Bringing Accessibility and Affordability to Utah’s Slopes

Expensive, male-dominated and very white. However, that tide is turning. Multiple organizations, clubs and events are breaking winter sport’s worn-out mold, making skiing and riding more affordable and inclusive. 

Ranked among the best gay ski weeks in the world, Elevation Utah will make its loud and proud return to Park City, February 22-26, 2023. Events held as part of this 13th annual mountain par-tay include themed après-ski meet-ups, dance parties and, of course, skiing and snowboarding.

Ski Utah’s Discover Winter program was designed to introduce communities of color to skiing. But how it guides participants through each step of the process—from proper gear use and fitting to transportation and even a post-program après ski party—checks a box many other learn-to programs miss: welcoming newcomers into the winter tribe.

Gals-only skiing and riding opportunities abound at the Utah resorts, ranging from midweek meetups at Brighton, Deer Valley, Park City Mountain, Powder Mountain, Snowbasin, Snowbird, Solitude and Sundance to multi-day camps and clinics through Alta, the Alta Lodge, Rippin’ Chix, Deer Valley and Snowbird. For sisters who shred in the backcountry, Utah Mountain Adventures runs a weekly, seven-session women’s skills series called Wasatch Mavens. Or there’s the DPS Backcountry Riders Wasatch Women’s Camp, a two-day sojourn into the Wasatch backcountry hosted by The Mountain Guides.

Skiers and riders of all abilities and ages—including veterans suffering from PTSD—can realize the unique healing and empowerment that only snow sports can offer through the National Ability Center (NAC) and Wasatch Adaptive Sports (WAS). What’s more, many participants in these decades-old nonprofits’ transformative programming receive scholarships, allowing them to get out there without worrying about how they will pay for it. The NAC offers on-snow instruction at Deer Valley and Park City Mountain. WAS operates primarily at Snowbird, Alta and Sundance and offers instruction at Solitude and Brighton by request. 

Programs making skiing affordable for kids are plentiful in Utah, but likely the most enduring is Ski Utah’s 4th, 5th and 6th Grade Passport, which, for just $59, allows three days of skiing or riding at each of Utah’s 15 resorts. Other organizations offering kiddos cheap—or even free—access to the slopes include SOS Outreach, Youth Sports Alliance and Burton’s Chill Foundation. 

Speaking of affordability, the price of a night skiing or riding (typically after 4 p.m.) lift ticket is, across the board, much less than what you’ll pay during the day. Night ski and ride options include: Brian Head, $25-$30; Brighton, $70-ish; Cherry Peak, $18-$22; Nordic Valley, $17-$25; Powder Mountain, $35-$40; Sundance, $49-$69; and Woodward, $23-$65 for a three-hour session. Tickets for Alta’s Sunnyside at 3 program (access on its beginner lifts from 3 to 4:30 p.m.) are $19-$24 or $59 for four. 

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Melissa Fields
Melissa Fields
Melissa (O' Brien) Fields is a contributing editor to Utah Bride & Groom magazine and a contributing writer for Salt Lake magazine. She is an accomplished freelance writer and editor with more than 20 years of experience.

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