Riding Northern Utah's Hidden Gems
Living in a state with dozens of mountain ranges, Utah has so much terrain to offer the vagabond snowboarder. Tucked into some of these nooks and crannies are small resorts that get far less fanfare than the resorts of the central Wasatch.
Touching the northern border of Utah and Idaho are two resorts with entirely different DNA. Cherry Peak, Utah's newest resort is only two seasons old, and is near Beaver Mountain one of the oldest resorts in America to still be owned and operated by the original founders. While each place is small, family oriented and quiet, there is plenty of space at either resort for the adventurous rider explore some new and interesting terrain.
Cherry Peak Road Trip
With my friends Joel Thompson, Ben Mouser and Shawn LeBoutillier in tow we set out from Salt Lake for the hidden resort of Cherry Peak. Located just to the east of Richmond, Utah between Logan and the border with Idaho, sits Utah's newest resort. As you drive up the canyon, it is somewhat curious as to where the resort is located. All you can see is the craggy summit of the actual Cherry Peak that is miles away. Then almost out of nowhere, a massive ski lodge comes into view with a small chairlift adjacent to it. This place is as out of the way as it gets for ski resorts in Utah. We were greeted by the mountain's general manager Dustin Hansen and his right-hand-man Kade Follett. The pride that they have for their little slice of heaven was apparent from the get-go as they made sure we were shown all of the best places on the mountain.
Currently, there are two chairs that take you up the mountain, with a third being built as we speak. The lower two chairs access fun groomers, a terrain park and some opportunities to ride some terrain back down to the road if you are hungry for some fresh powder. The terrain that the new summit chair will access is far more advanced. We were lucky enough to have been shown some of the new terrain by our trusty guides and we scored untracked snow all the to their gorgeous new lodge. The terrain is very different from that of the central Wasatch.
The geology is more akin to that of the west desert and lower elevation vegetation gives this resort a very distinct and unique feel. As we rode the powder-filled gullies of the north side of the resort, I almost felt like I was in a different region of the US.
This place is one of the more unique places that I have ridden. It has a true community feel to it and doesn't harbor any of the stresses that have become associated with modern ski areas. No crowds, no traffic, no problems seems to be the motto up at Cherry Peak. For only $39 a day, you can cruise around this little slice of paradise that is hidden in plain sight. Go here for more info on Cherry Peak and tell Dustin and Kade that I sent you!
Beaver Mountain Road Trip
After taking in the sunset at Cherry peak, we headed back to Logan for a relaxing evening before our full day at Beaver Mountain the next day. Basing out of Logan is a great way to do your shred tour of northern Utah. Staying downtown allowed us to be only 20 minutes from Cherry Peak and about 40 minute from Beaver, which is located up spectacular Logan Canyon. We just so happened to time it out so we arrived at "The Beav" on a full on storm day, so it was free refills all day long. Upon our arrival at the resort, you instantly feel like you are going back in time. The small wooden ticket office as been the same for decades. Inside, the owner and matriarch of the operation Marge Seeholzer greeted us with a smile and a good sense of humor. "Where have you boys been? We have been waiting all day for ya." Marge immediately made us feel at home. Her in-laws opened this place in 1939 and it has been in the family ever since, making this place one of the oldest (if not the oldest) resort that has been owned by one family in the US. As we were talking about the mountain history and layout, we asked Marge where the powder stashes were. She simply replied "everywhere." That's my kind of resort.
"Once we asked one of the friendly lifties for a couple of tips, he had no problem sharing some of his favorite stashes with us. That is the beauty of the mom and pop ski area, people have a laid-back mentality and they are happy to share their special place with you."
Places like Beaver Mountain are what helped build the ski and snowboard culture in America, and it is important that we help preserve this tradition of family-owned resorts. And when you do make it up the "The Beav", be sure to say hi to Marge, and trust that she will tell you where the good powder stashes are. For snow reports and upcoming events check here.