Challenge Yourself on 5 of Utah’s Most Iconic Ski Runs

Every resort in Utah has that one Run. It’s the name on the trail map that makes you wonder, “Can I?” Everyone knows someone who has tackled these runs and told the tale. But the truth is, skiing and snowboarding, for all the camaraderie on the lift, are individual sports. Once you drop in, you are on your own and no matter your level of competence, there is a personal relationship with each run you attempt, because, well no one else can ski for you. It’s up to you to know your limits and push them. These five iconic runs symbolize the aspiration behind the sport. They are the high bars that draw us to the mountain to ask, “Can I?” They respond with, “Well, can you?” This season only you can answer the question.  

1. Ted’s Rock—Beaver Mountain Ski Resort

For longtime Beaver Mountain devotees, the area accessed by Marge’s Triple Lift is still “that new part” despite the fact that the “new” lift has been spinning since 2003. That’s the way it is up on Beaver Mountain; things don’t change (even when they do). And that’s what’s truly great about Beaver, it’s its own world where powder, untrammeled by crowds, lasts for days. There’s no better example of this than Ted’s Rock, a fast shot off of Marge’s Triple that is plenty of fun on a groomer day and otherworldly on a powder day. This mildly pitched intermediate run is the perfect trail for newcomers to powder skiing learning to get in the back seat and float. 

The Cirque at Snowbird is one of the most sought-after and well-known sections of powder at Snowbird. Photo by Chris Pearson, Ski Utah.

2. The Cirque—Snowbird

On the first tram of the day at Snowbird, the conversation is all about The Cirque—five black- to double-black-diamond runs accessed from the Cirque Traverse below the tram station on Hidden Peak. Why all the fuss? Well, for starters, you can see the Cirque from the Tram and appraise its potential. Tram riders, especially those lucky enough to be aboard the first tram of the day, crowd the window as they cross into Peruvian Gulch, like kids looking at puppies in a pet store. It’s a wide bowl that drops into Peruvian, with multiple entry points that often offer the best powder shots of the day, if you can get there first, that is. Because of its visibility, it is also among the first tracked-out sections at the ’Bird, where the early bird gets the powder. 

The Ski Utah Dawn Patrol rides the powder on Baldy Shoulder. Photo by Chris Pearson, Ski Utah.

3. Baldy Shoulder—Alta Ski Area

Alta skiers know that at this resort you have to earn your turns. The best runs are accessed by traverses into the wide open bowls, that are deliberately left untrammeled by the grooming crew. Baldy Shoulder, accessed by the Shoulder Traverse from the top of Collins Lift, below Alta’s highest peak, Mt. Baldy. The traverse cruises above the intermediate run, Ballroom, in case you chicken out and concludes with a boot pack up to the ridgeline where you’ll steel yourself for the drop into Baldy Shoulder, less of a run and more of an exercise improvisation.

Search for leftover powder stashes at Brighton Resort with the Ski Utah athlete team. Photo by Chris Pearson, Ski Utah.

4. Milly’s Bowl—Brighton Resort

This famous bowl is part of Brighton’s famous “sidecountry,” meaning out-of-bounds backcountry areas that can be accessed by lift, in this case, Milly’s Lift. To drop in, hike up the shoulder and don’t be lulled into complacency by the lift access. Once you exit the resort through the Brighton Gate, you are on your own. Brighton patrol will close the shoulder hike and the gate during high-risk avalanche conditions but otherwise know that you are not in Kansas anymore.

5. Stein’s Way—Deer Valley Ski Resort

Named after the man who brought skiing into the imagination of America, Stein Ericksen, there is no more quintessential Deer Valley run than Stein’s Way. A steeply pitched groomer from the top of Bald Mountain, this run is a leg burner that will test your ability to “ski like Stein.” But the big appeal of this iconic run is the view from atop Bald Mountain, which stretches out across the Heber Valley and remains in your sight with every turn on the ridge before you pass into the trees. Do it again via the Sultan Express lift. 

On a sunny day at Deer Valley, the iconic run, Stein’s Way, is one you’ll want to lap over and over with for its speed and spectacular views. Photo by Chris Pearson, Ski Utah.

If You Dare… Baldy Chutes

While you’re collecting yourself to drop in, to Baldy Shoulder, it may occur to you that it is also possible to scale the heights of Mt. Baldy above. It’s occurred to many but is dared by the few. This is one of the toughest runs at Alta and thus one of the toughest runs in North America. Moreover, to access Baldy Chutes you’ll take the longest boot pack at Alta (from the top of Sugar Loaf Lift) via the EBT cat track, past the Snowbird gate, and, well, straight up the mountain to the peak. Baldy Chutes, you might want to know, is a wild series of five black diamond chutes at a white-knuckle 40-degree pitch that drops you into Ballroom. Buckle up!

The landscape of Utah’s canyons might be changing with transportation developments, learn what to expect here.

Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh is Salt Lake magazine's Editor. He covers culture, history, the outdoors and whatever needs a look. Jeremy is also the author of the book "100 Things to Do in Salt Lake City Before You Die" and the co-author of the history, culture and urban legend guidebook "Secret Salt Lake."

Similar Articles