Although just over an hour’s drive from Park City, Utah’s Huntsville-Eden region feels like a world apart. Happy horses, rural ranchland, and four-way stop signs greet you as you drive into this bucolic pocket of Ogden Valley, still relatively free from commercial build-up. So much so, in fact, it’s a designated Dark Sky area free from light pollution (stargazing is a popular nightlife activity—but more to come on that).
Where to Ski
Despite the destination’s small-town, laid-back vibes, world-class skiing awaits nearby at Powder Mountain (powdermountain.com) and Snowbasin (snowbasin.com), offering more than 11,000 acres of combined terrain with no shortage of steeps, pristine powder, and family fun on mostly uncrowded slopes. Nordic Valley (nordicvalley.ski), a smaller resort, has even fewer folks on the hill, with its throwback-style atmosphere offering some great terrain, now even more accessible with a new high-speed lift.
Just east of the small town of Eden (population 828) resides Powder Mountain, North America’s largest ski area, boasting 8,464 skiable acres on 154 runs with two terrain parks. This relatively undiscovered gem averages 500 inches of snow a year, so powder stashes can be found several days after a storm thanks to a daily lift ticket cap of 1,500 people.
Powder Mountain, or “PowMow” as it is lovingly known, is unique and should be on the bucket list of every advanced skier. Where else can you find $25 single-ride snowcat tickets to access Lightning Ridge, the steepest and best terrain on the mountain? There’s plenty of groomed terrain, too, and something for every ability: 40 percent of the slopes are intermediate and 25 percent are beginner.
“On average, there are three acres per skier,” says JP Goulet, Powder Mountain’s director of marketing. Amazingly, the area does not need to make snow because of its uniquely inverted topography, opening the top lifts before the lower ones. “With the lack of snowmaking, there’s less water content in our snow, so it’s never icy,” he adds.
Equally fun, Snowbasin has 3,000 acres of varied terrain on six peaks served by 12 lifts, including two gondolas and a tram. The new Middle Bowl Express makes it easier to loop the popular Needles trails for some fun descents on intermediate Dan’s Run and Sweet Revenge. On a powder day, Strawberry Fields and Sister’s Bowl can’t be beat. Accessed by the Strawberry Gondola, the wide-open, super-long runs create the feel of skiing in the Alps. The John Paul area also offers some challenges with steep tree runs and the chance to ski down Grizzly, the 2002 Olympic Downhill course.
Now part of the Ikon Ski Pass, Snowbasin also expanded its learning areas and family fun zones. Additional parking spaces in the lots almost guarantee you a spot on extra crowded days—and parking is always free. Owned by the Earl Holding family, which also claims Idaho’s beautiful Sun Valley, no expense was spared in Snowbasin’s lodge designs with everything from imported Italian Carrara marble to Moscatelli chandeliers. At the Needles Lodge, the Overlook Bar at 8,900 feet is the place to be for lunch or après—don’t miss the signature grilled cheese sandwiches like the grilled bacon mac and cheese.
Where to Eat
Nightlife is quiet around these parts, but there are several good restaurants in Eden, including the Mad Moose Café (madmoosecafe.com) for coffee and sandwiches, salads, soups, and burgers, or Carlos & Harleys (carlosandharleys.com) for Tex-Mex eats.
In Huntsville, the Shooting Star Saloon (shooting-star-saloon.business.site) is a classic and not to be missed. Opened in 1879, it’s the oldest continuously operating saloon west of the Mississippi, known for its $6 cheeseburgers and hot dogs.
Where to Stay
Lodging is a bit scarce in Huntsville and Eden, but more hotels are in the works: Wolf Creek Resort (wolfcreekresort.com) is planning a small condo hotel and village that will feature shops and a brew pub, and Snowbasin has a Club Med hotel in its future. For now, check out Wolf Creek Rentals for a selection of houses, townhomes, and condos.
In Huntsville, consider a stay at the Compass Rose Lodge (compassroselodge.com), which features onsite the Huntsville Astronomic and Lunar Observatory (HALO) with an ultra-precise telescope for the ultimate stargazing experience. View the night sky in detail like never before, from far-off galaxies to the rings of Saturn.
For a Powder Mountain weekend, book one of the Horizon ski-in/ski-out cabins perched on Summit Ridge, which has breathtaking views across the Ogden Valley to the Wasatch Range from 9,000 feet and above. Designed by award-winning architect Brian MacKay-Lyons, these cabins feature floor-to-ceiling windows and vertical shiplap cedar inspired by the cedar-clad barns seen around Eden Valley.
There’s always the option of bunking up in Ogden (visitogden.com)—about a 25-minute drive from Huntsville and Eden. Ogden offers plenty of hotels to choose from, plus a growing restaurant scene, historical attractions, and outdoor recreation. Check out North Fork Park for cross-country skiing and fat biking trails in the winter.