With quick direct flight from San Francisco and Oakland to Salt Lake City (only $300 roundtrip on Southwest), Utah is Nirvana for powder hounds.
The Pacific storms that dump heavy "Sierra cement" on the Sierra Nevada proceed east across the desert basins of Nevada and the Great Salt Lake, drying out just enough to bless the state's Rocky Mountain Wasatch range with waist-deep coats of fluffy, ultralight powder—the stuff that makes Utah skiing and snowboarding totally out of this world. Here's our guide to Utah's best spots to shred.
This old-school resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon is a skiers-only paradise, dishing out some of the best conditions in the state. For those lucky enough to be on the hill after an "interlodge" avalanche control closure (no skiing, driving, or hanging outside your lodge), Alta is a powder dog's dream come true. Take the Collins lift to High Traverse to access the long, steep pitch known as Alf's High Rustler, named after legendary ski jumper Alf Engen. This is one of Alta's most esteemed powder runs, and, as the locals say, "getting there can be half the fun." // alta.com
Utah locals love Snowbird's steep, deep runs on powder days. Experts head to North Baldy during, or just after, snow storms for legendary descents of 1,200 vertical feet with 40-degree pitches, tree-lined chutes, and rugged cliffs above a hanging snowfield. Also worthy: exceptional runs in the Mineral Basin on the backside of the mountain, and runs off the Cirque Traverse and Little Cloud Bowl. // snowbird.com
Solitude's Honeycomb Canyon offers some of the sweetest off-piste terrain in the state, especially after a powder dump. Drop in for some steep tree action, cruise its chutes, and then make your way back to the Summit Express chair for another run. // skisolitude.com
Jupiter Peak in the background. (Chris Pearson)
For a big-resort experience, head to Park City Mountain, whose recent merger with Canyons Resort has made this the largest ski mecca in the nation. A myriad of options for powder runs in Jupiter Bowl include awesome tree runs in the pines off Portuguese Gap and scary steepness on the West Face. // parkcitymountain.com
Of course, the best powder skiing is found in Utah's backcountry. Park City Powder Cats & Heli-Ski, located a half-hour drive from Park City, can get you (for $549 per person) to wide, open untracked bowls and glades of fresh powder for you to enjoy all day long. This outfit has exclusive rights to shred 40,000 acres of the Thousand Peaks Ranch, a privately owned sheep ranch in summer that transforms into a powder seeker's paradise in winter. // pccats.com
Can you keep a secret? This uncrowded, off-the-beaten-track resort in the Ogden Valley offers a whopping 8,464 acres of in-bound terrain, an average of more than 37 feet of snow per season, and powder skiing and riding aplenty (and, it's only about an hour's drive from Salt Lake International Airport). A maximum of 2,000 lift tickets are sold each day, so you may feel like you have the slopes to yourself. Aside from Powder Mountain's in-bound runs, resort snowcats can take you on guided runs ($450 per person) in the snowy stashes of Gertsen Canyon. // powdermountain.com