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It's Not All About Acreage Or Glamour At Utah's Outlier Resorts

Utah-Beaver-Cover The smaller mountains in Utah still get the state's famous dry powder and ski bigger than the trail map indicates. (Image via Beaver Mountain Facebook)

Often upstaged by their more famous neighbors, a half-dozen lesser-known ski and snowboard resorts in Utah thrive on the same powder while emenating a distinctive town-hill, laid-back vibe.

Up in the north Wasatch, Beaver Mountain (828 a., 1,700 vert.) is a winding 30-mile ride from Logan. Known as The Beav, it's the "school hill" for Utah State with decidedly blue-rated trail map with smattering of trees. Little Beaver learning area sits separate from main mountain, with top-to-bottom terrain park.

Utah's newest area, compact Cherry Peak (200 a., 1,650 vert.) is 30 miles up-valley from Logan. Mostly moderate terrain spills off either side of main ridge. Easy access from growing Cache Valley means weekend crowds.

Nordic Valley (200 a., 960 verts.) fills out Utah's northern tier of day-trip mountains. New ownership put in first high-speed chair in 2020. Two distinct sections each offer array of trail difficulties. It's gaining traction, especially with 700,000 folks over the hill in greater Ogden area.

The southern end of the Wasatch Front is home to Sundance Resort (450 a., 2,150 vert.) -- Robert Redford's eco-baby until recent sale. New owners addressed awkward, double-ridged layout with three new chairs, including first high-speed. Tons of steeps up top, easy stuff on lower half. Can be crowded, as it's a local favorite for Brigham Young University and busy Provo-Orem metroplex. Parking is limited and mostly paid.

Head to southwest Utah for a pair of ski and snowboard outliers. Closer to Las Vegas than Salt Lake, both Eagle Point (650 a., 1,500 vert.) and Brian Head (650 a., 1,548 vert.) look westward for their skiers and riders. With the highest base elevations in the state, they grab light powder from south-trending storms for 200-400 inches a season.

Formerly Elk Meadows, Eagle Point puts all its blacks in one section, its cruisers in the other. But the resort has some oddities: It has two base areas that are connected roads, not lifts. The four fixed-grip chairs spin only Friday-Monday. Access road Utah 153 winds right through the trail map. Some on-hill lodging.

Finally, Brian Head is Utah's southernmost ski and snowboard destination. It's trail map is bifurcated, with a full baker's dozen of green trails on a one mountain (Navajo Mountain) offset by a full plate of blues and blacks on another (Giant Steps). Each has its own parking lot and base area, with limited lodging. And, don't miss the most counter-intuitive views in West -- the snow-capped Tushars and red-rock Cedar Breaks National Monument.






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