SNOWBIRD RESORT GUIDE
Snowbird Resort Overview
Snowbird, aka "The Bird" is for serious skiers and boarders. This no frills resort is true to its roots as a haven for those seeking powder and steep, rugged terrain. The scenery is spectacular with 360º views of jagged peaks characteristic of the Alps. Hidden Peak (11,000 ft) is the highest lift accessible point in Utah. The light and airy snow is often supercharged by orographic lift or the "lake effect" phenomenon, courtesy of The Great Salt Lake. This, paired with the high elevation, arid climate, and consistent snow means Snowbird is perfectly positioned to receive boatloads of the "Greatest Snow on Earth." Fun Fact: You can find the exact same tram at St. Moritz and it was built in the late 60s by a team of Swiss engineers that spoke nearly no English. This iconic, Swiss-style aerial tramway carries about 100 passengers from the Snowbird Center base area to Hidden Peak in ~8 minutes. The Bird has one of the longest seasons in North America. Average annual snowfall totals 500+ inches and being located on partially on private land, Snowbird often remains open through May (note ski patrol does not perforom any avalanche mitigation in the Gad Valley after late April and it is considered backcountry terrain.)
Snowbird caters to Experts, though there are dedicated areas for beginners and early intermediates at Chickadee near the Snowbird Center and around the Baby Thunder lift (accessible via bubble tunnel from the Creekside Lodge). Intermediate terrain is limited and many Blues are either winding traverses or quite steep. Snowbird Center (the Main Base) has an institutional feel with limited, but high quality, lodging and dining options. There are four Snowbird lodges clustered around the base area, though The Cliff is the only option with ski-in-ski-out access. All are clean, comfortable and have good service (think, the Bandon Dunes of skiing). Snowbird offers 5 or 7 days on the Ikon Pass or 2 or 3 days on the Mountain Collective.
Snowbird is for the adventurous— fall lines are steep and long, the powder is deep, and the terrain is considerably rugged. In fact, you'll often spy mountain goats on Snowbird's rocky slopes in the summer months!
Logistics for a resort of this caliber don't get much easier. A short ride from Salt Lake City and the Snowbird Center has everything you need
Dedicated learning areas, private group options and mountain guides can improve your technique at all ages and levels
Come find "The Greatest Snow on Earth"
Limited terrain for Beginners and Lower Intermediates. Trail ratings are deceiving, this place is steep (Blues here are like Blacks at neighboring Park City resorts)
Crowds — the fine powder and steep fall lines are no secret. Locals flock after big storms and runs are skied out quickly
The après ski scene is small and mellow. It fits the bill after a rigorous day on the mountain, but if looking to party, this is not your spot
The children's lessons program is strong, but family friendly activities and alternatives for non-skiers are lacking
Avoid long waits for the tram to Hidden Peak (esp. on weekends and powder days) by taking the Peruvian Chair to the Peruvian Tunnel (a conveyor belt that literally goes through the mountain), cruise down Mineral Basin and take the 4 minute lift to Hidden Peak
If visibility is poor, steer clear of The Cirque, Hidden Peak, Mineral Basin, and Little Cloud. Instead, head for the trees and protection offered around the Gad II chairlift or Baby Thunder
Intermediates and those newer to the Bird wanting a warm up can take Chip's Run from Hidden Peak. Chip's winds 2.5 miles to the base with several chances to try steeper lines between the winding segments to ease into the tougher pitches
The Cliff Lodge is the most luxurious of the four lodges. The other lodges are simple and comfortable, everything is in walking distance
Though Snowbird often remains open through May; ski patrol does not perform any avalanche mitigation in Gad Valley after late April; backcountry gates are established and it is considered backcountry terrain. Never exit any backcountry gate without a recent avalanche forecast, training, the proper equipment and the knowledge of how to use it
For an in-depth breakdown of Snowbird's terrain, head to our Mountain Guide. Top trails and mountain stats included.
Getting To & Around
There is no need for a car if you plan to stay within the Snowbird / Alta area — it is compact and free shuttle service is available within the area. Uber / Lyft are available and cost effective. We recommend using airport shuttle services for transit during snowier conditions.
Closest Major City: Salt Lake City, UT
Distance: ~32 miles South East, Travel Time: ~ 45 minutes
Closest Major Destination Resorts: Park City & Deer Valley
Distance: ~40 miles, ~1 hour
Travel by Plane
Closest major commercial airport: SLC - (Salt Lake City International)
~32 mi Northwest, ~45 mins
Travel By Bus
UTA buses from downtown Salt Lake to Snowbird are the most cost effective option (fares ~$4.50 one way)
Airport shuttle services is available to/from SLC. Canyon Transport starts at $41 /per person each way
Shuttle service from Park City is available via Canyon Hop; shuttle service from Park City is provided to resort of your choice; starting $59 / person
Snowbird Lodges provide free shuttles within the Snowbird/Alta area
Travel by Car
Cars are not needed if staying in Snowbird or Alta
Pros: Parking is free; provides flexibility to visit other ski areas or go to SLC - overnight parking is limited and restricted to certain areas. It is illegal to sleep in your car at Snowbird or Alta - sorry van lifers!
Cons: 4WD / AWD / snow tires / or chains are required by law during and after heavy snowfall (which happens a lot)!
Ride shares to / from Snowbird are convenient and reasonably pricedUber and Lyft rides to / from SLC airport are ~$40 for up to 4 passengers non-peak