The sun was out and more than 400 inches of snow had fallen at Snowbasin this year. This looked to be a spectacular day to ski one of Utah’s premier ski areas and I was psyched. The tons of snow and beautiful sunshine brought lots of skiers to the slopes. I was met by Kevin Stauffer, the Guest Services Supervisor and we skied the entire day together and had a blast. Kevin is very knowledgeable and fun guide. He gave me the grand tour and we logged a lot of vertical that day.
We rode up the Needles Express Gondola and began systematically exploring the mountain. Once on the mountain, you did not notice that they were having a record day. With six peaks and 2,830 skiable acres, there is a lot to explore and the skiers and riders really get spread out on this huge ski resort.
When we heard that the Strawberry area was open, we skied over there, enjoying some broad steep slopes and long runs that had breathtaking vistas. We hopped on the Strawberry Gondola after checking out the new Strawberry Xpress coffee shop at the base station and headed back up the mountain for another run. We skied blue trails like Main Street, Sun King, in addition to a few groomed black diamond trails like White Room. We seldom met a lift line and when we ran into a line at the Strawberry gondola, I was amazed at how fast all the people were loaded into the cars. The gondola was moving faster than the ticket checker.
After a couple more runs, we tied up with two British gentlemen who were on a ski holiday. They were interesting and good skiers, so they didn’t hold us back and we really enjoyed their company. We rode chairlifts and gondolas and skied a wide variety of slopes and trails including the Olympic Downhill run. We took the chair up to the John Paul Lodge on the top of the mountain for lunch.
After lunch, we skied the rest of the afternoon. We even caught a few “freshies” but the snow was crusty. We went off-piste a little and even skied a few bumps. I took their photo with Kevin and we bid farewell to our new British friends and then made a few more runs. We finished off the day with another run down the Olympic Downhill course. This slope is broad and steep and I can’t imaging skiing down it full-tilt. I had to ski it making as many turns as I could.
The Best 5-Star Restaurant with Skiing in America
Now lunch at most ski areas is nothing special but not at Snowbasin. At John Paul’s Lodge on the top of the mountain, there was a wide variety of soups, salads, grilled
items, burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and pasta dishes to tempt the palate. I was astounded to see Bracciole on the menu (Bracciole is a rolled, stuffed medallion of meat only found at the very best Italian bistros) , in addition to Veal Parmesan and Lasagna. I was VERY tempted but I had been eating a little too well on this trip, so I opted for a single slice of pizza.
After hearing me declare that I had characterized the food at Snowbasin in an article I wrote as “the Tiramasu for lunch at Snowbasin was divine” (which always got a chuckle from those riding with us on the gondola), Kevin purchased a Tiramasu that we shared with our new British friends and all enjoyed it very much. It still blows my mind that you can get Tiramasu at lunch here.
I had been invited to dinner that evening, so I’ll tell you about it now. I rode up the Needles Gondola Saturday night and dined at Needles Lodge on the topp of the mountain. The buffet was spectacular. There was a variety of soups, salads, Shrimp Cocktail, Crab Claws, Steamed Mussels, Ceviche, and Duck Prosciutto; with fish, Prime Rib, and chicken in addition to potatoes and vegetables; sauteed Mai Mai and Mushroom Ravioli, and a beautiful array of homemade pastries and breads. They also have a full bar and the wait service is excellent.
The next day, I had lunch at Earl’s Lodge (the base lodge). In addition to a unique selection of salads, soups, pizza, burgers and sandwiches, they have Mexican treats, Asian Stir Fry, Italian Ravioli and Lasagna and roasted meat selections that include roast beef, turkey, and pork loin and on the weekends you can get Prime Rib, Cornish Game Hens and Roast Suckling Pig. For a minute, I forgot that I was at a ski resort, the menu looks more like a feast put on by Henry VIII.
Jackson Fork Inn
I was staying at the Jackson Fork Inn which is only a half dozen miles from Snowbasin in Huntsville. This is a really funky Inn that has a very nice restaurant on the 1st floor and the Prime Rib was delicious. This inn has seven comfortable rooms on the floor above the restaurant. They all have queen-size beds located in loft areas accessible from a spiral staircase. My room slept six and had a sleeping alcove. The first floor of each room has a living area with couches, day beds, tables and chairs and TVs. All of the rooms have their own full bath and three rooms have whirlpool tubs that will accommodate two adults. A complimentary continental breakfast is provided. Rooms start at $75 per night (midweek) and go up to $140 per night for a room with a whirlpool on a holiday. This inn is the closest available accommodations to Snowbasin and very near Powder Mountain. For reservations, call (801) 745-0051 or (800) 609-9466 and tell them the Ski Bum News sent you.
Back to Skiing
On Sunday, I arrived early. Guest Services had arranged for me to ski with a fellow of Scottish decent. He was a Grant and kinsman to my maternal grandmother who was born in the Highlands of Scotland. We had a great time slicing and dicing all the trails at Snowbasin. I got there early and we covered a lot of territory that day. We didn’t dally and did a lot of high-speed cruising. Brian and I had a lot in common and the morning went by quickly. By 10:30 we had actually gotten in more runs that I usually skied in an entire day. There were a number of natural halfpipes that we skied including the one on the black diamond trail called Gordons. I think we hit every chair and gondola and checked out all the fun runs on Strawberry and those services the Becker chair and John Paul Express Quad. We did the Wildflower Downhill and Grizzly Downhill. I saw people hiking to the verypeak of the mountain for fresh tracks even got a glimpse of the tubing hill. As I had to catch a plane, I cut the day short. Even though I didn’t ski as long as I usually do, my thighs told me that I had gotten in more than a full day of skiing.
Average Yearly Snowfall: 400 inches (they exceeded this the week before I arrived)
Vertical Rise: 2,959 ft.
Total Lifts: 12 (1 Tram, 2 Gondolas, 1 Quad, 4 Triples, 1 Double, 1 Magic carpet, 2 Handle Tows)
Skiable Acreage: 2,830
Total Runs: 113
Run Ratings: 20% Novice, 50% Intermediate, 30% Expert
Snowmaking Acreage: 600+ (with a state-of-the-art computerized snowmaking system)
Terrain Parks: 2
Tubing Hill: 1(with surface tow)
Total Nordic Trails: 5 (26 miles)
I have to say, two days of skiing in the sunshine at Snowbasin was the perfect way to end my Utah trip. If you have never been to Snowbasin, put it on your “MUST SKI” list and make sure you check out this world-class ski resort. It’s only 33 miles from Salt Lake City, less than a half hour from Ogden and about an hour from Park City. Each time I’ve visited Snowbasin, I have had a really great time. They get tons of snow, have the best lift system in Utah, fabulous food and terrain that rivals the best in the world. The base lodge and mountain-top restaurants contain every amenity you could envision including fancy fireplaces, elevators, linen napkins, leather chairs, marble table tops, and the fanciest bathrooms I have ever been seen. The restrooms have gold fixtures, marble counters and fancy stalls with marble interiors. Compared to the restrooms at most ski areas, the johns here are really unbelievable.
The ONLY negative feature at Snowbasin is their lack of on-mountain lodging. When they build ski-in, ski-out accommodations, they will rival any of the top ski resorts in the USA.