Powder Mountain Resort in Utah is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders. As part of a series on ski resorts, Huffington Post Travel offers our guide to Powder Mountain, featuring all the key information snow lovers need to know before they hit the slopes.
The BasicsPowder Mountain Resort is a high-altitude resort located in the Wasatch Front, a metropolitan region of Utah that includes the cities of Provo, Salt Lake City and Ogden, and where the vast majority of the state's population resides. Located 90 minutes from the Salt Lake International Airport, Powder Mountain offers more than 7,000 acres of skiable terrain, more than any other resort in the U.S., according to Gadling. This includes a 4,000-acre backcountry area serviced by fully-tracked vehicles known as snowcats that carry skiers and snowboarders on day safaris. Night skiing is offered until 9 p.m., seven nights a week. The ski season runs mid-November to mid-April, conditions permitting.
The MountainAt Powder Mountain, skiers seldom have to worry about skiing on artificial snow. With an annual average of more than 500 inches of natural snowfall, Powder Mountain is proof of Utah's boast to having "the greatest snow on earth." There are multiple peaks inside the resort area, with a vertical drop of 2,205 feet for lift-serviced areas and 2,500 feet for non-lift areas. The highest peak served by a lift is at Hidden Lake Lodge, which sits at an altitude of 8,900 feet. The highest point is James Peak at 9,422 feet and only reachable via a snowcat ride. The base elevation of the resort is 6,900 feet.
Trails And LiftsPowder Mountain has 135 runs and two terrain parks serviced by four chairlifts, including a high-speed quad, and three tow lifts for the beginner slopes. Shuttle and snowcat rides take skiers to the non-lift areas of the resort. All "cat skiing" runs in the inbound area terminate at a chairlift that tranports skiers back to the lift-serviced areas of the mountain. Backcountry snowcat safaris are for experienced skiers who are comfortable skiing in ungroomed powder. First-timers to Powder Mountain can meet daily at 10 a.m. at the trail map sign next to the Yurt at the Resort Center for a free mountain orientation; the tour lasts one to two hours.
In The NewsMagazine awards abound at Powder Mountain. In the October 2011 issue of Ski, Powder Mountain captured several honors in the magazine's annual reader's survey of North American resorts, including third place in the all-important category for best snow. Ski readers on a budget especially like the resort's value, ranking it No. 1 in the category. In the 'character' category, Powder Mountain ranked No. 10.
CostA variety of lift ticket rates are available at Powder Mountain. The cheapest rate is $18 for a night pass, which has limited runs and hours. The $63 day/night pass allows unlimited skiing on whatever trails are open at any time of day or night. Senior passes for $27 are offered during the day, as is a $42 military rate. Children 6 and younger ride all lifts for free, as do seniors 80 and older. All snowcat rides are $18 each. Discounted multiday passes ranging from two to seven days are also available from $105 to $322. Individual and family season passes are also offered in a variety of price ranges. First-timers can take a three-hour lesson that includes rental equipment and a lift pass for $120.
Apres-SkiUnlike the resorts in the bustling Park City area farther south, Powder Mountain is more remote and lacks nightlife opportunities. Apres-ski here is limited to activities such as hanging out in the hot tub at the slope-side accommodations. For a different kind of apres-ski experience, take the Snowcat Sunset Safari. This nonskiing guided tour heads to the top of the mountain for a spectacular view of the surrounding area at sunset. The tour includes alfresco dining along the way and returns to the resort center under a moonlit sky.
WATCH: Powder Mountain Resort
Skiers and snowboarders await the arrival of a snowcat to whisk them off to some of the best unpacked terrain at Powder Mountain Resort in Utah.