Salt Lakes (not so) Hidden Gem
Salt Lake City’s Finest
Salt Lake City is home to a myriad of ski resorts, but upon asking the locals where the gnarliest terrain can be accessed, there is only one answer: Snowbird. Though the secret may be out when it comes to skiing in Utah, that doesn’t detract from the incredible skiing experience provided by the “Bird”. Local tip: If it snows, get to the mountain early and bring a car with 4×4 or chains(you won’t be allowed to drive the canyon without this). Snowbird is located in the highly trafficked Little Cottonwood Canyon. Due to increasing ski visitation, this 6-mile long, 2-lane road can become a nightmare of a drive if you decide to leave your house past 8 AM on a snowy day.
On The Mountain
Once you’ve made it to the resort, I’d recommend starting your day at Snowbird center. The aerial tram will quickly whisk you nearly 3000 vertical feet up the mountain in roughly 8 minutes, arriving at the summit of Hidden Peak at 11,000 feet. From here, the choice is yours. If you haven’t been to Snowbird before, I would recommend sticking to Chips run, a fantastic, full-length intermediate run that will give you a fantastic view of Mount Superior. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, and consider yourself an expert, check out Great Scott on the Cirque Traverse. This long, steep run, right under the tram still scares almost anyone who gazes down the drop-off.
Local tip: Ski Mineral Basin(The backside) early on in the day, as it can often become exceedingly crowded by about 10 AM, particularly in the springtime.
If after a few runs, you start to feel peckish, Snowbird has some excellent dining options, particularly at the main base. The Forklift can be found right at the base of Snowbird, just next to the tram, and will serve excellent food all day. If you’re looking to eat on more of a budget, General Gritts at the lowest level of the main Snowbird center offers reasonably priced, delicious sandwiches and burritos. If you really would like to show off your local knowledge, ask any Snowbird employee where the Tram Club can be found.
Little Cottonwood Canyon gets snow, a lot of it, sometimes very quickly. I would always recommend checking the weather before driving up the canyon, even on a sunny day. However, should you find yourself in a sudden snowstorm, unable to drive down the canyon, there are 2 things to do.
Ski! This should be obvious, but 2 inches of snow at the base can quickly become 8 at the top as you ride the chairlift. When visibility is poor, some of the best snow with the least crowds can be found at the Gad 2 chairlift.
Housing and Amenities
Get a room at the Cliff Lodge and bask in apres glory at the Cliff Spa. Snowbird has an open-topped spa with hot tubs and a pool that runs straight through winter. From experience, there is almost nothing more magical than relaxing in a hot tub after a long day with snow trudging down harder than you’ve ever seen.
Though there may not be many nightlife options at Snowbird, the legend says, “If you’ve done it right, you won’t want to do anything other than collapse into your bed at 8 PM after a day on this mountain.”