You'll find splendid powder skiing, low prices, few lift lines, and friendly people in abundance at the relatively undeveloped ski areas of northern Utah. Don't expect fancy lodges (at least not yet), but do be prepared for breathtaking scenery, a wide variety of fine terrain, and a relaxed family atmosphere.
These resorts are just northwest of Ogden; to reach any of them, take I-15 exit 344 onto 12th Street and follow Utah 39 east. Wolf Mountain and Powder Mountain are just off Utah 158, and Snowbasin is off Utah 226.
Wolf Mountain Skiing & Tubing
Family-oriented Wolf Creek Utah Ski Resort, 3567 Nordic Valley Way, Eden, UT 84310 (tel. 801/745-3511; www.wolfceekutah.com), formerly called Nordic Valley Ski Area, is Utah's smallest and least expensive ski area; it has among the best night-lighting systems in the state. Refreshingly informal and casual, Wolf Mountain has been a favorite of Ogden-area families because it's a good place to learn to ski, with enough variety to keep everyone satisfied. The terrain is rated about 25% beginner, 50% intermediate, and 25% advanced. Annual snowfall averages 300 inches. The resort also has a terrain park, and several runs have been designed specifically for snowboarders.
Wolf Creek has a double and a triple chairlift as well as a magic carpet serving 20 runs on 85 acres, and snow-making on 50 acres. The vertical drop is 1,000 feet from the top elevation of 6,400 feet. The ski area is generally open mid-December to early April, with lifts operating from 10am to 9pm Monday through Thursday and 9am to 9pm Friday and Saturday.
Getting There -- From I-15, follow Utah 39 east about 11 miles, turn north (left) onto Utah 158 for about 3 miles, then turn west (left), following signs to the ski area.
Lift Tickets -- Day passes (open-5pm) for adults and children 12 and older cost $26 to $32. Night skiing (4-9pm) costs $15 to $20 for adults and children 12 and older.
Lessons & Programs -- The ski school offers private and group lessons; call for rates and information. The ski shop has equipment for rent and accessories for sale. No child-care facilities are available.
Where to Stay & Dine -- The mountain has no overnight lodging. The lodge serves hot sandwiches, homemade soups, pizza, and hot and cold beverages. You can relax around the fireplace on a cold day or outside on the deck when it's sunny and warm.
Powder Mountain Resort
This is a family ski area in two respects: It was founded in 1972 by the Cobabe family, who still own and run it, and it's aimed at providing a variety of skiing opportunities to suit everyone in your family. Among the 7,000 skiable acres -- the most of any resort in the country -- are plenty of beginner runs, which seem to grade upward in difficulty as you move from the Sundown area to the Timberline area and then the Hidden Lake area; so by the time you're skiing Three Miles, you can consider yourself an intermediate and try cruising over the big, swooping blue fields. There's no dearth of expert and powder skiing in the wilds, either. Powder Mountain uses snow cats and shuttle buses to transport skiers to more than 2,800 acres of spectacular powder that is not served by lifts -- it's an out-of-bounds, backcountry skier's dream come true. A bonus is the view: On a clear day, you can see across the Great Salt Lake and sometimes all the way to Park City.
Powder Mountain is also a favorite among snowboarders; boarding is allowed everywhere.
Powder Mountain Resort, P.O. Box 450, Eden, UT 84310 (tel. 801/745-3772, or 745-3771 for snow conditions; www.powdermountain.com), has two quads, one triple and one double chair, two surface lifts, and one platter lift, servicing 2,800 acres of packed runs and powder skiing, plus nearly that much in backcountry acreage -- making the skiable acreage the highest in the country. The terrain is rated 25% beginner, 40% intermediate, and 35% advanced. There are also two terrain parks. With more than 500 inches of snowfall annually, Powder Mountain doesn't have -- or need -- any snow-making. The elevation at the summit is 9,402 feet; the lift-served vertical drop is 2,205 feet. The season is generally mid-November to mid-April, with day skiing from 9am to 4:30pm and night skiing until 9pm.
Getting There -- From I-15, follow Utah 39 east about 11 miles, turn north (left) onto Utah 158, and drive about 8 miles to the ski area.
Lift Tickets -- An all-day lift ticket is $58, a half-day ticket is $48, a children's (ages 7-12) all-day ticket is $31, and a children's half-day ticket is $26; night-skiing passes are $15 for adults and $12 for children. Seniors 62 to 69 pay $46 for a day pass; those 70 and over pay just $25. Kids 6 and under ride the lift free. Each snow cat ride costs backcountry skiers an extra $15; a guided "Snowcat Powder Safari" runs $350 per person in peak season.
Lessons & Programs -- The ski school offers a full range of ski and snowboarding lessons and other activities, both group and private, from half-day to multi-day. These include children's lessons, a program designed especially for and taught by women, and guided Alpine tours. Private lessons start at $100 for an hour; group lessons cost less. Powder Mountain Lodge and Sundown Lodge both have ski shops where skis and snowboards are available for rent and accessories are for sale. No child-care facilities are available.
Where to Stay & Dine -- Most skiers stay in Ogden, but for those who want to sleep slope-side, the Columbine Inn (tel. 801/745-1414; www.columbineinnutah.com) has five rooms with a pleasant ski-chalet atmosphere, as well as a number of adjacent condo units that sleep as many as a dozen people. Rooms are located next to the lodge off the main parking lot. Doubles cost $80 to $120 in ski season, with condominiums going for $150 to $700. Smoking is not permitted.
As for dining, the Powder Keg in the basement of Timberline Lodge serves sandwiches and draft beer around a cozy fireplace; there is also a cafeteria. Hidden Lake Lodge serves lunch at the summit. Sundown Lodge offers burgers, sandwiches, and soups.
Among America's oldest ski areas (it opened in 1939), Snowbasin remained a local secret until it hosted the downhill and Super G competition at the 2002 Olympics. Word of the area's great terrain got out, and skiers have been flocking to the resort ever since. Particularly popular for its top-to-bottom intermediate runs, Snowbasin offers plenty of untracked powder; long, well-groomed trails; and Utah's third-largest vertical drop. Beginners have plenty of terrain on which to develop their ski-legs, and some great transitional runs off the Wildcat lift will help them graduate from novice to intermediate status. With its wide-open powder bowls and Olympic downhill courses, expert skiing at Snowbasin has been growing by leaps and bounds.
Snowbasin Resort, P.O. Box 460, Huntsville, UT 84317 (tel. 801/620-1000, or 620-1100 for snow conditions; www.snowbasin.com), has 108 runs, rated 7% beginner, 30% intermediate, and 63% advanced. Included in its 2,820 acres are beautiful powder bowls and glade skiing. Snowbasin has two high-speed quads, one handle tow, and four triple chairlifts, plus two high-speed eight-passenger gondolas and a tram that serves the starting point for the downhill racecourses. Lift-served vertical drop is 2,959 feet from the 9,350-foot summit. All lifts are open to snowboarders, with retaining devices required. With about 400 inches of annual snowfall, Snowbasin has not really needed snow-making equipment, although snow-making has been added to assure an early season opening. The ski season generally runs from Thanksgiving to mid-April, with lifts operating daily from 9am to 4pm. The resort is also now open in summer, when it transforms into a hiking, biking, and horseback-riding mecca.
Getting There -- Take I-15 to exit 324, then go north on U.S. 89 for about 10 miles. At the mouth of Weber Canyon, merge onto I-84 eastbound, which you take several miles to exit 92 for Mountain Green. Head east about 2 miles and turn north (left) onto Utah 167 (Trapper's Loop). Go about 5 miles to Utah 226, where you turn left and drive 3 miles to the resort.
Lift Tickets -- All-day adult lift tickets cost $65, half-day tickets are $54, a children's (ages 7-12) all-day ticket is $40, a children's half-day ticket is $32, and seniors over 65 pay $53 for a full day and $38 for a half-day. Kids 6 and under and seniors 75 and over can ride the lift free.
Lessons & Programs -- The ski school (tel. 801/620-1016) offers both private and group skiing and snowboarding lessons for all ages and abilities, with rates starting at $42 for a 2-hour group lesson and $145 for a 2-hour private lesson. Children's lessons are also available. The Grizzly Center at the base offers ski and snowboard equipment rental and repair, plus clothing and accessories for sale. No child-care facilities are available.
Where to Stay & Dine -- No lodging is available at the ski area itself; most skiers stay near Ogden. In preparation for the Olympics, Snowbasin built three handsome restaurants -- one at the base and two on the mountain. All serve American fare in a mountain lodge atmosphere; the on-mountain restaurants are preferable for their wondrous views.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.