By Kimberly Beekman
I’ve been coming to Snowbird since I was 3 or 4 from my home state of Colorado, which, of course, has more resorts than you can shake a ski pole at. Each winter, we drove our old Scout with the broken heater seven hours across mountains and deserts to The Iron Blosam Lodge, my brother and I nestled in Star Wars-themed sleeping bags in the back. I can still remember putting pennies in the rivet holes of the exposed-concrete walls and the smell of chlorine from the game room where we played ping pong. (My old Snowbird T-shirt, the logo all cracked and faded, is folded in a box of keepsakes in my basement.) Even back then, before Colorado’s I-70 became a soul-sucking sea of brake lights, my parents knew that this place was special. It’s no wonder—The Tram, the Cirque, Tiger Tail on a powder day, Mineral Basin’s endless sun-soaked groomers—the list of Snowbird’s charms is long. But perhaps my favorite is an incredible phenomenon called “interlodge.”
You won’t find it listed in the dictionary, but “interlodge” may be the single best word in any language. It means so much snow falls that the road up Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon closes down for avalanche mitigation, giving the overnight guests at Snowbird first tracks all to themselves once the mountain opens. That’s to say, “interlodge” is a more efficient word for “getting very, very lucky.”
Wait, scratch that. Luck has little to do with it—Snowbird gets pounded annually with 500 inches of light, dry Utah powder, making it the closest thing to a powder guarantee this side of British Columbia. (That’s thanks in part to the Great Salt Lake’s lake-effect, which makes up in precipitation creation what it lacks in beachfront real estate.)
My best ski days—and best days overall—have occurred during interlodge. I remember standing in ski boots by the door of the iconic Cliff Lodge, helmet on, boots buckled, waiting for it to open. Ski patrol’s bombs were booming in deep baritone, the snow was still coming down in fat flakes, and my stomach felt like it did when I was a kid, pulling around the corner to our Snowbird timeshare condo, seeing snowbanks so big I imagined entire houses buried underneath.
I still make my powder pilgrimage here, though sadly not every year. And although my car has a working heater, I usually fly, which may actually take less time than driving to resorts in my home state on a Saturday morning. I also now stay at The Cliff Lodge, which has all the soul of our old ’70s condo but with all the luxury of a high-end hotel. (Rooftop hot tubs, decadent spa, and an extensive wine list? Yes, please.) And from the minute I walk in that glass door, with the escalator humming happily up to the lobby, I still feel those butterfly wings of excitement, fluttering somewhere between my heart and my stomach.
The Cliff Lodge building itself is an icon of skidom—a massive concrete-and-glass-walled marvel of engineering, designed to withstand the force of an avalanche that would only threaten a place this snowy. The Atrium is 11 stories high, overlooked by hotel-hallway balconies and hung with Oriental rugs from Snowbird founder Dick Bass’s private collection (his remains the largest in the world). The windows look out to the slopes, where you can watch the lights of the grooming cats wind their way around the mountain, pressing crisp corduroy that will purr under your edges come morning.
The Cliff is a little like a cruise ship—it’s ski-in/ski-out and has everything you need, so there’s no reason to leave. (Zero driving or parking is a vacation in and of itself, and you won’t need to navigate the local parking reservation system put in place during the pandemic.) Start your morning with a latte at The Atrium, enjoy an après massage and soak at The Cliff Spa—which, in addition to the rooftop pool and hot tubs, boasts 21 treatment rooms, a yoga studio, fitness center, and salon—and then choose either fine dining or casual fare, just an elevator ride away.
Speaking of dining, in addition to the upscale Aerie, perched on the 10th floor, The Cliff’s recently added SeventyOne, named in homage to the year that Snowbird opened. The retro décor is another nod, with a funky technicolor palette and modern take on the old-school diner feel. As for the fare, tuck-in comfort food like slow-roasted brisket and “Northern fried” chicken and lighter options like buffalo cauliflower and vegan meatloaf (trust us—it’s amazing) will warm your belly after a day on the slopes.
And, brand-new this year and housed in a custom-built trailer just steps away from Gadzoom Lift, the Subie Shack partnered with Subaru is an outdoor option to snag a quick bite when hunger hits.
Are you sold yet? If not, check out the 2020-21 lodging deals. (Whichever one you choose, kids 12 and under ski free for every night of their stay.)
- The Fifth Night Free deal includes lodging, ground transportation to and from the airport, up to two free adult Snowbird lift tickets per night of stay, and a fifth night free for rates that start at $184 per day.
- The Mountain Vacation deal offers four free lift tickets for each adult staying four nights, plus a free half-day lesson and transportation to and from the Salt Lake City Airport.
- The Early Week deal rewards flexible schedules and includes a daily lift ticket for each adult with a minimum of two nights lodging at rates starting at $179, provided you book Sunday through Thursday.
- The Spring Stay and Ski deal includes daily adult tickets with a minimum of two nights’ lodging at rates starting at $145.
- Already a season passholder? You enjoy a Passholder deal starting at $129 per night.
Whatever option you choose, once you’re cozy in your hotel room, watching the snow come down in feet through the pines outside your window, the only thing you’ll have left to do is try—try—to relax. (Those butterflies sure are persistent here.) Rest assured, interlodge will likely be called in a few hours, and when it lifts, all that dry, feathery powder will be yours to plunder. And that, of course, is far more powerful than any single word can convey.