January 28 2010 by Mike Mason
I have to admit my bias up front. I grew up in Utah, skiing on the Wasatch Mountains most weekends in the winter as a kid. It is really the only skiing I have ever known. So, throwing terms around as it being the best or better than other places, I really don't have a point of reference. But I did grow up with the Utah state tourism motto (and still displayed on many state license plates) "Greatest Snow on Earth". I guess there is a real difference in the snow. I only pick that fact up from qualitative data gathered from many hours of ski lift conversations with people from all over the US and the world. There is something different about it. What exactly?
For full details you can watch this:
Quick summary: It has something to do with the snow being drier (less moisture content) and the amount of snow that falls related to the "lake effect" generated by the non-freezing Great Salt Lake. It's all very scientific stuff, apparently. But it makes for lots of white, light, crystallized...um, powder.
All I know is nothing beats catching a Utah ski day after a huge storm has deposited 6-8 inches of new, light, white fluffy stuff on the slopes. Skiing on these days (hopefully with plenty of sunshine) is like skiing through cotton or sugar or fine sand. There is just something magical about it. It gives the feeling of gliding smoothly, effortless, versus the grating and scraping sounds you hear on the harder groomed runs. It also takes a slightly different set of skills as opposed to skiing on groomed trails. And from my younger, more adventurous day, I can attest that landing in soft powder snow beats landing on hard packed ice any day.
Being January, there is still plenty of great powder left. And there are a bunch of Best Western's both in Park City and around Salt Lake City that are 10-15 minutes (or less) from the slopes:
If you are heading this way I recommend Alta for skiers (they don't allow snowboarders) searching for the most powder. The alternate is Snow Bird, located next door to Alta, which does allow snowboarders and features a tram to help get you up to the top of the mountain fast.