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Nowhere in the state is that legacy more evident than at two Ogden, Utah-area resorts, 50 miles to the north of Utah's capital city.
Its long, steep ski courses shooting off Allen's Peak captured television viewers' attention worldwide during the men's and women's downhill, super G and combined racing events. Likewise,
Modern, Magnificent SnowbasinRobert Earl and Carol Holding, the multibillionaire owners of the renowned Sun Valley Resort in Idaho and the Utah-based Sinclair Oil, bought Snowbasin in 1984 and are still in the process of transforming it. The experience of Snowbasin begins before hitting the slopes, with a warm welcome from friendly attendants and a view of Earl's Lodge, the stunning timber cabin. The lodge's interior decor is notable for its Murano glass chandeliers from Italy, crown moldings and marble countertops throughout -- including in the food service areas and restrooms. Before the Olympics, the Holdings added three eight-passenger gondolas and upgraded older chairlifts. The lifts offers skiers access to the resort's 2,830 acres of terrain on a 2,900-foot vertical drop on Strawberry Peak, Mt. Needles and Mt. Ogden; the gondolas provide welcome relief in colder weather. They also, I found, promote conversation between strangers on facing seats. "The gondolas have spoiled me to death," Robert Smith, 51, an engineer from Orlando, told me. Michael Chardack, 48, an orthopedist from Salt Lake City, explained that he was on a mission: to cover as much terrain as possible between 9 a.m. and closing time at 4 p.m. With no waits at any lift or gondola, Chardack had traveled more than 50,000 vertical feet by 3:30 p.m.
Pristine Powder MountainIn contrast to the luxury of Snowbasin, Powder Mountain promises a bare-bones, off-piste experience. Its day lodges are simple and old-fashioned. The food is decent. But the skiing is unparalleled -- and even less utilized than Snowbasin. Powder Mountain is North America's largest ski area, with more than 5,500 acres of skiable terrain and plans for expansion. It has no snowmaking capability, relying instead on nature. Grooming is limited to a handful of trails in higher-traffic areas near lifts. The owner, Alvin Cobabe, and his family own more than 14,000 acres. Because of Powder Mountain's enormity, I recommend hiring a mountain host ($80 for a half-day or $125 for a full day; one price for up to six people). "This is incredible snow for most people," said my host, Phil Wagner, 65, "but we're jaded. We want four feet of powder, or at least two feet." Last season, Powder finally replaced the older Hidden Lake chairlift with a high-speed detachable quad. But the seven chairlifts serve just a fraction of Powder. The resort is so vast that skiers access Lightning Ridge and James Peak on a passenger snowcat ($8 a ride) and from free roadside bus shuttles beneath the Powder Country area. "This is a different kind of mountain," Wagner noted, a retired wildlife biologist who's been skiing for four decades. "On deep powder days, you're going to have more fun here than anywhere, taking powder over your head and 20 feet in a single turn." Powder Mountain has cafeterias at its four lodges. The food offerings, unlike at Snowbasin, are traditional resort-style food -- mostly grilled sandwiches. There is ski-in/ski-out lodging at the
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