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Powder Mountain Set To Put Up Four Chairlifts This Summer


This summer is expected to a busy one in northern Utah, but all the work will be concentrated at Powder Mountain.

In terms of lift- and 'cat-served terrain, Powder is the nation's largest ski and snowboard resort at 8,464 acres. Some 2,800 acres can be had right off a chairlift. Another 1,200 acres can be reached via shuttle bus, and 4,000 acres only via snowcat tour or hike.

Since opening in 1971, its lift network has been expanded sporadically, so the mountain has built a strong reputation for off-piste powder stashes served by 'cats, hiking/skinning and a shuttle.

New ownership has said that running lifts into areas that don't have direct access is one main goal; a second is to set aside a portion of the mountain for homeowner's only. To that end, this summer's work will focus on upgrading a couple of aging lifts, plus putting in two high-speed quads on new alignments.

The fixed-grip triple Paradise chair, which has hauled folks out of lowest point on the hill since 1999, will be replaced by a high-speed quad. The new lift is expected to cut the previous 12-minute ride time in half. In conjunction, a new Timberline fixed-grip chair, now with four seats, will go up to more efficiently connect lower mountain with mid-mountain base area.

A pair of newly aligned chairs will go on opposite sides of the mountain. At skier's left, the Lightning Ridge fixed-grip quad will run up its namesake ridge out of the base area, providing lift access to steep chutes off the ridge and intermediate slopes in Shugir Bowl. Its part of a plan to put a lift in Wolf Creek and DMI canyons, upslope from Lightning Ridge, that is now advanced terrain reached by hiking or snowcat tours.

At skier's extreme right, a new Raintree fixed-grip will anchor the bottom of the new homeowner-only terrain in and around Cobabe Canyon. Existing Mary's and Village chairs at top of canyon will also be closed to the public.

Earlier this season, ownership said Powder will become semi-private by roping off 2,000 acres around Mary's and Village chairlifts that serve Lefty's Canyon and Mary's Bowl, and terrain off new Rain Tree high-speed for homeowners. Ownership hopes the move will bolster its real estate portfolio, which has long targeted the ultra-wealthy who treasure their privacy.



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Heavy March Storms Prompt Resorts To Stay Open Longer


It's been a schizophrenic ski and snowboard season in the West, starting with a scratchy Christmas and meager January, but finishing up with mega-dumps into late March.

While storms arrived off the Pacific Ocean as usual this winter, above-freezing temps produced more rain than snow at many resorts that typically get inundated in December and January.

However, temperatures dipped in mid-winter, the storm cycle settled in, and some remarkably intense winter weather dropped near-record amounts. As a result, a number of resorts in the West have announced extensions to their seasons as the snow just keeps on coming in the Sierra, Cascades and Rockies.

Mt. Hood Meadows' 2,100 acres got lots late this season. The Oregon resort is approaching its average of 430 inches per season and has decided to run daily to April 28, then weekends until May 18. All terrain is expected to stay open until May 5; thereafter, fewer trails will be open, and lifts will run to 2:30 p.m.

Also in the Pacific Northwest, Washington's Crystal Mountain will run daily until April 14 -- as planned -- but add two weekends April 19-21 and 26-28 to finish off the season. Only intermediate and advanced terrain will be open, with limited lift operations and no lessons.

North of Lake Tahoe in California, Sugar Bowl now has nearly 15 feet at its summit following the latest storm cycle. That was plenty for mountain management to add three weeks to the season through April 28. And, both China Peak and Kirkwood have extended to April 28.

In Utah, Brian Head was the first to announce a season extensions. Once storms started sagging to the south, Utah's southernmost ski and snowboard mountain got hammered. Consequently, all lifts will keep spinning at Brian Head until May 5 -- with a hint from management that they might go beyond that.

Utah's Wasatch Range always seems to get lots of snow, be it El Nińo or La Nińa. On the eastern front, Deer Valley has added another week of skiing and riding to its calendar, ending on April 21. The skiing-only resort totaled 320 inches of snowfall so far, just a bit above average.

And Park City Mountain had decided that they have enough snow to keep spinning lifts. Mountain management announced that one of the nation's largest resorts will stay open another eight days to April 22.

Over in Colorado, Steamboat seemed to be immune to the lethargy of early-season storms, and then catching plenty in the later months. Some 340 inches fell this season, enough to add a week to the resort's operations calendar to April. 21.

And farther south, despite no snowmaking, Monarch Mountain was the beneficiary of multiple March storms to build up enough base to stay open an extra week to March 14.

-- This article will be updated if more extensions are announced.




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Powder Mountain Removes Longtime Season Pass Cap


A Utah ski and snowboard mountain that has religiously limited season passes sales to prevent crowding will now sell as many passes as it can.

The new owner of Powder Mountain announced that a cap on season pass sales will be lifted for the 2023-2034 season. Day ticket sales at the nation's largest resort will continue to have a limit but now will be sold with dynamic pricing; that is, the cost of a ticket varies according to day of week, time of season, and how far in advance it is purchased.

The new policy appears to be in response to new owner and Netflix founder Reed Hastings' desire to prop up lagging real estate sales to stabilize revenue used for the operations on the 8,464-acre mountain. Earlier this season, Hastings said Powder will become semi-private by setting aside Mary's and Village chairlifts that serve Lefty's Canyon and Mary's Bowl -- plus a new high-speed in the Rain Tree-Cobabe Bowl sector -- for homeowner-only skiing and riding.

This move is aimed at jump-starting the resort's real estate portfolio, which has long targeted the ultra-wealthy who treasure their privacy. Recently, however, apparently not enough of them have bought homes alongside the slopes of Powder.

Renowned for its massive terrain and variety of uphill transport, Powder Mountain's three previous owners have restrained crowding that plagues other Utah mountains by limiting day and season pass sales. Season passes have been capped since Powder opened in 1972. Because it sits on private land, Powder can manipulate access without U.S. Forest Service oversight.

Sitting out on its own above the town of Eden, Powder has promoted its exclusivity -- both for serious powderhounds who eschew fancy facilities and the uber-rich who want a McMansion the hill. The owners just previous to Hastings took it farther by envisioning a social and philanthropic think-tank retreat -- a "Davos for millennials." The nouveau-riche ownership put in a couple of new lifts, but that vision soured lately.

Nowhere can you more assured of fresh tracks than at Powder Mountain. Since opening in 1971, "Pow Mo" has been a well-kept secret powder stash above Ogden that averages 350 inches a year and harnesses all manner of transport -- high-speed and fixed-grip, shuttle buses and snowcats, skinning and boot-hiking -- to get powderhounds into the largest inbounds acreage of any resort in the U.S. It was the first Utah mountain to allow snowboarding, and has had minimal grooming and snowmaking. Powder Mountain accepts the Indy Pass but no other mega-passes.

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Untangling Driving, Parking When Heading Into Utah's Wasatch Mountains


Mid-winter breaks are approaching, and plenty of skiers and riders will head out to Utah to catch some of the state's famous powder days.

If you are driving a car with the intention of heading up to ski and ride at a Wasatch resort, some pre-trip tips might help streamline your trip.

Greater Salt Lake City is home for nearly three million folks, many of whom ski or ride in the winter. Plus, nearly six million others visit the city every year, many of whom ski or ride too.

The Wasatch Front alpine go-tos -- Solitude, Brighton, Alta and Snowbird -- are less than an hour's drive from city environs, as are Park City Mountain and Deer Valley. Sundance, Snowbasin and Powder Mountain aren't much farther.

Routes into the Wasatch Front are two-laners, leading to notable traffic jams. What this means is lots skiers are on the road, notably on weekends, holidays and powder days. Strategies include getting up very early, consolidating into fewer vehicles, or just chill out on the ride up and down. Or, take public transport.

If you drive, you'll have to park. Putting four in one vehicle gets priorities at most mountains. But there's not enough space for everyone. So, expect to make parking reservations and pay a fee on busy days. Capacity limits so, at worst, someone has to drop off and pick up.

Starting with the most congenial, Powder Mountain and Sundance have no restrictions. Snowbasin's free too, save for vehicles with three or more who get close-in parking. Same at Deer Valley.

Expect sellouts at the Cottonwood Canyon resorts on busy days. At Snowbird, a string of cramped parking lots offer options. Get there early for free, pay to get close to the tram, or buy a season pass to priority spots.

Neighbor Alta focuses on weekends and holiday, with reservations a $25 charge before 1 p.m. Over the hill, Solitude requires reservations prior to 11 a.m. on weekends and holidays, and it costs for parking until 1 p.m. on all days. Brighton goes simple: $20 reservations Friday through Sunday.

Park City Mountain has a combination of paid reservations, first-come first-served paid lots, high-capacity and carpooling incentives, and park-n-ride locations.

Salt Lake City has a robust, inexpensive public transportation system that works to make it convenient to let someone else drive up to the mountains. Commuter rail hooks up with shuttles on Wasatch Front, from Ogden (Snowbasin and Powder Mountain) to Provo (Sundance). There's a $20 service, Cottonwood Connect, that runs daily. High Valley Transit serves the Park City-Deer Valley area.


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Utah's Skiers, Snowboarders Find More Conveniences This Season


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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Sagging Real Estate Sales Prompt Powder Mountain To Go Semi-Private


The majority owner of Utah's Powder Mountain has announced a new direction in which a portion of the ski and snowboard terrain will be available only to resort homeowners -- a one-of-a-kind arrangement in the American West.

Reed Hastings, co-founder of Netflix who took over control of Powder Mountain (8,464 a., 3,346 vert.) this year, said that income from real estate sales that helps pay for mountain operations has slowed enough that he decided to pivot to a "sustainable path for staying uncrowded and independent."

A major part of that plan is to set aside three existing chairlifts -- Mary's and Village, plus a new high-speed in the Raintree sector -- for homeowner-only skiing and riding. The move is aimed at jump-starting the resort's real estate portfolio, which has long targeted the ultra-wealthy who treasure their privacy.

Public access with remain for the vast majority of the mountain's 8,000-plus acres that can be had via chairlifts, snowcats, shuttle buses and hiking. Daily ticket sales will remained capped, with an Indy Pass add-on as Powder's only multi-mountain pass.

Since opening in 1971, iconoclast "Pow Mo" has been a secret powder stash above Ogden that harnessed all manner of transport -- from modern to archaic -- to get powder hounds into the largest inbounds acreage of any resort in the U.S. It was the first Utah mountain to allow snowboarding, and has had minimal grooming and snowmaking.

It sits on private land, which allows development -- including this singular private-public access -- without federal review. Skiers and riders enter Powder at one of three base areas along the top ridge. The main base, Summit Village, includes overnight lodging, residential sites and retail. The village's name mirrors former owners from Summit Institute, who envisioned a social and philanthropic think-tank retreat -- a "Davos for millennials" -- conveniently located between two towns with literary antecedents: Eden and Paradise.

Since they took over in 2013, the billionaire-dominated ownership hosted intellectual gatherings, put in a couple of new lifts and carved out housing lots. But that vision soured lately so, at least for the time being, Hastings has focused more on the mountain's original mission: operating a huge, powder-stash ski and snowboard mountain and resort in northern Utah.


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A Couple Of New Chairlifts Highlight New Season In Utah's Cottonwood Canyons


Few places in the West have more deep powder cachet than the four resorts in the Cottonwood canyons above Salt Lake City, where double-digits dumps are the norm at Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton.

So what's new this season? Solitude and Brighton in Little Cottonwood Canyon each debut brand-new chairlifts. Solitude (1,200 a, 2,494 vert.) has added two seats to the Eagle Express high-speed. Running out of the busy Moonbeam base -- where the bulk of public parking resides -- the new six-pack is anticipated to reduce morning and midday congestion.

The Eagle Express serves the south side's blues and blacks, and a few pitches into lower Honeycomb Canyon -- as well as being the first of three rides to the serious steeps off the summit from the Moonbeam base. It's the first new lift at Solitude since 2015.

Up the road at Brighton (1,050 a., 1,745 vert.), the new six-pack detachable chair named Crest6 replaces 32-year-old Crest Express four-seater to ease congestion out of the base. Park dudes can get onto the upper mountain's jibs, kickers and booters more often, while backcountry lovers get a headstart to hike Preston Peak and Pioneer Ridge.

Over in Little Cottonwood, Alta (2,624 a., 2,538 vert.) can now brag that novices have a place among the mountain's renowned steeps.

The old Albion is gone, and the Sunnyside high-speed six-pack hustles folks into the bottom of the backside in the Patsy Marley area. It also provides a shortcut to the Devil's Castle-Supreme tough stuff on the back side. Five remote avalanche control towers went in this summer along Castle Peak ridgeline.

And over the ridge at Snowbird, more remote avalanche control towers are in. Visitors might notice construction underway on the replacement of the oldest lift on the hill, the Wilbere double, with a new fixed-grip quad due to open in the spring.

All four resorts encourage riding buses up and, to discourage driving, they impose parking restrictions. At Alta, pay reservations needed Friday-Sunday mornings. Snowbird has an "optional advanced" reservations system, with some free first-come first-served spaces. At Solitude, all parking costs on holidays and weekends except vehicles with four occupants. And at Brighton, reservations required Friday-Sunday, and parking fees charged for vehicles carrying three or fewer.




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


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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Brian Head To Add Terrain, Incorporate Adjacent Development


Add another Utah ski and snowboard resort to the expansion list, as Brian Head is set to initiate construction that will eventually transform the modest-sized ski and snowboard area into a large-scale new resort.

The project calls for building a gondola to connect an existing layout at Brian Head with newly developed Aspen Meadows resort on 2,000 privately owned acres just over a divide. The Brian Head-Aspen Meadows linkage joins the recently announced Deer Valley-Mayflower marriage that promises to vastly alter the future Utah ski and snowboard landscape.

Languishing for more than three decades, the reactivated Aspen Meadows master plan calls for a third base area for the southern Utah mountain, more than doubling its skiable terrain, and adding seven new lifts, including a two-stage gondola to link the two areas. More parking and new lodging and residential areas are in the plans.

Mountain officials have not set a timeline for the development but have indicated that full build-out of lifts, new skiable terrain, and residential structures could take 30 years.

In 2019, Colorado-based Mountain Capital Partners acquired Brian Head as an element of a spending spree that began in 2015 with Purgatory in southwest Colorado, and now includes 11 ski and snowboard mountains, one snowcat tour service, one dedicated mountain bike park, and two golf courses.

Once in the fold, the Durango company has made it a habit to immediately put money "onto the hill" in the form of snowmaking, lifts, grooming and terrain. So Brian Head regulars and visitors can expect to see on-mountain improvements in the next couple of seasons.

Brian Head has long been a hidden gem on the Utah ski map. Its both the southernmost mountain in the state and the highest base elevation (9,600 feet). Cedar City lies 40 minutes away I-15, and Las Vegas is three hours' drive.

Currently, the trail map encompasses 650 acres with 1,548 feet in vertical drop. Two high-speed quads join with six other chairlifts to deliver skiers and riders around the mountain. The skiable terrain divides up neatly between green-blue Navajo Mountain, and blue-black Giant Steps Mountain.

Sitting on the extreme southwest corner of the Rocky Mountains, Brian is well-situated to catch the leading edge of storms that come up from the southwesterly direction. Also, a number of national parks near Brian Head draw visitors to southern Utah.


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Deer Valley, Mayflower Link Up For Third-Largest Trail Map In U.S.


In the 2025-2026 season, skiers will be able to summit the ridge atop Deer Valley and head down the other side into the vast new terrain of Mayflower.

Owned by Ikon Pass-purveyor Alterra Mountain Co., Deer Valley announced a deal with the owners of under-construction Mayflower resort to operate both mountains that sit near the town of Park City. Under the new operating agreement, the Utah resort will grow to more than 5,700 acres, making it the fourth largest ski area in North America, and the third in the U.S. behind Powder Mountain and Park City Mountain. The trail map will expand from 103 to 238 runs, and 16 more lifts will go in to make a total of 37.

Mayflower's privately owned terrain has long been eyed by resort developers because of its more than 3,700 acres of varied terrain, and because of its easy access from U.S. 40 right off I-80. Initial plans had the resort focused on a military-focused development.

Deer Valley's prohibition of snowboarding will include Mayflower. Deer Valley is one of three mountains (Utah's Alta and Vermont's Mad River Glen, the others) do not permit snowboarding, officials say. They also said daily limit on the number of skiers on the hill will include the expanded terrain.

A new Mayflower base area will follow along with Deer Valley's emphasis on luxury. Hotels, ski-in ski-out homes and a "commercial downtown" are expected to provide a whole new entrance to the resort -- eliminating the need to go into the busy downtown Park City area. Resort officials have said that the new entrance will reduce traffic in Park City -- a contentious issue for years.

Several years ago, Park City Mountain Resort acquired neighbor The Canyons (formerly known as Park City East), and ran a gondola over the ridge to link the two trail maps and increase skiable acres to 7,300. And Deer Valley has entertained the idea of running a gondola over its ridge into Solitude, another Alterra resort that sits in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

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Keep The Thrill Of Speed Going With Summer Ziplines In West


In the summer, ziplines trace down the mountains of the West with the a hurtling wind-in-your-face rush that skiers and riders cherish during the winter.

Most resorts in the West have strung up ziplines, where adventure seekers put on a helmet, clip into a harness, grab ahold of speed controls, and release into the wild blue at speeds reaching 65 mph. Each zip tour has intermediate platforms -- some with side activities. Age, height and weight limitations apply. Here are a trio of example of zip tours.

The king of vertical drop on a zipline resides at Utah's Sundance Resort. Zipliners drop 2,100 feet -- the longest vertical drop of a zipline in the U.S. -- on two miles of wire that divides up into four sections from the summit to the base of the mountain.

After a ride up three chairlifts, zip-riders go side-by-side with speeds up to 65 mph that can be controlled by the rider. Stop for a moment mid-ride to soak in the southern Wasatch Mountains, including 11,275-foot high Mt. Timpanogos -- the second highest mountain in the Utah range.

Reservations can be made every hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through the first week of October. A special feature is the Full Moon ZipTour.

In Jackson, Wyo., proper, Snow King Mountain one of the steepest ziplines anywhere. The tour begins with a ride up the brand-new Snow King gondola. From there, the city of Jackson sits in the foreground, and the Grand Tetons rise up beyond.

After a short intro zip ride at the summit, thrill-seekers can go for all 3,100 feet of wire and 415 vertical drop in two stages. With braking devices, speeds top out at 65 mph, and wire grade tilts to 36 percent tops.

Set in three dual-wire stages -- plus a short beginner's intro slide -- Mount Bachelor's zip tour flies high above open bowls, glades, and volcanic terrain. Tours run every half hour from 9:20 a.m. to 5:20 p.m. through September, and reservations required.

It begins just above treeline at the 7,800-foot elevation top of the Pine Marten high-speed quad, and drops 1,384 total feet of vertical on 1.3 miles of wire. A self-braking systems allows pairs of riders to regulate their own speed, stopping at three platforms that propel riders to progressively steeper and longer rides.



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Hop The Lift To Reach Downhill Mountain Biking In Utah


Riding a chairlift to get to mountain biking trails is becoming more common in Utah, as winter resorts convert their vertical drop from the snow to the dirt.

Most trail systems include easy to difficult runs, terrain park features, single-track side routes and access to no-lift backcountry. And most resorts rent equipment, and some offer lessons. Check websites for e-bike access.

Brian Head in southern Utah has gone full-in on MTB with more than 100 miles trails. The Giant Steps Express drops riders at the 10,920-foot summit. From there, catch one of nine intermediate trails, eight advanced routes, the fall-line Wildflower expert line, or lolly-gag on the loopy Color Flow down 1,100 vertical feet.

The views can make you brake and gaze. The lift runs Friday through Sunday. A shuttle takes riders to pedaling off the beaten track. Brian Head is a member of the Mountain Bike Power Pass family, too.

At Deer Valley, you can cop up to 3,000 of vertical feet via three high-speed chairs that run daily until September, with Twilight Tuesdays until 8 pm.

Some 70 miles criss-cross four mountains around the trail map, topping out at 9,400-foot Bald Mountain summit. The trail system leans toward blue and black routes, full of features. A single novice that winds from top to mid-mountain.

This summer, Sundance fires up the Outlaw Express daily for mountain bikers who already have experience. There's one green flow but you must get off at midway -- and resort says there are no true beginner trails. Otherwise, most trails dip sharply off the lower mountain's short but steep pitches for expert, advanced and intermediate runs with 1,300 feet of vertical drop.

If the MTB doesn't satisfy your thrill jones, then take a plunge on the Sky Zipline -- the longest vertical drop in the nation.

A good place to start youngsters on mountain bikes is Solitude. Two chair lifts run Thursday to Sundays. The trail system is modest, about 20 miles of routes, but it tilts toward the green and blue tracks. The short loop off of Link chair will help get up the speed, and a few more novice tracks come off Sunrise.

And, for something different, head to Snowbasin and ride the Needles gondola on weekends. Mostly intermediate routes run off the south side.

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Chairlift Projects In Utah Heat Up For Summer Construction Season


This summer, the two ski and snowboard resorts atop Big Cottonwood Canyon will replace aging high-speed chairlifts with more modern versions, while Utah's only private resort will continue to add to its uphill fleet.

Most recent projects up both Cottonwood canyons center on better handling of crowds that swarm up from the Salt Lake basin, especially on weekends and powder days. Up Little Cottonwood, Alta has upgraded access to backside learning terrain, while Snowbird expanded its tram and added more chair seats to ease stress on Gad Basin.

Now it's Big Cottonwood's turn. Solitude Mountain will add a third more to the capacity of the high-speed Eagle Express this summer. The mountain's four-seater workhorse has been delivering skiers and 'boarders from the main base up into the rest of Solitude's lift network since 1989. Now, a new detachable six-pack will take over, increasing capacity by 30% onto Eagle Ridge.

Up at Brighton, the Crest Express becomes the Crest 6 with two additional seats. Spinning over the terrain park-heavy mid-section of the busy 1,050-acre mountain, the new Crest 6 and its additional capacity will undoubtedly please freestyling skiers and riders who flock to Brighton's renowned six terrain parks -- all located on 200 acres in that area of the hill.

Resort owners had originally planned a four-seater to replace Crest Express, but opted for a six-pack to further increase uphill capacity. In the summer, bike-friendly Brighton will put three bike clips on each chair.

Privately owned and member-only accessible, Wasatch Peaks Ranch will increase its uphill reach next season with its fourth chairlift. Secretive and aimed at what Ski Area Management magazine called "one percent of the richest one percent," Wasatch Peaks will put in an 8,000-foot long high-speed quad. The first three are bubbles with heat. Original plans called for nine lifts on the mountain that is 40 miles northeast of Salt Lake City on the east flank of the Wasatch Range.

And, as previously published by SnoCountry, Snowbasin is adding the Demoisy Express to better serve the Strawberry area and make it easier to return to the base area.



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New Lifts Will Facilitate Moving Around Sun Valley And Snowbasin


This summer, the longtime owners of Sun Valley and Snowbasin will make major upgrades at each mountain to smooth out flow and reinvigorate portions of their resorts.

Idaho's Sun Valley has two separate base areas that serve two distinct sides of the mountain -- the main one integrated into the town of Ketchum and the other 12 miles to the west in the Warm Springs settlement. In 2014, a forest fire above Warm Springs took out the Flying Squirrel fixed-grip double chair, making it cumbersome to get into a pair of popular powder stashes from that side of the mountain.

One aim of the Warm Springs project this summer will be to make it easier to get into the Little Scorpion and Frenchman's powder stashes from the Warm Springs base, and to rejuvenate the skier's right portion of the east side of the Sun Valley trail map. A new high-speed quad chair called Flying Squirrel will restore that access by delivering skiers and riders to a ridge top above them.

The other part of the project is a new Challenger chair -- the heavy-lifting high-speed quad from the Warm Springs base up 3,000 vertical feet to the summit ridge line of Baldy Mountain (9,150). Previously, the Challenger shared ridership with the 35-year-old Greyhawk high-speed quad that unloaded halfway up. That chair will be dismantled, and the new six-seat Challenger will have a mid-station.

At Snowbasin in Utah's northern Wasatch Range, the expansive Strawberry Peak area and its eight-seat gondola has become a more and more popular loop for advanced skiers and riders since expansion in 1998.

However, the 1,000 or so acres there is separated by a long ridge from the main mountain and base area -- making for long runouts at the end of the day. So, the new six-pack Demoisy Express is set to go up this summer to ease both congestion and make the return run easier to catch.

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.


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With Record Snowfall, Utah Winters Resorts Extend Deep Into Spring


The snow kept piling nonstop in the Utah mountains this winter, and then March came along with another record-breaking snowfall -- prompting more than half of Utah's 14 mountains to stay open longer.

At Snowbasin, the season has been lengthened to April 23. Coupled with its earliest opening on Nov. 18, the northern Wasatch mountain will have had its longest ski and snowboard season since it opened in 1940.

An astounding 800 inches fell on Brighton at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon. As a result, all lifts will run through April 30, and then the Milly Express will reopen May 5 and run 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily to the end of May. Crews plan to construct a top-to-bottom terrain park on the Milly side to go along with groomers.

Its neighbor Solitude had its snowiest winter (700-plus inches) ever. As a bonus, lifts will run daily through May 7, then Friday-Sunday until the official end of the season on May 21.

Deer Valley broke snowfall records, too, so the Park City-area mountain will spin chairs on Bald Eagle lower slopes and Bald Mt. upper terrain until April 23. Next door, Park City Mountain will keep all lift operating until at least April 23 after a month of March that saw 450 inches fall -- and the best season in 49 years.

Snowbird skiers and riders have been carving atop nearly 200 inches of base this spring -- the result of nearly 800 inches snowfall. The Little Cottonwood Canyon mountain typically stays open to Memorial Day. This season, daily ops go through May 14. Then, on May 19, Snowbird shifts to a Friday-Sunday (plus Memorial Day) schedule -- with more possible.

Sundance will close daily operations in April 2, but tack on an extra two days the next Friday (April 7) and Saturday (April 8). Among the rest of Utah's 14 resorts, Nordic Valley says it's thinking about a couple of bonus weekends after April 9.


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SnoCast: Making Turns Into April With More Snow


Yep. We're still going!

This week's SnoCast honors the incredible season behind us, while keeping sights ahead at the forecast and where you can still find new snow as we make the turn into April. With a potentially record-long ski season for several Western U.S. mountains, new snow is the icing on the geographical cake. 

I'm following at least two more storms out West to keep this already epic season rolling, a battle ground in the central U.S., and bittersweet springtime weather across the East. Whether you are amped for skiing into July, or ready to take those final buttery spring turns, here's what to expect, weather-wise, from coast to coast in SnoCast for March 30-April 5, 2023. 



A potent spring storm will impact the Midwest and Northeast late Thursday through Saturday with a variety of precipitation types, depending on your location. Much like many late March storms, we'll find a battle zone as seasons clash. Snow on the front and tail end, will be interrupted by a conveyor belt of warm springtime air, introducing high wind, the chance for icy mix, as well as thunderstorms!


Northern Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan sees a burst of snow late Thursday night, as otherwise wet and stormy weather (many storms turning severe) continues just to the south. We'll likely see disruptions to the ski areas still turning chairs from southern Wisconsin through Michigan. 

However, as the storm lifts northeastward from southern Wisconsin into southern Quebec Saturday, colder air returns on the backside of the system, allowing a period of snow to develop for northern Wisconsin, the UP of Michigan where winter storm watches are in effect. A fast with 3-7" and blizzard conditions are expected. Look to Granite Peak, Ski Brule, and Big Powderhorn and others nearby for new snow and wind by early Saturday, turning calmer and less windy on the slopes through Sunday.

Outside of ski interests, this storm will be powerful. NOAA's Weather Prediction Center tweeted out an impact graphic to see the big picture. 




Ahead of the storm center, we'll find a similar brief period of snow Friday for the mountains in New York and New England before a turn to wet weather on (no joke) April Fools Day, Saturday. Likewise, just enough cold air returns on the back end by overnight Saturday to squeeze out 1-4" of snow across Vermont and northern New York peaks. Look to the tall-boys, like Stowe, Jay, and Whiteface by early Sunday for a bit of new snow. 


It's still going out West. This season has delivered unreal snow totals, especially for California and Utah (did you see Mammoth hit a new all-time snow record?).  Mother Nature will spread the wealth again through next week. 

Thursday, a trough continues to dig across the Western U.S. generating mountain snow for most of the Southwest and Rockies, heaviest for the southwest facing ranges, including Utah's Wasatch Mountains, the Bitterroots of Idaho/Montana, and the Caribou Ranges near the Idaho/Wyoming line. These areas could see up to a foot of snow, while other slopes around the West see lesser amounts, but still freshies, through Friday.

By Saturday, the next front and trough dig in across the Pacific Northwest, dumping a widespread 1-2 feet of snow over the Cascades and B.C. Coast Ranges, and 8-16" over the Idaho peaks. Locally higher amounts may fall at the highest passes through Sunday.

Through early next week, this system moves south and east, spreading light to moderate totals over the north and central Rockies  (not shown on the map below, which only shows snow through early Sunday, April 2). 


I'll see you next week right here on for one more SnoCast with a season summary and top totals around the country! 

-Meteorologist Kerrin Jeromin


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SnoCast: Atmospheric River Out West; Nor'easter Possible Next Week


As we roll into the second weekend of March, there is much to talk about in the weather department. An active weather pattern will bring a series of storms from coast to coast which, for some, will result in very heavy snow in the mountains (great for skiing), but also other (not so fun) impacts such as travel disruptions, flooding, and high winds. 

Before we dive into the forecast, don't forget that with this kind of pattern, it's important to check forecast more often. Because the way one storm behaves might impact the track or intensity of the next, so there's more room for things to change farther out in time. 

With that, let's dig into the forecast, highlighting great ski and ride conditions from March 9-15, 2023.



At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Western U.S. is once again in position for a deluge of Pacific moisture that will bring long-duration mountain snow and low-elevation heavy rain. An atmospheric river setup (or a long, steady firehose of tropically-charged moisture) will target the Western U.S., with a bullseye on California starting Thursday and lasting into next week. 

The steady stream of moisture will yet again deliver feet upon feet of snow to the Sierra Nevada in California, with lower, but still impressive totals spreading across the Northwest U.S. and the central and northern Rockies.

In California, unlike some other storms this winter, snow levels will be rather high (see tweet from NWSSacramento), with rain/snow line sneaking up to  ~8000' for a period of time. This means really heavy rain down low (which will lead to flood problems) and weigh down existing snowpack. Particularly in California, high winds, plus this much snow will impact travel to the slopes, and no doubt interrupt operations for some due to safety concerns. Be sure to check in with your favorite mountain before hitting the road.

Not to be overshadowed by the impacts in California will be significant snow through the weekend for the central and northern Rockies. Many ski areas will pick up 6-12" of fresh snow, with locally 1-2 feet for the higher and southwest-facing slopes of Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and southern Oregon.  

 Take a look at the forecast snowfall through Sunday, March 12.  

Beyond Sunday, the pattern remains active with a series of storms yet to come. A brief respite late Sunday will give way to a new storm Monday, which delivers moderate to heavy snow up and down the Pacific state mountains before shifting east to the Rockies by Tuesday.

Yet another storm waits in the wings for Wednesday-Thursday next week, targeting California and the central Rockies. 


Plenty to talk about in the Eastern U.S. and Canada, too. A storm will trek across the lower Great Lakes and shift off the Eastern coastline through Friday (March 10). This will leave behind a swath of snow from Minnesota to Pennsylvania. Expect a widespread 2-5" of snow for many of our Midwest and interior Northeast ski areas before the weekend, locally higher totals for Wisconsin ski areas. This storm will be a near miss for New England.

Here's the Eastern U.S. snow forecast through Sunday, March 12 from the National Weather Service. 

Early next week looks intriguing with potential for a nor'easter Monday-Tuesday. While there is still plenty of time for things to change, there is potential for this to be a significant snow (and wind) storm for parts of New England and the interior Northeast, with rain and travel disruptions closers to the major cities. Exact location of the low and amount of cold air will determine how much snow falls and where. Definitely something to keep monitoring!

Here's the "suite of computer models" (ensembles) indicating low pressure location--the farther the spread, the less certainty there is for now. 

 Keep up with the latest forecast information around the U.S. from the National Weather Service, or I'll also tweet information about these upcoming storms, too, @KerrinJeromin on Twitter


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Beat The Crowds By Heading Uphill At Utah Mountains


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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SnoCast: Seeking Out Fresh Flakes


If you're a weekly reader of SnoCast, this week's outlook sounds and looks a lot like the last.

A storm system treks across the lower Great Lakes Thursday delivering a wintry "mixed bag" to Midwest ski areas and parts of the Northeast. Out West, we'll see a brief lull before the next system digs in next week with healthy snow expected.

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


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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