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.
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 SnoCountry.com for one more SnoCast with a season summary and top totals around the country!
Over the past two years, Sundance Mountain Resort has quietly undergone a major overhaul that has smoothed the flow for skiers and riders around the 467-acre mountain.
Nestled in the southern tier of the Wasatch Mountains, this summer Sundance installed its third new chairlift in two years, and cut new trails for 40 acres of brand-new novice/intermediate terrain. Located at mid-mountain on a southern wing of the trail map, the Wildwood area has a new fixed-grip quad that delivers skiers and 'boarders in five minutes to some 10 new blue and green trails.
The new Wildwood section fits conveniently at the top of Jake's Lift that serves the bulk of the green and blue runs on the lower, front half of Sundance. From the top of the chair, skiers and riders have another way to get to the mountain's backside Flathead chair (reportedly slated to be Sundance's next new chair soon) and all its black chutes and bowls.
Since actor Robert Redford sold the resort in 2020, the new ownership has poured cash onto the mountain and into the base area. Formerly all fixed-grip chairs, Sundance now has a high-speed Outlaw that reaches to the false summit on the front side, and a short, 1,000-foot Stairway triple that simplified getting from the front to the back -- and opens up about 15 acres of modest terrain as well.
Down below, the base lodge has gotten a remodel, and a trio of carpet lifts went in for a dedicated beginner area. There's more room for parking, and a higher capacity of snowmaking -- all aimed to make Sundance a more efficient and easy-to-use mountain.
Ticket-wise, Sundance is a partner with the Power Pass and its three-day reciprocal lift tickets with the southwest Colorado-based consortium of eight resorts, including Utah's Nordic Valley.
The 16 ski and snowboard resorts in Utah now welcome millions to their slopes every winter. The vast majority of them either head up the Cottonwood canyons to Alta, Snowbird, Solitude or Brighton, or hop on I-80 in Salt Lake for the half-hour drive to Park City and Deer Valley.
In essence, the 2,150 vertical feet and 515 acres of skiing and riding at Sundance seems to slip beneath the radar of most Utahns and visitors who flock to the state for its "greatest snow on earth." Yet it's only 50-minute drive from Salt Lake to Provo and then up into the hills to Sundance.
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.
In an effort to cut air pollution, all bus rides will be free across Utah's Wasatch Front until the end of February -- making it free to ride up to the slopes from Sundance to Snowbasin and five in between.
SnoCountry's Road Trip team is grabbing its Ikon Pass and hopping a flight to Salt Lake City to try out a trio of Wasatch Mountain resort. Ski and ride all you want at Solitude, and up to seven days each at Deer Valley and Snowbird.
After more than 50 years, actor-director-skier Robert Redford has sold Sundance Mountain Resort to a pair of real estate investment firms.