Snowbird is an unincorporated area based in Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains in Salt Lake County, Utah, United States. It is perhaps most famous for the Snowbird ski resort, an alpine skiing and snowboarding area. The canyon itself has few homes, so most people wanting to live near the ski resort live in East Draper.
Before Little Cottonwood Canyon became popular with skiers, miners discovered deposits of silver ore within the glacial canyon. The history of Little Cottonwood Canyon and the town of Alta dates back to the 19th Century, when a soldier in the U.S. Army first prospected for silver in 1869. The tiny minerals he stumbled upon soon supported a massive industry. Little Cottonwood Canyon became one of the largest producers of silver ore in the Wasatch Mountains. Known as the Emma Mine and the namesake for the Big Emma run in Snowbird’s Gad Valley, the soldier’s find eventually produced more than $3.8 million in silver.
At its peak, 8,000 people lived and worked in the narrow canyon, which held two smelters, 138 homes, hotels, boarding houses, stores and even a railroad. The entire town was later destroyed by a series of avalanches.
Snowbird resort is a year-round ski and summer resort located in the heart of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest on the eastern border of the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy. It is 29 miles (46 km) from Salt Lake International Airport, 24 miles (38 km) from downtown Salt Lake City and 4 miles (7 km) east of the suburb of Sandy. The resort first opened in December 1971.
Snowbird shares the canyon with neighbor Alta Ski Area. Both receive over 500 inches (12.7 m) of snowfall per year, with a single storm capable of producing over 100 inches due to lake effect enhancement from the Great Salt Lake, making it the greatest area of snowfall in the mainland United States outside the Cascades. Unlike the humid and wet snow of the Cascades near the Pacific Ocean, Snowbird being in the arid Great Basin is known for its unusually dry and powdery snow.
Snowbird usually closes on Memorial Day in late May while the occasional ski year can last as long as the Fourth of July. Snowbird has a skiable area of 2,500 acres (10 km²) with a vertical drop of 3,240 ft (990 m) from the summit of Hidden Peak, which has an elevation of above 11,000 ft (3400 m). Hidden Peak is serviced by an aerial tram from the lodges.
The resort covers three drainage areas, each with a unique character. The Peruvian Gulch side was the least crowded of the three until they put in the new Peruvian chairlift, but is still exceptional on a good powder day. The Gad Valley has the widest range of skiable terrain, from the slow-skiing Big Emma to steep Regulator Johnson. The third, and most recently developed bowl, is Mineral Basin --- which tends to be warmer and more open than the other two. The strong point of the resort is the aerial tram which provides access to 3,000 feet (900 m) vertical. There are a few homes in the Alta area with seasonal use but this canyon and these resorts are know for timeshare purchases and timeshare rentals. Return to Home