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Introducing Wasatch Mountains

Giant saw-toothed peaks stand guard along the eastern edge of Utah's urban centers. When the crush of civilization gets too much, locals escape to the forested slopes. The Wasatch Mountain Range is nature's playground all year long, but in winter a fabulous low-density, low-moisture snowfall – 300in to 500in of it a year – blankets the terrain. Perfect snow and thousands of acres of high-altitude slopes helped earn Utah the honor of hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics – the skiing in the Wasatch range is some of the best in North America.

Resort towns cluster near the peaks; Park City, on the eastern slopes, is the most well known and quasi-cosmopolitan of the bunch. Salt Lake City resorts, on the western side, are easiest for townies to reach. Ogden is the sleeper of the bunch and Sundance is known as much for its film festival as its ski trails. Most areas lie within 45 to 60 minutes of the SLC airport, so you can leave New York or Los Angeles in the morning and be skiing by noon.