BEST POLE KITTENS
Nestled atop Big Cottonwood Canyon, Brighton is Utah’s own snowboarding Mecca. With 1,050 acres of rideable terrain, a 15-foot half pipe, four constantly changing terrain parks and a miraculous lack of out-of-towners, it’s no wonder that Brighton offers the best snowboarding for all skill levels. Its ticket prices are affordable and lines are short. It offers easy backcountry access for powder hounds in a fine slice of Utah’s beautiful natural scenery. For the hardcore, Brighton sells a pass that gives 12-hour lift access for just $6 more than a regular adult pass. Finally, a resort that provides an inexpensive outlet for the masochistic and thrifty snowboarder.
Big Cottonwood Canyon, 801-532-4731, BrightonResort.com
You know how you feel a certain brother/sisterhood with folks who sport an Alta sticker on their car window or bumper? Well, you are the same people who voted Alta, hands down, the best skiing in Utah. Really, it doesn’t take a genius to know: Alta’s unique geographical placement in the Wasatch has always ensured tfhis particular spot will get the driest, deepest and finest powder in the country. Don’t take our word for it; check every popular skiing magazine for the same endorsement. The only problem with Alta—especially after a walloping snowstorm—is yup, its popularity. Get there early. Like first-chair early. The powder gets tracked out in an eye-blink. And best of all, Alta allows no stinkin’ snowboards.
Little Cottonwood Canyon, 801-359-1078, Alta.com
BEST WAY TO GO DEEP
BEST WASATCH SPRING SKI ADVENTURE
The South Face of Mount Superior, Little Cottonwood Canyon
Newbies, read no further. This is an outing for the experienced backcountry skier. If you’re good enough, get up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Alta on a spring day when there is a freeze at night, and the day will warm up nicely. Leave the car at 6:30 a.m. near the Alta Lodge and hike to Cardiff Pass. Continue up the east ridge of Mount Superior to the top. At the right moment, the south face of Superior will have two to three inches of corn-like, pellet snow on a solid base. Point your skis down and huck to Snowbird 3,000 feet below. Caution: Beware of cliff bands. Pick your route carefully. If you like to climb, take the south ridge to the top.
BEST BACKCOUNTRY POWDER RUN
Meadow Chutes of Silver Fork, Big Cottonwood Canyon
With crowds and ever-rising costs for lift tickets turning more skiers loose in Utah’s backcountry, it’s urgent you find the finest powder available. Well, turn up the volume on your avalanche beacon. Start by traversing the ski run at Solitude and hiking up Silver Fork. You’ll wind up on the high ridge of the west ridge. Known as the Meadow Chutes, here the intrepid will find close to 2,000 vertical feet of untracked and wild powder turns. But get out there soon—French and German skiers were enjoying the scene there this year, and they plan on spreading the news all over Europe.
BEST COMMUNITY GARDEN
Wasatch Community Gardens
It may have seemed like a trick question. Wasatch Community Gardens, unlike Red Butte Garden and Jordan Park’s International Peace Garden, is a hands-on place. The other two, which readers gave second and third place, respectively, are of the “stroll around and take in the beauty” variety. The first Wasatch garden, at 800 South and 600 East, in Salt Lake City’s Central City neighborhood comes alive each spring and summer with a bounty of vegetables, herbs and a few giant sunflowers for accent. Volunteers work the soil regularly; in exchange, they take home produce they so lovingly nurtured all growing season. At the end of the summer, volunteers host a wonderful tomato sandwich feast. Stop by the garden and get information on how to take part. Like most avid gardeners, they love to talk about their hobby. Hands-on demonstrations and organic gardening classes are available; check the Website for details.
Multiple locations, WasatchGardens.org
2. Red Butte Garden
3. International Peace Garden
BEST ARCHITECTURAL NOSTALGIA
The Walker Center Weather Tower
There was a time when the radio tower atop the downtown Walker Center could be seen from almost anywhere in the Salt Lake Valley, telling the latest weather forecast in red or blue neon, flashing or shining steadily. Then it was removed, leaving only a stubby Walker stump. In January, builders mounted a replica of the old tower and, even if it’s now mostly obscured by all the steel and glass that have sprouted up nearby, we’re glad it’s back. And, if you’re lucky enough to have a good sightline, you can still plan for galoshes or tanktops without checking the Weather Channel.