Winter is near, you can feel the first chill in the air, and leaves are turning in the mountains. Are you having powder dreams yet? Even as I sowed the last seeds in the garden, I began daydreaming about deep fluffy snow, fresh tracks at Powder Mountain, and the stunning backcountry runs found on the Interconnect Tour.
Looking forward to the 2016–17 ski season, there are new and exciting things in store for skiers and riders. BIG stuff! This is a really long post, so grab a snack and play some pounding ski tunes to set the mood. This list starts with what’s new at Utah’s resorts, then covers deals and passes, so make sure you get to the end!
TIP: I’ll update this post with new deals and news as they come in, so bookmark this URL right now.
Even more improvements at The Bird! After spending $35 million on capital improvements last season, Snowbird rebuilt the Creekside Lodge. The lodge, located in Gad Valley at entry one, is currently undergoing massive reconstruction to triple the square footage of the building. The larger facility will now be the base of operations for all Snowbird Mountain Ski and Snowboard School lessons, eliminating shuttling students and allowing for a lot more time skiing and snowboarding on the mountain.
Powder Mountain Resort continues to preserve its wide-open and uncrowded, vibe by capping ticket sales at 2,000 per day and establishing a limit of 3,000 season pass holders annually. Powder Mountain aims to keep its skier density less than two acres per skier. This is why I head to PowMow when I’m looking for fresh tracks!
Here’s some seriously BIG news out of Ogden Valley. The official opening of Whisper Ridge Cat Skiing is December 26th. If you’re looking for fresh backcountry tracks, luxury, and adventure, this is one to check out. With over 30,000 acres of private ski and ride terrain and eight custom PistenBully snowcats for access, Whisper Ridge is an exciting new facility to add to Utah’s world-class skiing. Whisper Ridge offers single to multi-day cat-skiing tours and optional first descent helicopter drops. Unique to their operation are three mountaintop overnight yurt villages for multiple day immersion experiences. In each village you will find wood-fired hot tubs and wellness offerings with a diversity of lodging options, including Suite and Master yurts for romantic getaways. All lodging packages are fully inclusive, with chef-prepared meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ll take that romantic getaway!
Also on the luxury side, the Montage Deer Valley launched a new Montage Expeditions program allowing guests to experience skiing the famed slopes of Deer Valley while celebrating the centennial of the National Parks in southern Utah all in one stay. Guests can take a break from skiing during their trip and take a once-in-a-lifetime day-trip adventure to southern Utah for a hiking or biking excursion led by a Montage guide, complete with private flight aboard a Pilatus-12 and a gourmet Chef-prepared lunch within one of four National Parks. If you aren’t familiar with the Pilatus-12, it’s one versatile and sexy airplane! (Sorry, my pilot side got excited…)
Expect shorter lines on the Arrowhead Lift at Sundance Mountain Resort. They are replacing the old triple chair with the new quad-chair Arrowhead Lift plus adding new safety bars and improved loading and unloading areas. As a result, this will increase uphill capacity and decrease lift lines.
In its second year of operations, Cherry Peak is continuing to expand by adding a third lift. The new Summit Lift nearly doubles the mountains’ skiable terrain to over 400 acres. Cherry Peak also has installed lights in this area to continue operating night skiing on 100 percent of the resort.
Get your BBQ on! Due to the ever-growing popularity and demand for ‘Kansas City-Style BBQ,’ cooked and served by John Grissinger, the owner of Brian Head Resort, the resort has built a new state-of-the-art 2,000 square foot restaurant kitchen and BBQ pit. The improvement will triple the size of the previous facilities and double Brian Head’s current capacity of serving up delicious brisket, tangy ribs, chicken or perfectly seasoned pork every Friday and Saturday evening.
Solitude Mountain Resort, now in its second year owned and operated by Deer Valley Resort, has renovated the Roundhouse and will be expanding the Himalayan and Wasatch-inspired mountain cuisine. With one of the best and sunniest views in the Wasatch, it is worth stopping by for lunch.
As the Brass Tag, a year-round dining experience located in the Lodges at Deer Valley, enters its third winter season, Deer Valley Resort is proud to announce new chef and a revamped menu. The new menu features Deer Valley-inspired brick-oven cuisine, including fresh seafood skillets, seared meats, oven-roasted fresh fish, locally sourced produce, seasonal flatbreads, and specialty sides.
I’ve heard of pocket snacks, but pocket meals!?!? That’s a great idea! Whether it’s a powder day or there is no time for breakfast, you don’t have to sacrifice quality for convenience with Waldorf Astoria Park City’s new Pocket Meals program. Executive Chef Ryker Brown of Powder Restaurant is unveiling two gourmet on-the-go options, the pocket quesadilla and the early morning burrito, both of which are hand-crafted in the Powder kitchen each morning. I don’t know about you, but I can pound some food during a day on the slopes, this is perfect!
The new Stein Eriksen Residences offer many of the traditions synonymous with its legendary namesake. A perfect blend of nature, amenities, and impeccable mountain terrain, the Residences present an incomparable lifestyle for active individuals and families who prize an authentic, luxury, alpine living experience. Reflecting a modern luxury look and feel, the Residences offer a top-tier condo and vacation home lodging component to the Stein Collection.
Located mid-mountain at the world-renowned Deer Valley Resort and surrounded by mountain trails and runs, Stein Eriksen Residences provide breathtaking mountain views from each condo and home, as well as ski-in/ski-out access to The Greatest Snow on Earth. The Residences are managed by Stein Eriksen Lodge, the World's Best Ski Hotel, and offer 24-hour care and Five-Star concierge and amenities. The Residences will officially open for reservations this December 2016. Rates are planned to start at $2,500 per night during the winter season.
Snowbird will be completing the full remodel of the Cliff Lodge, its flagship property, for the 2016-17 season. This investment enhances the overall guest experience and provides a greater level of comfort and luxury. The renovations include elegant marble counters and imported tile in the bathrooms, the latest ergonomic mattresses, lush carpeting, contemporary furnishings, modern entertainment systems, energy efficient lighting, and upgraded Wi-Fi. I spent a night in one of the newly renovated rooms, and they are NICE! Read my review of the Cliff Lodge for more details and images.
Brighton Resort, one of the four Salt Lake City resorts, celebrates its 80th year of operation this season. Brighton is where I learned to ski and I love their chill vibe and tree runs! Just 35 minutes from the airport, Brighton is a staple to both locals and visitors alike. Brighton is Utah’s only resort that serves 100 percent of its terrain via high-speed lifts, offering multiple terrain parks and an average annual snowfall of over 500 inches – what else could you ask for? Cheers to 80 more!
Get your tech on! Ski Utah is excited to announce this partnership with SNOCRU, a Utah-based company and a popular ski app that can track skiing across the world, but now has something very unique with Utah’s 14 resorts. New this year, Ski Utah and SNOCRU apps have joined forces, combining two great resources into an aggregated forum that helps users not only track the traditional total vertical, days skied but also vertical-per-resort and the total amount of ‘fresh’ snow skied all year.
If you are skiing or riding at any of Vail Resorts, preferably Park City Mountain in Utah, get EpicMix. The app tracks your progress around the mountain, giving you vertical feet and lifts ridden, as well as a chance to hit goals, collect pins throughout the resort, and connect with family and friends. New this year at Park City Mountain, the app will also include EpicMix Time, which serves up real-time wait times at lifts across the mountain.
This past summer, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, replaced the tram cables of 40 years, and in doing so, Snowbird also installed a fiber-optic line into the cable. The line will boost the webcams to high definition and speed up the free Wi-Fi in the new Summit Lodge.
While individual resorts offer amazing deals and incentives on season passes, especially if you purchase early, below are a few other multi-mountain options. To find out more about individual resort season passes, visit: skiutah.com/passes
- Ski Utah Silver Pass, which offers 30 days (60 days at Park City Mountain) to all 14 resorts for $3,150. Limited supply available.
- Ski Utah Yeti Pass, which offers one day at all 14 Resorts for $649. A perfect pass for any skier or rider looking to explore the state, the Yeti Pass is also great option for parents to complement their child's 5th or 6th Grade Passport.
- Park City Mountain, the largest resort in the United States, is operating all 7,300 skiable acres under the Epic Pass, which gives skiers and snowboarders unlimited days at Park City Mountain and twelve other Vail Resort properties. New this year, the Epic Pass will also provide access to six iconic ski areas in Europe for the 2016-17 season. For the best deal, purchase your Epic Pass early.
- The Mountain Collective Pass, which offers two free days and unlimited 50 percent off passes thereafter at Alta/Snowbird, is good at 14 iconic destinations throughout North America. Pass holders also receive lodging discounts.
- New this year, Solitude Mountain Resort has joined its neighbor Brighton Resort on the M.A.X. Pass. The M.A.X. Pass is perfect for skiers and snowboarders who are looking to get the most North America has to offer with 32 mountains, zero blackout days and five days of skiing/riding at each resort.
- With the purchase of a Snowbasin Resort season pass, skiers and riders become part of the Powder Alliance, which provides you with three free days at each of the 14 other participating resorts nationwide.
GREATEST SNOW ON EARTH (FOR BEGINNERS):
Whether you are a powder-hound, a cruiser on the groomers, or a beginner, Utah has something for everyone. Even better, there are plenty of packages that help subsidize the cost for families and immerse new skiers and riders into the sport. Here is some beginner deals beta.
- Ski Utah’s 5th and 6th Grade Passports Program is offered to kids nationwide. Fifth graders receive three free lift tickets at each of Utah’s 14 resorts and sixth graders receive one free lift ticket to each resort, with a $35 administrative fee.
- Park City Mountain launched Epic SchoolKids in Utah, offering five free days of skiing and riding at Park City Mountain for all of Utah’s Kids, Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. It includes a free first-timer lesson and rentals during the month of January.
- Again this year, Brighton Resort will supply kids 10 and under the ability to ski or ride free. Other Utah resorts offer similar packages. Eagle Point, Powder Mountain, Snowbasin Resort, Snowbird and Solitude Resort all offer kids six and under ski or ride free. Cherry Peak Resort, Brian Head, Sundance offer kids five and under ski or ride free.
- If you can only make a few turns in the afternoon, Alta Ski Area offers a $10 ticket to ski after 3 p.m. on Sunnyside lift. If you want to make it a season-long adventure, purchase a $35 Sunnyside Season Pass.
- Brian Head University Program is a risk-free program for first time skiers or snowboarders of all ages. They guarantee their Terrain Based Learning program will have you skiing and riding in just three lessons, or you receive a full refund.
- Don’t forget January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month nationwide. Many of Utah’s resorts participate and offer packages containing a lift ticket, rentals and lesson for $45.
GREAT PACKAGES AND VALUES:
- Ogden, Utah, located just 35 miles north of Salt Lake City, is working hard to break the mold of being “Utah’s best kept secret.” For its second year, Ogden will continue to offer a Ski3 Pass, which provides a full day lift ticket to Powder Mountain, Snowbasin Resort and Nordic Valley for $145, with two or more nights stay at participating Ogden lodging partners. To top it off, those who fly into Salt Lake City via Alaska Airlines can receive a free lift ticket at Snowbasin Resort within 24-hours of arrival.
- As You Wish Program’ – Eagle Point, a 650 skiable acre gem in Southern Utah’s Tushar Mountains, is available for private rental Tuesday through Thursday, January 3 – April 6, 2017, when the resort is otherwise closed to the public. The completely customizable program starts at $10 thousand and includes lift tickets, rentals and resort staff for up to 200 people.
- Stay at Sundance Resort and Ski Free – book your stay in a luxurious cottage at Sundance Mountain Resort and receive two free lift passes per night. This package also includes ‘First Tracks’ skiing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Tickets are also good for the Sundance Nordic Center.
- Ski Utah will continue to feature incredible packages and deals from its resort and industry partners on the “Hot Deals” section of SkiUtah.com.
PROTECT OUR WINTERS (POW):
Ski Utah is proud to continue its partnership with Protect Our Winters. POW is the environmental axis of the global winter sports community, powered by its goal of reducing the effect climate change imposes upon local sports and economies. Ski Utah is excited to continue to support this organization through promoting carpooling and public transit to Utah’s resorts throughout the season, but especially on the annual POW Day, which will be held on January 13, 2017 at Protect Our Winter resort partners, Alta Ski Area, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, Sundance Mountain Resort and Powder Mountain.