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Utah Trip 2020

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi fellow Snowheads, having done many a trip to Canada it looks like my Brother and I are off to the US of A for the first time next Winter. I'm looking to pick your collective brains for info from anyone who has done any skiing or snowboarding in Utah, and specifically these 5 resorts. We'll be planning on hitting Snowbasin, Brighton, Snowbird, Powder Mountain and Solitude over the course of late January into February 2020.

For obvious reasons, being a Snowboarder, Alta and Deer Valley ain't on the list Very Happy Very Happy

If anyone has any handy tips or nuggets of info that may come in handy for us, it would be much appreciated.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Yeah, all those are good, when the snow's good. A good selection.

I would stay in SLC and ride the bus (except for Powder Mountain), or hire a car. I've done it both ways depending on funds, obviously car is more flexible, but the bus timetables are easy to find etc.
They're mostly small places, and without local knowledge you may not get the best out of them without a bit of effort (you'll need to study the map, the weather and the terrain, and work out where people are going for the goods).
They have cafes/ bars and some accommodation, but I'd not really want to stay out there myself. They're not really "destination resorts" (like Park City), they're more places where people own an apartment and drive up for weekends, or just drive up for the day when the snow's good. The food and the weather's better in the city. There are some good outlet stores for Patagonia/ Black Diamond etc, plus some hard core shops but they're all in the city not the hills.
  • Powder Mountain is furthest away from the major population so you'll get fresh tracks easier there. It's funky.

  • Brighton is supposed to be "good for snowboarding", but they really mean "good for beginner snowboarders" as from what I remember it's not particularly challenging.

  • Snowbird is small, and the in-bounds off-piste is full of cliffs... so it's steep and really good if you can find your way about.
    Expect a line-up for the first public tram. The easy-to-get-to lines are ridden very quickly on a powder day, eg by locals with fancy passes,
    who get on the 2 trams before visitors are allowed (or people who know locals, like me wink ).
    The "grooming" isn't great, if you're into that sort of thing, and the food is resort-owned so remarkably unappetising.
    I would say that Snowbird is pretty unforgiving for bad snowboarders - like Taos, you'll see fewer snowboarders than most places
    probably for that reason.

  • Alta/ Deer Valley, yeah, I've never been for the same reason, although I rode Taos when hell froze over wink
    They tell me both are pretty flat, with better grooming that Snowbird. I have an "Alta snowboard team" sticker on
    my piste board, which they gave me at Snowbird for not sucking.

It doesn't always snow all the time, same as anywhere else.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, first of all, you're going to be sleeping and apres whatever in a city, a real, fairly large (by Western standards), busy city. A city that is not very pretty, is known for bad air pollution in the winter, and has a ton of traffic. It's not a culturally interesting city, either. It's not quaint, but, SLC does have some excellent snow up in the mountains. Some say it's the best in the world at times. I've experienced Utah powder dumps, and they are spectacular. The best powder I've skied, when it's on.

Lodging can be cheap, and the excellent Mexican food is a great value, too, so, there's that.

Brighton can be fun with fresh snow. Not big, but very local. Snowbird has excellent steeps. Snowbasin used to be remote and low key, but the Olympics changed it into a strange mega ski hill with tacky lodges, but still has zero beds at the base. Still great on a midweek powder day. Haven't been to Powder in years, but I hear it's still your best bet to find powder stashes three days after a storm.

All mountains are very crowded on weekends, because of the above mentioned large city just down in the valley. Denver ski hills have the same issue. Both cities are growing quickly, and air travel in and out is easy from both coasts of America. But, if you're lucky enough to catch a midweek dump, the trip will be worth it.
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@Backcountryboarder, did a weekend based in Alta skiing there and Snowbird. Good snow while I was there but limited terrain / vertical compared to a big Euro resort. Snowbird backbowls looked to have some interesting possibilities. Checkout the TGR forums for more local feedback. I much preferred Jackson Hole to Alta/Snowbird.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I assume you'll get an Ikon pass so worth renting a car and adding in some days at Jackson Hole. Car just makes staying in the city a lot easier as getting to supermarkets etc and variety of eats a lot easier. Culturally basically you have Jazz games in town or Grizzlies (ice hockey) in West Valley City or getting brainwashed by the LDS if you visit Temple Square. If you're lucky maybe a monster truck show will be in town
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Should be a good trip, we've skied them numerous time, often combined with a road trip. Snowbasin is one we've skied the least but its still worth going to - fancies south so slopes can be icy or slushy, and Powder Mtn gets more snow generally.

For this I'd really hire a 4x4, make life so much easier. For Powder and Snowbasin you could stay in Ogden - we used to use a B+B at Eden, but its changed hands and doesn't give the same service as before, but that's personal preference. There are others close too,but the drive from Ogden isn't too bad. That means in the evening you can eat in the historic district - 25th St. or try some other decent places - foods always good at Harley and Bucks.
If you want to be based all the time in SLC, you can drive to Powder in 50 minutes or so if you leave early, and conditions are reasonable.

When staying in SLC, we base down in Sandy - convenient and easy, and suits us too for other reasons - driving to the Cottonwoods takes around 15- 20 minutes to the base. Many hotels run free shuttle services to the canyon bases too, so you can then grab the bus up.
If you stay in either canyon, you then have to get to the other to ski it, which can take as long if not longer, than staying down in the suburbs.

Plenty of good advice above so far, Phil is pretty much spot on. Ikon pass seems to way to go for this trip, Powder Mtn tickets now need to be bought from them only - no cheap discounts available any more Sad it also make sense to get them online the night before if snow is forecast.
Powdr Mtn is funky, with a different feel to it, its quite a unique place - they limit ticket sales so the place is never crowded. First time we went were got lucky, as by chance we met an elderly couple who have a time share there. They gave us the locals tour around and we spent an enjoyable 4 days skiing with them Madeye-Smiley.Rich always said ' the groomed stuff is to get you to the good stuff ' he never seemed wrong. If you don't mind hoofing it at times you can really have some fun, and its easy to feel like you are skiing back country rather than a resort.
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@philwig, @Mr. Pink, @BobinCH, @Dave of the Marmottes, @Bones,

Thanks for all the replies and info.

We'll be based in Ogden for the first few days for Powder Mountain and Snowbasin, before moving down to the edge of SLC right at the base of the Cottonwood Canyons for the last few days. Have hired a car for the duration as well, so should just be 20 to 30 minutes drive most days.

@Dave of the Marmottes, @Bones, correct with the Ikon Pass, seemed like the smart option to take. Thanks for the tip on booking Powder Mountain tickets online the night before. We like the fact they limit the ticket sales so that it doesn't get too crowded, but don't want to rock up to the ticket window just after they reach the daily limit Laughing

@Mr. Pink, definitely hoping to get lucky and see 1 or 2 of those spectacular Utah Powder dumps. We had the good fortune of being in Fernie many years ago when it dropped between 150 and 170cm in 3 days and it was definitely at the 'epic' end of the scale. Nothing quite beats being in the right place at the right time. It's all down to luck I guess...

@philwig, I like the sound of that 'Alta Snowboard Team' sticker Laughing
If Brighton isn't too challenging then that will still be ok, a couple of mellower days will be good and I'm sure we'll both be able to scare the crap out of each other at Snowbird. Had heard it was pretty steep. Will definitely be studying the maps/weather and terrain to try and get the goods.

@BobinCH, i know what you mean by limited terrain/vertical compared to some of the Big Euro resorts but thought we'd try something completely different next Winter. Really just looking to get lucky and time it right for an epic Utah Powder dump or 2. Jackson Hole is definitely on our 'to do' list but may have to wait a year or two. Jackson Hole seems like the type of place I'd like to spend a full 14 day trip on, or would you reckon on tying it in with another Resort/Ski Area?
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Backcountryboarder, i just spent a weekend at Jackson but really liked it. Lots of terrain, big vertical and lots of off piste possibilities. There’s also Targhee nearby to combine it with. Here’s the TR: https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=136067
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Backcountryboarder, Regards J/H I'd tie it in with somewhere else, for 2 weeks visit Targhee at least as couple of times - better snow quality as it faces north and often gets more Smile Plus its your only chance to visit Alta with a board Toofy Grin
Got a mate in J/H and try to get over every 3 years or so for a few days - usually combined in a road trip.

Don't right Brighton off too much, there some good places to be had there, and trees, plenty of tree skiing.

Staying where you are, cottonwood heights ? The Porcupine is pretty decent food, and The Hog Wallow for après/live music etc.
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Just don't bank on getting "The Greatest Snow on Earth" on a Utah visit...

We skied 10 days of wall to wall sun at Park City, Canyons, Deer Valley, Alta & Snowboard one January a few years ago. Had a good time skiing some challenging steep runs - but not a single powder turn to be had... Confused
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If it was the season before this one ending, that was a bad year. Bad year. When it comes, though, it snows. Alta and Deer Valley have very good annual averages. DV is not to be ignored. Not many good powder skiers there, so, it's yours when it blows. On the Ikon. Better than Park City by a lot.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
mountainaddict,

We've skied all those areas except Snowboard Toofy Grin
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Bergmeister, Toofy Grin Toofy Grin
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Head to Snowbird, Snowbasin, and Powder Mountain.

Snow is much deeper, lighter, softer and drier than damp Europe.

Take a day off, to go see the Salt Flats.

Like the surface of the Moon.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I have been visiting Utah for some years and here are some random thoughts.

Make absolutely sure you have accident / health insurance.

You NEED a car. I book through rentalcars.com because they include CDW in the price.

The cheapest accomodation with a kitchen is Studio 6 which is well located for the Cottonwood canyons.

If there is a dump just before the weekend I don't even try to get up to Snowbird/Alta. They will be over run with locals and the traffic queues are legendary. I go and ski Canyons now Park City Canyons. No traffic queues and the powder does not get tracked out by 11.00am
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
TQA wrote:
I have been visiting Utah for some years and here are some random thoughts.

Make absolutely sure you have accident / health insurance.

You NEED a car. I book through rentalcars.com because they include CDW in the price.

The cheapest accomodation with a kitchen is Studio 6 which is well located for the Cottonwood canyons.

If there is a dump just before the weekend I don't even try to get up to Snowbird/Alta. They will be over run with locals and the traffic queues are legendary. I go and ski Canyons now Park City Canyons. No traffic queues and the powder does not get tracked out by 11.00am


I've frequented SLC plenty of times and I thought I had it completely covered.
Great info with rentalcars.com. I just check it for my dates next winter and you've saved me about $900 aussie pesos. Thanks.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
sbooker, even after you have booked the car with rental cars, keep checking their prices, as they will reduce it for you if you ring them, if it is cheaper Madeye-Smiley
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Spent a winter based in Park City and skied all the resorts in the area.

Deer Valley on a powder day, especially weekends is the go.

Only skied Park City and The Canyons if I was short on time.

Alta and Snowbird are deservedly renowned - doubly so with the link for skiers only - but unless you're prepared to get up at the crack of dawn and get in line early it's competitive skiing. Some like that, I hate it.

I much preferred the relative solitude of Solititude and Brighton in comparison. And as has been mentioned don't dismiss Brighton. It has more than enough challenging terrain inbounds, and accesses some of the most challenging terrain out of bounds in Wolverine Cirque.

Although I had season passes for Deer Valley, Park City & The Canyons, I spent most of my time at Snowbasin and Powder Mountain.

Great snow which didn't get tracked out as fast as SLC area, funky, quieter.

If you're staying in Ogden don't dismiss Beaver Mountain about an hour or so north. On a mid-week powder day you'll have the place to yourself.

And for a very relaxed day with a stunning drive and scenery head to Sundance.

You'll be very unlucky not to see powder in January.

Enjoy.
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Utah? Don't expect much booze around - a bit of expensive beer on the mountain. No apre ski anywhere.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Scrumpy wrote:
Utah? Don't expect much booze around - a bit of expensive beer on the mountain. No apre ski anywhere.


Absolute nonesense
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@Mike Pow - +1

Deer Valley: nice ambience and personal touch with great tree skiing if it has snowed.

Canyons: Meh. Decent hill but nowt better than average slopes in Europe.

AltaBird: Absolutely loved it all - not a large area but so much terrain to play in. A bit like Grand Montets but steeper and with trees but no crevasses. Alta needs long traverses for the best stuff and obviously no go for snowboards.

Having said all of this, I did stay at Park City and in Alta, so I cannot comment on the access issues (although I never got used to people placing their skis (beach towels?) in the queues at 8.30 and then wandering off for breakfast until 9.15, expecting to return to grab the first chair Evil or Very Mad).
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Scrumpy wrote:
Utah? Don't expect much booze around - a bit of expensive beer on the mountain. No apre ski anywhere.


Personally I think they do a great job making very tasty ales with the restriction of keeping them to 4% or thereabouts for tap beer.
I’ve not found it expensive either.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
sbooker wrote:
... Personally I think they do a great job making very tasty ales with the restriction of keeping them to 4% or thereabouts for tap beer.
I’ve not found it expensive either.
This.

Wine retailing is kind of weird (but it is in many countries and used to be in the UK relatively recently). All the off-licenses are state-controlled I believe, with central purchasing. Sometimes they even get the good stuff and get the price wrong wink Sometimes I've been asked to "sign for" young whipper-snappers in ski restaurants, which is some weird law. Otherwise, not an issue. I even have a Polygamy Porter T-shirt somewhere (although from memory that's not a great ale).
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Scrumpy wrote:
Utah? Don't expect much booze around - a bit of expensive beer on the mountain. No apre ski anywhere.


This is the reason that a lot of ski clubs (which some can just be more like drinking clubs) do not do trips to Utah, although drinking laws have slowly been relaxed over the years. Still a weird place to drink. Don't expect roving gangs of shouting drunks on the streets at 3am like I heard in Val d'Isère. Of couse, Colorado is a must better choice if drinking is important, then there's the many MJ stores that will blow your mind if you've never experienced that.
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@Backcountryboarder, Powder Mountain has it's season pass sale up now for the best price and it includes days at other resorts, worth a look. The Ikon pass is another. I've had two seasons at Powder and Snow Basin. Big areas but short verticals and no better skiing than most of Europe plus the food is soddin' expensive. $29 for a beer and burger Shocked Stay downtown in either Ogden or Sandy, both have a bit of evening life . . . Americans don't party late and you have to go looking for the bars that sell real beer or you buy it at the State Liquor Store.
Snow is just as lucky as anywhere else. This year deep but a bit soggy and when frozen overnight very unpleasant till the sun hits it. Much worse than the crud at the off-Piste bash. Don't bother going up the hill on weekends and holidays and get there as soon as possible after a dump . . . Everyone calls in sick, traffic is horrible and you may sit in a jam till all the avalanche work is cleared and the access road opened.
Oh and don't expect a modern integrated lift system.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
^^^^^^
The above reply must be about a different Utah than I have been to many times.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Thanks very much for the replies and all the info so far, feel free to keep it flowing.

The alcohol and apres thing isn't really important for us, so long as we can get a decent meal and a couple of beers in the evening it's all good.

@Mr. Pink, it's funny you mentioned Val d'Isere, I've spent a lot of time there over the years, including a full season 3 years ago, and the thing that really let's it down is those gangs of drunks roaming around in the evening and early morning. No sign of that changing any time soon either, sadly.

@Masque, modern integrated lift systems are overrated Toofy Grin .I currently do most of my snowboarding in Scotland, IF we get lucky with some of that Utah Powder, I'd happily ride Pomas and T-Bars for the uphill every day
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Ha. Legend had it that the Austrian expat Alf Engen, one of the founders of Alta, did not like high speed quads at all, because they "Roon" the snow.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@sbooker, sorry I should have said don't expect a modern integrated lift system at Powder. As for snow, for the last two seasons it has been hugely variable over the central Rockies and the type of snow is in flux. There were just 4 great pillow soft days this year at Powder and they were hammered out in two each. That's not to say there wasn't a lot of it and a lot more than 50 miles south, then don't talk about the I70 corridor, they had 7+ weeks of 'sodall' rolling eyes Climate change is bringing very unreliable weather, especially temperature fluctuation patterns to historically stable snow venues and 'historical' advertising BS won't 'change' that. wink Like down in the Sierras . . . The season total was immense . . . It just came over one storm rolling eyes

What else did I get wrong?

Edit . . . They will come out and party if there's a 'game' on . . . two hours of aggressive incompetent fumbling interspersed with 30 seconds of mild excitement . . . and they wonder why more women don't watch NFL rolling eyes

Oh . . . @sbooker, I live here, not just visit . . . Madeye-Smiley
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Masque, i take it You are based in SLC?

We're staying in Ogden the first week then moving to a hotel at the base of the Cottonwood Canyons for the second week. I like the fact that Powder Mountain limits the amount of tickets they sell, first time I've heard of any Resort doing that.

Like I said further up the thread, we're hoping to get lucky with lots of fresh pow, but then isn't everyone when they go on a ski trip? If we get lucky, then happy days. If we don't get lucky then so be it, i'm sure it'll be a good trip and it'll definitely be different from most of the big places in the Alps, which is kind of what we're looking for.

I hear you on the traffic issue at weekends or after a dump, a couple of people have also mentioned that. If You're based there, with all that choice on Your doorstep, what would be Your top 3 of the Ski Resorts to visit?
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Masque wrote:
@sbooker, sorry I should have said don't expect a modern integrated lift system at Powder. As for snow, for the last two seasons it has been hugely variable over the central Rockies and the type of snow is in flux. There were just 4 great pillow soft days this year at Powder and they were hammered out in two each. That's not to say there wasn't a lot of it and a lot more than 50 miles south, then don't talk about the I70 corridor, they had 7+ weeks of 'sodall' rolling eyes Climate change is bringing very unreliable weather, especially temperature fluctuation patterns to historically stable snow venues and 'historical' advertising BS won't 'change' that. wink Like down in the Sierras . . . The season total was immense . . . It just came over one storm rolling eyes

What else did I get wrong?

Edit . . . They will come out and party if there's a 'game' on . . . two hours of aggressive incompetent fumbling interspersed with 30 seconds of mild excitement . . . and they wonder why more women don't watch NFL rolling eyes

Oh . . . @sbooker, I live here, not just visit . . . Madeye-Smiley


My reply was mainly referring to your ‘inefficient lift system’ quote.
It looks like snowfall has always been pretty variable to me. It’s the weather....
https://www.freethepowder.com/blogs/report-blog/16177205-alta-utah-snowfall-history-from-1945-2014

I’d love to live in Utah even if it is so bad. Enjoy it - things could be worse.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Backcountryboarder, Ogden, I get here every week for work and stay in Eden. I love Powder Mountain but it is a very eclectic place. Just 5 lifts and you have to circuit the bowls to get back to the start ... it is a huge area but doesn't feel it and the verticals are rather short. I'm kinda(sic) lucky, my loyalty season pass for next year is just $525 Twisted Evil
Snowbasin is busier and the clientele a bit more obnoxious but the terrain more challenging. If you're into xcountry, Nordic Valley is just 5 miles away.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Backcountryboarder wrote:
We're staying in Ogden the first week then moving to a hotel at the base of the Cottonwood Canyons for the second week. I like the fact that Powder Mountain limits the amount of tickets they sell, first time I've heard of any Resort doing that.

Like I said further up the thread, we're hoping to get lucky with lots of fresh pow, but then isn't everyone when they go on a ski trip? If we get lucky, then happy days. If we don't get lucky then so be it, i'm sure it'll be a good trip and it'll definitely be different from most of the big places in the Alps, which is kind of what we're looking for.

If you're serious in getting the most powder, be prepare to move base on forecast!

Sometimes, storm hits northern Utah (Snowbasin/Powder Mountain) and missing the Cottonwoods. Or vice versa.

Granted, I wouldn't bother if it's just 6" vs 4". But sometimes, when it's 8" vs 2, a true powderhone need to get off his butt and move to where the powder is.

Quote:
I hear you on the traffic issue at weekends or after a dump, a couple of people have also mentioned that. If You're based there, with all that choice on Your doorstep, what would be Your top 3 of the Ski Resorts to visit?

The best resort is always the one with the most recent fresh snow, secondary factor being less skier traffic so the snow last longer.

Strangely enough, the road access limitation in the Cottonwood Canyons means the mountains aren't as crowded as it could be, as long as YOU can get up there ahead of the masses! Toofy Grin
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