Located about an hour north of Salt Lake, Snowbasin feels far away compared to the Cottonwood Canyons resorts, but calling this ski resort a gem is hardly hyperbole. The trip northward is more than worth it (and the Utah Transit Authority now even has ski bus service there if you take the train to Ogden and hop on the Snowbasin bus).
Walking into the lodge at Snowbasin feels like walking into a Ritz hotel. In fact, you might look around trying to make sure you’re in the right place. But yes, it’s a right-er place than you know. Decades ago, it was a run-of-the-mill ski resort, until billionaire Earl Holding (also owner of Sun Valley in Idaho) bought it and turned it into a luxurious masterpiece. It’s everything you’d expect a gold-plated, Aspen-esque mountain experience to be (queue images from Dumb & Dumber), except it’s just outside Salt Lake and isn’t particularly expensive.
Regular locals stroll into its marble-tiled bathrooms with rich wood paneling, golden faucets, and fine hand lotions on the countertops. They kick off their boots in a splendidly furnished Earl’s Lodge beneath hanging chandeliers. Mr. Holding’s investment seems to have been born purely out of a love of skiing. Most of the local clientele can’t pay top dollar for fine cuisine, which isn’t a problem because the resort offers fine cuisine at normal (for a resort) prices. It’s an amazing treat to go be a little fancy for the day.
And even fancier than the lodge and dining experience: the mountain itself. Only Snowbird can match this mountain’s 3,000 vertical feet, and since there are fewer crowds at Snowbasin, its goods can be savored for much longer after a storm. And while there’s a bit of beginner/intermediate terrain off the base area’s Wildcat Lift, the upper sections of the mountain are almost all expert-level steeps.
First off, head up the John Paul Express Quad, then hop onto the short but steep Allen Peak Tram to take in the jaw-dropping scenery of Mt. Ogden Bowl. From the top of the tram, you can peer down into the city of Ogden 5,000 feet below. This ridgeline also happens to have been the starting point for the men’s and women’s downhill ski races during the 2002 Olympics. Which means one thing: these runs are perfect for opening up the throttle and flying down at rocket-ship speeds. (Don’t tell ski patrol we said it was okay.)
It’s worthwhile to give yourself a full tour of the place, going all the way out to the Strawberry Express Gondola to check out the surprisingly challenging chutes and narrows you can access from its nearby DeMoisy Peak. For an unassumingly locals-oriented resort, these are some pretty badass goods.
The local kids have one thing pretty dialed: the resort’s multiple terrain parks are fun places to watch junior shredders, who have never yet broken their ribs, do their thing. The natural halfpipe below the Snow King ski run off John Paul Express is also a prime play spot. The run goes down a natural steep gully that’s perfect for dropping in and popping back out.
At the end of the day, you’ll certainly have to grab a coffee at the lodge so you can stay awake for the hourlong drive back to the city after all that excitement. #perfectdayproblems