- Jessie Van der Linden
Winter is bringing plenty of dread as Utah's COVID statistics continue to climb, but it's still a season that many locals look forward to. That's because the ski and snowboard resorts open once more—and in 2020, when any activity that can be enjoyed mostly alone and outdoors is a blessing, it might be an even more attractive option.
With most local resorts either already open or scheduling their opening soon, it's worth taking a look at how they're preparing for this very unusual winter season. Here's a roundup of the current plans and information about how local resorts are approaching the pandemic, with the caveat that conditions are always fluid, and you should check the resorts' official websites for details ahead of any planned visits.
Alta (alta.com): Alta opened Nov. 23, with multiple safety protocols in place. Face coverings are required both indoors and outdoors, except when eating or drinking. Skier capacity limitations will be in place, managed through parking on a first-come, first-served basis. Skiers will be allowed to self-group for lifts, with no required combining of parties, and single riders will be required to use regular queue lines. Physical barriers and signage will enforce distancing between guests.
Brighton (brightonresort.com): Nov. 23 also marked Brighton's opening day for pass-holders and the general public. Face coverings are required in all indoor spaces, and in all outdoor spaces where six feet of distance cannot be maintained, including lift lines and on lifts. All lift tickets must be purchased in advance, contact-free, through the Brighton website or authorized retail partners. Reservations are not required for season pass or Go Card holders; Ikon passholders must make reservations through ikonpass.com
Deer Valley Resort (deervalley.com): At press time, Deer Valley planned for a Dec. 5 opening day, conditions permitting. On-mountain guest capacity will be limited based on conditions at the time; pass-holders will not be required to make reservations. While on resort property, face coverings will be required while waiting in lines, loading and unloading chairlifts, interacting with staff, outdoors where physical distancing is not possible, and in all indoor areas. Guests unwilling to comply with Summit County and Deer Valley guidelines will be asked to leave the resort property.
Park City Mountain Resort (parkcitymountain.com): As of Nov. 20, both PCMR base areas are open to the public with 257 acres of terrain, seven runs and a terrain park. The resort is requiring face coverings on all lifts and gondolas, and is limiting mountain access to provide for the greatest possible distancing. As a result, lift tickets will be limited, and guests are encouraged to purchase a season pass. On-mountain reservations are required, with week-of reservations released weekly on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. MT for the next nine days.
Powder Mountain (powdermountain.com): Powder Mountain currently estimates a Dec. 11 opening date. The resort plans to alternate between Green, Yellow and Red operating scenarios (currently Red at press time) based on transmission conditions within the state. Virtually non-existent lift lines provide a better-than-most opportunity for maintaining social distancing. Face coverings will be required in most areas under the current operating conditions.
Snowbasin (snowbasin.com): The new season includes the addition of a handle tow, new trail and new learner area in an expanded location. No reservations will be required for passholders, but guest volume will be monitored during peak periods. Non-familiar groups will not be required to travel together on gondolas and trams. Face coverings will be required in all public spaces, including indoor spaces, outdoor patio spaces and shuttles.
Snowbird (snowbird.com): Snowbird's website includes regularly updated information regarding any confirmed COVID cases among resort staff. The resort reserves the right to limit the number of guests in any area as needed to maintain appropriate distancing. Masks are required in all indoor spaces except when seated for eating or drinking, and in all outdoor spaces where six feet of social distance cannot be maintained.
Solitude (solitude.com): At press time, the planned opening date of Nov. 20 had been postponed, with re-scheduled date still to be announced. Lift tickets must be purchased in advance, for a specific date, in order to manage capacity limitations; Ikon passes can be honored same-day at the ticket office. Multi-layer masks are required in indoor areas; neck gaiters do not meet this requirement. Masks are also required, and gaiters permitted, in outdoor areas including lift lines and on lifts. Face coverings may be removed while indoors and eating or drinking in a stationary position and physically distanced from others not within the same household group.
Sundance Resort (sundanceresort.com): Sundance plans a Dec. 7 opening date at press time. All guests planning to visit are required to complete an online health screening questionnaire. Face coverings will be required in all public buildings, walkways, in lines, while loading lifts and in all areas where physical distancing is not possible. On capacity days, guests must provide a season pass or day pass confirmation before parking; reservations will be required for most activities. Shuttles from the upper parking lot to the base will operate at reduced capacity.