This Quiet Ski Resort Might Be Utah's Best-kept Secret
In an era of overcrowded ski areas and pricey lift tickets, this resort is doing things differently.
If you've skied this season, you're probably well aware of the virus' effect on the sport — social distancing made lift lines longer, reservation systems were a headache, and even with plenty of well-meaning policies in place, ski areas were busy. Really busy.
As a native Colorado skier based at a more remote ski area, I'm used to minimal queues and wide-open ski runs, but all that changed this year. So, when I heard about a little-known ski area in Utah that has more skiable terrain than Whistler Blackcomb or Park City, and promises powder days — not just powder mornings — I was intrigued.
It turns out, Powder Mountain, nicknamed Pow Mow, lives up to its name. The resort averages over 500 inches of 100% natural snow — none of that icy man-made stuff — and during my trip, a mere five inches of snow overnight resulted in powder laps until closing the next day. It was a true test of my new DPS Alchemist Yvette skis, which performed like champs, and my ski season quads.
The long-lasting powder is thanks to the mountain's sheer amount of terrain paired with limited lift tickets — something Powder Mountain started doing long before COVID and plans to continue.
"The unique skiing experience is being preserved by only allowing 1,500 tickets daily and 3,000 season passes yearly. We usually average about three acres per skier on our busiest days," JP Goulet, director of marketing for Powder Mountain, tells Travel + Leisure.
But don't think that because lift tickets sales are limited, they're pricey. A one-day lift ticket is just $99 — compare that to $239 at Steamboat over the holidays. Plus, the resort is just a one-hour drive from Salt Lake City.
If Powder Mountain sounds like a hidden ski paradise, that's because it is. (It's even located between the towns of Eden and Paradise, if you need more proof.) But, as any snow bunny knows, there's more to a resort than skiing. Here's what you need to know to make your Pow Mow trip feel like paradise.
You won't find a St. Regis or Four Seasons at Powder Mountain, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice luxury accommodations and ski-in, ski-out access. Instead of a hotel room, you'll have an entire house, condo, or townhome. And if you're lucky, you'll get to stay in Pow Mow's new Horizon neighborhood, which has ski-in, ski-out access and incredible views.
The modern, minimal structures are a far cry from the Swiss chalet or log cabin look found at other resorts — in a good way. The hip, next-generation ski neighborhood sits on top of the mountain and offers endless vistas. The project was spearheaded by the Summit Series community, who bought Powder Mountain in 2013.
In fitting with the anti-development feel of Powder Mountain, you won't see a base-area Starbucks, but you will find four on-mountain lodges that dole out delicious eats. Goulet says you'll find anything from "Mexican food to renowned ramen, available in the Powder Keg [inside Timberline Lodge]."
And if you stick around for night skiing (highly recommended), nothing beats sitting on the deck at Sundown Lodge with a slice of pizza and a beer, watching skiers fly down the mountain.
When it's time to après-ski, drop by the Powder Keg inside Timberline Lodge. "At 3 p.m., head into the Powder Keg, order a local beer on tap, and get your dancing shoes on," says Goulet, adding that you'll find live music there five nights a week.
Part of the reason Powder Mountain's massive amount of terrain slips under the radar is because a good chunk of it is accessed by foot, snowcat, or shuttle.
With that in mind, one of the best things you can do at Pow Mow is take advantage of their snowcat rides, which open up an entirely new part of the mountain. For even more untouched terrain, check out the mountain's guided, backcountry trips, which are perfect for the skier who likes the challenge of a good skin up and the reward of untracked powder on the way down.
And finally, if you just can't get enough of the good stuff, stick around for night skiing, which is included in the price of your lift ticket.