Ski Some of the Best Terrain in Utah at Snowbird
And it definitely has the coolest heli-skiing setup.
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Just 29 miles from Salt Lake City, Snowbird has everything a skier might want: 2,500 acres of steep bowls, chutes, and trees, all covered in 500 inches of snow annually. What Snowbird lacks in rustic charm (it’s a purpose-built concrete village), it makes up for in terrain—arguably the best in Utah. Thirty-foot cliffs and 50-degree chutes beckon rippers while mellow cruisers satiate the adrenaline averse. At day’s end, four lodges at the bottom of the mountain welcome weary skiers into their high-thread-count arms.
It’s easy to understand why some of the best skiers on the planet—Todd Ligare, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Angel Collinson—call Snowbird home. And if you don’t already get it, read on to learn why.
With a world-class spa and spectacular views of the Wasatch, and within stumbling distance of the lifts and bars, the Cliff Lodge has been a Snowbird staple for more than 40 years. Check in and then head to the Lodge Bistro Lounge on the pool level for drinks and a nibble. Start off with a High West Double Rye Manhattan, a blend of two of the best whiskeys in Utah, produced at Park City’s High West Distillery. For dinner, try the winter greens Caesar followed by the roasted salmon. Finish your meal with bittersweet chocolate cake.
If that’s not enough hedonism for one day, slip on your robe and head for the outdoor hot tub on Cliff’s roof deck, one of the best in ski country. Get those legs nice and loose—you’re going to hammer them over the days to come.
With access to over 90 percent of the resort’s terrain and some of the best inbounds skiing in the Lower 48, laps off the Snowbird tram are a must. Line up by 8 a.m. to ensure first cabin once the tram starts spinning at 9:00. (Be forewarned: It gets packed, especially on powder days.)
From the top of the tram, at about 11,000 feet, follow the Cirque Traverse, which serves up an almost endless supply of steep lines. Take the Traverse to the end to hit Dalton’s Draw, a hidden favorite. The hike-to terrain on Mount Baldy, where some of the Freeride World Tour comp takes place, is insane. Pro skier Todd Ligare, a TGR staple and Snowbird devotee, suggests the Keyhole, a vast area on Baldy that requires little exploring and holds soft pockets days after a storm, or the Wilbere Chute, which serves up long, clean, consistent shots that will make your legs burn.
You could easily spend half a day exploring Mineral Basin, a steep, wide-open bowl that dishes up some of Utah’s most sought-after terrain on a powder day. Ride the Peruvian Express to the top, then take the tunnel through Hidden Peak to access Mineral Basin. Traverse far skier’s right and tip into the Bookends. The traverse weeds out the crowds, and the northeast aspect keeps the snow nice and cold.
By midday, most of the powder stashes are gone, so hit Chip’s Run, a fun late-afternoon choice for great groomers, wall hits, and rollers. It’s a playground stretching almost three miles that delivers you right to the base of Snowbird, putting you within striking distance of the tram, or Tram Bar, a favorite après joint.
Grab breakfast or brunch at the Forklift, a Snowbird institution across from the tram on the Plaza Deck. Its Sunday brunch is not to be missed. Fill up on homemade granola, whole-wheat pancakes, or chorizo hash, and finish off with a Bloody Mary.
Come lunchtime, head to the Mid-Gad Restaurant, at the top of the Mid-Gad lift. Fuel up on a gooey Gad Melty, a sharp cheddar and havarti grilled cheese combo served on fresh sourdough bread. With one of those in your belly, you’ll be ready to charge.
You don’t even have to leave the confines of the Cliff Lodge for one of the best meals in Snowbird. Jump in the elevator and head to the sushi bar at the Aerie Lounge on the 10th floor for live music and some of the best sushi in the Rockies. There’s no better way to top off a day at the ’Bird.
At day’s end, make your way to the Tram Club for the $5 shot-and-beer combo. The Tram Club is nothing fancy—a subterranean lair with a few widescreen TVs, a laid-back vibe, and live music on weekends—but it’s the best place in Snowbird to get your drink on. After a few shot-beer combos, make your way back to the Cliff Lodge hot tub and rest up for another day in powder paradise.
If you’d like to sample the finest skiing the Wasatch has to offer, splurge on a day of heli-skiing with Wasatch Powderbird Guides. At $1,195 a day, it’s not cheap, but can you really put a price on pure bliss?