Squinting through bleary eyes I feel like I’ve engaged the hyperdrive in the Millennium Falcon. The headlights give the falling snow a disorienting luminescence, but the way the flakes are piling up on the pavement makes me think the white-knuckle journey will be worth it. The license plate on my truck says, “Greatest Snow on Earth,” but every now and again a string of splitter storms leaves the central Wasatch high and dry. Some folks cut bait to warm themselves like lizards on desert rocks, but I’m in search of snow. I’m also looking for an escape from the homogenized commercialization permeating skiing. I’m after deep snow and warm yurts in remote mountains. I want cheap lift tickets with an old-school vibe and a watering hole that wears its carpet stains with pride. I’m yearning for some skiing in Northern Utah.
After a winter like last year’s, during which a record-setting amount of the Greatest Snow On Earth blanketed the Beehive State, it’s no surprise to see Utah resorts receiving some well-earned accolades. Still, it caught our attention when Powder Mountain, with its famously low-key vibes, topped the SKI magazine western resort rankings for 2024. The publication—part of the Outside mega-conglomerate—electronically polled more than 200,000 people to compile this year’s rankings. Previous reader surveys have regularly leaned toward destinations with swankier accouterments than the ski-centric Pow Mow offers, but readers this year clearly gravitated to the resort’s core skiing experience.
Pow Mow limits daily lift tickets to keep lift lines in check and offers a refreshingly uncomplicated experience. Ski down, hop on a lift, and maybe stop in an unpretentious lodge for a reasonably-priced burger and beer if the mood strikes. The resort also gets a ton of snow and has more than 8,400 acres of skiable terrain above the Northern Ogden Valley. They even offer $19 night skiing, a welcome sight in a world of soaring lift ticket prices.
While in Paradise it’s best to lean-in and fully embrace indulgence. Whisper Ridge’s yurts take luxury glamping to the next level. The Perch Yurt Village is atop a backcountry mountain ridge with 360-degree views of the Wasatch as well as an outdoor hot tub and a recreation yurt with ping pong and billiards. Don’t forget a dinner prepared by a five-star chef to refuel after a day of ripping powder. Ski and lodging packages start at $930.
Prudent in Poki
After emptying the 401k for a day of cat skiing, it’s time to climb the latitudes for a more frugal adventure in Idaho. The miles tick by quickly on the hour and 45 minute drive North on I-15 from Paradise. Columnar basalt formations dot the landscape as you approach the Portneuf Range and your ultimate destination: Pebble Creek Ski Area. Pebble Creek—known locally as The Rock for its steep and rocky nature—is a little-known stone in the crown of the Gem State that’s been in operation for 69 years and counting. The understated base area sits in the shadow of Bonneville Peak and its 2,200 lift-accessed vertical feet is more than 50 percent advanced and expert skiing. A full day ticket can be had for $69, and it’s only $54 for a half day, or go full night mode for only $25.. You could take a family of four skiing here for about the price as a single ticket at one of Utah’s corporate mega-resorts.
Each of Pebble Creek’s three chairs is a fixed-grip triple, so you’ll have to embrace the slower pace of the day. Your legs will probably be thankful for the extra rest as the laps start to pile up on The Rock and Rattlesnake off the Skyline Lift. The resort backs up to the Caribou National Forest, which offers endless backcountry skiing opportunities for the knowledgable and incredible views for everyone else.
You will miss out on a couple things skiing at Pebble Creek. Mostly lift lines and overpriced food and drinks. A beer at the Rock Bottom Saloon is $2, and the popcorn’s free. Local bands liven up the apres scene on Sunday nights and move to the outdoor deck when things warm up in the spring. There’s not much else going on Inkom, so make your way over to Pocatello for the evening. Try Jim Dandy Brewing for a beer and a bite with a rotating cast of craft brews and popular food trucks.
3340 E. Green Canyon Rd, Inkom, ID
6965 E Powder Mountain Rd, Eden, UT 84310