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Snowbird
Snowbird resort.jpg
Aerial view of the Snowbird resort in July. In the upper left, the red aerial tram can be seen.
Location: Little Cottonwood Canyon
Nearest city: Salt Lake City, Utah
Coordinates: 40°34′52″N 111°39′23″W / 40.58111°N 111.65639°W / 40.58111; -111.65639 (Snowbird)
Vertical: 3,240 ft (990 m)
Top elevation: 11,000 ft (3,400 m)
Base elevation: 7,760 ft (2,370 m)
Skiable area: 2,500 acres (10 km2)
Runs: 89 total
Ski trail rating symbol-green circle.svg 27% easiest
Ski trail rating symbol-blue square.svg 38% more difficult
Ski trail rating symbol-black diamond.svg 35% most difficult
Longest run: 2.5 mi (4.0 km) (Chip's Run)
Lift system: 13 lifts: 1 tram, 4 quad chairs, 6 double chairs, 2 surface lifts
Lift capacity: 17,400/hr
Terrain parks: 1
Snowfall: 500+ inches
Web site: Snowbird.com
Inside the Snowbird Cliff Lodge

Snowbird is an unincorporated area based in Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains in Salt Lake County, Utah, United States. It is perhaps most famous for the Snowbird ski resort, an alpine skiing and snowboarding area, which opened in December 1971.

Contents

History

Snowbird is a multi-facility winter and summer resort located in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. Primarily known for its challenging winter powder skiing and snowboarding, the Snowbird resort also hosts hikers, mountain bikers, fishermen, sightseers, and mountain vacationers in other seasons. Set among spectacular crenelated granite mountain peaks, facilities include ski lifts, hotels, condominiums, spa facilities, restaurants, skiing and mountain-resort-related retail businesses, medical services, heli-services and others.

Snowbird was imagined, named, and developed by Ted Johnson. For nearly a decade, Oppenheim managed the Alta Lodge in the town of Alta at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon. During that period he explored the terrain below Alta in the Peruvian Gulch and Emma Mine/Gad Valley watersheds that later became Snowbird. Vision, drive, and fortuitous acquaintances made at the Alta Lodge made it possible for Johnson to begin development of the Snowbird Resort. Johnson, who was well suited to managing rapid development cycles, was also fixated on the central theme of the project, having fun on the mountain. During the development cycle, he, together with a number of the area's more adventurous skiers including Junior Bounous, Eddie Morris, snow ranger Peter Lev and others scored first descents on pitches that were to become essential to the Snowbird legend.

Johnson met Dick Bass, a Texas oilman, in 1969, and the two of them opened Snowbird in 1971. In 1974, he sold his interest in Snowbird to Bass. Bass's achievement is remarkable in that Snowbird, which operates almost entirely on National Forest Service land and has ownership rights to a very small holding, relies for revenue on skiers, snowboarders and other visitors, unlike so many ski resorts that are little more than real estate developments.

Before Little Cottonwood Canyon became popular with skiers, miners discovered deposits of silver ore within the glacial canyon. The history of Little Cottonwood Canyon and the town of Alta dates back to the 19th Century, when a soldier in the U.S. Army first prospected for silver in 1869. The tiny minerals he stumbled upon soon supported a massive industry. Little Cottonwood Canyon became one of the largest producers of silver ore in the Wasatch Mountains. Known as the Emma Mine and the namesake for the Big Emma run in Snowbird’s Gad Valley, the soldier’s find eventually produced more than $3.8 million in silver.

At its peak, 8,000 people lived and worked in the narrow canyon, which held two smelters, 138 homes, hotels, boarding houses, stores and even a railroad. The entire town was later destroyed by a series of avalanches. [1]

Ski resort

Snowbird resort is a year-round ski and summer resort located in the heart of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest on the eastern border of the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy. It is 29 miles (46 km) from Salt Lake International Airport, 24 miles (38 km) from downtown Salt Lake City and 4 miles (7 km) east of the suburb of Sandy. The resort first opened in December 1971.

Snowbird shares the canyon with neighbor Alta Ski Area. Beginning in the winter of 2002, both resorts began offering a joint day pass and a joint season ticket, allowing skiers to fully access all of the terrain on both mountains (26 total ski lifts and tows and a skiable area of 4,700 acres (19 km²)). The offer coincided with the opening of a new lift in Mineral Basin, a large bowl owned by Snowbird on the back of Snowbird's Hidden Peak and Alta's Sugarloaf mountains, that allowed access to Alta from the Basin. Other access points between the two resorts exist as well. The offer is open to skiers only, as a result of Alta's skiers-only policy.

Both receive over 500 inches (12.7 m) of snowfall per year, with a single storm capable of producing over 100 inches due to lake effect enhancement from the Great Salt Lake, making it the greatest area of snowfall in the mainland United States outside the Cascades. Unlike the humid and wet snow of the Cascades near the Pacific Ocean, Snowbird being in the arid Great Basin is known for its unusually dry and powdery snow.

Snowbird usually closes on Memorial Day in late May while the occasional ski year can last as long as the Fourth of July. The Little Cottonwood Canyon resort perennially offers the longest ski season in Utah. Snowbird has a skiable area of 2,500 acres (10 km²) with a vertical drop of 3,240 ft (990 m) from the summit of Hidden Peak, which has an elevation of above 11,000 ft (3400 m). Hidden Peak is serviced by an aerial tram from the lodges.

The resort covers three drainage areas, each with a unique character. The Peruvian Gulch side was the least crowded of the three until they put in the new Peruvian chairlift, but is still exceptional on a good powder day. The Gad Valley has the widest range of skiable terrain, from the slow-skiing Big Emma to steep Regulator Johnson. The third, and most recently developed bowl, is Mineral Basin --- which tends to be warmer and more open than the other two. The strong point of the resort is the aerial tram which provides access to 3,000 feet (900 m) vertical.

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Facilities

Snowbird currently has 11 ski lifts (4 High-Speed Quads, 6 Doubles, and a surface lift), an aerial tram, and a 600-foot tunnel enclosing a one-way conveyor lift connecting Peruvian Gulch to Mineral Basin allowing easier access for beginners and intermediates to new terrain. The tunnel, the first of its kind in North America, also allows for skier transport when winds require the closing of the aerial tram.

The Little Cottonwood Canyon resort has a total of four lodges, including the Iron Blosam, the Inn, the Lodge at Snowbird, and the Cliff Lodge. The resort also has many gift shops, restaurants, arcades, a popular fine-dining Sunday brunch, hiking trails, several pools, a full-service spa, and a luge.

Snowbird also offers one of the most accessible mountain meeting destinations in North America. The resort has 50,000 square feet of meeting space along with 31 meeting rooms and a 15,000-square-foot Event Center available in the summer.

Awards

Skiing Magazine ranked the Alta-Snowbird ski area second in North America overall and first in the United States for the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons. According to SKI Magazine (October 2002) Snowbird ranked 20th in North America with Gold Medals in Snow, Access, Challenge, Terrain, Scenery, Weather and Lifts. In specific categories it was ranked No. 3 in North America for Snow, No. 4 in North America for Challenge, and No. 5 in North America for Terrain. Snowbird ranks as the second best resort in North America, being runner-up to the famed Whistler Blackcomb resort in Canada, according to Skiing Magazine. More recently, Outside Magazine named Alta-Snowbird the #1 ski destination in North America for the 2008-09 season. The Ski School at Snowbird is well-regarded and two of Snowbird’s Mountain School Instructors, Rob Sogard and Nancy Thoreson, made SKI Magazine’s Top 100 list.

Images

External links


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