Winter Driving Tips For Utah Ski Resorts

By Yeti Nov 1, 2021
What tires do I need to drive to Utah ski and snowboard resorts? Are there temporary road closures for avalanche mitigation?
Winter Driving Tips For Utah Ski Resorts

Let's say its a UPD (Utah Powder Day = 12"+ in 24hrs), snow is falling, stoke is high, have you stopped to ask yourself, "Is my vehicle legally equipped to travel to Utah's resorts?"

With a little bit of preparation and a few tips, we hope your answer will be yes.

As you may or may not know, Utah receives over 500" of snow annually, so it's no surprise that winter driving can be a challenge. Fortunately, for all of us skiers and riders, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is one of the most dedicated and experienced operations in the country. In an effort to elevate our drive-time experience, UDOT has invested in a few new assets like real-time updates, the sticker program, and stronger monitoring of traction control (snow tires & chains).

UDOT Information Resources
Utah Dept of Transportation Winter Travel Brochure
+Winter Travel Guide
Utah Dept of Transportation Rental Car Information
+Rental Car Info


Is your vehicle properly equipped to drive up-canyon in a snow storm?

NO. Do not fret, there are plenty of great options to get you up on the mountain.

Utah has an excellent public transit system. Learn everything you need to know about Utah's ski buses with this comprehensive guide.

  • Download the UTA GoRide mobile app to prepurchase your fare, then just show the driver or fare inspector.

Be sure to carpool with those in your household this year to keep additional cars off the roads. 


YES. Are you certain?

Have you verified that your tires qualify? When driving on routes that have traction laws inplace protocol the following is required:

2-wheel drive vehicles under 12,000 lbs GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) must have all four tires with the 3PMSF icon (Three Peak Mountain Snowflake) imprinted on the tire's sidewall or have traction control devices installed/mounted on all tires (chains, snow socks, etc.).

4-wheel / all-wheel drive vehicles must have M/S or M+S (mud and snow), the 3PMSF icon (Three Peak Mountain Snowflake) imprinted on the tire's sidewall, or have traction devices installed (chains, snow socks, etc.).


What does the 3PMSF mean?

"Tires branded with the 3PMSF symbol are expected to provide improved snow traction beyond a standard M+S branded all-season tire." according to

Does an All-Season tire qualify for UDOT's requirements?

Yes. All-Season tires that are rated M+S do qualify under UDOT's Traction Law Admin Code - for 4WD/AWD vehicles. However, tires rated 3PMSF have the best traction for winter driving conditions. "The 3PMSF symbol is a seal of approval of sorts that indicates the tire has been tested and it is capable of at least 110 percent of the traction of a reference all-season is a laboratory test that actually tells consumers more than an M+S marking, which is just a calculation of tread geometry."

Are rental vehicles equipped for the Utah traction law?

If you are going to be renting a vehicle during your Utah visit we do recommend reserving either a 4x4 or all-wheel drive vehicle. While it is common to outfit a 4x4 or all-wheel drive vehicle with an all-season tire, it is not as common to outfit the rental fleet with M+S (mud and snow) and/or 3PMSF (three peak mountain snow flake) ratings. To be certain your rental vehicle is properly equipped for the Utah traction law, we recommend you inquire with your rental company. Law enforcement does not make exceptions when the traction law is in effect.


Road restrictions and tractions laws.

What are the roads conditions in the Cottonwood Canyons?

For road information on Big Cottonwood Canyon (SR-190 your route to Brighton or Solitude) and Little Cottonwood Canyon (SR-210 your route to Snowbird or Alta) you can't beat the real-time updates posted by the twitter account @UDOTCottonwoods. If you are not a Twitter fan, you can also reference their @udotCottonwoods Instagram account or their @UDOTCottonwoodCanyons Facebook account.

UDOTCOttonwood Twitter Handle

Not sure exactly what information you are looking for?
The Cottonwoods Canyon website has it all.

Would you rather receive a @UDOTcottonwoods update via a text/sms without checking Twitter? Simply send a text message to 40404 with the text "follow UDOTcottonwoods" - without the quotes. (We have had issues with this method of late where we received the response "This SMS action isn't available right now". Regardless of the error message some of us still received the text/sms as expected.)

What about road restrictions and the snow report for ALL of Utah's 15 resorts in one place?

Download the free Ski Utah Snow Report app, click on over to the resort you are curious about, and if there are any road restrictions placed by UDOT, we'll have them listed (road conditions updated every 5-minutes). Want to see the UDOT traffic cameras? The app offers that too, located under each resort's "Web Cams".  Bonus: you also get The Official Utah Snow Report, Powder Alerts, the forecast from local Evan Thayer of Wasatch Snow Forecast / OpenSnow, Trail Maps, and the world's only Fresh Powder Counter as a result of our SNOCRU collaboration.

Ski Utah App - iOS
Download from iTunes
Ski Utah App - Andriod
Download from Android Play Marketplace

Don't want another app? No problem, just visit the Ski Utah Snow Report page and click on the "Show Full Snow Details" button under the resort you are curious about, and if there any road restrictions, they will be listed right under the initial snow report details. (road conditions provided by UDOT and updated every 5-minutes). Want to see the cameras for yourself, visit


Wondering what Utah's traffic is currently like?

Get more details than you would Waze or Google from UDOT's Mobile App or from their Traffic Page. Traffic cams, delay details, road restrictions, you name it, it's listed.

Download UDOT's Mobile Traffic App using the below quick codes


Which of Utah's roads have a Class 1 or Class II restriction?

View UDOT's statewide chain-up map to explore the state's road restriction locations.

What is a Class I restriction? A Class I restrictions require tractions devices may be required for vehicles OVER 12,000 lbs GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight).

What is a Class II restriction? A Class II restrictions state that traction devices may be required for ALL vehicles, regardless of their GVW.


Backcountry Skiers & Riders

If you are planning an backcountry / touring outing in the Cottonwood Canyons, American Fork or Provo Canyon don't overlook these assets from UDOT and the UAC (Utah Avalanche Center)

It's quite possible the reason you are planning on going for a tour into the backcountry is because the conditions are lining up nicely, but before you head out the door, after you've formalized your plans, make sure you check for terrain closures. UDOT uses explosives and artillery to control some of the most prone terrain, and making sure you don't hold-up their efforts is paramount.

First and foremost, make sure you are familiar with the day's backcountry conditions by visiting the UAC website.

For parking lot and road closure notifications make sure to check @UDOTAVY on Twitter or subscribe to their tweets via SMS. The UDOTAVY tweets will provide you with when and where the avalanche mitigation will be taking place.

Another great resource to reference and familiarize your self with is UDOT's controlled terrain map. This will give you a map reference when UDOTAVY announces a temporary terrain closure for avalanche mitigation.


A Few More Resources

Have you ever been curious as to where the snowplows are working in real-time?

The UDOT Snowplow Map uses GPS to track the plows location within a 3-5minute accuracy.

Staying Safe Around Snowplows
  • Distance: Give snowplows room to work. The plows are wide and can cross the center line or shoulder. Don't tailgate and try not to pass. If you must pass, take extreme caution and beware of the snow cloud.
  • Speed: Snowplows travel below the posted speed limit. Be patient. Allow plenty of time to slow down.
  • Vision: A snowplow operator's field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they don't always see you. Keep your distance and watch for sudden stops or turns.
  • More Winter Driving Tips from UDOT
  • Have you ever been curious as to where UDOT dispatches it's plows? Well there are a lot of factors that go into these decisions and you can read up here Snowplow Priorities

UDOT's Top Traffic Tips for staying safe while driving on snowy roads.

Utah has quite a few mountain ranges, as such there are roads that close seasonally and some lesser traveled roads that are only plowed during the daytime. Roads like Guardsman Pass and American Fork/Alpine Loop close for the winter months and sections of roads like SR 65 from Henefer to Morgan County are not plowed in the evenings. UDOT lists those roads and the road's OPEN / CLOSED status on their Road Open/Closed Status Page. The roads listed are limited to UDOT's numbered State Routes, and does not include any local county or forest roads.


Do you have any other tips, resources, or suggestions?

We welcome and encourage your insight. If there are more suggestions, please leave them in the comment field below, thank you