The supreme slopes of the Wasatch


(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

Utah does indeed have the greatest snow on Earth. But which resorts are the greatest in the Wasatch? There are seven within 30 minutes of downtown Salt Lake City, but while each resort has its own special niche for skiers and snowboarders, these are my top four.

Alta Ski Area

For those of you who are die-hard skiers, Alta is the place for you. At the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon and averaging more than 514 inches of powder per year, Alta is a beautiful resort with breathtaking views of the Wasatch Mountain Range.

One of the most picturesque natural features is Devil’s Castle, which stands prominently between the Sugarloaf and Supreme lifts. Alta, which only allows skiers, is known for its cliffs and many natural features. Many choose to ski at the resort because there are so many places you can hike to after a big storm to get the freshest powder runs. Nothing is more fun than experiencing face shots in waist-deep snow.

Park City

Previously known as Park City Mountain Resort, this is a great ski spot because of its close proximity to downtown Park City. The Town lift actually begins right in the city, so you can park on one of the main streets, put on your boots, and walk over to the lift to start your ski day.

One of the coolest aspects of the Park City resort is that it was an old silver mine, and all of the large mine buildings are still there. You get to ski past and see how large of an operation the mine used to be. Another great thing it has to offer is the sheer magnitude of the ski runs. Most of the runs are long and wide, allowing skiers and snowboarders alike to work on practicing perfect turns.

One of the resort’s unique features is the Jupiter lift, which only services double-black diamond runs. It is very steep and only for expert skiers. After an excruciating, leg-burning run you’ll get to sit on the old-two-seater and allow your legs to rest before the beating you’ll give them on the next run.

Brighton Resort

If you’re a big snowboarder, Brighton is for you. Located at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, one of the best aspects of Brighton is the tree routes. The trees are perfectly spaced so you can turn in between each tree without hitting the adjacent trunks. Brighton has also been updating its lifts to make way for more modern high-speed ones to get you to the top of the run quicker.

The right side of the resort near Milly Express used to be barely accessible during storms due to the nature of the canyon but has since been a benefit to Brighton. The runs have undulating segments with natural features that make you feel like you are riding down a raging river rapid. The scenery is breathtaking, with large boulders that eroded away years ago from the mountain tops.

Snowbird Resort

This resort is everything people say it is: steep, vast, and serene. With a little more than 3,000 vertical feet from peak to base, Snowbird has the greatest height among the resorts in the Wasatch. When getting off the tram at the top of Hidden Peak you can reach any of the points in the resort.

Just after a storm passes through, Mineral Basin will usually be closed until avalanche blasting has taken place. After it has been cleared by the ski patrol, this is the best place to be. With vast runs in waist-deep powder, you’ll be getting face shots with each and every turn: a skier’s dream. One of the best aspects of Snowbird is the beautiful mountains surrounding you. If you look across the canyon, you’ll see the jagged mountaintops glistening as the sun moves from east to west.

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