City Guide 2009 | Powder Kegs | City Guide | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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City Guide 2009 | Powder Kegs

Catch your fresh turns this winter at any of the Wasatch Front’s 11 ski resorts.


“The greatest snow on Earth” isn’t just a marketing slogan; it’s a reality that locals live. With an annual average snowfall of 500 inches (last season, Alta measured 702 inches), Utah is home to some serious powder. If snow quality doesn’t impress you, than how about accessibility? Most Utah resorts are only an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City International Airport; some are even closer. Snowbird is a mere 29-mile drive. For the serious skier on a budget, Park City resorts offer to exchange an airport boarding pass for a same-day free ski pass ( With 11 resorts to choose from, it becomes a daunting task to decide where to ski for the day. City Weekly breaks it down for you, so you can spend more time making turns and discovering powder stashes. 

Before heading out, get updated snow conditions at

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Years in operation: 71
Skiable acres: 1,050
Lifts: 6
Runs: 66
Terrain: 21% beginner, 40% intermediate, 39% advanced
Night Skiing: 200 acres
Terrain Parks: 4, and a half pipe
Lift Ticket: $58
Can’t-miss run: Marketing & public relations rep Dani Torp says, “Ski Sunshine. Families love this run because it is great for kids, has a gorgeous view from the top, and it is a nice winding green run.”
Hidden gem: “Evergreen. A great, long black run that follows the resort’s southern-most boundary line.”
New in ’09: Expanded seating at the new $1.5 million Milly Chalet, complete with an eco-friendly geo-exchange heating system.

Years in operation: 51
Skiable acres: 1,200
Lifts: 8
Runs: 64
Terrain: 20% beginner, 50% intermediate, 30% advanced
Terrain park: 1
Lift Ticket: $61
Can’t-miss run: Nick Como, PR & marketing coordinator, says, “Ski Honeycomb Canyon. Four hundred acres of trees, bowls, steeps and chutes. HCC is an in-bounds off-piste experience, not your typical resort terrain.”
Hidden gem: “Our Nordic Center: 20 km of prepared trails for both classic and skating, as well as an additional 10 km of forested snowshoe trails.”
New in ’09: Two high-speed quads as part of the $7 million lift upgrade program; four new mobile snowguns; Chef Matt Anderson at Creekside.

Little Cottonwood Canyon

Years in operation: 70
Skiable acres: 2,200
Lifts: 7
Runs: 116
25% beginner, 40% intermediate, 35% advanced
Lift Ticket: $64
No Snowboarders
Can’t-miss run:
Scott Mathers, Alf Engen ski-school training director, in his 20th season at Alta, says, “Eddie’s High Nowhere. It is an exciting hike to an amazing view and one of the longest steep runs at Alta.”
Hidden gem: ”Greeley Hill Trolley, The perfect pitch and exposure for powder skiing. The snow lasts here for awhile after a storm.”
New in ’09: The Alta Performance Ski Camp helps expert skiers’ techniques through a guided four-day tour of expert terrain.

Years in operation: 37
Skiable acres: 2,500
Lifts: 11
Runs: 89
Terrain park: 2 and a Superpipe
Terrain: 27% beginner, 38% intermediate, 35% advanced
Lift Ticket: $72
Can’t-miss run: Mountain School director Maggie Loring says, “Upper Mach Schnell is a must hit for any expert skiing. Often overlooked because of how challenging it can be to get to, once you’re there, the open area and small trees make it picturesque as well as great in a storm because they help with visibility.”
Hidden gem: “A hidden gem in midwinter or for spring skiing is the Bookends in Mineral Basin. Again, this takes some work to get to, but that keeps the masses away from what is often untouched powder, even when the rest of the mountain has been tracked out. And on a sunny day in April, the corn snow is about as good as it gets.”
New in ’09: The Tram club renovated into a modern apr├Ęs ski setting; Aerie open year round.

Park City

Deer Valley
Years in operation: 28
Skiable acres: 2,026
Lifts: 22
Runs: 99
Terrain: 27% beginner, 41% intermediate, 32% percent advanced
Terrain Park: 1
Lift Ticket: $83
No Snowboarders
Can’t-miss run:
Chuck English, director of mountain operations with 27 years experience, says, “Stein’s Way because of the challenge, the view, the length, and it is an excellent example of the fall line skiing we are famous for.”
Hidden gem: “All the runs on the Mayflower lift because our guests shy away from a fixed-grip lift, and it has some of the best powder and steepest pitches at the resort.”
New in ’09: $8 million in improvements; a new cabin replaced Cushing’s Cabin; Empire Canyon was remodeled; snow making and maintenance equipment improved.

Park City Mountain Resort
Years in operation: 46
Skiable acres: 3,300
Lifts: 16
Terrain: 17% beginner, 50% intermediate, 33% advanced
Night Skiing: 35 acres
Terrain park: 4 parks and a Superpipe
Lift Ticket: $83
Can’t-miss run: Communication manager Paula Altschuler says. “Ski Hidden Splendor. It gently slopes down to the right with big, beautiful evergreen trees scattered about. It then takes a bit steeper, albeit short, pitch down.
Hidden gem: “Silver King is long, steep and deep, great on a powder day or after it’s been groomed, as part of our Signature Run program.”
New in ’09: $10.5 million in mountain improvements; purchasing 100-percent-renewable-energy offsets; new high-speed quad; a new run; expanded snowmaking; renovation of the Mid-Mountain Lodge.

The Canyons
Years in operation: Eight as The Canyons (formerly Park West and Wolf Mountain)
Skiable acres: 3,700
Lifts: 17
Runs: 163
Terrain: 10% beginner, 44% intermediate, 46% expert
Terrain park: 2
Lift Ticket: $79
Can’t-miss run: Hannah Bowling, public relations and events assistant says, “Apex Ridge off Super Condor Express; it is groomed almost every night and is a combination of moderate and steep pitches that are really fun to catch speed down.”
Hidden gem: “Although it is under the chair, people usually turn off onto the earlier runs that lead down to Boa. Apex doesn’t turn into moguls midday, meaning it’s still awesome in the afternoon.”
New in ’09: $10 million in improvements; Tombstone Express upgraded; renovations and expansion of the Red Pine Lodge; a new upscale condo development; 10 additional Cabriolet cars.

Ogden Area

Years in operation: 68
Skiable acres: 2,820
Lifts: 9
Terrain: 7% easier, 30% difficult, 35% more difficult, 32% expert
Terrain park: 3 and a Superpipe
Lift Ticket: $63
Can’t-miss run: Erica Fridberg, in accounting, says, “My favorite run would be Dan’s run with all of the rollers. You can catch air, and it’s fun.”
Hidden gem: “No Name off of John Paul High Speed quad with lots of access to powder and first tracks.”
New in ’09: a new detachable quad that spans 1,578 feet and helps beginner skiers/riders unload.

Powder Mountain
Years in operation: 36
Skiable acres: 7,200 (Lift served, 2,800; Powder Country shuttle, 1,200; Lightning Ridge Snowcat Ride, 700; Snowcat Powder Safari, 2,500)
Lifts: 7
Runs: 124
Terrain: 25% beginner, 40% intermediate, 35% advanced
Night Skiing: Yes, Tiger Tow & Sundown lifts
Terrain park: 2, and a half pipe
Lift Ticket: $56
Can’t-miss run:
Keith Moore, ski patrol director, says, “Powder Chambers after a dump. It offers a choice of gladed trees, challenging chutes or a wide-open face. The north-facing slope keeps the powder soft.”
Hidden gem: Dave Roybal, assistant ticket manager says, “Cut Run has great steep terrain, powder and the knowledge that you will have fresh pow for first tracks.”
New in ’09: Additional terrain park features, mountain adventure center, lodge and restaurant renovations, roll-back of night lift-ticket prices (which begins an hour earlier), the only resort to offer snow-kite lessons.

Wolf Creek
Years in operation: 5 (previously known as Nordic Valley)
Skiable acres: 110
Lifts: 3
Runs: 15
Terrain: 35% beginners, 45% intermediate, 20% advanced
Night Skiing: Across the entire resort
Terrain park: 1
Lift Ticket: $32
Can’t-miss run: General manager Bill Cox says, “Barney’s Way is by far the most popular run. With great fall-line skiing from top to bottom, riders give it up right under the lift, so all can enjoy.“
Hidden gem: “Cougar Canyon. The snow blows in there, and no one gives it up until someone ‘in the know tracks it up.’”
New in ’09:
expanded beginner, learning terrain; more convenient drop-off area; terrain-park improvements; beginner hill relocated to a wider, longer slope.

Provo Canyon

Years in operation: 39
Skiable acres: 450
Lifts: 3
Runs: 42
Terrain: 20% beginner, 40% intermediate, 40% advanced
Lift Ticket: $45
Can’t-miss run: Czar Johnson, director of Village Sports says, “Bishop’s Bowl offers breathtaking views of Deer Creek Reservoir and the Heber Valley. Drop into the top of the bowl and ski some of the best wide-open terrain around.”
Hidden gem: “Hills: You get to choose from skiing the trees or skiing the wide-open bowl in the center. Hills often fill in with new snow when other areas of the mountain don’t. Makes for some great hidden powder shots days after a storm.”
New in ’09: Moved up to third in the Ski Area Citizens Coalition Top 10 environmentally friendly resorts.

Joe Bateman is a University of Utah student and ski bum. Up until ski season, he served as a City Weekly intern.

Up (and Down) the Road a Piece

Beaver Mountain
Logan, Utah
2 hours from Salt Lake City
435-753-0921 or 435-753-4822

Brian Head Resort
Brian Head, Utah
4 hours from Salt Lake City

Grand Targhee Resort
Alta, Wyo.
4.5 hours from Salt Lake City
1-800-Targhee (827-4433)

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Teton Village, Wyoming
5 hours from Salt Lake City

Sun Valley Resort
Sun Valley, Idaho
4.5 hours from Salt Lake City