Just by its name -- Alta Ski Area – you can tell that you’re skiing “old school.” The famed powder mountain is one of the oldest in the country, opening in 1939, and much is the same today -- including an average of 500-plus inches. The Wasatch Range is first to grab Pacific storm snowfall after the Sierra Nevada. The trip across the desert sucks the moisture out, so famous Utah fluffy powder typically arrives atop Little Cottonwood canyon below 10% water content.
If long, rolly-poly blues appeal, then Purgatory Mountain Resort will never disappoint. Spreading across a high ridge on southern edge of the San Juan Mountains, "Purg" averages 250 inches a year on 1,600 acres, and a tad more than 2,000 ft. vert. with nine chairs. Favorable aspects tend north or east -- offering unending views of some of the highest peaks in the Rockies.
Robert Redford's Sundance Mountain Resort maybe just an hour south of its well-known neighbors in Utah's Wasatch Range -- on a clear day you can see the top of Snowbird -- but it feels like you have traveled decades away. Tucked up a steep, tight canyon east of Provo, the resort opened it in 1969 -- and it doesn't seem like much has changed since then.
Taos Ski Valley is a skier's mountain. Not for the faint of heart. It can match steeps with any in the Rockies. And, if storms course far enough south, it's a dry powder snow-pocket nonpareil. Six years of new ownership has smartly overhauled the lifts and base areas of this venerable original-family resort, including high-end hotel The Blake and chairlift to the top of Kachina Peak.