Since the beginning of January, storms have been rolling off the Pacific and feeding the mountains of the West. Selected areas have been getting pounded, like the five feet that fell on Utah's Wasatch Range in five days.
Friday January 11, 2019 was the snow sports industry’s first National Learn to Ski or Snowboard Day at resorts throughout the U.S. Many resorts offered special deals for newcomers to take beginner lessons from professional instructors as a way to celebrate the sports.
In the mountains of Utah, disc golf is growing as an inexpensive, easy-to-learn pastime that can be played by young and old. A round of nine or 18 holes gets you up and into the meadows and trees around the state’s ski and snowboard resorts.
The IOC has announced that seven new winter sports will be incorporated into the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, China. Four of these sports are International Ski Federation (FIS) events that will be on show at the 2019 Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships taking place in Utah in February 2019.
The White Bear at Deer Valley. (Deer Valley)
Whether you love powder or corduroy, groomers or trees, one of the best treats after a day on the snow is an après-ski cocktail. SnoCountry.com did some tough research and discovered some of our favorite signature resort cocktails.
Flying down the corduroy after flying in on a deal. (Snowbasin/Facebook)
Looking to make a cost-effective choice in flying to your favorite resort? SnoCountry.com has some deals for you.
Banking into a berm at Snowbird. (Snowbird/Facebook)
Summertime means getting the mountain bike into the hills where it belongs – and Utah resorts stand ready with lifts running to get bikers to the top.
A face-full of Wasatch powder. (Solitude/Facebook)
Solitude Mountain is one of the most aptly named resorts in America. Both the marketers and loyalists tout non-existent lift lines and expansive terrain – promoting a day of “solitude” in the Utah mountains.
Resort sits near top of Big Cottonwood Canyon with two base areas – day parking Moonbeam and overnight Solitude Village. Bought by over-the-ridge neighbor Deer Valley in 2015, Solitude has since gotten a new and realigned high-speed (Summit Express), and upgrades inside lodges and restaurants – with promise of more.
Terrain/Lifts. Total vert just over 2,000 feet with 1,200 skiable acres spread across two cirques, and divided into distinct sections. Novices should stick to lower mountain off Moonbeam (only 18 percent of hill is green). Classic groomers roll off Sunrise, Apex, Eagle and Powderhorn lifts. Upper front serves up a few cruisers, but specializes in delivering skiers and riders to the steep, deep and gnarly. Tons of short, steep lines between trails to explore, and plenty of trees in Headwall Forest off 10,035-foot summit, or if you slalom through Black Forest into Honeycomb Canyon. That’s where Solitude sets itself apart: Honeycomb Canyon feeds all parts of the powder hound’s soul, with traverses (or short hikes) off the summit leading to glades, chutes, bowls and cliffs on both sides of the backside steep canyon. Return access requires a couple of chair rides on which to rest weary legs.
Deals. Multi-day tickets cut day rate, and season pass tops at $979, including days at Deer Valley and Brighton. SolBright ticket ($99) permits crossover to neighboring Brighton Mountain. Stay at resort properties in Solitude Village and cut ticket costs. Solitude part of M.A.X. Pass network.
Eat/Drink. Nothing on the mountain but skiing fare at base restaurants. Wander into the village and find everything from pizza to filet miñon. Target the Thirsty Squirrel bar for aprés-ski drinks and chatter. Lounge upscale at the Library Bar in Powderhorn Lodge, or strap on snowshoes for half-mile trek to The Yurt for four-course meal.
Stay. One hotel – the Inn at Solitude – surrounded by condos, townhouses and private home rentals in village. Down below, town of Sandy and Salt Lake City jammed with overnight options.
Play. Expansive Nordic center winds out of village with all levels of trails. Snowshoes can be rented for those who need more stability, and there’s an ice rink in the village.
Travel. A shuttle from Salt Lake City airport gets you on the slopes in about an hour. It’s 20 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon; public transport is preferred, with loading spots around the city and at mouth of canyon. Parking can be limited.
Insider Tip: First-timers should check out trail map ahead of time, as lifts link up oddly. Warm up below, and then plan to do multiple runs on a particular section of the mountain to avoid having to take more than one lift or making lengthy traverses.
Snowbird is one of four Wasatch resorts that fill their parking lots to the brim. (Snowbird/Facebook)
The bus system of the Utah Transit Authority will narrow its focus this winter in order to get more skiers and snowboarders on the slopes more efficiently.
That means more bus trips up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Alta and Snowbird, and more runs up Big Cottonwood Canyon to Solitude and Brighton. It also means no direct service for visitors staying in downtown hotels or local city dwellers.
That quartet of ski resorts has always been within easy reach of Salt Lake City and environs, but they have been hampered by heavy congested traffic and a lack of consistent bus service up the narrow canyon roads.
To that end, the UTA has decided to eliminate direct ski resort service from downtown hotels. Instead, it will increase service by 35 percent from three light rail stations in south Salt Lake City as the jumping-off point for buses into the mountains. Connections at Murray Central and Historic Sandy stations head up to Snowbird and Alta, while buses loading at Bingham Junction Station go to Solitude and Brighton.
UTA officials contend that connections from the light rail stations will entice more people to park there, as opposed to the smaller, more cramped lots at the canyons’ base.
During peak hours of 7 to 10 a.m., buses will run every 15 minutes from the parking lots at the base of the two canyons. In the afternoon between 3 and 6 p.m., they will run from the four resorts to the parking lots at the mouth of the canyons.
UTA also will ramp up weekend service during peak hours to diminish both vehicle traffic on access routes and crowded buses.
During off-peak hours, UTA has upped the frequency to every 30 minutes – again, an effort to spread out the number of riders on these busy routes.
A one-way adult fare is $4.50, or $2.25 for seniors. For a map and schedule, click here.
It’s time to buy a tube of sunscreen and floppy hat, tune up the mountain bike and dig out the Birkenstocks: Summer in the Utah mountains is just around the corner.
A check of any snow forecast for Utah during the holiday season, and you’ll see nothing but snow, snow, more snow – and plenty of festivities.
All across ski nation, winter mountain resorts are devising ways to grow the sport by keeping kids and beginners coming back to the slopes. Utah is no exception.
Nate Lee has been appointed Solitude Mountain Resort’s new director of mountain operations. He is currently entering his 21st year of employment at Solitude, and has held the positions of lift operator, lift maintenance mechanic, lift maintenance manager and most recently,senior mountain operations manager.
The summit of Hidden Peak at Snowbird can be a cold spot, but this season there’s an oasis for tramway riders to warm their toes and get a bite to eat before heading downhill.The new Summit Lodge -- all 23,000 square feet of floor space and seemingly acres of glass windows -- will be ready once the Snowbird Tramway starts running for the new ski and snowboard season.
The snow's coming in less than 100 days. The colors are about to turn, so it's your last hurrah to jump in a mountain lake, hike high peaks with the pooch, cycle amid the wildflowers.
Utah’s controversial Mountain Accord plan got off the ground in July with the unanimous endorsement of a quartet of proposed land swaps between Utah ski and snowboard resorts and the U.S. Forest Service. The land exchanges at Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton signal a commitment for backcountry conservation among elected officials, government agencies, and representatives of private business and non-profit organizations.
The Summit Express at Solitude Mountain Resort has been both the lift of choice for black-diamond powder hounds … and somewhat of a hassle to get to.
Recreation during the summer in the mountains above Salt Lake City is still within an hour’s drive of the city – and the resorts continue to add more things to do.