Snowbird goes big in every way: compared to the other Cottonwood Canyons resorts, it’s a veritable city with high-rise lodges and sprawling buildings, as well as plenty of lifts and amenities. (Hell, it even has a mountain roller coaster.) It’s also larger than life in reputation: it’s known worldwide as a major player among resorts as far as size, services, and terrain are concerned.
Indeed, the terrain is hard to beat, which is why many serious freeskier types call it their home mountain. While the other Cottonwood resorts have their share of steep and rocky bits, Snowbird is the steepest and craggiest of all. The tram rises about 3,000 feet above the base of the resort and can drop 125 skiers and boarders off at Hidden Peak every seven minutes, from which they can drop in to 2,500 acres of terrain.
Snowbird is also large on season length: most local resorts lease their land from the Forest Service and have set cutoff dates at which their ski lease expires in the spring. But since Snowbird’s terrain is privately owned, the resort can stay open to skiers as long as it likes—which is often well into summer.
The resort is, of course, popular with ever-increasing numbers of out-of-towners as well as Salt Lake shredders. While tourists may shy away from the cliff-studded cirque and Baldy Peak hike, they’re happy to schuss around and enjoy the on-site restaurants, bars, spa, and entertainment for days on end. Since the resort offers everything from a grocery store to a kids’ arcade, it’s really not necessary to leave during a vacation.
The high number of expert local skiers who frequent the resort means that most of the fresh snow gets skied out pretty quickly. But, since the mountain is a storm magnet that somehow attracts more snowfall than most Utah resorts, refills are served up soon enough to keep everyone happy. And nobody would ever complain about a sunny day of cruising the 'Bird,' as it’s known to locals and employees. Chip’s Run off the Tram winds down the face of the mountain for a full two and a half miles, with endless options to hop off the edge of the cat track, perfect your airs and spins, and dart through the trees before hopping back onto Chip’s. It’s a grownup’s playground, snow or shine.
And if you do hit the Bird on a stormy morning, then lucky you. Make the investment in rising early and eating breakfast on the go (quite a few people will have the same idea as you). But if you queue up for the tram early enough to score fresh tracks, they’ll be runs to remember.
The resort’s terrain is both unparalleled and varied. On the resort’s back side, Mineral Basin is a big happy powder bowl with extensive potential for traversing/powder-farming/repeating. Once that’s skied out, you can dart back to Peruvian Gulch to play around in the leftover powder pockets between trees and chutes.
Lower Gad Valley is where most of the resort’s beginner-friendly terrain is located, but while the beginners hover there, you can venture to Gad Valley’s upper and peripheral areas to explore the less-tracked goodness tucked between the trees.
A ski day at Snowbird can play out in nearly infinite ways. But the nice thing about the resort is that once the lifts have shut down for the day, the restaurants and bars have just sparked to life. So settle in and cozy up with a bite and a beverage while you wait for the end-of-day traffic to subside. With this much going on, you may as well really make a day of it.