Those of us who ski or snowboard rarely think how lucky we are to live in the Wasatch Front. There’s a plethora of resorts, each with a different ambiance and terrain, so we can choose the one that fits our mood at the moment. Best of all, every resort is less than an hour’s drive away, no matter where in the valley you live.
While every local has personal secret trails and powder stashes, there are other secrets unknown to tourists—special delights unique to every resort that add to the snowriding experience. Surprisingly, most have nothing to do with snow. In fact, just two require a lift ticket to enjoy.
Alta’s Peruvian Lodge: The legendary Peruvian, next to the resort, is a pure aprÃ¨s-ski bar, more about socializing than drinking. Regulars include ski instructors, lift attendants and season-pass holders. There are cozy chairs and couches, plus a constantly refreshed array of appetizers like fried mushrooms, cheese sticks and raw veggies. There’s no such thing as a stranger at the Peruvian, and working there is a rite of passage for every ski bum taking a season off before heading back to college.
Brighton’s Java Joint: Nothing tastes better than a fresh jolt of coffee before hitting the lifts, which is why Mike Quigley’s Java Joint is perfectly located—next to the elevator inside the lodge. Get a delicious latte, a hot chocolate with whipped cream or just a plain cup of java from the small coffee bar. Quigley, the 26-year-old owner, keeps prices reasonable. He says, “A large part of our business is catering to the locals, so we try and keep it priced for them. They keep us in business.”
The “Beach” at Canyons: Work on your tan in winter while lying back in a typical Adirondack beach recliner. See and be seen. Canyons offers more than 30 of these chairs in a row about 50 feet long, next to the Orange Bubble lift. But don’t fall asleep. It’s difficult to explain your sunburned face when you said you were too sick to come to work.
Deer Valley’s overnight ski valet: At Deer Valley, you never have to worry about your skis being stolen. Put them in the free ski corral, just to the left of the Snow Park base lodge. They will check your skis and poles for a few hours or overnight. Even better, leave them overnight, and for just $5, they will hot wax your skis and return them ready to rock the next day.
Park City Mountain Resort’s halfpipe: This is only a secret because so many snowriders don’t know how much fun a halfpipe is. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy it. Ride down the flat bottom and be awed by the towering 22-foot-high walls of ice. Try making shallow turns on the transition from flat to vert, or work on making your turns higher. It feels like a roller coaster, but more fun.
Snowbasin bathrooms: Yes, the large and elegant “living room” of Earl’s Lodge is a great place for your non-snowriding companion to sit by a blazing fire and read while you're out on the slopes, but the bathrooms at ’Basin are what you’d expect in a mansion. The end stall in the women’s bathroom is actually a small room with a private vanity, hot and cold water and a large mirror—perfect for changing clothes.
Snowbird’s Peruvian Tunnel: It’s the only place in North America where you can ride completely through a real mountain to access more slopes on the other side. The scenic, 600-foot-long tunnel has a conveyer belt that transports you through a 12-foot-high, 10-foot-wide hole in the natural rock from Peruvian Gulch to Mineral Basin. The four-minute ride lets you out on easy terrain; the lift at the bottom will take you up to the top of Hidden Peak.
The Village at Solitude: A romantic walk along the cobblestones of the rustic-themed Village At Solitude is worth the winding drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon to get there. Watch the sun set as the gas-fired lights come on. Then stroll over to one of the excellent restaurants that populate the village, and have an evening to remember.