In the land of the Greatest Snow on Earth® ski resorts could just sit around and wait for winter to bring local and destination skiers to the liftlines. However, that doesn’t happen here in Utah. When the lifts stop in spring – or in summer – work gets started in some way and to some degree at all 14 ski resorts to improve the Utah skiing experience.
It’s been 10 years since the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics welcomed the world to the Greatest Snow on Earth® and every year Utah’s skier visits grow, but with all that awesome terrain it never feels crowded and you always feel welcome. I’ve skied in a lot of states and countries, but I choose Utah as my second home because nowhere else are 14 world-class ski resorts so accessible to a vacationing family of skiers and riders. There are even reported adventures of people skiing all 14 Utah resorts in one day!
I’m happy to be able to take a bus to three world-class resorts in Park City and have the opportunity to commute to a bunch more. Welcome to the land of the Greatest Snow On Earth® and here’s what you’ll find new and exciting for the 2011-12 winter season.
Park City Area
- A look at what’s new has to start with congrats to Deer Valley, well deservedly being named the SKI magazine #1 ski resort in North America for an unprecedented 5th year in a row – attention to detail and anticipating skiers needs doesn’t go unnoticed. This season at Deer Valley the focus is on new skiers and kids. The resort has redesigned the beginning/learning area on Wide West ski run and installed additional Sunkid conveyor lifts. You’ll also find a new children’s clothing retail outlet in the Snow Park Lodge.
- For the 2011-2012 season Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) has put $7 million dollars into making the mountain more family-friendly – that’s on top of PCMR being named this year’s SKI mag’s best area to ski with your kids. New this winter is a dedicated learning zone equipped with two new conveyor lifts. Improvements to the terrain park experience are capped with the overhauling of 3 Kings lift – doubling skier and rider-carrying capacity. During the summer I enjoyed watching some experts push a lot of dirt around to enable the resort to open the 22-foot Eagle Superpipe even earlier in the season.
- The Canyons Resort completed the first phase of the resort’s refurbishment. Iron Mountain is open adding over 300 acres of great skiing with a new lift for easy access. Another more high profile new lift that I ride a lot is the Orange Bubble quad a really comfortable ride complimented by heated seats. At the base area the completely remodeled ski-beach area accents a number of new restaurants including The Farm. Also this season, Canyons will offer heli-skiing from the resort in partner with Wasatch Powderbird Guides.
Little Cottonwood Canyon
- Nowadays it seems a lot of small ski areas have gotten a rash of big mountain envy demanding to be referred to as ski ‘resorts.’ That’s not the case with Alta – ‘ski area’ works just fine – but there’s nothing small time about Alta. The resort holds a well deserved reputation as a haven for experts seeking the steep and deep but Alta really does have a gentler side and now they have regraded Corkscrew run, easing the pitch and making it a true blue run from top to bottom.
- With the work completed on The Cliff Spa and the 10th floor Aerie Restaurant, Snowbird’s Flagship hotel, The Cliff Lodge, has completed a total remodel. Besides introducing new programs for youths and adults, the resort’s mountain school is implementing the Flaik system and equipment, so children and parents can track the terrain and vertical feet they cover via the on-mountain GPS system. The Flaik system is also great safety tool monitoring the kids and alerting instructors if the kids stray more than a few feet. I’ve seen how it can put mom and dad at ease to enjoy their day. And implementing the system is a testament to Snowbird’s commitment to getting whole family skiing.
Big Cottonwood Canyon
- Happy 75th Anniversary wishes goes out to Brighton this season and you can be sure to find season long celebrations. At Brighton, kids 7 and under always ski or ride for free, and with special pricing for 8 -12 year olds it is easy to see why the resort is a Utah family favorite. This season there are snowmaking upgrades and new terrain park features and always a lot of the Greatest Snow On Earth® – Brighton averages 500 inches, but last season totaled over 700 inches. Family friendly and all that pow!
- The big news at Solitude this season you can’t see but you’ll certainly know it’s there – free Wi-Fi throughout all of pedestrian-only Solitude Village. This provides a great way for families and friends to stay connected through social media and Smartphone tools. Also in the village, you’ll find The Thirsty Squirrel has expanded and will feature live music.
- Snowbasin will again host the winter Dew Tour (February 9-12) and has been arranging the dirt base during the summer to increase the efficiency of building the resort’s 22-foot Dew Tour regulation halfpipe. In addition, two new additional snowcats have been added to Snowbasin’s already extensive grooming fleet.
- Powder Mountain is big, 3,000 acres of lift served skiing plus 4,000 acres of snowcat accessible terrain. This season the resort will be expanding their single-ride snowcat terrain by 50 percent with the addition of 350 skiable acres and an additional snowcat. You’ll also find newly gladed terrain for tree skiing.
- Ready for 2011-2012 season Wolf Creek has replaced the cable on the 2,700-foot long Wolfdeedo lift, improved a handful of the ski runs, added additional snowmaking machines and improved some of the physical features of the lodge. The resort’s entire 112 acres are lit for night skiing and a 12 hour adult day/night ticket breaks out to less than $3 per hour of skiing.
- This season at Sundance Resort you will find the resort has added more features, new lighting to the terrain park and moved it to a location that allows it to remain open during night skiing operations. Sundance is also expanding its pass options this winter to include both a 5-punch and 10-punch pass in addition to the All Seasons Pass.
- For the 2011-12 season, Brian Head Resort has debuted a new web site, added the new Chair 9 Deli & Pub, readied real-time snow alert texting options and has expanded its demo and high-performance rental packages. All this is in anticipation of the new United Express nonstop flight between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and the new St. George Airport (SGU), only a 90-minute drive to Brian Head, which will provides easier access to the resort.
- As Utah’s newest ski resort, Eagle Point has added 200 additional skiable acres of tree skiing and steeps for its second season. You will also find new amenities to the Canyonside Lodge – an outdoor hot tub garden and spa services.