As a closing frontier of Utah ski resorts, Snowbasin stays accessible for novices

Utah claims to have the “biggest snow on Earth” — the state even trademarked the phrase. That is fairly a status to dwell as much as, so I needed to place it to the check by snowboarding there for the primary time this winter.

After learning how to ski in Massachusetts’ Berkshires final yr at age 31, I used to be wanting to strive snowboarding once more. I used to be itching to hit the slopes out West for the reason that snow there (as Utah proudly proclaims) is normally higher than what you will discover at East Coast resorts.

With the promise of beginner-friendly terrain, a unbelievable season of snow, proximity to Salt Lake Metropolis Worldwide Airport (SLC) and plentiful transportation choices that meant I may skip renting a automobile, I settled on Snowbasin Resort.

Here is what you’ll want to know in the event you determine to go to Snowbasin in Utah.

Spectacular terrain with out the crowds


One of many largest ski resorts within the U.S., Snowbasin has over 3,000 acres of slopes and skiable terrain, and it sometimes sees wonderful snowfall. Nonetheless, Snowbasin stays lesser identified than a few of Utah’s greater, flashier resorts, comparable to Park Metropolis Mountain and Deer Valley Resort.

Whereas it is primarily a locals’ mountain, widespread with day-trippers from close by Ogden, Snowbasin additionally participates within the Ikon Pass. For cross holders planning to hit a number of ski resorts in Utah, it is a fantastic add-on vacation spot.

The draw back for some vacationers is that the bottom space is extra restricted when it comes to lodging and après-ski enjoyable.

You will not discover upscale ski-in, ski-out motels, fancy eating places or white glove providers. However for snow sports activities purists, that is additionally a part of its attraction. I used to be going to hit the slopes to enhance my turns, not keep up all night time at a mountainside occasion, so the dearth of an off-piste scene did not bother me. I used to be centered on the snow, and this yr was among the many greatest in latest reminiscence.

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Taylor Hartman, Go to Ogden’s director of promoting and communications, instructed me that on the time of my go to in early March, close by Brighton Resort and Alta Ski Space had lately surpassed final yr’s snowfall. The latter boasts the very best snowpack on the planet this season at more than 640 inches.

Snowbasin, which normally will get 300 inches yearly, has already crushed that common; it has amassed 448 inches to this point (and there are a lot extra powder days within the forecast). With the 2022-2023 season extending to April 23, Snowbasin is a good choice for spring snowboarding. I used to be positive it might be the best vacation spot for my second-ever ski journey.

Newbie pleasant on- and off-piste

I used to be invited on this journey as a visitor of Snowbasin and Go to Ogden, and as I approached the ski resort — which sits 43 miles north of downtown Salt Lake Metropolis and has 3,000 vertical toes of terrain — it appeared intimidating. All of the extra so since there are solely 10 “simple” runs marked inexperienced throughout the resort’s 111 trails. Nonetheless, I managed to navigate the handful of trails I tried.

What’s extra, I did not have to fret concerning the hordes of out-of-town guests at different close by resorts, comparable to Park Metropolis Mountain Resort and Deer Valley.

As a substitute, the group appeared like a low-key mixture of locals having fun with snowboarding, snowboarding and chowing down at Snowbasin’s cache of informal eating institutions.

There was a way of native pleasure, camaraderie and neighborhood, which was evident aboard the Utah Transit Authority’s Ski Bus 675. I took this bus again to the Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Ogden after my first time out. For $5 one-way (paid by way of money or the UTA app), non-season cross holders can experience the ski bus between twenty first Avenue in Ogden and Snowbasin from December to March.

The bus is only one manner the resort goals to extend accessibility to snowboarding. Past offering simple and inexpensive transportation between Ogden and the mountain, Snowbasin gives ample beginner-friendly terrain and studying packages so guests of all ages and talent ranges can benefit from the powder.

The second time’s the appeal

My two half-day classes had been complimentary as a result of I used to be a visitor of the resort. Nonetheless, half-day (three-hour) private lessons at Snowbasin usually run $549, whereas an all-day (seven-hour lesson) prices $899. All-day group lessons are $219. Or, for simply $70 extra, you should buy an all-inclusive package deal with a full-day group lesson, raise ticket and kit rental.

For comparability, Park Metropolis Mountain Resort prices $215 for a half-day group ski lesson however is far more costly for personal classes ($1,249 for a full day and $929 for a three-hour session).

As I ready for my first day, I requested Kayla McFarland, Snowbasin’s communications supervisor, concerning the problem of the terrain and which trails would possibly go well with a newbie like me. She instructed me that “greens are all over the place.” Whereas that is technically true, whether or not Snowbasin is taken into account beginner-friendly relies on whom you ask.


Once I first instructed those that I used to be going snowboarding at Snowbasin, some — together with Jack O’Connor, a Salt Lake Metropolis resident, avid skier and brother of my buddy, Erin O’Connor, who tagged alongside on this journey — had been shocked that it was our mountain of selection for a second-ever ski journey.

Erin O’Connor of Chicago and Jack O’Connor and Hannah Altenburg of Salt Lake Metropolis. CAROLINE TANNER/THE POINTS GUY

“Once you instructed me you had been studying to ski in Utah, I used to be shocked to listen to Snowbasin, given the resort’s terrain and degree of problem, that are wonderful for the intermediate to expert-level skier,” he stated. “You may discover a scarcity of newbie terrain selection, as almost all the resort’s handful of inexperienced runs are clustered across the mountain’s base.”

Snowbasin gives 4 ski areas in all, although: Needles, John Paul, Porcupine and Strawberry. Of those spots, Needles is the one one with entry to the inexperienced runs, whereas the opposite areas vary in difficulty from intermediate to expert. Regardless that there aren’t a ton of inexperienced runs, they’re large, which makes for much less visitors, and there are a whole lot of groomers.

My buddy and I spent most of our first lesson on Littlecat, Snowbasin’s beginner-friendly bunny hill raise. Tomoko Shimbo — our teacher, an expert velocity skier initially from Tokyo — patiently assessed our talent degree, focusing totally on mastering wedge versus parallel stance and large turns.

As I stated, I am nonetheless studying.

After Shimbo (graciously) deemed us “naturals,” we progressed to Littlecat Terrain Park, the place our success at remaining upright and shifting within the right course fortunately continued.

In contrast to at Jiminy Peak (the situation of my first-ever ski journey), I did not fall exiting the raise. That was an enormous win for me, as I beforehand discovered hopping off the raise to be essentially the most troublesome a part of snowboarding. The truth is, on the finish of my first day in Snowbasin, I had solely fallen as soon as.

I used to be wanting ahead to the following day much more. With a venti further shot iced latte in hand, I seemed round at my fellow passengers on the ski bus and began chatting with a ski teacher, Jason, who requested to be recognized by his first title solely.


“Snowbasin gives an enormous selection in snowboarding whereas being much less crowded,” Jason stated. Snowbasin has two “magic carpets,” rubber tracks that may make it easier to dismount the lifts extra simply, Jason added. Shimbo met us once more that morning and put in an excellent phrase for us with our new ski trainer for the day, Jacey Davis. Davis is a former stay-at-home mother who turned an teacher 5 years in the past after studying to ski the earlier yr.

“Rising up in Utah, I solely went snowboarding as soon as in highschool and was so scared, I wedged all the time,” Davis recalled. Wedging, often known as “pizza-ing,” is a braking and turning approach taught in newbie snowboarding. I primarily relied on this technique to cease throughout my first ski journey.

After a lot instruction from Shimbo and Davis, I superior to “French frying,” or positioning my skis parallel (like two French fries) to maneuver ahead.

Throughout seven runs up and down Littlecat and two by way of its terrain park, Davis walked us by way of a couple of technical workouts. Then, she steered we head to the Becker path and descend by way of Slo Highway and Bear Hole. The extra superior terrain was intimidating, however I felt higher after Davis instructed me, “I believe you are able to do it, Caroline.” She additionally jogged my memory that “any path could be gentle if you understand how to cease.”

Buoyed by the boldness of Davis and my mates, we headed up Needles by way of the Becker raise. That is the place my unfavourable self-talk kicked in proper on cue, and I promptly began sweating regardless of the chilly.

Caroline considering getting again up after falling. CAROLINE TANNER/THE POINTS GUY

All through the raise’s dizzying 18-minute climb, I turned to Davis a number of instances to ask if I may take it again down quite than snowboarding. She instructed me we may however inspired me to carry off on deciding till we had been on the prime and had gotten off the raise so I may assess the state of affairs.

After we disembarked at Becker, I seemed down the 1,200-foot slope. Noting my concern, Davis tried to consolation me, saying, “No hill is steep with turns.” So long as I may cease and switch, issues can be OK.

Earlier than we continued, she instructed me to take a second and go searching at the great thing about the recent snow on the mountain, which was coming down robust. There was newly fallen snow on Snowbasin’s trails, and I used to be studying to ski on recent powder for the primary time.

Davis walked us by way of each twist and switch our descent would take, every phrase protecting me calm and strengthening my resolve to tackle this problem. In spite of everything, she can be with me for each swish, as would my mates.

Taking it slowly and simply, the primary two-thirds of our chute down the mountain went off with out a hitch, although I received a little bit nervous once we arrived at Bear Hole, and a number of other trails converged.

“You had been doing nice, however all the opposite skiers and snowboarders whizzing by spooked you a little bit bit,” Davis instructed me afterward. “You stated, ‘I believe I’m going to fall,’ after which a couple of turns later, you probably did.”

It seems snowboarding is perhaps thoughts over matter — at the least, that is the way it appears to be for me.

It is also about understanding your personal limits. After a couple of (fortunately innocent) falls and persevering with heavy snowfall that restricted visibility, I made a decision to stroll the remainder of the way in which all the way down to the underside. Davis instructed me that, had the climate been a little bit higher, I may have made all of it the way in which down. Nonetheless, I used to be glad with the progress I might made in two days.

Pricing and IKON Move

As with most ski resorts, it is most cost-effective to buy Snowbasin lift tickets upfront. Grownup tickets (ages 13 to 64) price $135 per weekday and $175 on weekends and holidays if you are going to buy on-line instantly from the resort at the least seven days upfront. Adults can even buy two-day tickets for $265 through the week and $305 on weekends and holidays.

Ikon Pass holders with the total Ikon Move or the Ikon Base Plus can use the cross to ski for 5 to seven days at Snowbasin (relying on the cross), with relevant blackout dates for the Base Plus cross.

Accessibility for brand spanking new skiers

Regardless that Snowbasin options principally intermediate to superior terrain, it might nonetheless be an excellent mountain for brand spanking new skiers to be taught on. It even options the award-winning Learn and Earn Program, which breaks down limitations to the game (like price and geographical limitations) for first-time skiers.

Aimed primarily at locals, the three-year program teams members by age and supplies them with classes, leases and kit for yr one at a set worth as soon as they full three full-day classes.

For the primary yr, group members get one lesson plus leases and kit for the season; the second yr contains three classes, leases and a season cross. Though you need to lease the gear, you finally get to maintain it on the finish of the season for the retail worth. The third yr contains one full-day lesson together with a season cross.

For the 2022-2023 season, the worth per individual to take part in this system was $799, and costs for the following season shall be obtainable in early April.

Although it is solely a three-year program, Snowbasin hopes it turns folks new to the game into lifelong fans.

“It is a pathway towards progress and love of snowboarding,” McFarland stated.

In fact, I didn’t take part in Study and Earn, however on the finish of my two days, Snowbasin nonetheless felt accessible for a brand new skier like me. Its pleasant instructors helped me understand I may do greater than I assumed, whatever the doubts inside my head.

Plus, the welcoming, relaxed attitudes of instructors and different mountain goers make Snowbasin appear much less intimidating than at first look.

A snug, low-key vibe

In contrast to many ski mountains within the West, Snowbasin has been family-owned since 1984. Although there isn’t any on-site lodging, there are many locations to fulfill your urge for food after a day on the slopes.

I stayed on the Hampton Inn & Suites in Ogden, a couple of 30-minute drive from each Snowbasin and Salt Lake Metropolis. Ogden is an inexpensive, handy place to remain for Snowbasin entry. The lodge provided a snug place to sleep in an fascinating neighborhood close to the city’s Historic 25th Street.

Ogden is a small city that Hartman describes as a “railroad city that by no means stopped working.”

“Steakhouses are a dime a dozen in Ogden,” he stated. “It’s positively a cowboy city.”

Although we didn’t observe any cowboys or hit up any steakhouses throughout our two-day keep, there have been loads of eating places and bars inside strolling distance of our lodge, together with breweries, a number of Thai eateries and occasional retailers.

The locals exuded pleasant vibes. Ogden has lengthy attracted creatives and artists. Extra lately, it has additionally attracted techies from Salt Lake Metropolis and elsewhere who relocated through the pandemic seeking a decrease price of dwelling and simpler mountain entry.

Snowbasin Resort itself has two sit-down eating places, three quick-service lodges and a slopeside spot serving consolation classics like pizza and burgers.

My mates and I dined at Cinnabar, which gives brunch and lunch; the menu options informal bites comparable to Bavarian pretzels, biscuits and gravy, fries with fry sauce (a mayo- and ketchup-based Utah specialty) and nachos. There have been additionally different eclectic dishes like potato-crusted salmon, and bangers and mash.

Relying on the place you eat, you will pay anyplace from $7 to $22 per dish.

Although the meals was tasty, the decor stood out essentially the most. Uncovered timber beams, stone masonry and dramatic chandeliers create the ambiance of a traditional ski resort.

Whereas it is not the number of eating places you’d discover in a higher-end ski resort like Park Metropolis or Vail, Snowbasin’s meals is accessible and inexpensive. To not point out, you will not must combat for a seat at a desk.

The way forward for Snowbasin

My latest go to to Snowbasin additionally confirmed how ski resorts throughout the U.S. and the world are dealing with local weather change.

“All the West is drying up, and we’re within the midst of a drought that began in 2005,” Hartman of Go to Ogden instructed me throughout my go to. “However on the flip facet, local weather change could make an enormous snow dump as soon as each three years, as we have seen this yr. The dry air makes the snow lighter and fluffier.”

Utah Governor Spencer Cox most lately acknowledged this fast decline in water in his fiscal year 2024 budget request, proposing utilizing $133 million to deal with Nice Salt Lake points and almost $218 million for statewide water conservation and provide administration. Noticeably, there isn’t any point out of ski resorts within the 188-page price range define. However a shrinking Nice Salt Lake and drastically fluctuating yearly climate patterns could severely compromise the “biggest snow on Earth.”

Nonetheless, locals are banking on its capability to draw skiers and different vacationers for years to come back.

Utah is at present bidding to host its second Winter Olympics for the 2030 video games. If it is profitable, some occasions will doubtless be held at Snowbasin, bringing much more consideration and curiosity to the realm.

Backside line

They are saying getting again up after falling is the toughest a part of snowboarding, and I can attest to that after this journey. Placing one ski again on whereas dealing with uphill on an incline, then finding my poles a number of yards farther down the slope was no simple feat. However after my second ski journey, I am much more hooked than after I got here house from my first.

Whereas I nonetheless had loads of falls, I really feel extra assured on my skis, and I’m wanting to discover extra of Snowbasin in addition to the West’s different well-known ski resorts.

I am already waiting for my subsequent ski journey, which I hope shall be someplace in Colorado, because it appears to be a proper of passage for skiers. I’ve Snowbasin to thank for that enhance in my self-confidence.

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