Snowbasin was the site of many alpine ski events in the 2002 Olympics. This
honor was the impetus for many improvements in both the base area and
on-mountain facilities. What was once a rather small spartan resort has
been transformed into a full fledged destination. While the resort is still
lacking in lodging facilities, everything else has been upgraded to a level
approaching, if not exceeding, Deer Valley.
The new lodges at Snowbasin rival anything in the skiing world. Earl’s
Lodge (located in the main base area) borders on the opulent; one wonders if they should be there when entering. If the cavernous fireplaces, towering
ceilings or expensive furnishings don’t ooze enough decadence, take a journey
to the bathrooms. I don’t think I’ve ever relieved myself in a plusher
environment at a ski area. Each user has their own individual lockable
kingdom of brass and marble.
Aside from the new lodges the real reason to visit Snowbasin should be the
skiing. Snowbasin has some of the best terrain in the state of Utah. Along
with the addition of the new lodges, the lift and snowmaking systems have
been substantially upgraded. Two new gondolas, one new high-speed quad and
a jig-back tram have all been added to the original four triples and one
The addition of all these lifts enlarged the area to 2660 acres. The
Strawberry and John Paul lifts bracket the old resort area, these lifts
added quite a bit of additional expert and intermediate terrain. Strawberry
is the place to be on a powder day, walk-on gondola cars are the norm. The
Sisters area, Middle Bowl Cirque and De Moisy all contain fun lines and
your choice of fresh tracks. Intermediates will enjoy the long groomed
cruising runs off Strawberry as well. Elk Ridge and Main Street both offer
long runs at a tame pitch.
At the top of the John Paul high-speed quad you will find both the John Paul
Lodge and the Mt. Allen Tram. The John Paul Lodge is a great place to grab
a lunch on the mountain. The Mt. Allen Tram rises to the top of the Grizzly
Downhill, one of the most technically challenging downhill courses in the
world. The short hike to No Name is well worth it on a powder day.
The Middle Bowl Gondola is a great way to get to the top of
the mountain in the morning. The eight person gondola eats up any lift lines and disperses
skiers to a central part of the mountain. Intermediates should find plenty
of terrain to their liking off this lift as well. Laps using this lift will
have your thighs begging for mercy.
If there is one thing lacking at Snowbasin it would be beginner access to
the upper mountain. Beginners are relegated to mid-mountain and below. Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of terrain to learn on, just none at
the upper reaches of the mountain. True novices will find the Little Cat
double the best places to learn technique. After they learn the basics they
can ride the Becker or (if it’s open) Wildcat lifts. Snowbasin has a very
competent ski school; be sure and sign up for lessons at the desk in Earl’s
If the skiing isn’t enough to bring you to Snowbasin, the food should
definitely help entice you. Snowbasin’s lodges all feature the cuisine of
Italian chef, Elio Scanu. Chef Scanu has elevated ski lodge food to heights
previously unheard of in the skiing world. Even the standard cheeseburger
has certain flairs not seen at any other resorts. The food prices are in
line with most other resorts, at a far higher quality.
Snowbasin also harbors a very nice tubing hill, young and old alike will
thrill to riding down the five tubing lanes.
One last thing to be noted is Snowbasin’s snowmaking abilities, which are
quite impressive. The snowmaking system covers over 600 acres of terrain.
This system relies on information from 104 weather stations situated around
the resort. Even though the base of Snowbasin is 6,400 feet, the snowmaking
system guarantees a good base all season long.
If you are taking a ski trip to Utah, a visit to Snowbasin should definitely
be on the itinerary.
Atlas and Gazetteer
Tracks: A Century of Skiing in Utah
Salt Lake City and Beyond: Including Park City, Deer Valley,
Alta and Snowbird
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