4. Get airlifted to the slopes.
Wasatch Powder Guides runs heli-ski (or snowboard) tours directly from Snowbird or Canyons resorts, which means you can hop in a helicopter as soon as the resorts get tracked out to be shuttled to another few thousand square miles of never-been-touched dry Utah pow. WPG tours average about 30,000 vertical feet per day, rarely repeating a line for 7 hours straight, and has permits to air-drop you at the best spots (they choose terrain based on your personal ability levels and whims) in the Wasatch and Uintas.
For the non-ballers out there, cat-skiing is usually less than half the price, but is just as convenient, feels almost as fancy, and still gives you all kinds of bragging rights to your friends back home. Park City Powder Cats operates out of Thousand Peaks Ranch, where they’ve cordoned off their own “private ski resort” that’s bigger than Whistler, Vail, Mammoth, and Snowbird combined. They cover their 40,000 acres of terrain in fancy, heated, 10-seat snowcats, where you can thaw out and grab some snacks between runs. A snack-wagon to powder-filled bowls, epic tree runs through the aspens, and steep lines of unbroken powder? Absolutely worth doing at least once in your life.
HITTING THE OPEN ROAD, loaded to the gills with gear, plans to live in a truck camper for two months — my brother and I knew this was a road trip of epic proportions that we didn’t want to let pass by, so we pulled the trigger and headed north to Alaska, with hopes of extending our winter as spring approached at home in Sun Valley, Idaho.
After finally committing to the trip, Yancy and I spent a week packing all the winter camping gear we could think of. We carefully put together a quiver of split boards, pow surfers, approach skis, and high-powered snowmobiles to prepare for any terrain conditions. Feeling equipped to tackle the Powder Highway, we blazed into Canada and pointed it towards Revelstoke, BC and the Monashee Mountains.
Best spot on the slopes: Molly Green’s, Brighton
12601 E Big Cottonwood Canyon, Brighton, UT
Molly Green’s exists precisely for those days when you just can’t be bothered to pull your boots off before tucking into a gigantic heap of nachos.
Short of providing beer service on the chairlift, Brighton could not have made apres easier for you. Just ski, slide, tumble, or have your buddies drag you into the cozy cabin at the base of the hill for the best on-mountain place to sit for a beer, a nacho mountain, a handful of Gaz-Ex wings burning a hole into your hand, and a three-hour brag session about the backside 3 you seriously can’t believe nobody saw you spin.
Hint: Increase the difficulty level of the tricks you landed incrementally in accordance with the number of beers you drink. (I mean, it was really probably more like a backside 5, anyway.)
You’ll need a breath mint after: The Cotton Bottom Inn
2820 E 6200 S, Holladay, UT
Many an epic pow day has ended here. The Cotton Bottom is located just past the 215 on your way down from Brighton or Solitude.
Finishing your day here is akin to finishing your day in the basement bachelor pad of an old friend. Pile in through the kitchen (has anybody ever even seen the front door open?), grab some pitchers of one of the four beers on tap, and don’t bother messing with the menu. You want what everybody else is having, and your server already knows what it is — the garlic burger.
The name doesn’t lie. It’s garlicky heaven sandwiched between squishy rectangles of bread fused together with American cheese. Don’t ask for fries. You get a bag of chips and a beer with this burger.
Milly Bowl – Brighton Back
in the good old years, Mt. Millicent was a forgotten side slope with a slow 2-seater that stayed untouched for days. Though now equipped with a high-speed quad, Milly still has no lines and opens a playground of options for spinning hot laps all day. Drop down the gut of Milly Bowl for glory faceshots that your friends can see from the chair, or play in the cliffs, chutes, or groomers that flank this often overlooked stash.
World-record shot ski
This year, the parade was immediately preceded by the setting of a new world record in shot-ski length, under the auspices of Breckenridge Distillery. The grand total was 973 feet of conjoined skis, supporting who knows how many adult beverages. At the count of 3, it was bottoms up! The previous record was a measly 769 feet set last year in Fernie, BC.
All of this beseeching of the god of snow seems to work—over the last 10 days, 30 inches have fallen on Breck, with more in the forecast.
1. Every friggin’ inch of Park City’s terrain parks
There’s a reason Park City can’t seem to stay off all kinds of “top terrain parks” lists from all over the world. They’ve got some of the most delightfully twisted minds in the industry setting up their features — the creativity here is constantly off the charts. Just look at Neff Land, for example. They could have slacked on this smaller, progression-focused park, but what you get instead is a ticket to Candyland with wacky neon-colored features, including an insane double candy-cane jib, a snow cone bonk, ice cream and cupcakes, and a bunch of other features I’d be tempted to eat.
Then head over to 3 Kings, which is engineered for long, perfect park laps, day or night. There are rails and boxes of all shapes and sizes scattered all over, along with some pretty hefty jumps, wall rides, and a brand new wrecking ball feature, affectionately being referred to as “Miley.”
King’s Crown is set to open later this season, with booters as huge as 80 feet from lip to knuckle, along with the legendary 22-foot Eagle Superpipe. While I’ll probably scoot WAY off to the side and sit those out, I’ll have my eyes peeled for some of the biggest names in freeskiing and snowboarding honing their tricks here — from Tom Wallisch and Alex Schlopy to Sage Kotsenburg and Torah Bright. This has been the chosen site for Olympic Qualifiers for the last few Olympics, including this year’s games in Sochi.
Viking dog at Ullr Fest in Breckenridge.
Average annual snowfall at each of Utah’s 14 mountain resorts.
- Cumulative vertical feet you can careen down on skis in the entire state of Utah: 31,117 (That’s about 25 Empire State Buildings.)