Outdoors + Nature

Where the Weather's Always Perfect

by Sarah Tuff

Alta/Snowbird, Utah

The friendly skies: For powder-hounds, there's no better place to find fluffy piles of snow this close to an international airport. Pacific-brewed storms, which lose much of their moisture as they move east across the desert, get an extra boost from the Great Salt Lake and dump featherlight snow—as little as four percent water—on the Wasatch Mountains. During the 2010–2011 season, more than 775 inches of the white stuff fell in Little Cottonwood Canyon, which cradles the Snowbird and Alta resorts. (A so-called "average" winter sees about 500 inches.)

On the ground: The road from Salt Lake City up Little Cottonwood Canyon closes when massive snowstorms blow in; staying on the resort side ensures that you won't miss out on fresh tracks. Opened in 1939, the same year that Alta's first lift started operating, the Alta Lodge is steeped in skiing tradition. Instead of TVs, there are mountain views from all of the 57 midcentury modern–styled guest rooms; a game of backgammon and brews in the Sitzmark Club is a customary prelude to dinner. Don't worry about the calories in that entrée of beef tenderloin with porcini butter and shiitake syrup: They'll all be burned, blissfully, dancing in the powder. A single, $97 ticket gives skiers access to both resorts (Snowbird welcomes snowboarders; Alta does not). That's 4,700 acres of skiable terrain and 29 lifts for an experience that rivals exploring the European Alps, only with much, much more snow.

Alta Lodge
10230 E. State Highway 210
Alta, Utah
Tel: 800 707 2582 (toll-free)
Dorm rooms from $108 per person; doubles from $351. Rates (per night) include full breakfast and four-course dinner.

Next: Catch wind of Crete's charms >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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