What is it about Utah skiing and snowboarding that set us apart from Colorado, Montana or Wyoming and continues to build the state’s reputation for having The Greatest Snow on Earth? Oh, maybe it’s having 11 ski areas within an hour’s drive of Salt Lake City with a combined 22,046 lift-served acres, easy backcountry access and tons of fresh powder each year. City Weekly breaks down the local options (with help from experts who actually work on the mountains) so you can focus on those epic days and après-ski festivities. Keep in mind that snowboarding is prohibited at Deer Valley and Alta. And for a fully updated daily snow report, visit SkiUtah.com online.
BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON BRIGHTON BrightonResort.com Years in operation: 70 Skiable acres: 1,050 Lifts: 7 Can’t-miss run: Patrick Eibs, ski patrol and snow safety director, tells you to ski Endless Winter. “It isn’t groomed, it’s challenging, it’s steep. Or Millicent Bowl—that’s good for ungroomed powder. The view from the Great Western Express lift is probably as good as any in the Wasatch.” Hidden gem: “Hard Coin or Sawbuck. They’re kinda hidden up in the trees and 90 percent of people ski right by them.” New in ‘08: (What’s new): Milly’s Express is now a high-speed quad; new snowcats; improved trails; and, for students of the ski school, a magic carpet is in full operation.
SOLITUDE SkiSolitude.com Years in operation: 50 Skiable acres: 1,200 Lifts: 8 Can’t-miss run: Norway-born ski school director Leif Grevle recommends visitors check out Sunshine Bowl—”It is open, well-groomed, has some beginner bumps as well as powder on either side and a spectacular view from the top.” Hidden gem: “Honeycomb Canyon at the top of the Summit Lift gives fabulous chutes and untouched powder. It’s a favorite for the locals.” New in ‘08: New snowmaking guns; a new snowcat; and trail work over the summer provides greater accessibility.
LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON
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ALTA Alta.com Years in operation: 69 Skiable acres: 2,200 Lifts: 7 No snowboarders Can’t-miss run: Ski school director Hoopa Robinson recommends you seek out Ballroom: “It’s never a groomed run, but it’s a rite of passage for someone trying to get their taste of Alta Powder.” Hidden gem: “Go to Devil’s Castle. Go as far as you can hike to get you the farthest from the crowds for some awesome, steep, wide-open skiing.” New in ‘08: Radio frequency identification chips embedded into the lift tickets will prevent delays in the lift lines. The Collins Lift features enhanced snowmaking.
SNOWBIRD Snowbird.com Years in operation: 36 Skiable acres: 2,500 Lifts: 11 Can’t-miss run: With 20 years as a Snowbird ski instructor, Shannon Gillette recommends (if you can handle it), “Great Scott. It’s perfectly situated with great snow and it can still be really good even if other parts of the mountain are getting crunchy and icy.” Hidden gem: “Through the keyhole in the Baldy Chutes—an area not many people access because it takes energy and motivation to get there.” New in ‘08: Top-to-bottom snowmaking in Peruvian Gulch; more intermediate-skier-friendly terrain on Chip’s Run; remodels to the Snowbird Center; and the entire Baby Thunder area is now expressly dedicated to families and beginners.