The first thoughts of winter in the Ogden Valley usually creep in mid-August, right around the time of the colorful Balloon Festival, when we usually experience one or two chilly mornings, with temperatures in the low 40’s. Diamond Peak Mountain Sports in Eden pulls out their ski & boarding gear and hosts a giant sale that gets everyone in the mood for the upcoming season.
Utah is well known for having the Greatest Snow on Earth™, and the three ski resorts in the Ogden Valley offer a diverse trifecta of options to enjoy amidst annual snow totals averaging 400+ inches, all within about an hours drive from Salt Lake City’s international airport. You’ll find far less crowded slopes than the Cottonwoods or Park City resorts, and at more affordable pricing. Here, you’ll enjoy a rural setting so rare in today’s mega resorts, with most lodging being in condominiums and vacation homes as well as a few small B&B’s.
Powder Mountain is a low-key, no frills, and kick-back kind of mountain, with over 5,500 acres of terrain, 3,000 of which is in-bounds backcountry terrain, quite unusual these days. They get so much snow every year they have never bothered to install snowmaking – so when you do choose a groomer, the soft quality of the snow is untarnished with man made, sometimes ice-forming chemicals. The offer up several one-of-a-kind experiences and nary a lift line in sight. There’s Powder Country, where you ski and board the steeps and trees down to the access road, where a big old school bus transports you back to the lifts. They’ve got a snowcat servicing Lightening Ridge, where you can either hike up to James Peak at 9400+ feet, or carve freshies down the north face. The Snowcat Safari offers expeditions into some serious tree skiing in Mary’s Bowl and the Enchanted Forest. It’s one of the few places you can go heli-skiing right from the parking lot, and experience the back side of James Peak. Of course there are also 5 lifts (including a poma lift servicing Cobabe Canyon) and several day lodges offering on mountain basics such as burgers, fries and chili.
For deep blue cruisers, lots of vertical and more luxurious amenities, Snowbasin Resort offers jaw dropping scenery reminiscent of Switzerland and lots of great back country terrain. Host of the downhill events during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Snowbasin offers skiers and boarders serious bragging rights to the two famous Downhill courses, Grizzly and Wildflower. With double eight- passenger gondolas and the Olympic Tram, Snowbasin consistently wins polls for the best lifts in the nation. Three ultra-luxe day lodges, two of which sit above 9,000 ft., offer wonderful food, thick carpeting to soothe your aching feet, and truly the nicest on-slope bathrooms in the world.
Wolf Creek Utah Ski Resort, though tiny in comparison to the others, is an affordable option for those just learning, wanting to warm up their legs on arrival days or get in a couple of final hours prior to departure. It’s got a good number of runs, several of which are quite steep and a parent-friendly attitude and altitude. It boasts Utah’s largest night skiing operation, making it popular amongst teens and families. It’s got a lot of local history, having been called Nordic Valley until the 21st century.
If skiing or boarding aren’t on the agenda, there’s miles of groomed cross country and skate skiing at both Snowbasin and North Fork Park, and with all the open space you’ll find here, its easy to strap on a pair of snowshoes and trek just about anywhere. Those preferring the power of engines can find 160+ miles of groomed snowmobiling trails in the Monte Cristo area, just 10 miles east of Huntsville. Several operators also offer sleigh rides, and ice fishing on Pineview Reservoir is a big local pastime.