1 of 15
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Wes Grimm and Mikala Lunning snowmobile at Daniels Summit Lodge near Heber City on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.

SALT LAKE CITY — So there. Take that, Colorado.

Utah's longstanding rivalry with its next door neighbor over which state has the best slopes for skiing and snowboarding just warmed up with a new national ranking for outdoor winter recreation.

Utah ranked second out of 25 states that made the list. Colorado was third.

"It feels pretty good beating those other states on the list," said Tom Adams, director of the Governor's Office of Outdoor Recreation.

Wyoming came in first.

"Wyoming has some phenomenal places for recreation," Adams said. "But with the infrastructure that we have in place and our Olympic facilities, it is pretty hard to beat us for accessibility — not only in the United States, but internationally as well."

The rankings were released Tuesday by GoAllOutDoors.com, which on its website describes itself as a "group of guys who have a genuine love for the outdoors and want to see it protected for future generations. We all grew a love for the outdoors in different ways, but we all share the common belief that nature provides a positive outlet for all of us."

Only states with average winter temperatures below freezing were evaluated, and the group arrived at its conclusions based on three other factors: average annual snowfall, square miles of water and how much federal land exists within a particular state's borders.

Wyoming grabbed the top spot for its public lands, being home to the country's first national park, Yellowstone, and Jackson Hole.

The evaluators noted Utah's bountiful offerings when it comes to outdoor winter recreation.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Blake Denning, snowmobile guide, shows Mikala Lunning and Wes Grimm the controls on a rental snowmobile at Daniels Summit Lodge near Heber City on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.

"Utah is home to winter destinations like Park City, a nationally renowned ski resort that also offers 400 miles of trails for mountain biking and hiking. Head over to Olympic Park and you can also try your hand at bobsledding on the 2002 Olympic Winter Games track," the ranking said.

The state earned high marks for its five national parks as well.

"The ranking is phenomenal. It is great to be so high on the list. With all the things we've got here, it is hard to think we are not No. 1."

Adams said Utah is unrivaled globally for its close proximity to winter recreation, with ski resorts 30 minutes away from an international airport — a fact he says stuns people when he tells them.

The ranks comes as the Utah Legislature considers endorsement of a resolution supporting "Utah's Every Kid Outdoors Initiative."

Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, is running HCR4, with the support of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, and 35 organizations that signed on.

Adams said the concurrent resolution encouraging every child in the state to engage in any of 10 outdoor activities — from gazing at the starry sky to splashing in Utah's rivers, lakes and streams.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Wes Grimm snowmobiles at Daniels Summit Lodge near Heber City on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.

And yes, there is encouragement for every child to experience the "Greatest Snow on Earth."

"It could be anything from back country skiing to having a snowball fight," Adams said.

The outdoors office is also in its second year of accepting grant applications for recreation projects.

3 comments on this story

A portion of the transient room tax levied on the hospitality industry delivers $4.5 million in funding that is available for projects across the state.

Adams said his office sifted through 100 applications last year, with projects funded in 22 of the 25 counties that applied for money.

The majority of grant recipients were from rural Utah, he added, with programs enjoying initial success in a two-year pilot project that led to ongoing funding.

"There's been incredible demand for these grants," Adams said.

Applications are being accepted until 5 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development's website.