Dissecting Snowbasin, Utah’s Secrets and Treasures. . . .

Snowbasin LogoSnowbasin is one of Utah’s premiere resorts. For decades it has been a favorite resort for many locals and vacationers from around the world. After the 2002 Olympic men’s and women’s downhill were hosted at Snowbasin, the resort was forever changed. From new gondolas to new lodges. Snowbasin went from a locals favorite to a world class resort. Whether you want to carve the smoothest groomers, shred the steepest lines, find endless powder runs, or spend time relaxing and eating at some of the most scenic lodges in Utah. If you are looking for an all-around resort. Snowbasin should be the next place to spend a weekend or a week at.

Snowbasin, or better known locally as “Basin,” has been my resort of choice for the past 3 years. And after 3 years and hundreds of runs later, you learn or thing or two about how to make the most out of your day at Snowbasin. So for those of you who have no idea what to expect when you get to Snowbasin, let me inform you on some of the best spots where you will definitely make your day memorable. So for starters lets talk about the top 3 on-piste runs at Snowbasin:

#3  Porcupine Trail: This run is one of my personal favorites. It takes you to some of the more unique areas of the mountain. It also features one of the steeper areas at Snowbasin. I would recommend this for anyone who likes a steep groomer and who loves to go fast. Take the Needles Gondola lift. Once at the top, go skiers left onto Strawberry Traverse. Look for Sweet Revenge on skiers left. Stay left and go skiers left onto Porcupine Traverse. Once on Porcupine Traverse it’s a straight shot onto the Porcupine groomer. Clench your cheeks because this run is fast.

#2 Main Street Trail: This run is featured off the Strawberry Gondola lift. It is one of the longest runs at Snowbasin. This is a fun run for an end of the day cruiser. There is a steep section at the top but the rest of the run stays fairly mellow with some steeper sections towards the bottom. I recommend this for anyone trying to avoid the crowds. Also for someone who likes a wide open groomer with little to no traffic. The only downside to skiing Strawberry is there is no real lodge to rest in. So you have to return to Needles at any of the trails that return to the base area. Take Needles Gondola lift to the top. Take Strawberry Traverse to Main Street. Follow Main Street down to Strawberry Gondola lift. Once at the top go skiers left and ski right onto Main Street.

Strawberry Gondola#1 Sweet Revenge Trail: This is a classic run that never ceases to amaze. There are many steep sections for the skiers who like to go fast, but also features mellow sections which are perfect for the up and coming skier. So for anyone looking for the most scenic and the most fun groomed run on the entire mountain Sweet Revenge is your run. Take Needles Gondola lift to the top. Take Strawberry Traverse to Sweet Revenge which will be on skiers left. Then the rest is up for you to enjoy.

Now the on-piste may be fun for a warm up run. But what about the off-piste? There is plenty of off-piste runs at Snowbasin. In fact there are so many good ones I will give you my top 5. So here they are:

#5 Philpot Ridge: Philpot Ridge offers quite a few different off-piste runs that will stash powder for days after the storm. Its steep enough to have fun and with all the trees your lines can be very creative. This quickly became one of my favorites when days after the storm, if you are willing to hike the ridge, you can still find untracked powder. It may not be the longest runs on the hill, but they are sure fun when you get to them. Take Needles Gondola lift to the top. Go skiers left onto Strawberry Traverse. Follow Strawberry Traverse until you come to a Y with Dan’s Run on your left and Main Street on your right. Go straight onto the ridge. Best skiing is on the north slope. Or traverse the entire ridge to the east slope and drop into a treeless bowl.

#4 Powderhound Bowl: Powderhound Bowl is a personal favorite of mine when there hasn’t been any snowfall for a long time. But its even better when it is snowing. I guarantee you will find trackless powder. Whether the gates are open to The Flank, or if you have to traverse through the trees and drop into a number of runs. The only downside is that these runs are painfully short. But if you are looking to get some deep powder shots days after a storm this is your place. Nothing quite compares to skiing this area on a bluebird day. The scenery is some of the best on the entire mountain. If the gates are open, don’t be afraid to hike up to The Flank and ski to your hearts desire. People dislike this area because it’s serviced by a slow triple chair. But if you are patient enough, then you will be rewarded. Take Needles Gondola to top. Follow signs to Porcupine Trail (as described earlier in the blog.) You will ski right under the Porcupine lift. Take lift to top. Go skiers right towards Powderhound Bowl. If gates are open to The Flank make sure you have your avalanche gear. If closed, either ski down the bowl or onto the ridge where there are various runs. Best skiing is on the north slope or traverse the entire ridge to the east slope.

John Paul Lodge#3 Pork Barrel to 119 to Wildcat Ridge Trail: Now these three trails hook up to give you some great open area skiing. Pork Barrel is a popular run serviced at the top of the Needles Gondola lift. If it’s a deep day and you are within the first 5 gondolas to the top. Pork Barrel is a must. Its steep and wide open. Once down Pork Barrel you will come to Porcupine Traverse. Follow this until you get to a Y where Porcupine Trail is on your left and Middle Bowl Traverse (or Porcupine Traverse, can’t quite remember) is on your right. Head straight onto what’s called 119. You can either hike up the hill and drop into a small bowl. Traverse around the side and hike up the second hill to ski into a small bowl. Or do any combination. There is also the option of skiing off the north slope of these bowls. There are so many options off 119 that you will be drooling with how creative you can be. If you are willing to put a little leg work in, this area is worth a couple runs. This is also one of the more scenic areas. Pick a bowl and ski it until you come across a groomer that will take you to Wildcat Ridge. The Wildcat Ridge lift is usually only run during the holidays. So these runs are usually untouched. It doesn’t matter which run you take you will find powder. There are some nice open trees on the north slope. Some steep sections on the south slope. And some long untracked runs on the south-east or eastern slopes. No matter what you will have a blast.

#2 Men’s Start to Grizzly Downhill, Wildflower Downhill, or John Paul: Take the John Paul Quad to the top. Then, if opened, take the Mt. Allen Peak tram. You will wind-up at the starting house of the Olympic men’s downhill event. This is the steepest area at Basin. But on a powder-day it is the most fun. It’s long, open, and fast. Now there are so many variations you can take off this trail. Whether you go down Grizzly or Wildflower you will find steep long powder lines. But my personal favorite is the John Paul face. This features a variety of areas, from just below the lodge, to the John Paul cliffs, to the open bowl of John Paul. Lots of people like taking the Grizzly Downhill or Wildflower Downhill because it’s the fastest way to get lots of powder turns in. But personally for the best playground on the mountain you have to ski the John Paul face and cliffs. This area features a vast size of cliffs from 5’ rock drops to 25’ cliffs. If you are creative you can stay at this zone all day and never get bored. Many would say this is the best area on the mountain and personally I would agree. It’s the steepest and some of the gnarliest terrain on the mountain. Its hard to think anything could beat it.

snowbasin flag#1 No Name Peak: This is Snowbasin’s money maker peak. It features the steepest tree powder skiing on the mountain. And it is a long, long way down. You should be carrying your avalanche gear when visiting No Name, for most of this area is not avalanche controlled and people have lost their lives in this area. But don’t let that deter you from trying this peak out. To get to it just take John Paul Quad to Mt. Allen Tram. Then head skiers right and do some traversing before reaching the top of No Name. Once on top you will be able to see the entire resort. It’s considered by general standards to be the best powder skiing at Snowbasin. Get their soon, because this area doesn’t stay untracked for very long. Even though its meant for experts. Everyone and their dog tries to get to this area first. But once their just have fun, because it’s a blast.

Obviously, these areas are more based on my biased opinion and you may find other areas at Basin that you prefer more. But these are local hotspots. Some secret, some world famous. You choose how to spend your day at Snowbasin. But first, here are some honorable mentions that may suite you better:

Strawberry Gondola lift: Lone Tree/ Arrowhead, Sister’s Bowl, Sunshine Bowl.

Needles Gondola lift: Dan’s Run.

John Paul Quad/ Mt. Allen Tram: Fingers Chutes, Snow King, Hollywood, Mt. Ogden Bowl, Mt. Ogden Road.

Porcupine lift: Surprise, Porky’s Face.

Well there you have it. Snowbasin has a lot to choose from. So now get out there and make it one of your best skiing adventures ever!

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