Mention 'snowbird' to a Canadian and he's likely to think of Anne Murray. But mention the word to an American and visions of 11,000-foot peaks come to mind. Attitude, atmosphere and altitude make for a serious combination. You know this if you've ever skied, biked, hiked or enjoyed the simple pleasures of Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort in Utah's Great Salt Lake Country.
Southeast of Salt Lake City lies Little Cottonwood Canyon, home to Snowbird and Utah's oldest ski resort, Alta. Snowbird spread its wings in 1972 as a luxury world class destination resort and has continued to soar to new heights.
Snowbird's 8,000-foot plateau climbs to a peak of 11,000 feet. In ten minutes we glide up to the summit aboard the aerial tram. Blessed with a clear day, we enjoy a sweeping 100-mile unimpeded view. The 125-passenger tram glides up and over towering evergreens.
Atop Hidden Peak I am informed that Utah's tremendous terrain coupled with dependable snow conditions has labeled the skiing in the state the '"Greatest Snow on Earth."
"We lay claim to this fame based on real meteor geological conditions," says Ken Kraus, Utah's travel media director. "One of the reasons the snow is so great is that it has a lower water content per snow flake than almost any other locale in the world," he says.
The ski and summer resort experience in Utah is prided on accessibility. Major interstate highways are within 20-30 miles of all northern Utah ski and summer resorts. Busses shuttle guests to and from major downtown Salt Lake City hotels as part of their regular service.
Utah is renowned for its skiing, but these resorts must also provide activities to generate business year-round. Snowbird has an excellent assortment of summer sports and recreation. Mountain biking trails are lift-serviced and the aerial tram is open to expert and advanced riders daily. The Albion Basin at the top of the canyon boasts fat tire rides for all levels through some of the most spectacular wildflower meadows in the Wasatch Mountains. Snowbird holds an annual bike climb in September.
The hiking track called the Barrier Free Trail is just that. It is a wheel chair accessible, paved nature trail to offer anyone the opportunity to explore the mountain, regardless of individual challenges.
In-line skating, golf, tennis, volleyball, fishing, and even paragliding are just a sample of activities that Snowbird offers their guests.
When it comes to fitness, Snowbird combines all the comforts of a gracious resort hotel with all the amenities of a world class spa. The Cliff Spa is "dedicated to increasing human understanding through the enhancement of body, mind, and spirit."
Snowbird is a year-round mountain playground with adventure to suit everyone. From nature lover to skier, from mountain meadows to mountain slopes, there is a whole lot of action to ruffle some feathers. But to satisfy my own curiosity, I'm coming back to witness the "Greatest snow on Earth." Because if I don't, the locals will keep saying to me: "Trust us, you've really got to 'ski' it for yourself."
Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort Information, Snowbird Utah, 84092-9000 Tel (801) 742-2222 Fax (801) 742-3300 Internet www.snowbird.com
Author: Tracey Rayson