January 5, 2016 Summit Team

Liftopia: North America’s Favorite Resorts for Powder Skiing & Riding


By Kristen Lummis

Powder. You either love or you hate it.

And while I can’t say I understand the haters, I do commiserate with those who spend the winter tracking storms, cancelling work, jettisoning class and driving overnight to score fresh snow.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, powder snow is technically “dry new snow, comprised of loose, fresh ice crystals.” To put an even finer point on it, dry snow usually falls in dry areas, and has a very low snow to liquid equivalent. That means if you melt it, it won’t provide much water.

It’s also terrible for making snowmen.


We Asked, You Answered.

In our quest to feature North America’s favorite resorts, covering everything from the best tree skiing to the best mogul runs to the best groomed terrain, we put up a social media query this fall asking followers of Liftopia.com and Braveskimom.com to share their favorite powder stashes.

Not surprisingly, one of the first responses we received read thus: “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.”

Silly us. No one is willingly going to give up the goods. As with the best places to hunt wild mushrooms, the precise location of powder stashes is something that skiers and riders take with them to the grave, or share only with their closest friends.

Ask a more general question however, like “which resorts have the best powder skiing” and you get some good results.

Because our lists are based on suggestions gleaned from social media, they are far from exhaustive and definitely not scientific. Without a doubt, we missed your favorite resort. So please, help us out and leave information about your favorite tree skiing in the comments.


Utah Tops The List

Not surprisingly, Utah, home of the “Greatest Snow on Earth” led our poll.

In particular, the aptly named Powder Mountain, located 55 miles north of Salt Lake City in East Eden, Utah got the most mentions.

As one person put it, “Powder Mountain has the most skiable terrain in all of Utah, this means it has the most powder to explore.”

Powder Mountain is a unique resort. First, it is an “upside-down” mountain, with the village on top and the runs below. Next, it’s massive, with over 7,000 skiable acres, including 4,000 acres open to backcountry touring. Finally, it gets a ton of snow: over 500 inches in an average year. That’s a lot of pow.

To find out a little bit more about Powder Mountain, we reached out to Jean-Pierre Goulet, the resort’s Marketing Coordinator.

For beginners, JP recommends heading to the Sundown and Hidden Lake areas of the resort. The runs in these areas are mostly green and blue, and 50% of the trails are groomed. While this isn’t great for powder hounds, it does make it easier for less experienced riders to explore the fresh, without totally burning out their legs.

Intermediate riders also enjoy the Hidden Lake area as well as theSunrise area.  The terrain here is low angle, dotted with sweetly spaced aspen glades. It’s a perfect place to rip deep snow, in or out of the trees, without much risk.

For experts, JP recommends Lightning Ridge, accessed by a single ride snowcat from the top of Sundown lift.  Here you’ll encounter some of the steepest terrain at Powder Mountain, with cliffs to launch and trees to dodge.  From the bottom of Lightning Ridge, access Paradise lift, to find more steeps and natural features.