Indie Ogden’s Guide to Ski Resorts
Ski season starts this week, and we figured it’d be a pretty good idea to do a guide to getting your ski or ride on. First the important details: Snowbasin opens the 22nd, Wolf Mountain the 28th, and Powder Mountain will open after the next big storm.
Now, if you weren’t aware, Ogden was recently rated as North America’s #2 Ski town by Powder Magazine. That’s a pretty stellar achievement, especially considering the sheer number of resorts available down near SLC. However, the big factors for Ogden’s high ratings are what every ski fanatic dreams about: lots of space and not a lot of people. The three main areas near Ogden have almost 10,000 skiable acres, are at most only 40 minutes from downtown, and you can still be carving fresh tracks at lunch time through most of the season. Further, all of Ogden’s resorts are both skier and boarder friendly, and they all have terrain parks, so everybody’s welcome. Now the I know the question you’re asking me is “John, I’ve got a day off and can’t figure out where to go! Help me out!” So here’s the breakdown:
The most popular resort near Ogden, Snowbasin sits just on the other side of Mount Ogden. Home of the men and women downhill for the 2002 Olympics, Snowbasin is also part of the Sun Valley Resort company (which owns Sun Valley Resort in Idaho). Snowbasin is generally the first resort anyone thinks of when they think of skiing in Ogden. Because of the Olympics, and until recently a regular stop on the Dew Tour, Snowbasin has made quite the name for itself. Offering lift access to 115 runs on over 3,000 acres, you’d be hard pressed to find a run that didn’t challenge you. Further, Snowbasin has been busy making sure they’re lifts are the best around. With two gondolas serving the main areas, and high speed quads (and a couple tri’s) everywhere else, you’ll never be sitting on a lift for longer than you need to. You get the regular assortment of amenities, with plenty of places to eat, rent gear (or get new gear), listen to some of the live entertainment that’s usually playing at the base, or even go tubing. The only thing missing is overnight lodging at the base (although they have partnered with condos on Pineview and hotels in Ogden).
Snowbasin’s done an amazing job making sure that the good majority of the terrain is easily accessible from a lift. Broken up over three areas (Strawberry to the south, Needles in the middle, and John Paul on the north), you’ll have no shortage to catch a break. All three areas feature a lodge with dining (in addition to the main lodge at the base). Beginners will likely stick to the middle part of the mountain around Needles, where most of the groomed runs are. Advanced riders can find some nice cuts between runs, and access to the terrain park is here as well. Intermediate riders will likely venture off towards Strawberry, where the lift offers stunning views of the whole Salt Lake Valley and the runs get a little more challenging. Advanced riders will head towards John Paul, where you can take a gondola to try part of the Olympic downhill run yourself or just spend the day weaving through trees.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Snowbasin is nice. The lodges are really nice, the lifts are nice, everything at Snowbasin is pretty classy. Although a little pricier than Powder or Wolf, you can see that your money is well spent. With lift access to all variety of terrain, Snowbasin is a great place to go by yourself or with groups. They’ve got terrain for everybody, from the novice hitting the bunny slope to the more advanced rider who’s willing to trek a bit to a bowl to carve something fresh.
Lift Ticket Prices:
Early season lift prices:
All Day Adult Lift Ticket $49/ Half Day $39
All Day Youth Lift Ticket $34/ Half Day $26
All Day Senior Lift Ticket $42/ Half Day $32
The second most popular but first most underrated resort (and this author’s personal favorite) is Powder Mountain Resort, just east of Eden. Powder Mountain is America’s largest ski area, with over 7,000 acres of terrain to carve. With 135 runs (with 8 of those open for night riding), and three lodges, Powder Mountain offers all the amenities you’d expect. It’s also the only Ogden resort that offers overnight lodging at the actual resort (and it’s pretty affordable to boot). Powder has two “bases”, one at the base of the Sundown Ridge and another further up the mountain on the saddle below Lightning Ridge. The one below Lightning Ridge is the main lodge, with great food being served up at the Powder Keg, a rental shop to get your gear, rooms to stay for the night, and the main parking area. The base at Sundown also has food and a gear shop, and Sundown stays open until 9 p.m. to satisfy your nightime craving for powder. If the weather’s especially nice, you can try to make the drive up to Hidden Lake Lodge at the top of the mountain, where you can take in the fantastic views of both Eden and Logan while you grab a bite to eat for lunch.
One of the other big draws at Powder Mountain is the cat skiing. Only 3,000 of Powder Mountain’s 7,000 acres are accessible from a traditional lift. To get full advantage of the other half of the mountain, you’ll need to sign up for a cat lift. $18 (or $15 for season pass holders) will get you a lift after you’ve had a chance to plow through that fresh fluff in Powder’s enormous backcountry. They also offer guided tours and Powder Safaris that will personally take you to the best stashes the mountain has to offer. While maybe a bit pricey for the average weekender, it’s a great value if you’re serious about finding some unexplored territory and getting it all to yourself. You can find out more on Powder’s Adventure Center site.
I like Powder the most for three reasons. First, it’s not as crowded as Snowbasin tends to get (especially on weekends), and it’s pretty easy to find yourself alone on a run. Second, the terrain isn’t near as steep on average compared to Snowbasin. And last, and most important, Powder Mountain has an amazing relaxed vibe. I never feel stressed out at Powder, and most of the fellow riders are pretty laid-back and just there to enjoy a great day on the mountain.
The road up to Powder Mountain is steep, and if you don’t have four wheel drive it’s not recommended to drive up when conditions get a little slick. But good news! You can pick up a shuttle at Valley Market in Eden that will take you to the top and back for just $5.
Lift Ticket Prices:
|Adult||Child*||Senior Silver 62-69||Senior** Gold 70-79||Military|
|Half DayPass AM||$55||$35||$45||$35|
|Half Day Pass PM/Night||$56||$36||$46||$35|
|Sundown Only Day||$38||$25||$35||$35|
|Lightning Ridge/Raintree Snowcat Rides $18. $15 for Season Pass Holders.Lightning Ridge Punch Pass (by 10 get 11th free) $180.|
Nordic Valley is the third resort near Ogden, sitting just west of Eden. It’s a much smaller resort than Powder or Snowbasin, with only 110 acres and 22 runs. However, Wolf offers amazing night skiing keeping the whole park open until 9 p.m. The lift ticket prices are also much cheaper, and most nights during the winter they offer up a pretty stellar fireworks display. Nordic specializes in catering to all skill levels, with fantastic classes for beginners to enough terrain to keep more advanced riders challenged. Also, because of the price, it’s a great place to bring the whole family. Their base amenities include a gear shop and lodge.
The other big draw at Nordic is their terrain parks. With over 25 features, Nordic Valley’s terrain park is pretty well know in the Ogden area for being a great (and affordable) place to learn and spend the whole day grinding and jamming. Like the rest of Nordic, they have lines that cater to all skill levels.
I think this review sums it up best: “so cheap and while Nordic Vealley”s a small resort, it has a classic feel to it and the runs are all lovely. It’s a great place for beginners, and their ski classes are wonderful. I took them for 10 years, then I took snowboard classes for 3. The staff is knowledgeable and the food in the lodge is surprisingly yummy. Great cozy resort for families with young kids as the bunny hill is also quite lovely.”
Lift Ticket Prices:
There’s plenty of other places to ski or ride in Northern Utah that aren’t a stone’s throw from Ogden, so here’s a quick collection of some other resources if you’re feeling a little more adventurous.
Utah.com – Utah’s official tourism page has a fantastic directory of all the resorts, complete with trail maps, live feeds, and more.
SkiUtah.com – Another official site with a great collection and listing of the resorts
Big Cottonwood Canyon:
Little Cottonwood Canyon:
Alta (skiers only)
Deer Valley Resort (skiers only)