SALT LAKE CITY — The snow is back and autumn is beginning to give way to "the greatest snow on earth."
The first of Utah’s 14 ski resorts plan to open in mid-November, while others are scheduled to begin their season in December. Prices for daily lift tickets this season will range from the mid-$60s at the smaller resorts to more than $100 at the larger, luxury resorts. But discounting is still available and the resorts are putting the finishing touches on improvements and new features.
Here's a look at some of the improvements:
• Alta Ski Area is celebrating its 75th anniversary during the 2012–13 season, said Susie English, Ski Utah communications director. The biggest project over the summer was not up the mountain, but at Wildcat Base where an office building was constructed. The building will house administrative offices, a meeting room and a shop for the Lift Department.
• Beaver Mountain in Logan spent the summer with upgrades such as leveling out the location of the old Little Beaver Lift, which will make the mountain more manageable for beginner skiers and snowboarders.
• Brian Head Resort in southern Utah announced a 35 percent discount on weekday adult lift tickets for skiers and snowboarders. The new Brian Head Midweek Punch Pass will provide five adult, full-day lift tickets for $159 — an average of $31.80 per day compared to the regular daily price of $49.
The punch pass is transferable and is good for one punch per weekday, Monday through Friday on non-holidays. The pass will go on sale on Nov. 7 online and at all Brian Head ticket windows.
• Brighton renovated the Coffee Cart into the Coffee Café, which will serve pastries and sandwiches throughout the day. A new yurt for the ski school is also being built for use as a group lunch and meeting area.
• Eagle Point Resort in Beaver is launching its Free Yourself campaign, offering free admission every Thursday in January and free admission all season for residents of California to increase attendance.
• Canyons Resort in Summit County will introduce a winter sports fantasy camp series dubbed the Ultimate Mountain Experience. The program, directed by former U.S. Olympic team coach Phil McNichol, will include more than a dozen athletes, including six Olympians, who will book ski and snowboarding excursions in every discipline.
• Dear Valley spent an estimated $8 million on improvements for the upcoming season. Among the list of upgrades is the replacement of the Deer Crest chairlift on Little Baldy Mountain with a high-speed detachable quad lift called Mountaineer Express. The new chair will increase skier capacity by 1,200 skiers per hour. Additional improvements include remodeling the Snow Park Restaurant, expanding snowmaking capabilities and purchasing five additional snowcats.
• Park City Mountain Resort and Neff Headwear have collaborated to create the resort’s newest terrain park called Neff Land. Also, new for the upcoming season will be the I Ride Park City freestyle camp, which combines terrain park and on-mountain instruction with video shooting and editing for skiers and snowboarders between the ages of 9 and 15. The three-day camp is designed for intermediate and expert level skiers and snowboarders with all levels of terrain park experience.
• Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort has replaced the Little Cloud chair with a high-speed quad lift.
• Solitude Mountain Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon expanded its snowmaking capabilities.
• Sundance Resort in Utah County is adding a new lift that will give guests parked at its upper parking lot immediate access to ski terrain. Completion is expected in November. Sundance is also expanding its snow–making capability by 40 percent.
• Snowbasin, farther north in Weber County, is expanding its snowcat fleet to groom trails for the season and will also expand the existing terrain park.
• Wolf Mountain Resort near Ogden will begin the 2012-13 season under new ownership and management. It's improved its snow-making ability and Wolf Mountain Learning Center Yurt and Kids Zone offers a drop-off learning center for children.
For those who want to enjoy the rush of a mountain without putting on skis or a snowboard, tubing is an alternative. Both Gorgoza Park in Summit County and Soldier Hollow resort in Midway will open for business in a few short weeks. Rates for tubing range from $3 for kids to $33 for adults, tubes included.
For information on special deals and discounting, contact individual resorts. Other bargains can be obtained throughout the season at local ski/snowboard shops as well as warehouse retailers like Costco.
Visit Salt Lake also offers the Ski Salt Lake Super Pass, which allows access to the four resorts in Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon.