Snowbasin Ski Area

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
Snowbasin Trail Map
  • Vertical (ft)
    6,450 - 9,350 (2,900)
  • Average Snow Fall
    300 inches
  • Lifts (11)
    3 gondolas
    1 high speed 6-pack
  • Ski Season
    9:00am to 4:00pm
    Late Nov to mid April
  • Terrain Summary
    Area - 3,000ac
    Runs – 107
    Longest run – 3.5mi
    Beginner - 7%
    Intermediate - 37%
    Advanced - 47%
    Expert - 9%

Snowbasin Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Snowbasin ski resort hosted the Downhill and Super G events at the 2002 Olympics, which provides some indication of the terrain. With 2,900 ft of vertical, top to bottom lift infrastructure, plenty of pitch, and wide open highway runs, Snowbasin can be a real leg burner. A huge amount of the trails are rated for advanced and expert skiers, and this doesn’t include the many off-piste areas through powder bowls and gladed areas. The low percentages of terrain for beginners and intermediates doesn’t equate to inadequate terrain for these ability levels, because the resort is quite large at 3,000 acres. And with small crowds spread across all this space, it sometimes feels completely deserted, particularly midweek. This is an advantage for powder hounds because fresh lines can last for several days after a storm.

Orientation to the Snowbasin ski resort is easy considering that the terrain is essentially spread across one face. The ski area can be loosely divided into three vertical sections: Strawberry; Needles; and John Paul/ Allen’s Peak. The Strawberry section is serviced by a fast gondola, the Strawberry Express. The trees are relatively sparse, and much of the terrain is bowls for intermediate and advanced riders. The Needles section encompasses the original terrain prior to the Olympics expansion. The trails are wide and get progressive gentler as they near the base. The John Paul/Allen’s Peak section is serviced by the John Paul Express quad lift and the Mt. Allen Tram. This is where the Olympic downhill course zipped down the incredibly steep trails. The terrain is gnarly and predominantly for experts, with lots of tree skiing. Expert terrain in the form of chutes, cliffs, and cornices ring the resort above the lift serviced runs.

Snowbasin Lifts

Plenty of vertical can be covered in a day considering the speedy lifts. Two gondolas service almost two-thirds of the terrain, so it would be possible to avoid any cold chair lift rides. Sadly, that would mean missing out on some choice lines. The chair lifts service some magnificent terrain, and provide the best way to avoid any powder morning lift lines. Some of the original triple chair lifts access some under-utilised terrain perfect for the powderhound.

The history of the Olympics is obvious on the Strawberry gondola where each gondola cabin is dedicated to a country that participated in the 2002 games. And if you want to ride the Mt Allen Tram to have a look at the Men’s downhill start, it will be made very obvious to you that there is no easy route down. Not only is there signage, but they also employ someone specifically to sit in the tram to tell you. This is definitely not a lift for canoodling!

Lift Tickets

The price of a lift pass at Snowbasin is incredibly reasonable considering the quality of the lifts, snow-making and facilities. The locals receive a significant discount with a special card, but out-of-towners can also get a discount at ski or snowboard shops.

Snow and Weather

Yep, you guessed it. This is Utah and it pukes a lot of quality snow. Visiting anytime from January to early April will pretty much guarantee premium snow. And during late March and April there are some massive storms that dump snow in Utah.

Even with an average of 300 inches of snow annually, snowmaking is required particularly early season. During these times the cover can be thin on the lower parts considering the low elevation. More than 21 percent of the terrain has snowmaking, and Snowbasin is incredibly proud of the magnitude and technology related to their artificial snow. In addition to the usual shortcomings of skiing on fake snow, the artificial snow has a suspicious yellow colour to it!

Visibility can be an issue as some of the groomed runs are exposed and wide, with little protection from trees. If it wasn’t for the ugly lines of snow-making guns, it would be hard to detect the edge of the run.

Snowbasin Skiing for the Beginner

Novices have an area serviced by the Powder Puff magic carpet and the Little Cat chair. It includes a dedicated fenced off area away from the scary fast riders descending to the Needles gondola. For more progressive beginners there are various trails off the triple chairs. All novices should take the ride up the Needles Gondola and enjoy the grand views. You can download the gondola if needs be.

Intermediate Skiing Terrain

The Needles and Strawberry areas both provide lots of variety for intermediates. Snowbasin is characterised by long top to bottom groomers that will guarantee to have the legs burning by the bottom. Unfortunately it doesn’t have the fall line skiing of Deer Valley or Park City, with various runs on significant camber. Another slight downfall is the lack of sign-posting on the way down, so on a low visibility day it’s possible to accidentally stray off the main trail.

Intermediates trying their luck in powder for the first time will find oodles of opportunities either side of the groomers under the Strawberry Express, skiers right off the Becker Chair and under the Porcupine chair.

For the Family/Kids

The base area near Earl’s Lodge is the main hub for families. It has a beginners’ area, a terrain park, and ski school with the Grizzly Club magic carpet. The snow tubing hill is also not far away from the main base.

Parks and Pipes

Snowbasin is not set up for major freestyling action but has various small terrain parks as well as some natural half-pipes. The Krazy Kat terrain parks are located near the base and are designed for apprentice shredders. The jumps aren’t formed with summer earth works, so their presence is dependent on the snow base depth. More challenging hits can be found at Apex Park near the top of Porcupine lift. Another terrain park is located near the base of the Strawberry gondola. A superpipe is generally located near the base of the John Paul Express but this is snow depth dependent.

For the Advanced Skier and Boarder

Advanced skiers and boarders are superbly catered for at Snowbasin. Test your mettle from the top of the Mt. Allen Tram and zoom down the Olympic Men's Downhill course or wind your way through the trees beneath Women’s Start. This area is marked double black but it should be a manageable challenge for advanced adventurers. The Men’s Start is not groomed so don’t get any ideas about racing down here, unless off course you want to give the passengers on the Mt Allen Tram a thrilling view of a massive stack. Go hard or go home!!! (Wear a helmet!)

Going rider’s right off the John Paul quad will lead towards a selection of smaller ridges. Wildflower Downhill, Grizzly Downhill and Hollywood are the runs to check out. For the speedsters the Grizzly Downhill and Wildflower Downhill are the place to press the pedal to the metal. Both are deceivingly steep with double fall lines. Runs beneath Needles Pork Barrel and Moose Mound will challenge advanced skiers. In the Strawberry Peak area the most difficult terrain is to the skier’s far right towards the area boundary. This area is reminiscent of a smaller version of Vail’s Back Bowls and Jackson’s Hobacks – great fall line, ridges, light trees and bowls. Buckets of fun!

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Snowbasin is blessed with a plethora of expert terrain. The majority of the mega steeps and chutes require some bootpacking and a little bit of local knowledge. Talk to the friendly locals as you ride the gondola. They are a great source of info and can point you in the right direction.

A great option from the top of the Mt Allen Tram is to take the main groomer down the ridge to No Name Peak. This will require a little skating and a 10–15 minute hike, but it will be worth it. From the top of No Name, get ready for a steep consistent pitch of 2,800 vertical feet to the bottom. Lines of choice are anywhere between Wheeler’s and Shooting Star. This entire area eventually funnels into a giant natural halfpipe, which is a bonus after an already epic line. Be aware of cliffs and carefully consider your exit routes, as you can easily end up a long way from the base area, particularly if you ski The Pyramids.

For tree skiers, head left off the Hollywood run to a large section of double-black-diamond trees (Ellison’s, Deane’s and Janis’s). Really steep and consistent lines are found throughout this part of the mountain and will test your skills to the maximum. Remember to exit stage right before you hit the bottom of the gully! Other highly prized expert terrain includes Lone Tree and Arrowhead of De Moisy Peak (access via 10-15 minute bootpack from the Strawberry Express).

For the Powder Hound

Powderhounds will find numerous freshies for days after a storm, particularly midweek when the Ogden locals are all at work. A conservative ski patrol means some expert areas (hike to terrain on the Needles De Moisy Peak and the Mt Ogden chutes etc) may open one to two days following snowfall - saving it for powderhounds.

Easy to get to places for ‘day after freshies’ include Surprise, skiers right off the top of the Porcupine Chair, and anything between the top of the Becker Chair and Penny Lane. In the Strawberry Area, The Walrus Fields and anything off Philpot Ridge will get you face shots, as will anything skiers left of Moonshine Bowl. The John Paul section holds a lifetime of freshie hunting off No Name.

Snowbasin also has an open boundary policy with various access gates to the backcountry areas. Take a tour with the ski patrollers. See the Snowbasin activities  page for more information.