Snowbird

Utah, USA

Snowbird is home to some of North America’s best inbounds terrain. Added to that are copious amounts of dry, fluffy powder and the result is one fantastic ski mountain. Don’t let first impressions fool you – the giant concrete buildings erected in the 1970s aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing. But this is a friendly, world-class resort that is sure to satisfy all levels of skiers.

Scout Loves

  • Challenging terrain and lots of it.
  • Breathtaking scenery everywhere you look.
  • The 125-person tram that covers 2900 vertical feet in seven minutes.
  • There are half-day Snowcat ski tours – a guided backcountry experience.
  • Friendly locals and an unpretentious atmosphere – it’s all about the skiing here.
  • The renovated Aerie Lounge is cool and has fantastic views.

Scout Tips

  • To add variety to your stay, buy a combined Alta/Snowbird joint ticket and have a day skiing Alta. It can easily be accessed via a gate in Mineral Basin.
  • If you’ve saved your pennies, go heli-skiing with Wasatch Powderbird Guides, which leave from the resort. A full day will set you back about $1200 but leave you with a lifetime of memories, and bragging rights.
  • If you have bought a Mountain Collective pass it is good for two days at Alta/Snowbird. Additional days are 50% off.

Scout Review

All serious skiers should visit Little Cottonwood Canyon at least once in their lives, though once a year would be preferable. The combination of two incredible resorts - Alta and Snowbird - provides enough terrain to keep experts satisfied for days. But if there’s one thing that eclipses its reputation for gnarly terrain, it would be the powder snow. Lots, and lots and lots of it.  To be exact, 500in. And it’s that wonderful, fluffy powder that’s so dry it’s almost impossible to make into snowballs. Falling over here doesn’t (usually) hurt. But if you release out of your ski you could be searching in all the powder for hours – they just disappear under all the white stuff, sometimes never to be found again (until spring at least).

But if you can keep your skis on, one of the great parts about Snowbird is that it doesn’t just cater to the advanced skier. It has some fantastic terrain for beginners, and intermediates will have a blast on the cruisers – especially in Gad Valley. This area is even better thanks to the old Gad 2 lift being recently replaced by a high-speed quad. Make sure you take a ride through the mountain (literally – there’s a tunnel with a magic carpet) and head out to the Mineral Basin where intermediates and advanced skiers can have some fun in the sun.

The only downside to Snowbird is that the base area is pretty small, and there’s not any nightlife to speak of. The facilities and extra activities are pretty limited so if you’re here for a week, you’ll want to be here for the skiing, and not anything else. But it doesn’t really matter because if you’re taking advantage of everything Snowbird is dishing up on the mountain, there’s not much chance you’ll have any energy left for anything else.

Snowbird Accommodation

Snowbird has a few options for accommodation, most of which are operated by the resort. They’re not very luxurious, but staying on the mountain and the chance to be first in lift lines on a powder day is a luxury in itself. And the best part is that as far as ski-in ski-out hotels go, the Cliff Lodge represents some pretty good value. You could also stay at Alta and use the gates or catch a short bus ride in the mornings to the base area.

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Resort Activities

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Most of the activities in Snowbird are centered around skiing. From cat skiing, to backcountry guiding or even heli-skiing there are plenty of options that will extend your skiing experience beyond the boundaries. Snowmobiling is offered, and sightseeing rides on the tram are allowed after 11am. Apart from that the non-skiing activities in Snowbird are pretty limited.

Getting There and Around

Snowbird is 29 miles (47km) from Salt Lake City International Airport. The drive takes about 45 minutes, although can be longer in the mornings and afternoons or in bad weather. SLC airport is a hub for many airlines, meaning there are frequent direct flights to almost every major city and plenty of small ones.

The best way to get to Snowbird is to catch a shuttle bus. Snowbird Airport Transportation has express round trip transfers from 8am to midnight departing every 20-30 minutes. It costs $72pp for a return trip.

When To Go

When the conditions are right, Snowbird has one of the longest seasons in North America – opening towards the end of November and staying open to mid-May. Snowbird can get very cold – particularly in late December and January. But the snow can be fantastic. February is usually the most reliable month and sometimes the snow can be excellent right up to season’s end. They’ve even been known to ski here on July 4 weekend.

Holiday periods that are busy are:

  • Christmas and New Year.
  • Martin Luther King long weekend, January 17-20 (2014)
  • President’s Day long weekend, February 14-17 (2014)

Facts & Figures

Mountain Information   Lifts   Terrain    
Base Elevation 7760ft / 2365m Tram 1 Beginner 27%  
Summit Elevation 11,000ft / 3352m Express Quads 5 Intermediates 38%  
Vertical Drop 3240ft / 987m Double Chairs 5 Advanced 35%  
Skiable Area 2500+ac / 1012+ha Surface Lifts 2      
Annual Snowfall 500in / 12.7m          
Longest Run 2.5 miles / 4km          
Operating Hours 9.00am –4.00pm          
Night Skiing Wed, Fri, Sat          
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