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Snowbasin, Utah or Big Sky ?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I'm thinking of going toone of these during the 1st week of January. What are the conditions like at each of these areas at this time of year. Do they normally have a solid snowpack? How about crowds? What area has the most fresh snow? Anything else that I should know?
post #2 of 27
I really liked Snowbasin: absolutely no crowds, high-speed lifts, very easy access (30 min from SLC) on an avalanche-free road, ridiculously posh new lodges (almost felt silly clomping around in boots there), and piles of terrain for both intermediate cruisers and expert skiers.

Are you planning on staying a week at one area? It's certainly good-sized, but I don't know if I would ski more than three consecutive days there. Plus, the mountain has no slopeside accomodations, so you have to drive in. I've heard that there are some other decent ski areas in SLC... why don't you check them out while you're there?
post #3 of 27
Strongly recommend both areas; two of my favorites. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] Total annual snowfall roughly the same (400+). Quality of snow superb (dry) at both. Snowbasin is very big; and BS is huge. Great variety of terrain at both. Snowbasin would be easier to get to, if you are flying from either coast; flip side is, crowds at Big Sky are non-existent (not bad at basin either, specially on week days). Slopeside accomodations at BS are very good, and very cheap in January as well. If you re going to ski the basin for more than a day, you'll have to stay in Ogden, which is a pit (no offense to Ogden-ites; but they know I am right). But the drive to the basin from SLC ain't all that bad either. Basin has closer and more alternatives. If you go to BS and need a break for a day, you could do Bridger (1 hr.) or Targhee (3 hrs); both lots of fun. If you go to either, pls post a report.

[ November 12, 2002, 09:04 AM: Message edited by: JW ]
post #4 of 27
I'd argue that it's more like an hours drive from SLC. We stayed on the north side of slc and it still took an hour...
post #5 of 27
If you are planning on flying from Seattle to Bozeman to go to Big Sky you better check into ticket availability and costs. Horizon Air dominates that route and will gouge you if your trip falls during times heavily booked by students returning to MSU.

As for Big Sky, it's huge, uncrowded and has a great variety of terrain. Expect to hit some rocks in the steeps. Luckily the Lone Mountain shale doesn't do near the damage that Cascade magna does.
post #6 of 27
forgot to mention, if you interested in off piste skiing, there was a good article on some hike to options at Basin in a recent issue of Couloir.
post #7 of 27
Big Sky has more advanced terrain than the Basin.
post #8 of 27
Originally posted by bicyclekick:
I'd argue that it's more like an hours drive from SLC. We stayed on the north side of slc and it still took an hour...
Just curious, when did you go? There is a new road that cuts about fifteen minutes off of the commute. The road was finished in the summer of 2001. We drove there last year during the Olympics, and it took forty five minutes from our house in SLC, to the park & ride lot, then on a bus from the mouth of the canyon to the resort.
post #9 of 27
2 februarys ago. (not last feb, but the feb b4 it, just to clarify)

I thought we went on a new road that was cut, but MAYBE not?

Hmmmmm. It would have been feb 2001, which would have been BEFORE summer 2001. I still coulda swore it was a new road.

I'll be there again this winter. We'll be staying in sandy this time.

How long should it take from there? Anyone?
post #10 of 27
They are both great ski areas but I sense that you might be wondering about the weather consequences at the two. .. Early January is a real dicey play up in Montana. I would really hate to stake a ski vacation on weather that could turn North Pole like that time of the year. Roll the dice if you must; but weather just might be the biggest factor you deal with, if you choose to ski 'Big Country' ski areas in mid-winter. :
post #11 of 27
Originally posted by JW:
forgot to mention, if you interested in off piste skiing, there was a good article on some hike to options at Basin in a recent issue of Couloir.
I can't seem to find this article in Couloir. Can you give me any more details about where to find it? Thanks -
post #12 of 27
My experience has been hardly a line at either except the time high winds had most the lifts at Big Sky closed. Driving distance to Snowbasin is 33 miles from the intersection of I-15 and I-215 on the northside of SLC on 55 & 65 mph limit roads.
During a dry year, like last year, there are some off-piste areas that can be dicey in early Jan., but that still leaves plenty of acres per skier!
post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the info. All I care about is having alot of deep dry snow! I will be driving from Seattle versus flying. This will give me total flexibility as to making any last minute adjustments in my plans. I have up to nine days available. I could hit some of the other Salt Lake areas if snow isn't at the Basin or Big Sky. I'd perfer to stay away from the crowds, that why I thought these two areas would fit the bill. I haven't been to Targhee, but everything I hear about it is that it always gets snow with minimal crowds. :
post #14 of 27
As far as crowds go, you can't go wrong with either. I like Snowbasin much better though...the lift system and snow quality is outstanding at Snowbasin. We have fun at Big Sky but I didn't think it had much challenging terrain aside from the tram at the top. We went to Red Lodge and Bridger on the same Big Sky trip and liked both of those places beter overall.

While I don't think you'd get a big crowd at Snowbasin, I don't think I'd want to spend an entire week there....2-3 days tops for me....especially considering how many other places there are to ride in Utah. I've never been to Powder Mtn myself but I hear it's sweet as well.

As far as Grand Targhee...JACKPOT baby!!!! I love that place. Awesome snow and ZERO Jackson Hole is less than an hour away.
post #15 of 27
I stayed in Sandy last March/April since it proved to be a good base for all SLC resorts especially for the Cottonwood areas. I drove to Snowbasin the day before Easter Sunday and it took less than an hour. Driving does not bother me. Besides, the views are great. The skiing was excellent and the lift/gondola lines were nonexistent. The terrain was similar to that of Alta and Snowbird (you must check these two out if you choose SLC)... more rugged and open than the Park City areas. The lodges were the nicest I have ever been in and the food was the best I have seen served at any resort. I took a level 8 group lesson expecting a few other skiers but it was just me and my instructor Gary Hebert. Very good, what turned out to be a, two-hour private lesson and I was shown some nice terrain that I would not have found by myself. Pretty sweet! Especially when an attractive Ogden local and former instructor joined us to hike De Moisey Peak and ski the chutes. Did I mention she was attract... err... a great skier!

I’d like to check out Big Sky myself. I’m into going to areas that the rest of the ski world is not too familiar. Both of these areas fall in that category so I doubt if you’ll be disappointed in whichever you choose. Sugar Bowl in Lake Tahoe says they are the best kept secret in the Lake Tahoe area. They are right. I like to think Snowbasin is the best kept secret in the SLC area.
post #16 of 27
article is Gold Medal Backcountry, Couloir Nov 02 issue
at the basin, really interesting terrain to the far north and south boundaries of the area. Also some neat hike to stuff on De Moisey.
Understand the 'gee is set to open in a week or less. Ususally a pretty reliable early season venue.
post #17 of 27
ps, cpsoc, how cum a guy from SLC doesn't know Snowbasin?
post #18 of 27
You have to keep in mind that for Utah Skiers Alta is Mecca. For most of The Salt Lake Valley getting to Alta or Snowbird is a vary short drive or Bus ride up the Canyon. Getting to Snowbsin use to be a chore,now that the new road is in it's a lot less fof a drive with fewer switch backs and curves. From most of the Salt Lake City area it shold take less then an hour to get to Snowasin with the new road. Frm the Park City area it is less then 45 mins to Snowbasin. If you plan on going there you may want to check out another untaped Utah jem Powder Mountain. PM is about 20 mins north of Snowbasin it's annual snowfall is 500 inches about the same amount that Alta gets per year. There is also a golf resort at the base of Powder mountain That may be a good base for both PM and SB. The name of The resort is Wolf Creek. It would be a much better bet then staying in Ogden. With 9 days I bet you could hit Big Sky Grand Targee and do Utah in one epic ski road trip.You might even have time to hit Sun Valley on the Drive home.
post #19 of 27
Dam, that sounds like a great road trip! Hey Utah49, is PC a reasonable base for s/o who wants to ski Snowbasin and PM as well as PCMR and DV? Do you have to drive into SLC to get from PC to the 'basin?
post #20 of 27
To get to Snowbasin from Park City is so easy.You don't go anywhere near Salt Lake City to get there. It is also a vary beautiful drive. Your drive will take you by pastures and running rivers into steep canyons and more.Ok heres some directions for you. Take Kerns Blvd east to Hwy 40 north on 40 untill it hits I80 take that east untill it meets I84 north take that untill you se the exit for Snowbasin. Follow that road up Park car pay for lift ticket Then ski Park City is a good base camp for skiing all of Utah. Park City Utahs only real ski town On Main St and in Old Town most of the Building date back to the Mineing days of the 1880s. Deer Valley PCMR and the Canyons are all within 10 mins from just about anywhere in Park City. We have a free public bus system that will take you to any of the 3 local mountains. Lewis Bros has shuttles that run to Alta and Snowbird as well as Brighton and Solitude. Snowbasin is 45 min drive by car from Park City, it is about the same for Alta and Snowbird. Brighton and Solitude about 1 hour. Same for Sundance. My guess is due to back roads up the Ogden Valley maybe 1 hour 30 mins or so to Powder Mountain from Park City. I have never skied there but it is on my to do list this season.
post #21 of 27
Originally posted by JW:
Do you have to drive into SLC to get from PC to the 'basin?
Definitely not! Just head out of PC EAST on I-80 (toward Wyoming) until you hit I-84. Take I-84 West to Snowbasin. When I drive from Ogden to PC, I almost always take this back way. Only reason to go thru SLC is better radio reception. PC to Ogden is about 60-65 miles; less to Snowbasin. Utah49 probably has a better drive time estimate to Snowbasin than I do, but probably under an hour.
post #22 of 27
I'll chime in on Snowbasin as well.

I can't really refute the claim that Big Sky has more advanced terrain (because I haven't skied Big Sky since the tram went in), but I do know that SB has a whole lot of very interesting terrain. Jaws, did you ski it after the John Paul and Strawberry lifts were added? A little bit of traversing and climbing will get you into all kinds of pretty advanced terrain around that mountain.

Another great thing about SB - assuming there's adequate snow cover - is all the oak/aspen glades on the lower part of the mountain off the Strawberry gondola. There are literally hundreds of acres of trees that most people don't ski. We've had great untracked skiing there a couple of days after snowstorms. Untracked skiing two days after a storm is something you essentially never find in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

You can rack up insane amounts of vertical at SB because of the great lifts and nonexistent liftlines.

post #23 of 27
Originally posted by Bob.Peters:
Another great thing about SB - assuming there's adequate snow cover - is all the oak/aspen glades on the lower part of the mountain off the Strawberry gondola.
Is this the same man who laments the growth of scrub oak at Alta, Snowbird, and on the Hobacks?
post #24 of 27
I will be at Big Sky January 4th-Jan 11th. Its my first trip outside the cascades for skiing. I am looking foreward to some sweet lines at lone peak. A woman at the Big Sky booth at the Portland Ski show informed me that I could get $35 college student lift tickets from, so that will significantly lower my costs.
post #25 of 27
I was at Big Sky for a week end of Feb. 2000. Coverage is a big issue. There are a lot of very sharp rocks that will chew the heck out of your bases. We were there during an average snowfall year and there were still tons of exposed rocks all over the place. If you see a mysteriously unskied patch of pristine powder in the middle of a otherwise tracked up area, stay away!!! Just under the surface of that untracked are rocks that will eat up your skis. The locals know their terrain and stay away from the shallow areas. Otherwise, great terrain and no lift lines, except for the tram.
post #26 of 27
I really hope that snowbasin will open a lot more up in the next 2 weeks. If it doesn't, it doesn't like I'll be going. We'll see.
post #27 of 27
We skied Snowbasin yesterday. They were running the lift formerly known as the Middle Bowl Express (now the Needles Express) and Porky. The John Paul lift opened today. We skied a good bit off trail in several feet of powder, but did hit a few rocks. The groomed trails are fine. We also skied the Diamond (the section of Strawberry you can ski when the lift isn't open) and it was wonderfull. They were grooming and making snow on critical sections of Strawberry. Looks like they may open it after another storm.
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