#4: Alta and Snowbird, Utah

adventure guide: alta/snowbird

At last, Alta and Snowbird have married. It's like Madonna hooking up with Jerry Garcia. Or Bill Gates and Gandhi moving in together. In short, two completely different resorts now offer a common lift ticket, with easy access made possible by a new high-speed quad out of Snowbird's Mineral Basin. The result is the largest ski acreage in Utah (4,700) available on a one-day ticket and probably the most advanced terrain cluster in the country. If you plan to attend this wedding, bring cash, champagne, rice -- and definitely two planks, since Alta is still for skiers only.

What will they call themselves -- Snalta? Albird? Actually, Alta and Snowbird plan to stay the same independent, world-class resorts they've always been. Alta's where telemark fanatics, weathered lifers, and young jibbers convene to experience moguls, powder, and chutes free from skidding snowboards. Snowbird's the gathering post for purple-haired boarders, as well as a place to show off Prada parkas.

If you come for the Olympics, plan to crash on a friend's floor and spend time in Salt Lake traffic. Don't bother with a thousand-dollar ice-skating ticket; instead, explore the near-thousand acres of Little Cottonwood via the Cirque Traverse at the Bird and the High Traverse at Alta.

Play: Finish your ski day by watching a band at the Tram Club at Snowbird, then get dinner at the Steak Pit or at the southwestern-style Shallow Shaft in Alta. Snowbird's Cliff Lodge serves homemade granola that dread-headed Alta locals will love to munch for breakfast, and Alta can pour sophisticated Snowbirders a martini at the Sitzmark Club.

Stay: Rest up at the expansive, amenity-filled Cliff Lodge at Snowbird or the family-run, traditional Alta Lodge.

Save the date: The U.S. Freeskiing Nationals are held at Snowbird, Jan. 31-Feb. 3.

Alta, 801-359-1078; www.alta.com
Snowbird, 800-232-9542; www.snowbird.com


Best Powder: Alta/Snowbird

Best Powder 2009: Alta/Snowbird

Alta and Snowbird usually receive between 400 and 500 inches of snow, depending on the season and where it’s measured. In 2008, Alta got 702 inches. That's nuts.


Punked: Alta vs. Snowbird

The pranks have involved explosives, goats, mannequins, doughnuts, and nudity. Each year on April Fools' Day, the Snowbird and Alta patrollers punk each other, sometimes spawning real panic and organized rescue. Is this the year they get busted?

Snowbird Will be Open Until July 4th

Inside Line: Snowbird, UT

Tucked in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon on the road to Alta, Snowbird is known for hanging bowls, 50-foot cliffs, and over-the-head powder. Pros like Jenn Berg, Jeremy Nobis, and Sage Cattabriga-Alosa schralp the high-alpine cirques along with equally talented nobodies—humble locals on K2 Pontoons. With more than 3,200 vertical feet of steeps, tree-lined chutes, and roughly 500 inches of snow a year, this isn’t a place you want to drive by.