News from the snow
Snowbird quickly established a reputation as one of the world's most credible winter sports destinations after its opening in 1971. The reasons are plentiful - the huge powder snowfall record, the ultra-convenient location 45 minutes from a major international airport, the big mountain, with over a third of the terrain graded black and the state-of-the-art high speed uplift. Then, off the slopes, there's the emphasis on a healthy body and mind with a superb health spa. The package is rounded off with excellent slopeside lodging and a selection of fine dining options. Just to give it that quirky, characterful twist, the resort's owner, Dick Bass, has a penchant for oriental carpets. He believes that the flagship 11-storey Cliff Lodge property, in which more than half of the resort's bedrooms are located, has one of the finest collections of oriental carpeting in North America and there's also a shop retailing some of Mr Bass's finds from around the world. It's not surprising to learn that Snowbird is the sister resort of Zermatt, Switzerland.
Major year-round luxury purpose-built centre with excellent health, leisure and ski facilities. An incredible snow-fall record and the high altitude sister resort of Zermatt, Switzerland. Another legendary Utah ski area, Alta, is a mile away.
Beginners will normally start with lessons on the special nursery slope area right next to the Cliff Lodge hotel at the base of the lifts. The Chickadee double chair serves the beginners-only terrain here. The rest of the skiing takes place on Hidden Peak and in the Gad Valley, Mineral Basin and Peruvian Gulch.
Intermediates will be able to enjoy most of the terrain with more than 30 trails graded more difficult including several wonderful long descents such as Bassackwards and Chip's Run, the latter one of the resort's longest at 5km (3 miles) from the top of the tram to the bottom.
The best way up for advanced skiers is indeed the Aerial tram which deposits you at the top of more than half a dozen single and double black diamond runs, with advanced level terrain dominating the top of the mountain, and plenty of top to bottom blacks to enjoy. Silver Fox, Great Scott and Upper Cirque and some of the steep shock runs go from the top. Most are enhanced by the famous light powder.
A Ski Utah multi-area pass is available through some international tour operators and gives visitors the chance to ski Park City, Deer Valley, Solitude and the Canyons as well as Snowbird. Snowbird's mountain host program offers free guided skiing tours every day to acquaint guests with the lifts and runs best suited for their skiing abilities. With their exclusive special-use permit, Wasatch Powderbird Guides provide guided access to the Wasatch backcountry through a heliskiing option.
The incredible ski experience of the vast backcountry - larger than all the Utah ski resorts combined, yet intimately familiar to their guides - is accessible by helicopter to the fortunate few! Night skiing is offered free of charge on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Beginners' ski and snowboard lessons that include equipment rental and a Chickadee lift ticket are also possible. Snowbird's Mountain School offers programs for children aged three and up, and special programs designed for teens, women, and seniors. Adults of all levels can take group or private lessons for alpine skiing, telemark skiing, snowboarding and powder skiing.
For babies and toddlers under 3 well-trained staff take pride in the quality of loving, nurturing care they offer to Snowbird's youngest guests. The nursery is a fun, caring, and safe environment and again two weeks advance reservation is required. Babysitting can be provided for a limited period. There's a minimum of three hours baby-sitting booking and a two days advance reservation requirement. Children 6 and under ski the chairs free and up to two children 7-12 years of age ski for $10 per child, per day on the chairlifts with paying adult.
Apart from childcare facilities each of the accommodations at Snowbird has swimming facilities that the whole family can enjoy and there's also the family tubing hill and several video game arcades complete with state of the art machines, pool tables and the like. The Arcades are located throughout the Village in Iron Blosam Lodge on Level 2; in the Cliff Lodge on Level A; and in the Snowbird Center on Level 1.
The Wildflower mixes Mediterranean cuisine with an intimate, candlelit dining room, and vistas of snow-covered trees for a truly memorable meal. For a unique Mexican menu try El Chanate. This is also a great casual place for a quick snack and a margarita.
At The Lodge Bistro, ranked as one of the top 20 restaurants in the region, the chef uses fresh ingredients from dewey fields, sweet streams and herb studded mountains to prepare classic French bistro cuisine. Traditional dishes like French onion soup, duck cassoulet, and tarte tatin recall the vibrant flavours of well-loved French neighbourhood cafés.
The Wildflower Lounge is the place to play some pool, have a cool beer and cosy up to the big fireplace in a spacious and casual hangout. The Lodge Club at Pool Level at the Lodge serves drinks and snacks in an intimate, quiet setting. The Club's coconut beer battered shrimps are a Snowbird vacation "must try" menu item! Another good choice, the El Chanate Cantina has a 'South of the Border' flavour. The TV sets are tuned to the big game, and there are plenty of spicy snacks, chips and salsa to go with that margarita or bottle of cerveza.
In 2009 a new law came into effect changing Utah’s bar scene. In the past purchasing a temporary membership was required to get into a bar or club. Bars, pubs and clubs now have an open door policy to welcome all comers over 21 and no longer require customers to purchase a temporary membership.
Cliff Lodge's ice-skating rink and tubing hill offer alternate evening activities.
But it is probably the terrain that wins the day. Snowbird's nooks and crannies, gullies and valleys, steeps and deeps are rapidly becoming 'legendary' and the superpipe and terrain parks are constructed as soon as snow conditions permit. Located on Big Emma in Gad Valley and the Baby thunder area terrain park, the parks boast sculpted jumps, obstacles, hits and superpipe. There's something here for every level of rider - from the beginner to the awesome.
Snowbird's Mountain School offers both group and private snowboard lessons from beginner to advanced and Women's snowboard camps are offered on fixed weeks in the season, right up to the end of May in past years.