Snowbasin Ski Area
Snowbasin Ski Lifts & Passes Snowbasin has an impressive and speedy lift system – so much so that readers of SKI magazine voted it the best lift system in North America in 2008.
There are a total of nine lifts at Snowbasin, as well as two surface tows. From the main base area, skiers have a choice of two lifts - the John Paul Express Quad or the Needles Express Gondola. With verticals of 2,424 metres and 2,310 metres respectively, these lifts waste no time in getting people high up the mountain, and give skiers and boarders a choice between friendly blue trails and challenging black trails, as is the norm at Snowbasin.
Not all of Snowbasin's lifts are quite so long, however, with a network of shorter chairlifts found in the middle of the ski area. Based next to Snowbasin's upper parking lot, the Wildcat and Becker lifts take skiers half way up the mountain, from which point skiers can choose from a selection of green, blue and black trails.
The Porcupine and Middle Bowl lifts, meanwhile, are based midway up the mountain, and take skiers up beneath the Middle Bowl, Needles and Porky cirques, where there are a variety of intermediate and advanced trails connecting with the rest of the ski area.
Advanced skiers and boarders visiting Snowbasin will appreciate the Allen Peak Tram as they get to grips with the ski area. Found above the John Paul Express Quad, the tram elevates passengers 510 metres up to Allen Peak, from which skiers have a choice of double black diamond chutes all within short hiking distance.
Another important lift is the Strawberry Express Gondola. Favoured by both intermediate and advanced skiers, the gondola is Snowbasin's longest lift with a vertical of 2,472 metres. A number of double black diamond chutes can be accessed off the Strawberry Express, though most skiers use the lift for the access it provides to long cruisers such as Elk Ridge and Main Street.
Snowbasin Beginners Though just 20 per cent of the terrain at Snowbasin is classified as beginner friendly, this figure doesn’t do justice to the enjoyable experience Snowbasin has to offer beginners.
Snowbasin boasts a dedicated beginner's area, providing novices with access to the resort's seven beginner friendly green trails, while also giving advanced beginners the opportunity to progress onto the many manageable blue trails that Snowbasin has to offer. Indeed, the entire beginners' area consists of wide, gentle terrain, and the sheer length of some of Snowbasin's green trails means there is a deceptive amount of space in which beginners can hone their skills and gather confidence.
As can be expected of Snowbasin, the easy access from the main lodge area means the beginners' area has a family friendly feel to it, and while there are a few black trails which punctuate the far side of the beginners' area, there are plenty of warnings to quicker skiers instructing them to slow down before the trails merge.
Situated by the Littlecat Express Quad, the Littlecat and Powder Puff runs are ideally suited to beginners wanting to learn the basics of skiing without any distraction from quicker skiers, before progressing onto the green trails off the Becker and Wildcat lifts once ready to practice these skills.
Snowbasin Intermediate Skiing Snowbasin boasts an impressive proportion of intermediate-friendly terrain, with half of its trails classified as suitable for intermediates, though it is the resort’s long cruisers which make it a favorite among many skiers.
Snowbasin is well known for its long well groomed trails, with an abundance of gentle cruisers to choose from. A number of these long cruisers can be accessed from the Strawberry Express Gondola - Elk Ridge and Main Street being the notable favourites. This is the least crowded part of the mountain, meaning it is possible to get a few runs in despite their length.
A series of interconnected blue trails can be found closer to the base area beneath the Needles Express Gondola. Though predominantly suited to intermediates, there are plenty of more challenging options within this area, including both black trails and untracked powder areas which make for some great skiing at the start of a sunny powder day!
Intermediates at Snowbasin typically avoid riding the John Paul Express Quad, which serves almost exclusively advanced terrain. Indeed, with the exception of the Mt Ogden Road blue run, all of the runs beneath this chair are black trails, making the area below the Mt Ogden Bowl suitable only for advanced skiers and experienced intermediates.
Snowbasin Expert Skiing Snowbasin's expert skiing is some of the best in Utha. Snowbasin has the third largest vertical drop in Utah and hence there is plenty to entertain expert skiers and boarders. Thirty per cent of Snowbasin’s ski terrain is classified as suitable for experts, with challenging skiing to be found both on and off piste.
Snowbasin has a seemingly endless number of double black diamond trails, most of which are accessible via the John Paul Express Quad. The clustering of black and double black diamond trails on the north side of the mountain means that advanced skiers are likely to be very familiar with the John Paul area by the end of their stay, though there are plenty of other challenging spots across the mountain.
Indeed, at least one black trail can be found at the top of seven of the resort's eight lifts - the only exception being the beginner friendly Littlecat Express Quad. The single diamond chutes below the top of the Strawberry Express Gondola tend to be popular with advanced skiers.
The chutes beneath Snowbasin's numerous peaks offer a further source of challenging skiing, though most of these require a short hike. The two most northerly peaks can, however, be accessed via the Allen Peak Tram, which serves the popular Fingers Chutes, as well as the 2002 Olympic downhill course. The tram also gives skiers the chance to ride the ridgeline across to No Name - a favourite among regulars to Snowbasin for the fresh powder frequently found in this area.
Any skiers wishing to head down Hells Canyon on the other side of No Name should be aware that they are heading out of the ski area and are required to carry avalanche safety gear.
Snowbasin Boarding & Freestyle Snowbasin is one of Utah’s leading resorts for snowboarders, with three terrain parks and plenty of wide, open trails.
Snowbasin introduced a new progressive terrain park system for the 2009/10 season, offering three terrain parks of varying difficulty. The gentlest of these parks is the School Hill Park, and - as the name suggests - is frequently populated with ski school groups. The park offers an 18 inch pipe and is cut at least twice a week.
The idea is that skiers and boarders will be able to learn park basics in this small park, before progressing on to Littlecat Park (Rail Garden) - a medium sized park designed with intermediates in mind. The park stretches from Showboat to the bottom of the Needles Express Gondola, and consists of fifteen rails and four jumps of varying sizes.
Advanced riders should head to the Coyote Bowl Park in the Strawberry area, which features five large rails and one jump. Despite only recently being widened to accommodate better rail sets and jump lines, plans are afoot for further expansion of the Coyote Bowl Park.
In addition to the resort's three terrain parks, there are a number of natural half pipes dotted across the mountain. These half pipes are clearly marked on the piste map.
Snowbasin Mountain Restaurants There are a total of six mountain restaurants at Snowbasin – three up on the mountain and three at the base area.
Situated above the John Paul Express Quad, John Paul Lodge is a great place to stop for lunch on the mountain. Both the food and the surroundings are impressive at this beautiful lodge, with guests able to choose between a seat at one of the Italian marble tables in the main dining area, or a place on the patio which surrounds the restaurant. The four-sided fireplace gives the dining area a very cosy feel, and the food won't disappoint either, with a wide selection ranging from soups and salads to pastas, pizzas and burgers.
Snowbasin Restaurants & Bars With no village at Snowbasin, guests have a choice between the restaurants and bars inside Earl’s Lodge at the base area, or a trip to either Huntsville or Ogden.
Typically open from 11am until 5pm, the Cinnabar Lounge is a popular option with skiers after a day on the slopes, offering a variety of wines, liquors and beers, while the bar is particularly lively on Fridays and Saturdays when live music runs on until 6pm.
For those wanting a bite to eat at Earl's Lodge, the Earl's Lodge Dining Room and the Huntington Bistro are both good options, open from 8am until 3pm and 10am until 3pm respectively. The restaurants are in close proximity to one another, with the latter the more formal of the two. The bathrooms aren't bad at Earl's Lodge either...
Aside from the offerings at the mountain, there are also a number of restaurants in the nearby towns of Huntsville and Ogden. The old railway town of Ogden boasts a good selection of restaurants and tends to be a popular spot for an evening meal. The Union Grill steak house serves some excellent meaty dishes, while the Roosters Brewing Company and Restaurant is also popular. It is also possible to grab a bite to eat in Huntsville, with the Shooting Star Saloon and the Texas Pride Barbeque two of the most central restaurants.
Roosters Brewing Company and Restaurant
253 25th Street, Ogden, UT 84401-2301
Tel: (801) 627-6171
Email: [email protected]
Shooting Star Saloon
7350 East 200 South, Huntsville, UT 84317
Tel: (801) 745-2002
Texas Barbeque Pride
235 South 7400 East, Huntsville, UT 84317
Tel: (801) 745-2745
2501 Wall Avenue, Ogden, UT 84401-1359
Tel: (801) 621-2830
Email: [email protected]
Apres-ski is not the name of the game at Snowbasin, which has relatively little to offer in the way of evening entertainment, though it is possible to have an enjoyable night out in nearby Ogden.
Slope side après-ski is non-existent at Snowbasin. Earl's Lodge closes at 5pm on weekdays and 6pm at weekends, bringing an early end to proceedings at the base area, while up on the mountain, the Needles Lodge Dining Room closes at 4pm each day.
With Eden and Huntsville both known as fairly quiet towns, the closest available après-ski can be found either in Ogden or in Park City. With a youthful reputation for fun, Park City is the livelier of these two options, but is considerably further away. Ogden, meanwhile, offers a more refined après-ski, with visitors likely to spend their evening in one of Ogden's many restaurants.
Snowbasin Other Activities
With no night skiing, heli-skiing or snowcat skiing at Snowbasin, the choice of other activities is fairly limited during the winter months at Snowbasin.
Nordic skiing constitutes the main alternative to skiing or boarding at Snowbasin when there is snow around, with 19.2 kilometres of groomed cross country skiing trails. The trails are free to use and are suitable for both skating and classic style Nordic skiing, and can be accessed either by car or by using the free shuttle bus from the Day Skier Lot.
Tubing is an extremely fun alternative to skiing and boarding at Snowbasin, though the six-lane tubing hill - located by the base area - is only open on Saturdays and Sundays. Moonlit gondola rides are also available, though most winter visitors to Snowbasin spend the rest of their time in Ogden's selection of restaurants, or more extravagantly in the Needles Lodge restaurant.
It is a different story at Snowbasin in the summer, when the resort transforms into a mountain bikers' paradise. Proud of its reputation as an all-year-round resort, Snowbasin maintains its biking trails throughout the summer, and offers a mix of beginner-friendly trails and challenging uphill climbs. There are 25 miles of trails in total, many of which are lift-served. Hikers also take advantage of the summer months at Snowbasin, with three designated hiking trails to enjoy.
Disc golf is another popular summer activity at Snowbasin, and is played much like traditional golf, except 'golfers' use a disc or a Frisbee rather than clubs.