Nighttime in Alta, with Salt Lake City down the canyon. (Alta/Facebook)
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. Don’t bring your snowboard: Alta’s one of three resorts that prohibit knuckle-draggers. But do bring goggles, powder suits and perhaps a snorkel for, typically, the Alta gets 500-plus inches.
Terrain. Alta is two cirques side by side. The front under 11,000-foot Mt. Baldy rolls gently down the middle. But get up on the sides, and that’s where Alta really speaks to you. Be ready for lots of traversing to get to iconic Sunspot or High Rustler skier’s right or Ballroom to the left off Collins high-speed. Take Wildcat chair for a trip up into Alta’s original trail – and peek over into Snowbird. Or traverse over to the backside for an array of wide-open slopes in Greeley Bowl, the gnarly drops off Supreme lift, or the only greens on the hill -- gentle long cruisers all the way to the base.
Tickets. Used to be cheapest day ticket around, but now at full retail of $96. Online, reloads and multi-days cut prices. Alta is in the Mountain Collective, also has combo with Snowbird. Beginners get late-afternoon deal for novice-only tickets for Albion lift.
Ski School. Alf Engen Ski School among nation’s best, especially for powder skiing. Alta Lodge hosts renowned multi-day “performance ski camps.”
Eat. Basic skier’s fare on the hill at Watson’s Shelter on the front, and Alf’s Lodge on the back. Down below, the same during the day, but the fondu flames fire up every evening at lodges.
Lodging. Three classics await -- Alta Lodge, Peruvian Lodge, Rustler Lodge – with European cuisine, cozy rooms and steins of beer. Goldminer’s and Snowpine a bit newer but also compact. A limited number of condos and townhouses up near the mountain. Down below, town of Sandy is full of VRBO’s and motels.
Transportation. The airport-to-lift trip is the quickest in country. Utah encourages taking a bus up Little Cottonwood rather than fight the traffic, which can be monumental if it’s snowing. Shuttles run regularly back down to town and nonstop to the airport. Parking’s cheek-to-jowl around the base (no lot shuttles).
Insider Tips: You want challenge? Head skier’s left off Wildcat and stick near the boundary rope. All it does is get steeper, cliff-ier and longer the farther you go. Want to miss crowds? Stay overnight and hope the access road is closed by avalanche.
Plenty of new lift-access powder to go for at Powder Mountain (Powder Mountain/Facebook)
If you’re searching to find the largest in-bounds terrain in the United States, look no further than Powder Mountain in northern Utah.
This season, ownership will have 1,000 more skiable acres and two new lifts up and running by opening day in December. The lifts will open up terrain that was guide-only, and provide access to a pair of planned mountain villages with up to 500 total home sites.
The additional acreage within its ropes means Powder Mountain is once again the largest ski and snowboard area in the country: 7,957 acres. It surpasses Park City Mountain for No. 1 with this expansion.
Skier and snowboarders at “Pow’ Mow’” will be able to ride a lift into Mary’s and Lefty’s canyons very soon, as mid-December has been set for the unveiling.
Also, the owners are capping the number of season passes at 1,000, and lift tickets to 2,000 each day to avoid congestion.
“We strive to maintain the uncrowded, wide open, adventurous experience Pow Mow is known for,” the resort said. “(With expansion) we aim to keep our skier density of 1 acre per skier."
For years, Powder Mountain has been a secret snow stash above Ogden that harnesses chairlifts, snowcats and school buses to get powder hounds into untracked territory -- on any given day. All but the snowcat areas are inbounds, including terrain below James Peak and Hidden Lake Peak, and in Cobabe Canyon.
In 2013, a group of entrepreneurs paid $40 million for the property as home for conferences and think-tank gatherings.
Early development plans in got slimmed down, and now it’s a pair of villages that “is to embody a next-generation urbanism that nourishes social entrepreneurship, connection and collaboration, and responsible living,” said Powder Mountain’s JP Goulet.
You'll find gear to put a smile on your face at the Vail Ski Swap. (Vail Ski and Snowboard Club)
As we’re preparing for ski and board season, it’s time to think about upgrading our gear or selling some of your old stuff, and fall ski swaps are a great way to make that happen.
Powderhound cuts a fresh line through trees at Whisper Ridge in northern Utah. (Whisper Ridge/Facebook)
The Wasatch Front above Salt Lake City has long been a backcountry paradise for skiers and snowboarders willing to take a hike beyond the trams, gondolas and lifts at a dozen of Utah’s winter resorts. Now, there’s something in between.
Waiter at The Farm in Park City serves up plates from fresh, local produce (The Farm/Facebook)
The idea that local restaurants can hook up with nearby farms, ranches and food producers to create truly sustainable, “local” cuisine has caught fire not only in towns around the country, but also at ski and snowboard resorts.
Nowadays, it’s a common sight to see a chef checking out the veggies or baked bread at a local farmers market -- or on the organic produce aisle at the neighborhood grocery store – to stock up for the day’s menu.
More and more, they come from the fine dining rooms at mountain resorts. Here’s SnoCountry’s sampling of where to eat fresh at ski and snowboard resorts this season:
Canyons. Located right on the Ski Beach at the base of the Park City, Utah, resort, The Farm Restaurant lives up to its name by sourcing ingredients from local farms, cattle ranches and vineyards. A regularly revolving menu coincides with seasonally available foods. Taste treat: Utah corn soup.
Mount Snow. Harriman’s sits just up from the main base of the southern Vermont area. It combines classicly trained chefs with fresh food grown, raised and produced at 20 farms in the Green Mountain state. Taste treat: Aged cheddar from Jasper Hill Farms.
Stowe. In the heart of the base area, Solstice serves artisan-inspired plates inside Stowe Mountain Lodge, relying upon a partnership with farmers, cheesemakers and producers from the northern Vermont region for the freshest ingredients. Taste treat: Angus braised short ribs with Cabot Creamery grits.
Steamboat. Unbuckle your boots and stride into the Truffle Pig for apres-ski snacks, dinners and to-die-for desserts. Ingredients from pastures and gardens of northern Colorado valley inspire truly local menu. Taste treat: Truffle pig fries.
It'll be skiers only at Alta Ski Area after latest ruling from federal court. (Alta)
A final round of appeals by a group seeking to force Alta Ski Area to admit snowboarders has failed, leaving the Utah resort as one of three U.S. mountains that only skiers can enjoy.
The skiing at Snowbird has been unreal. Yes, skiing. While the rest of the Wasatch is hunkered down, sitting out the back-to-back storm cycles because closing days have come and gone, diehard locals are rejoicing. Nineteen inches in the last 48 hours and more on the way.
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.
Just three skiers-only resorts still remain, after a federal appeals court confirmed that Alta Ski Area could prohibit snowboarding on land it leases from the U.S. Forest Service.
After celebrating its 75th birthday this season, Snowbasin Resort is planning its next era with on-mountain projects designed to make it easier for skiers and snowboarders to get where they want to go.
Anyone who has skied or snowboarded on the slopes above Park City has likely run across remnants of the city’s silver mining history in the form of dilapidated mills, head frames, trams and ore bins.
The Pacific Ocean warming phenomenon known as El Niño came roaring into the West this winter with great promise of above-average snowfall for all. For some resorts, that was true -- but not for all.
If you hate skiing alone, you can't be shy. I had the ultimate dilemma today. None of my friends could come out to play. It was a Tuesday; a work day for most and forecasters had called Wednesday the day to catch the Powder Flu. Not today.
Despite some serious dumps in March, all good things must come to an end. In Utah, that means a pretty good season will mostly wind up by mid-April.
As spring skiing season arrives, you usually find more VW-size moguls than snorkel-deep powder at Rocky Mountain resorts. Combine with warm bluebird days, and you’ve got prime time for bump-a-holics.
The hoopla, the ribbon-cutting and the champagne bottle-smashing are long over with at Park City Mountain, and the new Quicksilver gondola has gotten down to doing its job: Connecting Park City and Canyons Resort.
A number of Rocky Mountain resorts and companies run off-piste snowcat powder tours, and now Homewood Mountain Resort will become the first in California to haul powderhounds to their heaven.
I’ve never completely understood the allure of celebrity. I’d much rather have a photograph of me and friends than me and actors who don’t know me, but it’s there…and it’s here in Park City, Utah. If you are skiing or riding in the neighborhood, have some "parkarazzi" fun at the annual Sundance Film Festival.
If the lift lines are getting too long for you – and you have an extra $4 million around – then Cimarron Mountain Club is just the ticket. There’s one hitch, though: Only 12 people get to buy into the resort.