Snowbird Skiing & Snowboarding

Our Terrain Ratings

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

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
Frontside Snowbird Trail Map
Mineral Basin Mineral Basin Trail Map
  • Vertical (ft)
    7,760 – 11,000 (2,900)
  • Average Snow Fall
    500 inches
  • Lifts (11)
    1 Tram
    6 High-Speed Quads
  • Ski Season
    mid Nov - mid May
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 169
    Longest run – 2.5mi
    Size - 2500 ac
    Beginner - 27%
    Intermediate - 38%
    Advanced/Expert - 35%

Snowbird Skiing and Snowboard Terrain

Die-hard powder hounds ski Snowbird because it is famous for steep and deep. The Snowbird Resort has some incredibly rugged terrain which includes terrifyingly steep bowls, chutes, tree runs and cliff drops. Off-piste Snowbird skiing is not for the faint of heart, although on-piste the resort has highway-wide groomed runs for non-experts.

The upper reaches of Snowbird Resort are devoid of trees. Further down there are trees, but they are reasonably spaced. Consequently there are potential lines everywhere, and if you can find an inventive way down, you’ll be rewarded with fresh powder stashes long after the obvious lines are ripped up.

There are three main areas for Snowbird skiing and snowboarding: Peruvian Gulch, Gad Valley and Mineral Basin. The Peruvian Gulch is serviced by the Peruvian Express and the aerial tram, and it features some fabulously nasty runs off the Cirque Traverse that go the whole vertical of the mountain. The area is predominantly north to northeast facing so the snow quality is fantastic. The Gad Valley has terrain suitable for all ability levels, and runs such as Tiger Tail to the skiers’ left of the Gad 2 chair provide a backcountry-type experience. Mineral Basin is on the backside of the mountain and is tamer than the front-side. It is south facing so it’s a good place for some sunbaking, and you could pretend you’re in Europe considering the terrain is wide open with just smatterings of trees. The abundance of powder might be a give-away that you’re in Utah!

Alta Snowbird – Neighbours

Alta, a skiers-only mountain, is just as fabulous as Snowbird Resort unless of course you’re a snowboarder. The two resorts are connected by a trail between Snowbird’s Mineral Basin and Alta’s Albion Basin. This access might be closed in inclement weather, so one alternative is to catch a bus. Experts can also ski between Alta and Snowbird via the ridge between the two resorts.

Lifts

The icon of Snowbird skiing is the aerial tram which whisks skiers up the whole vertical of the mountain in 7-8 minutes, and is guaranteed to make anyone slightly scared of heights feel woozy. However it’s a cable car so it’s not a particularly efficient way to get up the mountain considering you have to wait for its arrival. Snowbird Resort also has 6 high speed detachable quad chairs which make the double lifts seem painfully slow.

The tunnel at the top of the Peruvian Gulch has a magic carpet to transport skiers and boarders through to Mineral Basin. The tunnel is an amazing engineering feat and there are lots of historic photos, artefacts and signs on the journey but you have to read them quickly. It offers a relaxed alternative to the tram in getting to the backside of the mountain, and overcomes some of the disadvantages of the tram – cost, wind closures, lift queues and fearful vertigo.

The tram is the only lift that has issues with lines, especially on weekends, holidays and powder days. On busy days there is a lot of angst as powder-hungry skiers queue up, cram into the tram, and rush at the top to elbow their way to the fresh powder. The mad scramble continues on the Cirque Traverse.

Night skiing is available on Chickadee (beginners’ lift) on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, which makes things pretty interesting for those trying to walk between the Cliff Lodge and other Snowbird buildings!

Lift Tickets

Pass prices are split into chairlifts only, or aerial tram and chairlifts, which is a little more expensive. The combined lift ticket for Alta Snowbird is a little more again. At the other end of the spectrum, a Chickadee pass for beginners is very inexpensive.

Snowbird is accessible off the Mountain Collective pass and the Ikon Pass which provide savings to ski Snowbird as well as many other resorts.

Snowbird Snow

Snowbird ski resort really does have “the greatest snow on earth” and plenty of it. Snowbird averages approximately 500 inches of unusually low-density, dry powder annually. Thanks to the ideal geography of a tight canyon and the Lake Effect phenomenon, Snowbird often has snow storms that are measured in feet not inches. The resort also has some manmade snow.

The front face is mostly north facing, and it has the highest elevation of the Utah ski resorts which helps keep the powder fluffy. Subsequently, Snowbird enjoys a long season from November to late May.

Due to the volume of riders that hit Snowbird en masse on a powder day, the resort tends to get skied out much quicker than Alta. The obvious lines are all taken by 10am, leaving only the secret stashes for the regulars.

When there is not a substantial base, take care of your newly P-texed bases up on the Cirque Traverse, as this highly trafficked area has some nasty sharp rocks.

Ski Snowbird - Beginners

For a resort renowned for testing slopes, the terrain surprisingly has 27% green runs, so on the face of it you’d think this is an excellent resort for beginners. Think again! OK it’s not that bad! Snowbird is brilliant for complete novices, particularly those staying at the Cliff Lodge who can enjoy the superb convenience of the ski-in ski-out lodging via the Chickadee run. This run is wide and mellow and aptly rated as green, and it sits in the sun so beginners are fooled into thinking that skiing is not a cold activity! From the village other green terrain can be accessed off the Wilbere lift, with one run that crisscrosses the steeper runs.

Most of the green terrain is accessed off the Baby Thunder Lift which has a few problems. Firstly the lift is nowhere near the village so getting there for overnight guests is an adventure in itself. Secondly apprehensive beginners need to be aware that Big Emma isn’t your average beginner run, and would probably be rated as blue at other resorts (at these they’ve finally rated the top part as blue). Lastly, Snowbird Resort chooses to close the Baby Thunder lift sometimes on weekdays (it was closed the whole time we were last there) which cuts off the majority of the beginner and easy blue terrain.

On a clear day, very confident beginners can venture to Mineral Basin (to ride the dark green Lupine Loop) so long as they download the tram to get home. They shouldn’t even entertain the thought of skiing down the frontside of Snowbird!

Intermediate Skiing Snowbird

Snowbird has plenty of blue runs off all the chairs, although many of them are “dark blue” runs. Some of the standard blue runs become “dark blue” when they’re not groomed, so check the grooming report. And considering that the mountain is so steep, most runs don’t drop fall-line but rather painfully zigzag their way down the mountain.

The longest trail, Chip’s run has variable pitch and can be particularly challenging in places, especially where it narrows, and when jibbers zoom in front of you to head for the tempting sides. On low visibility days, runs such as Chip’s can become a little more daunting because the terrain is rather open and it’s not always obvious where the blue run is.

Mineral Basin has a couple of blue runs that are appropriately rated (if they’re groomed).

Terrain Parks and Pipes

Snowbird seems to have left building terrain parks to other Utah ski resorts such as Park City. The resort has one small baby park, but of course the whole mountain is one big terrain park!

Advanced Skiing Snowbird

Snowbird skiing and snowboarding is fantastic for advanced riders considering the long steep pitches, and the “ego” snow. Some of the single black diamond runs such as Regulator Johnson are really good for the self-esteem because they might be groomed. There are lots of other cut black runs, but they tend to mogul up quickly, particularly the obvious descents such as Primrose Path.

Great tree runs can be found in the Gad 2 lift area, but take great care especially around the Doors. Some areas have sign-posting to indicate there are cliffs in the region, but don’t expect the actual cliff to be marked. If you are keen to keep your equipment on the snow, check your speed through these areas.

Little Cloud is a great lift because you can lap great advanced runs at high elevation.

Mineral Basin is a mega playground. The “Path to Paradise” traverse gets a bit tiresome, but it’s worth it because the aspect gets better the further you head to skiers’ right.

Snowbird Skiing and Boarding - Experts

Snowbird is paradise for expert skiers and snowboarders considering the combination of steep and deep to be found across all regions of the resort. There are stacks of areas or runs that are double black, but there is incredible variability in the degree of difficulty of these. For advanced to expert skiers, an unintimidating run is to take a low Baldy Traverse off the Peruvian Express, and then play anywhere in the Fields of Glory.

Most expects want to give the bowls and chutes off Cirque Traverse a whirl. The Cirque Traverse itself will scream of “Groundhog Day” but there is amazing variety in the steep runs off it. You’ll exclaim “Great Scott” as you drop down the run of the same name, and scare yourself on Barry Barry Steep. Pack a spare pair of undies.

For the Powder Hound

As to be expected with a steep resort with so much snow, avalanche risk is ever present so no one would think you strange if you carried avalanche safety gear in-bounds. When conditions dictate, temporary closures of certain areas are required for avalanche control. Of course the added benefit is that when the area is opened, more freshies are on offer.

In bounds, essentially the whole mountain is good for powder, but the Cirque and Little Cloud Bowl are exceptional. “Woo hoos” and “yippees” will abound. There are also fabulous out-of-bounds opportunities, accessible through designated gates.

For more detailed information on the terrain at Snowbird, have a read of “The Powder Hound’s Guide to Snowbird”. We didn’t write it, but considering the name it must be fantastic!