Utah's Skiers, Snowboarders Find More Conveniences This Season

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A new chairlift, acres of new terrain, expanded parking lots and more snowmaking mark what folks will see when they venture into the Utah mountains this winter.

Starting up north, Beaver Mountain has added more parking spaces. At the base, crews have begun building a new 25,000-square-foot lodge that will hold space for skier services, food and beverage, and retail next season.

Nearby Cherry Peak has put in a tubing park served by a magic carpet just to the viewer's left of the main lodge. On the hill, more snowmaking infrastructure went in this summer.

Up above Ogden, Snowbasin has addressed the popularity of the Strawberry Peak area with the new Demoisy Express high-speed six-pack. The new chair is expected to both relieve congestion and make it easier to traverse a long ridge and return to the base area.

The new high-speed will load next to the gondola and rise nearly 2,000 vertical feet to a sheltered dropoff point just short of the top ridge. From there, trails lead to and from the frontside Middle Bowl Express, and skiers and rider get a choice of the alpine terrain of Diamond Bowl or the Strawberry treeless steep slopes.

Neighbor Powder Mountain has tweaked its ownership model to makes its real estate more attractive by designating three two existing chairlifts -- Mary's and Village, and a new high-speed in the Raintree sector -- for homeowner-only skiing and riding. But another 500 acres of gnarly steeps, called DMI, has opened for guided tours off the upper north boundary.

As a nod of changing conditions, Powder installed its first snowmaking equipment. Night skiing now coasts $19 for some 300 acres under the lights.

Down below, Nordic Valley has had a tough run of it so far this season. The Eden-based mountain lost one of its two chairlifts -- the 53-year-old Apollo double -- to major mechanical issues. In its place, Nordic Valley has 18-seats sled towed by snowmobiles to bring folks to the upper mountain high-speed Nordic Express. Management says it can handle about 200 skiers-riders an hour.

Two new runs -- blue Beserker and black My Backyard -- were cut over the summer, and more parking spaces went in. In January, the resort's base lodge caught fire and was destroyed. The mountain was closed for several days, but is now open with temporary facilities.

Always cramped for parking, Sundance spend the summer tweaking the parking and access around the base of Jake's Lift, and then adding a new beginner run from Jake's to the upper parking lots.

Down south, Brian Head opened more glade runs -- from beginner to expert rated -- in the trees beneath Wildflower chair, and alongside the Shotgun run. More snowmaking went in, too.

And Eagle Point went deep into the inner workings of both the Skyline and Monarch chairs to upgrade for more efficient operation.

 

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

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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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Beat The Crowds By Heading Uphill At Utah Mountains

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Eight of Utah's 14 ski and snowboard mountains permit folks to head up uphill within their boundaries and ski down on designated trails and within certain hours, and if deemed safe.

Most resorts use a daily green-red, go-no go system for uphill access; a couple have yellow days, and websites must be checked for further regulations. Resorts may require lift tickets, or free uphill passes and waivers. All have strict uphill rules to keep uphill-ers out of danger, including designated up and down routes, a helmet light during dark hours, and a watchful eye for grooming snowcats. Here's a look at all nine resorts.

Brighton, Nordic Valleyand Beaver Mountain are the three Utah mountains that permits uphill-ers both day and night. At Nordic Valley, you must sign a waiver at the base. Cat tracks designate up routes; terrain signage shows the way down.

At Brighton, uphill skiers must park near Brighton Store, regardless of time of day. Daytime access routes when night falls, with specific boundaries to stay within. On green days, access can be had all 24 hours of that day. At Beaver, all in-bounds terrain is fair game outside of operating hours; designed route set up during daytime.

Next is Snowbasin, where uphill access runs from 4:00-8:30 a.m. on "morning route," 9 a.m-3 p.m. on "daytime route." Free uphill pass and arm band required on both green and yellow days. Uphill and downhill routes are the same, and either skis, snowboards or snowshoes are OK.

Uphill schedule at both Powder Mountain and mirrors daytime operating hours, and can be done same terrain as downhillers. Powder requires a lift ticket, while Beaver does not.

The remaining resorts open up before or after the lifts spin. Solitude lets skiers, split-boarders, snowshoers and hikers climb up from 4:00 to 10:30 a.m. on a designated route in two areas of the hill. A season uphill pass is required.

At Park City Mountainuphilling runs from 6 to 8:30 a.m. No pass required. To avoid parking fee or fine, they must get off the hill and out of the parking lot before 8:30 a.m.

Cherry Peakallows skis, 'boards and snowshoes on at 4 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. The designated up route is also the down route. No pass required.

 

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Northern Utah Couples Big-Mountain Skiing, Riding With Local Hill Vibe

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Just up the road from its more famous neighbors, the ski and snowboard resorts of northern Utah hold their own, with everything from massive powder terrain to former Olympic race courses to a seriously local vibe.

Up-and-down Nordic Valley finally got stability when Colorado-based Mountain Capital Partners took over management of the Ogden-area mountain in 2019. Right away, the local hill above Eden got a high-speed six-pack to radically upgrade access to its 500 acres of terrain.

This summer, crews cut a half-dozen new expert runs and glades off the Nordic Valley Express detachable chair. Nearly half of its 40-trail network is now black-rated. They also built a yurt lounge at the top of the lift and put in more snowmaking -- plus a new beer bar and expanded parking down below.

Up the road at Snowbasin -- home to the men's and women's downhill races at the 2002 Olympics -- the resort has moved from the Epic Pass to the Ikon Pass and Mountain Collective. More snowmaking, avalanche mitigation, more gladed trails and regrading of the connector Broadway trail topped summer work. Big news next season will be a second lift for more slopetime on Strawberry sector.

With the largest in-bounds skiing and riding in the U.S. (8,434 acres), Powder Mountain is as it was last season: A powderhounds' heaven with lift, snowcat, snowmobile and hike-to stashes. Off-season work focused instead on setting up summer mountain biking terrain, expected to open next summer.

Move over to Logan and a pair of local hills have no new surprises for the season. North at the Idaho border sits Beaver Mountain, the quintessential local hill that opened in 1939 and has been under the Seelhozer family ownership from the git-go. "The Beav'" has four fixed-grip chairs and a couple of magic carpets handle 828 acres of skiable terrain. Night skiing is around the base and mostly private, although a dozen public nights are scheduled.

Utah's newest alpine mountain, Cherry Peak epitomizes the "local hill" as it's just four miles from downtown from Richmond. Opened in 2015, the 400-acre ski area appeals to mid-level skiers and riders with most of its 29 runs in the green or blue categories. And, as many close-to-town areas do, Cherry Park has night skiing, six nights a week.

 

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Choices Expand For Summer In The Utah Mountains

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The seasonal gears have shifted, and Utah's 14 winter resorts are in full-on summer mode with everything from disc golf to mountain biking to riding atop a tramway car in the offing.

Resorts' emphasis on summertime activities continues to grow in the Beehive State, as locals and visitors more and more look to the mountains for exercise and enjoyment. Most mountains keep restaurants open during the offseason. In addition, concerts, workshops, themed festivals and competitions can be found on all around the mountains. And wildflower viewing is always worth the ride into the hills.

A few resorts are open seven days a week, but most open up only for several days around the weekend during the warm offseason. Four Utah resorts won't run chairlifts this summer; instead, Brighton, Cherry Peak and Beaver Mountain highlight hiking and biking trails as mountain getaways, and Alta again focuses on environmental projects.

Snowbird caught the headlines with its rooftop tram ride this summer. One of the two cars on Utah's only tramway will have limited space on top, and floor-to-ceiling windows inside. The base area will be busy, with slides and coaster and all manner of climbing challenges.

Powder Mountain opens a new downhill MTB park served by the Hidden Express chair. To limit crowds, day tickets will cap at 250, and only 500 summer season passes will be sold.

Park City Mountain debuts a new golf course at Canyons Village. Many of the fairways run on winter ski trails, and the course elevation rises and falls throughout. Three lifts bring MTBers to mountain tracks.

A new beginner MTB track is in the works at Solitude, which now is open Thursday-Sunday. Also debuting are climbing wall, bungee trampoline and mini-disc golf.

On the southern terminus of the Wasatch, Sundance brings beginner-flow and intermediate level MTB tracks online. And, of course, the resort's renowned high and long ziplines are due to attract the adventurous crowd.

At Snowbasin, there are 26 miles of hiking and biking trails off the Needles Gondola -- dogs always welcome. And, the northern Utah resort welcomes the return of the live Brews, Blues & Barbecue summer music series.

And, classical music aficionados will once again get to listen to the Utah Symphony's concert series under the evening skies at Deer Valley.

In southern Utah, the focus is on the hardiest athletes, with Eagle Point's Crusher in the Tushars and Tushar Mountain Runs in July, and Brian Head's Women's Epic Race and Brian Shredder downhill MTB race in June.

 

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Indy Pass Utah Road Trip Couples The Big And The Small

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From the mighty to the sublime, this road trip in northern Utah grabs a couple of Indy Pass days at Beaver Mountain and Powder Mountain that, despite their vast difference in size, both operate in quiet, unpretentious seclusion in the northern extent of the Wasatch Range.

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Keep The After-Hours Moving With Night Skiing, Riding In Utah

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If standing in lift lines is getting you down, turn on your night light and go skiing and riding at half of Utah's 14 resorts.

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New Looks Dot Utah's Ski And Snowboard Landscape This Season

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Aside from Covid-related changes, capital improvements big and small went up this summer at eight of Utah's ski and snowboard resorts.

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Time For Plan B: 10 Of The Best Small Ski Resorts To Ski During COVID Season

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What is this winter going to look like? Based on what we’ve read and seen down south (Australia & New Zealand), it isn’t going to be candy canes and gum drops.

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Summer At West Ski Resorts With Covid-19 In Mind

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Many of the usual summer activities -- mountain biking, ziplines, hiking, scenic lift rides -- will be in place in the West during the warm months. But the Covid-19 pandemic has forced resorts to tone down or fully eliminate offerings for the time being.

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Closed For Downhill, Some U.S. Resorts Open Uphill Access

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As all but a handful of U.S. resorts either suspend operations or shut down for the season, a number of them still permit skiers and riders to climb their slopes and get a few turns.

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All Up And Running: Utah Resorts Dive Into The Season

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All 14 ski and snowboard mountains within the state boundaries of Utah hit the "Go" switch before Christmas holidays, and visitors should expect new stuff on the mountains, at the ticket window, and in the lodge.

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Find Fun, Pleasure In The Utah Mountains This Summer

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Making plans for a trip to Utah this summer? Be sure to set aside time to check out all the warm-weather offerings from the state's ski and snowboard resorts.

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April Snows Cap Snow Season; Rafting, Hiking, Wildflowers Await

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For most Western resorts, the season is over, but lots of snow in the mountains -- even late into April -- means plenty of water in the rivers for rafting and blankets of colorful wild flowers covering the high alpine meadow for hikers and bikers.

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Toss Off The Corporate Reins With Indie Road Trips: Utah

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The number of ski and snowboard resorts in the West that haven’t hooked onto a mega-pass are dwindling, so SnoCountry.com got out its Utah road maps and headed to the mountains that still retain their independence.

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Best Burgers In The High Country

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The Caprese burger. (California Burger Co./Facebook)

Calling all foodies: The burgers in ski and snowboard country are now worthy of your attention.

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Word Is Out: Whisper Ridge To Open For Backcountry Powder

Word Is Out: Whisper Ridge To Open For Backcountry Powder

Powderhound cuts a fresh line through trees at Whisper Ridge in northern Utah. (Whisper Ridge/Facebook)

The Wasatch Front above Salt Lake City has long been a backcountry paradise for skiers and snowboarders willing to take a hike beyond the trams, gondolas and lifts at a dozen of Utah’s winter resorts. Now, there’s something in between.

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Cherry Peak To Open As Utah’s Newest Resort; Others Primed To Go

CherryPeak FallCherry Peak -- Utah’s first new resort in more than three decades -- is set to debut this season.

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Plenty More In Store At Utah Resorts In April, May

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Late-season snow storms have been rolling into Utah mountains, making it difficult to hang up the skis and snowboards but easy for resorts to stay open.

 

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