Snow Basin, Utah

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Published September 2000. This article does not reflect any lift upgrades or terrain expansions since then.

Terrain Difficulty

Yellow

Black

Red

Blue

Green

Var. Index

Snow Basin

4%

24%

34%

34%

4%

55.0

Snow Basin has tripled in size to over 3,000 acres in preparation for hosting the 2002 Olympic downhill and super G events. The old ski area is now the middle of three bowls dropping 2,500 vertical to the east of the Wasatch crest near Ogden, Utah. The Strawberry Express Gondola services wide open intermediate terrain south of the old area. To the north is the John Paul Express chair, which services the Olympic runs and several hundred acres of advanced to expert glades.

Relatively few ski areas have the continuous fall lines of 2,800+ vertical required for an Olympic downhill, and the contrast is noticeable compared to the Park City areas which host the other alpine events. While Snow Basinís base infrastructure is still under construction, major league ski facilities are ready for skiers to enjoy now.

 

Lift Serviced

Season

Percent

Percent

Average

Snow Conditions

Altitude

Season

Standard

High Mths

Low Mths

Maximum

Direction of Exposure

Range

Average

Deviation

GE 90 in.

LT 30 in.

Base Depth

North

East

West

South

Snow Basin, Utah 7,700

6,400-9,350

330

82

12%

20%

N/A

25%

53%

1%

21%

While Snow Basinís terrain may be more like the Cottonwood Canyon areas, snow conditions are quite similar to the Park City group. Snowfall is higher, but the low base elevation and the predominant east exposure detract from snow preservation and spring conditions are common in Utahís warm weather. In 1998-99 and 1999-2000 Snow Basin did not open until Jan. 20. New snowmaking will prevent such delayed openings in the future. Nonetheless, like the Park City region conditions will be best in the core of the season, mid-January to mid-March.

Snow Basin is exposed to winds coming over the Wasatch Crest in storms. The Olympic Tram could close, but there is still 2,400 vertical of skiing below it on the John Paul Express. The Strawberry Express Gondola goes to the top of the ridge, so the entire Strawberry sector can close in the strongest storms.

 

Terrain Type:

Cruising: Snow Basin rivals Deer Valley for Utahís best cruising terrain, though few areas can match Deer Valleyís meticulous grooming. There are continuous fall lines over 2,000 vertical in all 3 bowls, with the Olympic runs being the steepest.

Moguls: Skier density is still low enough that lengthy mogul runs are rare. There are short bump sections near the top of Middle Bowl and Strawberry Express. The expert John Paul runs cover a broad area near the top but funnel into some mogul fields farther down.

Steeps: The steepest open terrain is on the north side of De Moisy Peak, accessed from the Strawberry Express. The most direct traverse brings you to a well-sheltered chute under the peak. Traverse behind the peak to reach the more open bowl. The Olympic Tram accesses a few steep chutes on Allenís Peak.

 

Wide Open Spaces: Unlike many ski resorts, the open terrain is more intermediate than expert. The Strawberry Express area has just scattered trees, so you can ski pretty much anywhere in the right snow conditions. To far skierís right is Moonshine Bowl, a gully forming a natural halfpipe for several hundred vertical.

 

Trees: The more advanced John Paul side is forested starting right below the Olympic Tram. However, trees are adequately spaced for skiing on most of No Name and Allenís Peaks. The tree skiing is also good between the trails of Middle Bowl and Porcupine in the original ski area. Overall, the glade skiing here and at nearby Powder Mt. is the best in Utah.

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Powder: Snow Basin is a worthwhile option for those wishing to avoid the intense competition for powder in the Cottonwood Canyons. Strawberryís open terrain is ideal for learning powder, while the steep glades of No Name and Allenís Peaks will delight more experienced powderhounds.

Snowfall is more uniform than in the Park City region, where it declines drastically near the base facilities. However, skiers should watch temperatures closely, as the snow can set up quickly after a storm with the sunny exposure and low base elevation. If weather is questionable, Powder Mt. (though only 1/3 the size of Snow Basin) can be a better choice, as it gets more snow and has a much higher base elevation.

 

Hiking and Backcountry: There are a few hiking opportunities above the lifts to reach some short but very steep couloirs on De Moisy and Allenís Peaks. There are some tempting backcountry lines visible from the top of the Olympic Tram, but youíll have to climb back up anything you ski.

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Crowds: Business has picked up since the expansion, but not enough to create lift lines, even on weekends. Skier density is very low. Snow Basin will undoubtedly attract more visitors with the Olympic publicity and upcoming resort infrastructure. However, the one hour plus drive from Salt Lake is substantially longer than to either Park City or the Cottonwood Canyons. We therefore expect Snow Basin to remain an attractive area for those wanting to avoid crowds.

 

Intermediates: Snow Basin is an excellent area for intermediates, both for the long groomed runs and the unintimidating off-piste terrain in Strawberry Bowl.

Novices: Snow Basin is not an ideal first-timerís area, with the few flat runs being near the base. There is plenty of variety once a skier can handle a few blue runs.

 

There is currently no on-mountain lodging, but there will be some by 2002. In 2000 the only food and restroom facilities were at the original base area. A planned restaurant on Strawberry Express will be welcome as the skiing is often best there midday. From Salt Lake, access to Snow Basin is via the Trapperís Loop road from I-84. For 2001 a new access road from the top of Trapper's Loop shortens the drive by about 15 minutes.