Going Local: Powder Mountain

Overlooking the Timberline lift at Powder Mountain. Photo credit: skibums.wordpress.com
Overlooking the Timberline lift at Powder Mountain. Photo credit: skibums.wordpress.com

VIP Limousine has some secrets that we keep pretty close, but sometimes they’re worth letting out. Our clients sometimes request to be driven to lesser-known places in Utah and even the surrounding states, and today we wanted to share one. Tucked up high behind the main Wasatch range is a funny little resort called Powder Mountain.

When we say little, though, we don’t really mean little. This bare-bones resort actually sprawls across more than 7,000 acres of terrain, not all of it accessible by lifts. James Peak, Wolf Creek, DMI, and Gertsen Canyon are all accessed either by a breathtaking (literally) hike or snow cat only. These stunning areas of “resort backcountry” are private and hardly get any attention.

Not that Powder Mountain is full of traffic anyway. With the location and glut of other resorts, there’s nary a lift line to be found even on epic powder days when everyone in Utah calls in sick. The resort’s chairlift network would be modern by 1980s standards, and that’s an intentional positive. It makes the mountain feel old-school and traditional. The one exception is the high-speed Hidden Lake Express, installed by Doppelmayr and with parts made nearby in Salt Lake City.

With recent expansion work, though, Powder Mountain did install two new lifts last season: Village and Mary’s. Village was created for ski-in/ski-out access from a future development and descends into a canyon which previously had no lift service at all. Mary’s services the beautiful, expansive Mary’s bowl and also created lift-accessed terrain for the first time. Both of these powder-chasing lifts were manufactured by SkyTrac in Utah. The company previously replaced the Sundown chairlift at Powder Mountain as well.

Besides the old-school lifts, Powder’s minimalist feel continues to the lodging area. The basic buildings give a feel of going back in time without feeling run-down. Feeling hungry? Load up on their massive pizza slices and other basic, feel-good food before skiing back down to the base of the Timberline lift.

Powder Mountain is also minimalist on their approach to grooming. This philosophy leaves stashes of unadulterated Utah powder available to all, since they only groom “where necessary” and leave the terrain mostly alone. Even in the snowfields of Cobabe Canyon, there’s an old bus left underneath a tree and the snow! It’s worth the trek to check it out, because…

…beneath the “bus run” is a beautiful, wide-open powder field leading all the way down to the lowest point of the resort. On the way back up from the bottom on the Paradise lift, everybody gets to take in the expanse of the main resort area views, passing over cliffs and steeps. One feels as if they are truly isolated from the outside world, with only the surrounding elements and the hum from the chairlift disrupting the peace.

Accessing Powder Mountain, located east of Eden, is done by going through the city of Ogden via 12th Street and following the signs through Ogden Canyon past the Pineview Reservoir. The windy road eventually leads up to the main parking lot. While many may drive themselves, the Utah Transit Authority runs a bus (route 674) from Ogden, and transportation companies, including VIP Limousine, bring skiers and snowboarders from all over the region to have a taste of Powder Mountain.

With the lodge not directly meeting any chairlifts, school buses to shuttle people out of canyons, snow cats to get up steep ridges, and very little in the way of fancy amenities, Powder Mountain isn’t for everyone. But that is also why it is a draw for its loyal fans and the locals in northern Utah, and it’s why we at VIP Limousine recommend checking it out.

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