This Utah Ski Resort Has All of the Powder With None of the Lift Lines
Want a mountain (almost) all to yourself? Head to Sundance Mountain Resort.
"Let's play," my ski instructor, Judy Fuller, shouted back at me as she hurtled down the mountain with an infectious, almost childlike excitement. I tore my eyes away from the jagged, snow-covered mountains and followed, letting the wind whip around me.
I was at Sundance — but not that Sundance. Instead of the glitzy film festival, I was at the Sundance Mountain Resort, a more than 550-skiable acre mountain with epic slopes and a quaint feel just 45 minutes from Salt Lake City in Utah.
The resort, where the legendary film festival got its start and its name before mainly moving to Park City, exudes a rustic chic vibe with a small-town feel. A system of inter-connected lifts brings skiers and boarders up to the peak elevation of more than 8,200 feet, while the base features some of the best dining in the state, all with a come-as-you-are attitude.
"It's big, but it's small," Fuller, a ski instructor for more than 40 years, shared as we returned to the base after cutting through the trees and carving our way through pockets of deep, fluffy powder. "I like the small town feel to it."
Sundance is undeniably smaller than some of its nearby counterparts — namely Park City and Alta. But what it lacks in comparative size, it more than makes up for in the almost complete lack of lift lines and charming quirks like the wild turkeys milling around the roaring fire pit.
The best skiing can be found on the back mountain, which has the highest elevation and the resort's primo natural snow. After taking in the views from Red's Lift — named for Robert Redford, who founded Sundance in 1969 before selling it in 2020 — I headed down Bear Claw and cut across to Snow Stake to take advantage of some fresh powder.
As an East Coast skier, it was the first time I had ever gone off-piste.
"And you liked it," Fuller laughed.
After a full day of skiing, I visited the resort's spa for a 90-minute gemstone aromatherapy massage that started by sitting in front of a crackling fireplace and worked out all the tension I had built up as I carved down the slopes.
It left me relaxed and ready for dinner at the Tree Room, the nicest restaurant on the property, which feels like stepping into a cozy museum. The restaurant features Indigenous art from Redford's private collection and is built around the trunk of an actual tree.
After dinner, I walked back out into the crisp Utah mountain air, my hat pulled low, and made my way back to my room through the winding paths, amazed at the beauty of the grounds and exhausted in the best way possible.
The adventures, however, don't stop at the mountain or in the spa.
Beyond skiing, travelers can head a few minutes away to Midway, UT, for a guided snowmobiling tour with Wasatch Excursions. After donning all the right equipment, visitors make their way into Wasatch Mountain State Park and through tree-lined paths to a large clearing. There, they can let it rip, driving as fast as they can through all the fresh snow.
For a more low-key off-mountain activity, guests can also visit the nearby Art Studio and sign up for jewelry or perfume making, pottery classes, and more. Each class lasts two hours, and students leave with a personalized and hand-crafted souvenir and a new sense of respect for artists who do this for a living. Ready to plot out your trip? Here's what you need to know.
How to Ride
Sundance is an independent mountain and sells single-day and multi-day lift tickets on the resort’s website. Single-day lift tickets start at $129 for adults.
Where to Stay
Sundance Mountain Resort is a full-service hotel with standard rooms, suites, and larger mountain homes that sleep up to 16 people. The hotel also has a schedule of included activities like early morning yoga in a yurt, guided snowshoeing, and kid's crafts.
Where to Eat
The resort features several restaurants, from fine dining to grab-and-go. Start the morning with a super flaky cinnamon morning bun from the Sundance Deli (pro tip: have them warm it up), or grab a seat by the fireplace and feast on fluffy biscuits at the Foundry Grill.
For dinner, treat yourself to a meal at the Tree Room, where you can gnocchi with homemade ricotta, beech mushrooms, and Burgundy truffles.
Or head a few minutes away to The Lakehouse at Deer Creek, where dishes like the crispy nixtamalized squash with red pinon sauce epitomize the chef’s “Utah Heritage Cuisine.”
Where to Apres-ski
After a day on the slopes, head to the Owl Bar, a restored 1890s bar once frequented by Butch Cassidy that was moved from Thermopolis, WY, to Sundance. The bar, which opens at noon on weekends, offers several beers on tap and shareable bites like Dirty Fries with truffle aioli, a “perfect egg,” scallions, and everything seasoning. At night, the bar gets livelier, and features live music on select Friday and Saturday nights.
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