We’ve been skiing in Colorado multiple times now, but always loathed the experience of flying into Denver, getting a rental car and battling I-70 traffic into the mountains. Traveling with 2 pairs of skis each and gear for 2+ weeks also quickly starts to exhaust luggage allowances even with airline status. So in 2018, and again in 2019, we decided to change things up a bit and go skiing roadtrip-style.
We started at our home in San Francisco and headed to Park City on the first day. The drive is ~750 miles, but luckily there really isn’t any traffic once you clear the Bay Area and Sacramento. Just download a few good podcasts to fight the boredom on a 10+ hr drive.
The trip starts to get pretty scenic once you head into the mountains towards Lake Tahoe. This is also where you’ll cross into Nevada after having driven a good 200 miles.
Once in Nevada and past Reno, it’s pretty much desert for a few hundred miles until you hit the Salt Flats and then Salt Lake City. There are a few towns along the way that you’ll pass through, but there isn’t much besides a few fast food restaurants and gas stations. The area is still very much dependent on gold mining, and the towns prosper when gold prices are on the rise (and the opposite of prices are falling). The two larger towns you’ll pass are Elko, NV and West Wendeover, NV / Wendover, UT. West Wendover has a bunch of Casinos and a historic airfield, which serves as the training grounds for bomber pilots during World War II.
Once you pass Wendover, you’ll get into the Salt Flats. With the right conditions they are absolutely spectacular, though best viewed driving the opposite directions as they’re north of I-80 and the highway is divided. But you can still get a glimpse and there is a good viewing spot facing South-East closer to Salt Lake.
From here it’s just another 50-70 miles to Salt Lake City, where we decided to stay for 2 nights. We decided to stay at the Springhill Suites Sugarhouse as hotel in Salt Lake are more cost effective than Park City (esp. during peak times) and we enjoy the food in Salt Lake more. The hotel is situated right off the highway and it’s a short ~25 minute drive to Park City in the morning. Park City is also one of the few remaining resorts that have free parking right at the base:
- In canyons, there is parking at the base of Cabriolet gondola, which gets you into Canyons Village. Form there you can take Red Pine Gondola or Orange Bubble Express onto the mountain. In the evening you can ski to the village and have to take Cabriolet back down to the parking lot.
- In Park City proper, there is parking at the base of First Time Express. While not lift you want to ride (just 200ft vertical), it’s an easy lift to ride in the morning to get to the main base from where you can take Payday Express or Crescent Express onto the mountain. In the evening you can ski back to the base of First Time Express and walk straight to your car.