Snowbasin, Utah’s Best Kept Secret

 

 

I’ve skied in Utah on a half dozen occasions and always loved what I’ve found. The last time I was there, a guy I rode up the chair with, suggested that I try Snowbasin. He claimed that the view from the top of the mountain was spectacular and assured me that I’d love the Olympic Downhill Run. I decided to follow-up and checkout this ski area located less than 15 minutes from Ogden, Utah.

I was traveling with Tex, one of my Killington cronies. Tex and I go back 30 years to the time we both were “locals” at Killington. He still lives there and is an excellent skier. He’s able to handle the most difficult terrain including steeps, powder, ice and bumps. Tex keeps himself in great shape by participating in marathons and sailboarding in the off season. One time, after skiing expert trails at Killington all day with us, he changed his clothes and went off for a five-mile run, but that’s another story.

We flew into Salt Lake City, picked up our rental car and proceeded to drive north toward Ogden. On the way, we stopped at La Puente, a Mexican restaurant, that was recommended by BOTH the locals that were sitting next to me on the airplane. These guys really knew what they were talking about. We enjoyed one of the best Mexican dinners we had ever had for a VERY reasonable price (under $10 each).

Accommodations
We were staying at the Jackson Fork Inn in Huntsville which turned out to be the 1st Inn you come to after passing the Snowbasin access road. This is a very interesting place, built in a converted dairy barn with a large restaurant on the 1st floor and seven guestrooms up stairs. Everything about this place was unique. The name Jackson Fork Inn comes from a large hayfork, on display at the Inn. Located nine miles from Ogden, The Jackson Fork Inn is in an ideal location to be close to Snowbasin, Powder Mountain and Nordic Valley Ski resorts.

When I opened the door to the room, my jaw dropped when I only saw one bed! Tex and I are friendly but we are not THAT friendly, if you know what I mean. Upon entering the room and looking around, I saw the spiral staircase that led to a loft with another queen-sized bed. The room was furnished with antique dressers, a table and chairs, TV and private bath. This place was really cozy. There was a continental breakfast waiting for us in the morning and Vicki Petersen, the beautiful woman who runs the place was very nice and informative. Rates range from $75 to $120 for rooms with a whorlpool bath. For reservations call (801) 745-0051 or (800) 255-0672.

The Mountain
Snowbasin is a Sun Valley Resort with 2,660 skiable acres and a 2,950 vertical serviced by 2 gondolas, 1 tram, 1 detachable quad 4 triples, 1 double and 2 surface tows that bring skiers to 53 trails that run off mountains with an elevation as high as 9.570 ft. Snowbasin does not allow snowboarders, so leave the “shredders” at home. Lift tickets are very reasonable with a $58.00 adult day pass. This resort has a Superpipe, two terrain parks, and a X-country ski area.

Although there are no on-mountain accommodations, the base lodge is one of the nicest base lodges I have ever seen with food that equals the best I have ever tasted. What other ski area restaurant serves Terra Massou for dessert in the lodge on the top of the mountain? The cuisine included mesquite-grilled pizza, great burgers, Asian stir-fry, carving station (roast beet & turkey), and Austrian faire. The chairs have leather upholstery and the tables all have marble inserts. Napkins are linen and the fireplace and chandeliers are grand. The bathrooms are more like those found in grand hotels rather than those you usually find at ski areas.

The rental department fixed us up with high performance Fisher AMC skis that we both really liked. They carved well on all the groomed slopes and performed adequately off-peste in the crud and in the bumps.

Skiing
We were fixed up with a guide who skied with us all day, showing us everything the mountain had to offer. We warmed up with a run down the Ogden Bowl and then proceeded to do all the blue, black and double black diamond trails and slopes on the five peaks at Snowbasin. Although there are officially 53 trails, there is a lot more to ski here because most of the terrain is open (thanks to avalanches clearing the trees). The entire 2,660 acres are skiable and it would a long, long time to ski every conceivable path down these peaks.

We took a few runs down the Grizzly Downhill run and Wildflower Downhill run which were both steep and just what Killington guys like us love. You can go really fast down these well-groomed runs. We tried a few bump runs long with the steep groomers and really chalked up the vertical miles.

There is a lot of bowl-skiing to be had at Snowbasin with more double black diamond runs than you will find at most ski areas. There are lots of blue slopes for the intermediate skier and even a couple of beginner trails for the novice skier. Snowbasin is a BIG mountain that has a computerized state-of-the-art snowmaking system. They even have a Tubing Hill for those that do not ski and a X-country ski area for lovers of those skinny skis.

We were only at Snowbasin for a day and although we got an early start and skied until the light began to get flat at 3 PM, one day is not enough for this world-class resort. I have put this ski area on my “short list” and plan to be back there as often as possible. Everyone we met there was friendly and we had a real blast.

We skied there on a Saturday and were told that it was one of their busiest days. Except for a reasonable lift line in morning for our 1st run, lift lines were remarkable short or non-existent. It was more like skiing mid-week than a busy weekend. If you go to Snowbasin you will spend your time racking up vertical miles rather than standing in lift lines, I guarantee it.