An Insider's Guide To Snowboard Utah's Freeride Zones

An Insider's Guide To Snowboard Utah's Freeride Zones


By Yeti \ February 1 2016

You’re a hardworking business professional. You’re coming to Utah to shred, not because you’re looking for a perfectly manicured park. You’re looking for pow. Deep, light pow like you can only find here.

As you scout where you want to go for your next Utah snowboard trip, check out our top four freeride zones. The selection includes some iconic Cottonwood destinations as well as some less frequently visited areas in Northern Utah. We asked ski patrollers, marketers, and local riders where they love to find secret stashes and deep turns. Here’s what they had to share.

The Resort: Snowbird

Best Freeride Zone: Baldy, accessed via traverse & bootpack from the Tram or Mineral Basin Express.

What You’ll Find There: Steep chutes, faces, and cliffs. The section of Baldy closest to the traverse is west-facing, meaning the snow will stay soft until the afternoon. The short and beloved bootpack up the west-facing chutes on Baldy is almost guaranteed to full of powder-hungry locals. That means, even if the snow stays soft, it’s going to be tracked out immediately. If you’re in the first 20 people to hit Baldy’s west face after ski patrol opens it, you can get first tracks. If not, take the longer traverse out to North Baldy’s technical terrain. This steep face lined with cliffs and flanked on either side by chutes has been home to multiple extreme skiing competitions.

Best Time of Day To Ride It: As soon as it opens, which is usually the mid-morning after ski patrol performs much-needed avalanche control

The Resort: Brighton

Best Freeride Zone: Mt Millicent, accessed via the Milly Express.

What You’ll Find There: A little bit of everything. The north-facing Mt Millicent packs a whole lotta punch in a concentrated area. Looker’s left, you can traverse into extreme terrain, hitting series of tiny chutes below the peak’s main face. You also can head right off the lift, and drop into rolling terrain, marked by natural hips, cliffs, and berms. Splitboarders also can pay the one-ride ticket to take Milly Express and head out-of-bounds towards famous backcountry destinations such as Michigan City and Wolverine Cirque.

Best Time of Day To Ride It: Anytime of day. Because this area is mostly north-facing, the snow stays cold. You’ll have to get there early to grab fresh tracks before the locals do. Brighton is the heart and soul of Salt Lake City’s snowboard scene, meaning a ton of local riders will be hooting and hollering as they lap this zone

The Resort: Pow Mow or Powder Mountain if you prefer

Best Freeride Zone: Two hike-to zones, Baldy Face and Sanctuary, are tied for the best freeride spots at Pow Mow.

What You’ll Find There: To reach Baldy Face, take the Sundown Lift to the top. Follow Confidence Run, bearing right towards Baldy Peak in Powder Country, which is the peak directly west of Sundown. Hike 20 minutes from the saddle to the peak. There you’ll find an expansive, open bowl with a few cliffs. Drop down the face and cruise through the aspen-blanketed gully. Finish up your lap at the road, and head back to Sundown on the Powder Country Shuttle Bus. For those up for a mission, take Sunrise Life up from the top of Hidden Lake Lift. Follow Cat Walk Run through the trees to Sanctuary Finger until you run out of speed. You’ll eventually need to unstrap and hike about 10 minutes up the peak. Drop down the ridge to Cobabe Canyon, then take Paradise Lift to the top of Sanctuary. Here’s you’ll discover untouched powder in old-growth pines.

Best Time of Day To Ride It: Baldy Face has a south easter aspect, so it is better to hit earlier in the morning. Sanctuary is a harder-to-reach spot, but faces directly north.  You can find powder there one week after a storm.

The Resort: Snowbasin

Best Freeride Zone: Middle Bowl Cirque, accessed via a bootpack and traverse off the Strawberry Gondola overlooking Needles Lodge

What You’ll Find There: This massive, wide-open cirque formation has steep faces peppered with rock features, and narrow, rocky chutes. It sits above the main Strawberry area, allowing you to drop into Snowbasin’s legendary steep, off-piste and then follow their runouts back down to the gondola. For snowboarders less interested in extreme terrain, the Strawberry Gondola also provides long, intermediate, top-to-bottom groomers.

Best Time of Day To Ride It: The earlier in the day, the better. This zone is a locals’ favorite. Come springtime, the cirque’s upper mountain bowls have great corn skiing by mid-morning.