Last winter Rupert and I went to take a look at the latest additions to our USA programme. Affectionately known by the locals as Pow Mow, we were expecting an extreme, steep and deep experience, maybe just one for the grown-ups. But we discovered the resort of Powder Mountain, and its neighbour Snowbasin, have more than a few family aces up their sleeves too!
Just a few short years ago the extreme experience would have been highest on our agenda, but now in 2018 and with five children between us, Powder Mountain and Snowbasin unexpectedly ticked all the boxes for us to venture back with the family for half term.
“It’s too far for a week” I hear you say. Utah may seem like a long-haul commitment, however, for those of us who have been stuck in traffic for hours on a coach transfer from airport to French resort, isn’t it better to be sipping a G&T while watching a movie on a plane instead?
When you land, your accommodation in Ogden town is a quick and easy 40 minute drive along the valley from the airport. Powder Mountain is a simple 25 minute drive from Ogden, or you can take the shuttle if you prefer.
Seems like a hassle? It's not when you wake with jet-lag at 5am! It’s a nice lazy morning - have a swim, a hearty breakfast, pick up your skis and mosey on up to resort...
Acres of epic terrain await, all covered in 12 metres of pristine powder. In fact, Powder Mountain has one of the largest (and snowiest) ski areas in North America at 8,464 acres. You'll find a further 3,000 acres of equally epic, big-mountain terrain at nearby Snowbasin - just 30 minutes from Ogden. All of this provides a huge array of variety and fun.
Powder Mountain offers a magnetic and charming pioneer character. In contrast, Snowbasin offers a luxury resort experience with a state-of-the-art lift system and an Olympic standard ski lodge (complete with chandeliers and marble cladding) and stunning views across the salt flats in the valley. Utah's Greatest Snow on Earth® speaks for itself, falling in bucket-loads on both, with an average of more than 12 metres every winter.
Keeping it Quiet
Little known, both resorts of Powder Mountain and Snowbasin are locals' gems rather than tourist destinations and so are much quieter than some of the more “branded” resorts. In Powder Mountain, this is down to their commitment to 'Preserving the Pow' - even over busy periods they guarantee a minimum of three acres per skier by limiting the number of people on the mountain each day.
Snowbasin's serenity can be attributed to being developed for the Salt Lake Olympics in 2002, without any accommodation at the base, so it has a fraction of the skiers on-mountain of other big name Olympic resorts.
This works its magic for everyone - sure, it's a great place to find untracked powder through the easily accessible glades, but it also means that the plentiful slopes are quiet and remain pristine for longer whenever you choose to visit. Gold dust at half term!
Explore the Mountains Together
The quiet slopes and gentle terrain are perfect for a family holiday and this destination really comes into its own for those who are looking for a little adventure. You don't have to be an experienced skier or rider to get the most out of the mileage here, because it's less about the pitch and more about the opportunity to travel.
In particular, Powder Mountain will create unique memories with its no frills approach to the snow - the in-bounds skiing and snowboarding, split over five peaks, is accessed by nine lifts, a shuttle bus and three snowcats.
And if that's not enough, intrepid explorers can venture out-of-bounds with a guide and even try a snowcat or heli tour.
Authentic Western Town
What child (or grown-up, come to think of it!) doesn't hanker after a little taste of the real American West? Staying in Ogden last April, we discovered a historic railroad town with a cool main street that was bustling with bars and boutiques.
Take a stroll down 25th Street and you are drawn in by its colourful past. The bootleggers that rolled in and out like the trains at Union Station may be long gone, but their spirits linger in the buildings beautifully preserved in homage to the town's roots.
But this is no museum. You will also find loads of great value restaurants, cinemas and the Salomon Center, which houses the Flowrider (an indoor surfing venue), iRock (an indoor climbing venue) and iFly (an indoor skydiving wind tunnel). Ogden is a fabulous base from which to explore the resorts of Powder Mountain and Snowbasin. Just make sure you leave time for skiing!
Incredible Half Term Value
Flights at half term into Salt Lake City are currently cheaper than to most European ski destinations, especially at this late booking stage. Coupled with some of the cheapest lift pass prices in North America, from £57 per adult per day and from £23 per child per day, plus a great kids ski school from only £110 per day including lift ticket, it’s very affordable.