Utah vs Colorado for Skiing: Which State is the Best?

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.

 CategoryBest State 
Largest Ski ResortUtah 
Best for Beginners Colorado 
Best for Intermediates Draw 
 Best for ExpertsUtah 
Least CrowdedUtah 
Snow QualityUtah
 Ski Season LengthColorado 
 Cheapest Lift TicketsUtah 
Easiest to Get to the ResortsUtah
Colorado vs Utah for skiing
Deer Valley, Utah

Comparing Ski Resorts

Here is a list of the top rated ski resorts in Utah and Colorado:

Ski Resorts in Colorado:

  • Vail
  • Aspen Snowmass
  • Beaver Creek
  • Telluride
  • Breckenridge
  • Keystone
  • Steamboat

Ski Resorts in Utah:

  • Park City
  • Snowbird
  • Deer Valley
  • Alta
  • Snowbasin
  • Powder Mountain
  • Solitude

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 ResortSkiable TerrainTrailsDifficultyVertical DropTerrain Parks
Solitude, UT1200 ac82Green: 10%
Blue: 40%
Black: 50%
2494 ft1
 Telluride, CO2000 ac 147Green: 23%
Blue: 36%
Black: 41%
3845 ft 
Deer Valley, UT2026 ac101Green: 27%
Blue: 41%
Black: 32%
3000 ft0
Beaver Creek, CO 2082 ac149Green: 19%
Blue: 43%
Black: 38%
3340 ft  3
Snowbird, UT2500 ac169Green: 27%
Blue: 38%
Black: 35%
3240 ft1
Alta, UT2614 ac119Green: 15%
Blue: 30%
Black: 55%
2538 ft0
 Breck, CO2908 ac 155 Green: 15%
Blue: 33%
Black: 52%
 3398 ft
 Steamboat, CO2965 ac 165 Green: 14%
Blue: 42%
Black: 44%
3368 ft  4
Snowbasin, UT3000 ac107Green: 7%
Blue: 37%
Black: 47%
2959 ft3
Keystone, CO3149 ac 130 Green: 12%
Blue: 39%
Black 49%
 3128 ft
Vail, CO 5317 ac 195Green: 18%
Blue: 29%
Black: 53%
3450 ft
 Aspen, CO5517 ac 336 Green: 9%
Blue: 45%
Black: 46%
 4406 ft3
Park City, UT 7300 ac 324Green: 7%
Blue: 49%
Black: 44%
3200 ft  7
Powder Mountain, UT8646 ac154Green: 25%
Blue: 40%
Black: 35%
2205 ft2
Comparison of ski resorts in Utah and Colorado

Largest Resort

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:

  • Telluride
  • Beaver Creek
  • Vail

Best Beginner Ski Resorts in Utah:

  • Snowbird
  • 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
  • Steamboat
  • Aspen

Best Ski Resorts in Utah for Intermediates:

  • Solitude
  • 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:

  • Breckenridge
  • Keystone
  • Vail

Best Ski Resorts in Utah for Experts:

  • Alta
  • Park City
  • Snowbasin

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.

Aspen Snowmass, Colorado

Snow Quality

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 ResortSnowfall per YearBase DepthSummit Depth
Powder Mountain, UT206″31″35″
Keystone, CO215″31″30″
Telluride, CO221″33″32″
Deer Valley, UT227″38″36″
Beaver Creek, CO230″32″31″
Park City, UT243″32″38″
Vail, CO245″34″33″
Snowbasin, UT259″42″43″
Steamboat, CO272″33″45″
Aspen Snowmass, CO295″33″43″
Breckenridge, CO304″41″39″
Solitude, UT330″42″43″
Wolf Creek, CO331″52″55″
Alta, UT340″ 56″56″
Brighton, UT365″47″48″
 Snowbird, UT423″ 65″67″
Data from onthesnow.com. Average base depth refers to mid-season
Alta, Utah

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 Resort2021/22 Ski Season Dates
Deer Valley, UT4th Dec – 17th Apr
Telluride, CO3rd Dec – 3rd Apr
Snowbird, UT1st Dec – 1st May
Aspen Snowmass, CO25th Nov – 17th Apr
Alta, UT17th Nov – 17th Apr
Park City, UT17th Nov – 17th Apr
Vail, CO12th Nov – 1st May
Breckenridge, CO12th Nov – 15th May
Arapahoe Basin, CO9th Nov – 6th Jun
Colorado vs Utah resort ski season dates
Vail, Colorado

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 ResortAdult Lift TicketChild Lift Ticket
Solitude, UT$115$63
Powder Mountain, UT$115$69
Alta, UT$151$76
Snowbird, UT$160$96
Breckenridge, CO$179$116
Snowbasin, UT$185$135
Steamboat, CO$192$144
Telluride, CO$219$119
Aspen Snowmass, CO$219$159
Park City, UT$223$149
Keystone, CO$225$131
Beaver Creek, CO$247$170
Vail, CO$247$170
Deer Valley, UT$259$161
Weekend lift ticket prices

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.

Snowbird, Utah

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 ResortDrive Time to International Airport
 Solitude, UT40 minutes 
Snowbird, UT 40 minutes
Alta, UT40 minutes
Park City, UT45 minutes
Deer Valley, UT45 minutes
Snowbasin, UT50 minutes
Powder Mountain, UT1 hour 15 minutes
 Keystone, CO1 hour 45 minutes 
 Vail, CO2 hours 
Breckenridge, CO2 hours 
Beaver Creek, CO2 hours 15 minutes
Aspen Snowmass, CO3 hours 45 minutes 
Steamboat, CO3 hours
Telluride, CO7 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).

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