Notes on Salt Lake City’s Climate and Recreation

Utah is well-known for having “now you see it, now you don’t” weather conditions in Spring. In late March, you can expect all the possibilities (snow, wind, rain, sun) in Salt Lake City but probably none of it will last very long. Average temperatures this time of year are highs in the mid-50s°F range and lows in the mid-30s°F range; the Weather Underground is a good source for up-to-date forecasts.

To be prepared, pack lots of layers (especially for those of us who have experienced many a frigid conference all while indoors!) with one waterproof or water resistant layer. If you have signed up for the tour to Park City, this is especially important as it is colder than Salt Lake.

The first thing you might notice on arriving here is that the air is very dry; make sure to pack chapstick and lotion for your trip! Don’t forget to add in a water bottle; Salt Lake City sits at an altitude of 4300 feet and drinking lots of water is an excellent way to combat altitude sickness as well as dry air. Consult this guide to help you prevent and treat altitude sickness.

Utah has had an excellent snow season and ski conditions are the best they’ve been in years. With 7 resorts within easy driving/riding distance from Salt Lake, why not get out into the mountains? No ski gear, you say? No problem! Boots, poles, and skis are all easily rented at the resorts.

For the deepest and steepest skiing in the continental US, head to either Big or Little Cottonwood Canyon. In Big Cottonwood Canyon you’ll find Brighton and Solitude Ski Resorts which are easier going in terms of culture and terrain. Solitude also offers a Nordic Center for cross-country skiing. In Little Cottonwood Canyon you’ll find Snowbird and Alta, both with steeper terrain and slightly higher altitudes.

If you’re interested in combining a bit of culture and an excellent ski experience, consider a trip up to Park City Mountain Resort or Deer Valley. Both have excellent terrain for all abilities and their proximity to the quaint mountain town of Park City make them especially appealing to visitors.

If you’re a snowboarder, please keep in mind that both Alta and Deer Valley are for skiers only.

Hiking and snowshoeing are also a fantastic way to experience the Wasatch Mountains. Rent some gear at the local REI and be mindful that avalanche conditions do exist — consult the Utah Avalanche Center before heading off on an adventure.

Thinking About Utah and Mountain West: Short Trips

Visitors to Utah will find a state with epic landscapes and plenty of opportunities for adventure. In this post, we will describe some of our favorite areas and provide links to recommended half-day trips we’ve assembled on your behalf. Begin planning now and take advantage of the many unique opportunities our state has to offer.

Sundance Resort. Image from Visit Salt Lake.

Outdoor activities and scenic tours draw tourists and thrill seekers alike to Utah. Options for one-day trips exist in every part of the state. Seven world-class mountain resorts with “the greatest snow on earth” are located less than an hour’s drive from downtown Salt Lake City; several remain open through April. In springtime, the foothills surrounding the city provide early access to forested trails for hiking, biking, and climbing.  See the map!

Travel a few hours to the south and you will marvel at the geologic wonders of Utah’s canyon country, home to many national and state parks, which are a mecca for hikers of all abilities, mountain bikers, and white-water rafters. To the west, miles and miles of white identify the Bonneville Salt Flats. To the east, paleontologists will delight in Dinosaurland which includes thousands of fossils.

Bird Refuge. Image from Visit Salt Lake.

The Great Salt Lake and the notable city of Ogden are located just to the north. On the way, stop for a hike on Antelope Island or go for a drive through the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. In town, visit historic 25th Street and see the Union Station, which was the former junction of the Union Pacific and Central Railroads. See the map!

Along the shores of the lake are two earthworks well worth the time to visit: Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty on the east shore and Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels on the west shore. While ARLIS/NA will be providing two tours out to the Spiral Jetty, guided by local expert Hikmet Loe, those interested in Sun Tunnels will need to set aside an extra day and rent a car to experience this magnificent work.  You can also use this opportunity to view Karl Momen’s Metaphor: Tree of Utah.  See the map!

The Tree of Utah, Bonneville Salt Flats Between Tooele and Wendover, Utah. Photo credit: Ken Lund . 7 May 2004. Retrieved  16 Nov 2018.

Park City, 30 miles east of Salt Lake City, is a ski resort town with numerous art galleries, shopping, and fine dining on the historic Main Street. While there, visitors can enjoy the Kimball Art Center’s museum, as well as Utah Olympic Park with its winter sports museum, ski jumping demonstrations, and bobsled runs open to the public. Getting around Park City is easy, thanks to their free transportation system. ARLIS/NA will be offering a trip to Park City on Tuesday, March 26, or members can put together their own itinerary.  See the map!

Sundance Resort is nestled at the base of Mt. Timpanogos, a 11,750-foot monolith 20 miles east of Lehi. This woodsy-chic resort offers skiing in the winter months and is home to an well-known art collective, offering classes and workshops to the public. Brigham Young University in Provo, located 45 miles south of Salt Lake City, is home to the BYU Museum of Art. With a dynamic exhibition schedule and displays of its permanent collection, the museum regularly exhibits paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, video, and photography. BYU is also home to the Harold B. Lee Library and the L. Tom Perry Special Collections. ARLIS/NA will be providing a tour of the BYU library and museum on Tuesday, March 26. Just 6 miles south of Provo is the Springville Museum of Art, a Spanish-colonial style building and the oldest museum for visual arts in Utah. The collection features Utah fine art, 20th-century Soviet Socialist Realism works, and American art.  See the map!  

Called “the mighty five,” Utah is also the home of five national parks.  These destinations will require more time than those mentioned above but if you are extending your visit, they can’t be missed! You can find out more about them at:  Visit Utah .


All maps, including local recommendations in Salt Lake City for food, art, and leisure; half-day trips around the state of Utah; and recommended hikes for those who’d like to get outdoors can be found at:  About SLC on the conference website.


The Conference Planning Committee looks forward to seeing you at the conference, March 26-March 30, 2019, and showing you our beautiful and fascinating state.

Zach Allred, Local Guide Editor
Nicole Beatty, Local Arrangements Co-Chair
Luke Leither, Local Arrangements Co-Chair