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Utah Travel Headlines

Monday, November 22, 2010

More Ski Resorts Open, More Snow, More Great Reviews

Four Utah ski resorts are scheduled to open this week, in time for the big Thanksgiving weekend. Snowbasin will open Thursday. The Canyons, Powder Mountain and Wolf Creek are scheduled to open on Friday. Six resorts are already open.

Heavy snow over the weekend. Alta now has a 59 inch base, with 22 inches of new snow in the past 48 hours. Another storm is expected tomorrow, and forecasters say it may be bigger than the one last one. All of our resorts should have excellent early-season conditions.

Avalanche danger is high in the backcountry. Avalanche control work eliminates that danger in developed ski resorts and along maintained highways. Use extreme caution if you probe into the backcountry, in into out-of-bounds areas adjacent to ski resorts. says Utah is the "2011 coolest ski destination." In this article written for Europeans, the website gives tips and insights. Below are excerpts:

It would take a lot more than pictures of wide, empty slopes and promises of “great snow” to lure me to North America. After all, aren’t the resorts big and soulless? I expected the ski resort equivalent of a shopping mall.

I resisted the hype until I saw it for myself — it is quite a stretch to expect people to invest in a skiing holiday in the States, braving the seven-hour time difference all in the hope that the meteorologists are right. But whenever I asked more devoted skiers, they kept burbling on about the snow — the snow! Some witchery about arctic air and Pacific water forming storms that sweep in, hit the Wasatch mountain range, then, in the dry conditions of the Salt Lake basin, dump large symmetrical flakes on to the waiting slopes.

I was wrong to be such a ski snob. The resorts were far from soulless whether you paid more to stay in the high-end spots or whether you travelled daily from the state capital Salt Lake City (there are 13 resorts, most less than an hour away by car). The grid-shaped former Olympic city and the home of Mormonism may not be a beauty but it has hidden flair and its location is splendid.

Once I was on those slopes, I betrayed the Alps in a heartbeat. After three days of the faultless lifts, empty runs, Olympic-standard grooming and simply being dazzled by what looked like snow diamonds, the clouds drew in, the temperature dropped and I braced myself for some Wasatch mischief.

It took one blustery day, then it was as if a switch had been flicked and down came the flakes, as promised, large, light and dry. For once the bumper stickers weren’t lying: the snow was the best I’ve tried. The transatlantic journey was well worth the effort.

Deer Valley: If you wanted to experience the antithesis of the worst excesses of the European resorts, this is it. There is no music blaring out on the slopes, valets take your skis, the grooming is so good that you feel as though you’re on icing sugar — I had to stop myself from going off-piste just to taste it. The only queues are for the first-class restaurant in the Stein Eriksen lodge. Snowboards are banned. It is exclusive, a little elitist, with a price tag to match.

Snowbird/Alta: Two resorts, linked by a gate, combine to outdo their cousins with 4,700 acres of terrain. Get a combined pass and you will see the two faces of the different resorts. With their dramatic peaks, compared with the rounded ones of the others, they have an alpine air — reinforced in Alta, with its chalet-style lodges and its ski area...

Sundance: Robert Redford’s playground and home to his film institute, this is the most beautiful of the resorts that I saw. The ski area is much smaller, but staying in this nature reserve at the base of Mount Timpanogos is as dreamlike as Redford wished when he bought the land in 1969.

The Canyons: A giant resort in the land of huge proportions. Nine mountain peaks, 4,000 acres, 182 trails, an eight-passenger gondola — technically superb (although watch out for your calves as you board the Golden Eagle lift).

All the resorts are less than an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City.


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