drive Time to International Airport|
|Solitude, UT||40 minutes|
|Snowbird, UT||40 minutes|
|Alta, UT||40 minutes|
|Park City, UT||45 minutes|
|Deer Valley, UT||45 minutes|
|Snowbasin, UT||50 minutes|
|Powder Mountain, UT||1 hour 15 minutes|
|Keystone, CO||1 hour 45 minutes|
|Vail, CO||2 hours|
|Breckenridge, CO||2 hours|
|Beaver Creek, CO||2 hours 15 minutes|
|Aspen Snowmass, CO||3 hours 45 minutes|
|Steamboat, CO||3 hours|
|Telluride, CO||7 hours|
Which State is Best for Skiing?
If you’re looking for the biggest resorts, toughest terrain, best snow, cheapest tickets and easiest resorts to get to by plane then Utah is the best option. However, if you want to go skiing earlier or later in the season, and are looking for the most beginner-friendly terrain then Colorado is a great choice.
I’d recommend looking at specific ski resorts to help narrow down your selection. Here are links to my in-depth ski resort comparisons:
Looking for the biggest resorts in both states? Check out my comparison between Park City (Utah) and Vail (Colorado).
Ski Resorts in Colorado:
Ski Resorts in Utah: