Utah’s Backcountry Skiing and Riding Opportunities

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View from the top of Grizzly Gulch, Little Cottonwood Canyon

After a few dismal years for Utah’s snowpack we’ve finally kicked into high gear for skiing and riding in 2016. Consistent storms over the past month have translated to some of the best conditions we’ve seen at both Utah’s world class resorts as well as Utah’s endless backcountry.

With easy access to excellent backcountry locations from the University of Utah, Utah’s Wasatch is a giant playground. Whether you’re looking for mellow glades filled with trees, wide-open bowls, steep couloirs or simply a quiet walk through the mountain, you can find it within a 30-minute drive from campus.

Along with the Wasatch’s endless offering of some of “The Greatest Snow on Earth” comes the threat of skiing and riding in avalanche terrain. It is critical that you are aware of avalanche safety protocol, have spent time practicing avalanche evaluation and rescue, and travel with friends that have an equal respect for the dangers of avalanches that you do.

If you’re new to Utah’s backcountry there are a number of resources including clubs, courses, forecasters and ski patrollers that can help get you onto the mountain with confidence.

You can also take advantage of the uphill travel policy currently in place at Brighton this season. Depending on the time of day, Brighton allows uphill travel on select runs within the resort boundaries. Check Brighton’s snow report for the current uphill travel status as well as the uphill travel plan before heading up for an early morning run.

Brighton Ski Resort offers inbounds uphill travel before regular operating hours when conditions permit.
Brighton Ski Resort offers inbounds uphill travel before regular operating hours when conditions permit.

*Backcountry skiing and riding can be very dangerous in Utah’s backcountry. It is imperative that you understand snow and avalanche safety, have checked the avalanche report and are capable to keep you and your party safe in the backcountry.

The University of Utah offers a number of classes:

PRT – Explore Snow Courses
U-Explore

Additional resources can be found at:

Teton Gravity Research Backcountry Travel Guide
Utah Avalanche Center