Snowbird: Nested in Little Cottonwood Canyon

An unincorporated community which is located in the Little Cottonwood Canyon along the ranges of Wasatch in the Rocky Mountains is the Snowbird ski resort. The closest city to the resort is Salt Lake County, Utah. The region rose to popularity ever since the Snowbird ski and summer resort came about.

Now, as far as the history behind Little Cotton Canyon is concerned, it is believed to have begun somewhere in the latter parts of the 19th century. It is said that a certain soldier of the United States Army established a silver mining industry anticipating the presence of a considerable amount of reserves in the region. In the due course of time, the silver mining industry grew manifolds resulting in it becoming the only largest producer of silver ore in the Wasatch Mountains. At that point in time it was known as the Emma Mine and borrowing this very name the resort was then christened as the Big Emma Ski run. Furthermore, the resort was then limited to the Gad Valley of Snowbird.

Snowbird Statistics

Base Elevation: 7760 feet

Summit Elevation: 11000 feet

Vertical Drop: 3240 feet

When the silver mining industries were at their peak somewhere around 8000 people are said to have lived and earned their living in the narrow canyons of the region. This tiny town housed as many as 138 homes along with 2 smelters, boarding houses, stores, hotels and a railroad. However, this liveliness was not meant to last very long because a series of avalanches levelled the town.


The one responsible for managing the Alta Lodge (located in the town of Alta, Little Cottonwood Canyon) – Ted Johnson is the one who is credited for the conceptualization and development of the resort. Johnson, in the early parts of the second half of the 1900s, is said to have been exploring the terrain beginning from Alta and then going straight to the Peruvian Gulch and the Emma Mining region and the entire watersheds of the Gad Valley. It is here that he first came up with the idea of Snowbird. Moreover, once he was convinced that such a resort was possible then came in the larger task of accumulating capital for the project. Now, for that purpose he partnered with a Texas-based oilman, Dick Bass. The both of them first were acquainted in the year 1969 and their partnership kicked off from that very instance until Johnson decided to sell his share to Bass in 1974. In any case, their brainchild was on a steady path and started to grow. On a much later date, well, to be precise the 12th of March, 2014 a certain Ian Cumming, a businessman by profession took charge and became the major shareholder of the resort and Bass however still remained in the company but today enjoys the status of a partner. Since this transition the resort has undertaken various cost cutting measures allowing the business to function better with better efficiency.

Over the years, since its opening in the year 1971 the Snowbird ski and summer resort has emerged as one of the most popular Alpine skiing and snowboarding regions. Snowbird’s winter and summer resort is so to say, a multifaceted facility. It is, however, the most famous for the winter powder skiing and snowboarding traditions.

At any given day during the season, you are bound to meet with people who come here for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, along with others who just come here for a vacation so that they can relax and soak in the wilderness. Among the various operational facilities at the resort, firstly one can access everything and explore every terrain (of course depending on the weather conditions). Now, secondly, you will find their ski lifts, hotels, spas, condominiums in addition to retail outlets and medical facilities which are of world class standards.

Furthermore, the resort is situated on the land which officially belongs to the National Forest Services. As far as the ownership rights of the resort alone are concerned, only a small portion of their current possession is actually owned by them.

The Little Cottonwood Canyon is home to not only Snowbird but also the Alta Ski Area and the both of them are separated from each other due to a naturally occurring ridge. Now, despite this so to say divine division both these resorts have been offering joint day passes along with joint season tickets ever since the 2002 winters. Availing these facilities tourists are able to access the terrains spanning across two mountains without indulging into administrative obstructions.

Snowbird by itself is equipped with ski lifts and tows totalling up to 26 in number and a massive acreage reaching 4700 or roughly 19 square kilometres. Furthermore, with the new collaboration numerous newer lifts were opened up in the Mineral Basin along with a beautiful bowl. One of the more famous lifts – the Baldy Express was installed in 2002. Through this lift, passengers can now access the Alta Ski Area from the Basin itself. Additionally, you can otherwise find many ways to access both these resorts if you wish. More importantly, this particular offer can rather sadly only be used by skiers. This is so because Alta has a skier’s only policy which they follow quite strictly.

Snowfall, the one factor which motivates and attracts folks from far and wide, the region is blessed with over 500 inches or about 1,270 cm’s worth of snowfall each year. If you are trying to imagine this much quantity of snow, well, this will give you a bit of perspective – the region receives the second highest snowfall in the whole of United States.

The Great Salt Lake results in a phenomenon which Geologists terms as the lake-effect, now this is a major enabling factor which further translates into greater quantities of snowfall. Furthermore, the region is quite arid because of the Great Basin and the resultant condition that it creates you will find the snowfall in this region to be quite dry and powdery. These are the ideal features of perfect snow.

Snowbird resort ends its season usually during the Memorial Day (last Monday of May). However, this is not really a matter of disappointment for enthusiasts who wish to take their last spins of the season. You guys can get on board the aerial trams and head straight up to the upper parts of the mountain. Atop the mountain, you find over 2500 acres or about 10.1 kilometers squared worth of ski area. The vertical drop from the Hidden Peak (it has an elevation of 11,000 feet) is a straight 3,240 feet or 988 meters approximately. This peak can be accessed using the aerial tram which operates from the base area.

It is the most famous and quite avidly celebrated due to its high-quality snowfall and the wide range of terrains that you find here. The highest ever recorded snowfall in this part of the canyon was in the month of May 2011 when it crossed the 776 inches mark. Snowbird resort spans 3 drainage areas, namely, the Peruvian Gulch, the Gad Valley, and the Mineral Basin.

More than just a resort

While driving through the Little Cottonwood Canyon you are bound to notice the famous granite cliffs while the greatest snow on earth envelops the region. The resort is equipped with a Mountain School which holds popularity across the world and it has all those features which enable it to remain suitable for families.

Here at Snowbird you can use any of the 1125 aerial trams which frequent between elevations ranging from 8,100 to 11,000 feet in just about 8 minutes. Skiers can reach atop the Hidden Peak and also figure out as to why the 2.5 miles long Chips Run is so infamous. The journey on the trams is nothing but the fulfilment of a childhood fantasy.

Your stay at the full-service Snowbird will allow you to experience the best in class customer services and facilities which are focused on your pleasure at your leisure. Just last year Snowbird invested heavily into redeveloping their hiking and mountain biking trails which have been the most popularly chosen activities.

With over 500 inches worth of snowfall in the season, the resort is a snow lover’s haven. Its terrains are well crafted and diverse, from being steep to having the perfect slush facilitating smooth movements. Apart from snowboarding and skiing, you can indulge in a variety of activities and adventures throughout the year. Yes, fun time does not end with winters at all. Summertime is perfect for hiking, mountain biking and fishing.

All these and many more features have enabled Snowbird to feature in the top most positions over the past years. The resort, its mountain slopes are perfect for a grand memorable vacation in the snow. Well, if you always wanted to swim while it snowed then you is headed in the correct direction. Many of the lodges offer heated pools and hot tubs along with spas and 15 of the best restaurants and eateries. The executive chefs at these restaurants have been sourced from the best restaurants across the country.

At a Glance

  • Terrain: The beautifully crafted terrain is adequately categorised to meet with all the necessary requirements of folks of varied capacities.

o    Beginners: 27%

o    Intermediaries: 38%

o    Advanced: 35%

  • Area: 2500 acres
  • Runs: There are 169 runs in total at Snowbird
  • The rate of snowfall: Snowbird receives about 500 inches worth of snowfall each year.

A list of the lifts and activities at Snowbird

  • Aerial Tram
  • Chickadee Chair
  • Peruvian Chair
  • Alpine Slide
  • Mountain Flyer
  • Mountain Coaster
  • Climbing Wall
  • Ropes Course
  • Vertical Drop
  • Bungy Trampoline
  • Gemstone Mining
  • Kid’s Inflatables
  • MTB Rentals
  • MTN Scooters
  • MTB Big Mtn Trail

The most popular runs at Snowbird can be listed as follows:

  • Middle Emma (Green-Easy)
  • West 2nd South (Green-Easy)
  • Goblin Gully (Blue-Intermediate)
  • Regulator Gully (Blue-Intermediate)
  • Bananas (Blue-Intermediate)
  • Fields of Glory (Black Diamond-Technical)
  • Great Scott (Black Diamond-Technical)
  • Organ Grinder (Black Diamond-Technical)
  • Thunder Bowl (Double Black Diamond-Technical)

Must check out features of the resort are as follows:

  • Mountain School: Doesn’t matter if you are a novice or an expert, it is always good to sharpen your skills and remember there the scope of improvement never ceases to exist.
  • The Cliff Spa: Well, guess what, the Cliff Spa is quite literally on a cliff. This rooftop facility offers a whole range of treatments and outdoor pool experiences. There is also a fitness centre along with expert trainers and staff who are there to assist you with every possible need.
  • Guided tours: Here at Snowbird your presence is valued extremely, therefore, everyday complimentary guided tours take place and to access any one of them you will be required to show your lift ticket.
  • Riding on the snowcat: You can enjoy the backcountry like never before. Private and custom tours are also available.
  • Snowmobiling: They usually begin right on the Mineral Basin and operate on a daily basis.

Following is a list of the lodging facilities at Snowbird:

  • The Cliff Lodge & Spa: They have ski-in and ski out accessibility along with complimentary wireless Internet, two lounges, a business centre, three restaurants, and a heated outdoor pool and hot tub complex.
  • Iron Blosam Lodge: They will provide you with as many as 159 varied condo types to choose from. Additionally, there are a pool and spa facilities.
  • The Lodge at Snowbird: It is a slope-side hotel, therefore, you can very well imagine the magnificent view.
  • The Inn: It is located in the Pedestrian Village of Snowbird. The Inn provides the comforts of home with a variety of lodging options.

The most popular dining facilities are as follows:

  • Mid-Gad Restaurant
  • Rendezvous
  • The Forklift
  • The Atrium
  • Creekside Lodge

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