Snowbasin can be excellent for powder, steeps and groomers but keep a few things in mind:
1) At 6,400', the base elevation is a tad too low for a significant portion of the winter storms. Elevation is everything in Utah (well - so is location) and when the storms come from a more Southerly track, as was the case with almost all the storms last year, it can get 'sticky' on the lower half. With a more Northerly storm track, as is the case during a normal year, the snow is good all the way to the base.
2) The place is almost deserted, year round. Even if the lower half of the mountain is not too good snow wise, you can get excellent shots for days on the upper half of the mountain.
3) The terrain is a combination of wide open cruisers and steeps off the top. They do a lot of grooming on the wide open sections and you can get looong runs to the base. The place is set up for top to bottom runs and its skis very tall.
4) It takes about 50 minutes from PC to Snowbasin via I-80, I-84 & Trapper's Loop.
All in all, Snowbasin is one of my favorite places to ski.
I was there this season for the first time, once early season (December) and once late season (April) and it quickly became one of my favorite mountains to ski. There's good variety and the lack of crowds and long runs are great. Although, I was told that the crowds this season were noticeably bigger than in prior seasons - either it was just the non mid-season times I was there, or they're just spoiled! I'd guess a combination of both, with a lean towards the latter. The current (won't last long) lack of significant development at the base gives the place a good vibe. I will definitely make it a point to get back there as often as possible.
I'd agree with Powdr on the travel time, and I'll add that the roads did not seem to be subject to problems with difficult weather.
You must visit this FANTASTICO mountain.... before the owners build timeshares, hotels, malls, etc. We went last early (January) winter, and it really,really,really ROCKED!!!!! Spilling the beans is not cool, but, you'se a Bear, so GO,GO!!!!!!!!!
PS: don't you dare push this place until I return in 2007 %^&&^$#$^%^ we go to Tahoe/Mammoth 2006. Salud!
There was definately more people last year than years previous. The one day skier visit record was broken about six times last year, with the new record being around 4000 people. That doesn't sound like alot for 2500 acres, but when you are used to 1000 it seems crowded. Sadly, I think next year will be worse, damn Earl Holding won't be happy until he is turning a profit.
Everything else said about the basin is a lie. The lifts suck, the snow is second rate, it's windy as hell, the access is terrible and the ski patrol is the rudest i've ever seen. I wouldn't spend my hard earned money there if I was you.
Locals have nicknamed it "blow basin" because of the probability of high winds. It has some good terrain of all kinds, but no sustained vertical. Just too much flats for my taste. Lots of short (mostly very short) steep shots. Even the Olymic downhill course has large flat spots. The crowds were non-existent, although I didn't make it there last year. My impression after being there 3 times is that it is 85% intermediate groomers, with the rest being short steep shots.
Check the morning report in SLC because sometimes there are northern storms that dump there and not the other areas. I have had some good days there, but you have to hunt around a little or climb for the good terrain. Had a great time there when Alta got 4" new and Snowbasin got 15", and still no crowds.
It is worth the trip once just to check out the multi-million dollar lodges up on the mountain. Antiques, full length cherry wood doors on the stalls, and black marble backed urnials in the bathrooms at the top of the mountain. It is like being in a night club in your ski boots. A real trip.
While I absolutely respect your opinion, I must disagree with the "no sustained vertical and flat spot" comments. From the top of ANY lift there you can ski all the way to the base without stopping, traversing or utilizing cattracks. There are some not very steep sections at various places on many runs, but none that would require skating or poleing regardless of how much speed you are carrying except coming from the strawberry area over to the john paul area and that's only at the ABSOLUTE bottom. I'm in concurrence with the wind issues on certain exposures and as previously stated, the lodges/restrooms are SPECTACULAR
I guess "flat" is a pretty relative term. My point was that I found very little sustained steep pitch at Snow Basin. Unlike Snowbird or Alta there was no place I saw a 1,500 -2,000 vertical shot of even moderately steep sustained pitch. Off the lift to skiers far left (I forget the name) was the only place you could get steep skiing from top to bottom of the mountain but that required either climbing, or skiing into the gully and traversing out at least three times per run. Many of the steep pitches scattered throughout the mounatin end in terrain traps that require tucking or climbing to get out. If you don't mind climbing the ridge there is some pretty radical stuff, but it too is fairly short compared to comparable terrain at Alta or Snowbird.
I think that if you travel to the Rockies you should be entitled to at least a few runs where you can ski off a lift, stand at the top, look between your tips and see a couple thousand verts below. Snowbird and Alta have lots of this everywhere you look, but I found none at Snowbasin. It has some very nice cruising, some very short steep shots, and uncrowded slopes for SLC, but (as you pointed out) almost every run benches out several times before you get to the bottom. I found it to have a huge percentage of very intermediate runs, coupled with a small amount of pretty steep shots, with not much in between. It just does not remotely compare to the Bird or Alta for long "expert" runs. If you ski pretty much only packed runs this will not matter. It is a beautiful area, but if you are ever there on a good dump day you will be poling alot if you venture off the packed runs.
Ah Mudfoot in this we agree. Snowbasin does not have the sustained "Expert" runs of Snowbird and the Collins side of Alta but it's a fabulous place to ski and when you mentioned flat, I thought you meant Vail type flats which unless you know the place very well entale much more EXERCISE and energy exertion than most people (me included) want to spend getting around on a mountain. Wow that has to be one of the best "Run On" sentences I've had in quite a while