Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah, is the largest ski resort in the United States, but it didn’t start that way. It was initially a summer range for Fred Cobabe’s sheep. Fred accumulated 8,000 acres between 1902 and 1948 until Fred’s son Alvin bought the livestock and land from his dad. By 1956, Alvin decided to sell the animals. He kept the land and enrolled in the University of Utah’s Medical School, graduating at 45 and becoming the oldest graduate in the university’s history. Alvin decided to make the land a ski resort and started buying more property adjacent to his. On February 19, 1972, he opened his resort on 14,000 acres with the Sundown as the first lift. At age 88, Alvin sold his lodge in 2006, and it is still privately owned to this day.
Pow Mow has remained under the radar compared to other popular resorts in Utah. The reason? It’s known for all the terrain you can access with and without sitting on a lift. You can enjoy 154 trails by nine different lifts, shuttle buses, or snowcat to some of the more remote areas to craft your ski adventure.
Pow Mow boasts “the most skiable acreage in North America” with 8,464 acres. It’s an experience like no other. Whether you’re a skier or a snowboarder, you will love Powder Mountain for its sheer size. It could take days to cover it all. And, after opening day, you can usually count on an annual snowfall of over 500 inches of 100 percent natural powder, also known as the “Greatest Snow on Earth” along Utah’s Wasatch range.
With flights into Salt Lake City International Airport from major cities, you’ll drive to the resort in just over an hour. The historic town of Ogden, which has a variety of hotels, restaurants, and activities, is just 30 minutes away by car. You can choose to stay in Ogden or rent accommodations directly at the resort ranging from condos off the mountain to luxury ski-in-ski-out homes. Here are some great reasons to check out this incredible hidden gem in Eden, Utah.
I was a guest of Powder Mountain for this ski experience. All opinions are my own.
1. The Resort Is Sustainable
Powder Mountain never makes snow. You won’t find snow-making machines anywhere at the resort. The opening day commences when the proper amount of snowfall totals offers the best skiing experience to visitors. Over the years, Pow Mow has opened after Thanksgiving, late December, or early January, depending on nature’s timeline. It all depends on when the flakes begin to swirl. But once they do, you will ski on some of the best powder you’ve ever experienced in your life.
2. The Resort Limits Attendance
Let me say that again: the resort limits attendance. Powder Mountain is still privately owned. The ownership is concerned with skier experience, not packing the slopes. It’s an incredible concept, mainly if you’re used to waiting for everything from lifts to concessions at other mountains. Powder Mountain sells 1,500-day passes and 3,000 season passes yearly. When the tickets sell out, that’s it for the day. While that might be frustrating if you can’t purchase a daily lift ticket, when you do, you’ll have an average of 3 acres per skier. The private ownership wants to preserve the Pow Mow experience and keep the mountain uncrowded. This philosophy keeps those in the know coming back year after year. Social distancing is nothing new at this resort; these days, you’ll appreciate it even more.
3. Powder Mountain Has Terrain For Every Type Of Skier
Pow Mow has 54 named runs. A quarter of those are beginner runs, and the rest are split between intermediate and advanced. If you have a large group in your party with various ability and interest levels represented, you’ll find something for everyone. As a family of skiers, we loved the opportunity to have options for those who wanted more of a challenge.
4. There Are A Variety Of Ski Excursions Suited To Ability
Powder Mountain offers some exciting in-bound guided tours, including a complimentary tour of the runs. The mountain has Pow Mow hosts who offer accessible terms of the runs. Suppose you’d like a guide around the vast terrain. In that case, you can meet a host at 10:00 each morning at the Mountain Adventure Yurt located outside the Timberline Lodge. These tours don’t include lessons; they’re just a way to get familiar with the various groomed trails. Intermediate skiers would be comfortable with this experience.
If you want to ski off-piste (going off groomed trails), there are 1,200 acres of powder that you can access from Sundown, Timberline, and Hidden Lake lifts. Then you can grab a shuttle back to Sundown and Timberline, included in your lift ticket price.
If you are familiar with powder and want to go “off-piste,” you can purchase a guided tour with an experienced guide. A full-day tour with a Snowcat Pass included is $200 for one guest. The price goes up by $30 per extra person (Snowcat Pass included). If you don’t want a guide, you can purchase Snowcat Passes for $25 per ride (you must have a lift ticket) to Lightning and Raintree, the access point for these adventures.
The DMI — or “Don’t Mention It” Experience — is for the most advanced skier or snowboarder. It starts with a guide and a ride or hike to 3,000 feet and the steepest accessible terrain, plus a shuttle ride back up. You can expect four to six runs for a full-day tour that costs $360. But these runs are long and challenging.
The Snow Sports School offers lessons for private or semi-private groups. It the customized to what you want to learn, from beginning runs on groomed trails to learning how to ski in the famous thigh-high powder. For more information on lessons, check here.
5. There Are Unique Lodging Options
There’s nothing like the convenience of staying on the slopes at a ski resort. Putting on your skis and heading down a trail mere steps from your accommodation is the ultimate experience. At Pow Mow, there are no hotel rooms for guests. Instead, luxury homes on the mountain offer a ski-in/out option, and well-appointed condos are 6 miles down the hill.
Depending on your budget and your group size, you can rent a gorgeous home that sleeps a crowd (some even have private hot tubs) with trails leading to various lifts. Shuttles circle Pow Mow to bring you back up to your lodging if you opt not to ski around.
Pow Mow has phased building plans, but management carefully executed their real estate expansion to keep the mountain pristine. Many owners rent out their properties, varying in price and amenities. There are condominiums down the hill, and a bus takes guests up and down. This lodging offers sizeable multi-level townhomes with grills and community amenities. You can find Pow Mow lodging options here. If you don’t mind driving back and forth to the mountain, the city of Ogden has chain hotels close to all the town has to offer.
6. Safety Inside For Meals And Outside On Lifts
Pow Mow’s position includes providing a safe environment for their guests. As they say, “they’ve been physically distancing for fifty years.” They are operating on a Green, Yellow, and Red, scenario according to federal and Utah State guidelines to monitor conditions indoors and out. You can find out more about the protocols here. On most days, you will share a chair with your own family. I never shared the lift with anyone, not even from my party.
The mountain has three rustic lodges and a homeowner’s only lodge to enjoy meals indoors or out for dining stops. While the outlets offer various simple hot and cold menu options, you can also order elevated fares like ramen or cauliflower rice bowls. Many locals pack their lunches and go out to their cars for a tailgate before getting back on the mountain. It’s old school, but that’s how they did it in the 1970s. It’s really up to you and how you like to dine.
You’ll have space and the comfort of a mountain-wide policy in the dining rooms, outdoor spaces, and downstairs at the Powder Keg, the après ski spot at the Timberline Lodge. At the Powder Keg, you’ll enjoy live music and craft beers after a day of fantastic skiing.
Pro Tip: If you are staying near Pow Mow, you must visit the Shooting Star Saloon in the charming town of Huntsville, Utah, just a few miles away. The Shooting Star is the oldest continuously operating saloon west of the Mississippi. The taxidermy mounted on the walls and the paper currency tacked to the ceiling give this place a unique ambiance. The ownership keeps it simple with burgers, hot dogs, beer, and chips. The pool table is in the center of the room, and the jukebox plays excellent music. Everyone who visits The Shooting Star marvels at the history of this establishment that never had to close during prohibition. It’s also a hidden gem.