Reliable, powdery snow. That's why flocks of people head to Salt Lake City every winter (more than 100" already this season)--to chase powder. There are 14 resorts to ski, I want to make sure you pick the right spot for your family. This is my advice on how to ski Snowbird.
Since there's so much to cover, we're going to split this review into two: Snow Fun and Off Mountain fun at Snowbird. Read the off-mountain post here.
First, let's get this out of the way. What makes Snowbird special? You come for the snow and you stay for the vibe. Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains is blessed with reliable snow of the most divine kind--powder that just lets your skis glide over it.
I've skied a lot of places in Utah, and there's something about the way these folks embrace and revere the outdoors that stands out. They are incredible stewards of the land and of the ski industry. I've seen a lot of companies in the ski business. I can sniff out those who are just in if for big bucks and those who are in it for the love of the snow. Snowbird is the spot for purists.
Families who love to ski will feel right at home here. It's a spot to celebrate the outdoors and to create incredible family moments.
You'll feel right away that Snowbird is not a part of a HUGE ski company. The resort opened in 1971 and remains true to the independent spirit of its founders. You'll find fancier resorts, but you're unlikely to find better snow. They get over 500' of snow a year on average (and in 2011 they scored 690' of snow) making it a great spot to trust your family vacation.
My advice: This isn't the resort for families that want to try skiing the first time. Once you're hooked on skiing, this is where you come.
Learning and Growing
We've established that this isn't a beginner resort, but what if you've got a mix? Some newbies and some powder hounds in your family? Well, Snowbird has a great snow sports school to help everyone grow into the sport.
Mom, maybe this is the year you get out of the lodge and onto the slopes, sign on for the "beginner special"--you'll get a 2.5 hour lesson, lift ticket and rentals for $125 (that's a steal). Lessons start at 9:45am or 1:15pm. Drop the kids and go! Another option is the Adult Mountain Workshop--for a maximum of four people per instructor. Rate = $125 for 2.5 hours.
I am always trying to improve my skiing. I started when I was in my 30s and still have a long way to go. Snowbird has a fantastic program for adults and kids alike. I'm always encouraging moms to jump in an adult program.
Snowbird also offers adult ski camps. I think the Women’s Ski Camp looks awesome. You'll get 3 or 4 days of coaching and tons of girl power.
For the kiddos, they'll start at Chickadee Ski. The kids need to be potty trained and "willing" to start. For $215, you get a full day of fun including snacks, lunch, indoor activities, ski equipment rentals and an hour of instruction. Bigger kids (ages 4-6) ski or ride in groups of 3 to each instructor. There is also a group for kids 7-12 and one for teens.
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Momtrends tip: Make a day without lesson-free at the end of your trip. The great joy of skiing is being together on the lift.
The school is located in Snowbird Center, level three (get more details firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-947-8222)
Bottom Line: Things are getting better for beginners. I'm excited about the options that are coming to Snowbird for those who only ski greens. They are investing in renovating the Creekside Lodge and expanding the beginner terrain. Right now it's fairly disjointed. The remodeling will provide new opportunities for beginners including a 500-foot magic carpet providing easy access to beginner terrain from Creekside. You should note, ALL the beginner terrain is down low.
Sometimes the kids don't want to ski, that's ok too. There's Camp Snowbird to keep them busy. The first rule at Camp Snowbird is FUN! Activities include music, movement, arts and crafts and more. There is also in-room babysitting.
If you don't need lessons, you can start your day right from Cliff Lodge. From the Cliff Lodge, you can get your ski legs on skiing the Chickadee lift and run (this lift will also bring you back home to the Cliff at the end of the day). You can grab lift tickets and rentals there. Or you can get a shuttle over to the TRAM plaza. When we go West, we normally rent skis--the equipment you'll find is terrific. Splurge for demo rentals. The team at Christy Sports were incredibly helpful to match the skis to your ability and the terrain.
One of the best part of being a ski mom is seeing your child become a strong skier and surpass your skills. Well, that's happened. Our girls are now both comfortable on blacks and bumps, They can ski just about anything. It was exhilarating taking them up the Aerial Tram and watching them rip down Regulator Johnson. I couldn't get enough of this route--the awe-inspiring views from the tram and then ripping down the groomed black. It's steep, but worth the work.
The tram holds 80 or so people--it moves you up, up, up the mountain fast. If you're lucky you'll nab a spot by the windows. The good news--with the people loaded on you'll stay warm and make new friends. TIP: If you can't make it down blacks, don't worry, just take the tram up and down for the views. You can also get lunch at the Summit Lodge (more on that to come).
After that, ski to the Gad Lift and spend the day running the blues and blacks--there's so much to work with. There are a lot of glades and bowls to check out too--we are usually there in early season when they aren't 100% open yet. I can attest you won't get bored here even with a week to ski.
Snowbird By the Numbers
Skiable Acres: 2500
Beginner Terrain 27% easiest
Intermediate Terrain 38% more difficult
Advanced Terrain 35% most difficult
Longest run: Chip'd Run 2.5 miles (4.0 km)
Lifts: 11 (with one tram)
What brings families and "snowbirds' back every year? Snowbird keeps investing in what they do best, getting folks up the hill and on the snow. They spend a bundle on snow making every year.
Check back soon for off-mountain fun at Snowbird. Head here to plan your Snowbird vacation www.snowbird.com
For more ski fun check out our 2016/17 Ski Guide.
Accommodations were made by Snowbird to facilitate this review. Many of the experiences we paid for on our own. All photos are property of Momtrends.