Have you ever unstrapped, stepped off your snowboard, and sunk waist-deep into dry snow-literally swimming in the stuff? That’s Utah. In the last two years, the seven mountain resorts around SLC have averaged over 600 inches of “the best snow on earth,” and really, that’s reason enough to visit.

SLC isn’t an exotic destination, but thanks in part to the 2002 Winter Olympics, the city got an updated look, transforming it from the town that Brigham Young and his pioneers established in 1847 into a twenty-first-century destination. The semi-metropolitan city is easy to get around in. The streets are based on a grid pattern centered at the Mormon Temple Square downtown. So, Molca Salsa is 2901 east and 330 south of Temple Square. SLC has a varied nightlife, cool 1900s neighborhoods, restaurants for every budget, and a great snowboard scene. The best incentive beyond the snow is the convenience of getting here; you can fly into Salt Lake International Airport in the morning and, about an hour later, strap in at one of the Wasatch front resorts-it’s such a selling point that many resorts offer free afternoon tickets if you present that day’s airline travel voucher (check parkcityinfo.com for participating resorts and restrictions).

The whole experience, from riding the park at Park City or the Mary Chutes at Brighton to hiking out-of-bounds at Solitude or getting first tram at Snowbird, is just dead-on the best-case scenario for any snowboard vacation. Hell, I mean heck, you’ll probably end up moving here. I’m sold.

Where To Ride
Salt Lake resorts are spread out to the east of the city in three directions (Parleys Canyon, Little Cottonwood Canyon, and Big Cottonwood Canyon) and all of them can be reached in about half an hour from downtown. The Utah Transit Authority (1-888-RIDE-UTA, rideuta.com) has bus service to Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude, but a car is pretty necessary for the full experience.

Snowbird-Steep Pow
Any resort in Utah is good on a powder day, but you shouldn’t miss hitting the tram at Snowbird for a 3,000-vertical-foot top-to-bottom run. This is where MFM and the Leines brothers go. Need more incentive? Last year, the resort received over 685 inches of snowfall.

Distance: 29 miles
Cost: $62
Best For: Freeriding deep pow
Web site: snowbird.com

Brighton-Locals Only

Located up Big Cottonwood, this is the locals’ resort and features a sampling of everything Utah is known for-it’s your best bet for all conditions. Jump on the Crest Express chair and follow the locals on hot laps through the park and pipe. Head over to the Millicent lift or Great Western for the best freeriding around in-bounds and out, drop in the Rock Garden, and point-it through Mary’s Chutes. At the end of the day, unwind at Molly Green’s in the base area-pizza and pitchers.
Distance: 35 miles
Cost: $44
Best For: Everything
Web site: skibrighton.com

Park City-Park And Pipe
Park City is the call for park and pipe riding. King’s Crown Superpark has been voted Best Park in the TWS Readers’ Poll two years running. There’s also Jonesy’s park for beginners and the Payday and Pick ‘n’ Shovel parks to warm up for the biggies. PC also is the place to go for more of a mountainy resort-town feel. Distance: 37 milesCost: $74Best For: FreestyleWeb site: parkcitymountain.com

Solitude And The Canyons-No Crowds
This is where you go to really get away from the crowds. Hit up either of these resorts on a powder day and you’ll be getting fresh tracks from first to last chair. They also have some of the best out-of-bounds hiking.
Solitude
Distance: 22 miles
Cost: $50
Best For: Freeriding, out-of-bounds
Web site: skisolitude.com

The Canyons
Distance: 33 miles
Cost: $72
Best For: Freeriding, out-of-bounds
Web site: the canyons.com

AROUND TOWN:
Salt Lake is big. Locals hang out in the neighborhoods of Sandy and Sugarouse or up in the town of Park City.

EATING:
Molca Salsa
How good are the carne asada burritos? Let’s just say there’re stories of Mikey LeBlanc shipping these addictive burritos out of state to friends. This casual spot is near the Cottonwood Canyon resort and is the home base of pro riders. It’s open 24/7. You might end up eating here every day-and that’s okay.2901 East 3300 South, (801) 487-3850

Einstein Bros Bagels
Fast and cheap bagels and sandwiches-it’s everywhere.

Wild Oats Natural Marketplace/Cafe
Located at the exit to Sugar House, the market has a juice bar, hot deli, salad bar, and a dining area. Go here if you need good food quick. 1131 East Wilmington Ave, (801) 359-7913

Porcupine Pub & Grill

This is the best place to go after shredding for big portions of filling food-chili, hot wings, and drafts. Salt Lake may not be a traditional ski town, but this place feels like you’re still in the mountains … maybe it’s all the goggle-tanned servers. 3698 Fort Union Blvd, Sandy, (801) 942-5555

Sage’s Cafe
It’s good, healthy food.473 East 300 South, 1-800-322-3790

Blue Plate Diner
Mmm … a fine breakfast establishment in the Sugar House neighborhood-both delicious and inexpensive. Okay, it’s a little crowded-get here early.2041 South 2100 East, (801) 463-1151

Shanghai Cafe
Here’s the place to go if you want fast Chinese food for a big crew. Try the spring rolls with peanut sauce. 145 East 1300 South, (801) 322-1841

NIGHTLIFE:
Try these spots, or log on to slugmag.com-this local ‘zine has the nightlife all planned out for you.

Brewvies
Beer, pizza, and movies together equal Brewvies. Must be 21. Wednesday night is two-dollar-movie night. 677 South 200 West, (801) 355-5500

Todd’s Bar
Glug, glug, glug to live music.1051 South 300 West, (801) 328-8650

The Circle Lounge
Get dressed up, and sip some cocktails in the red interior-maybe have some sushi. It’s frequented by your fellow snow bros all dressed up. 328 South State, downtown, (801) 531-5400

Port O’ Call
Hook up, make out, and grind on the dance floor. 78 West 400 South, (801) 521-0589

Harry O’s
Park City’s nightlife hub-check the Web site to see what bands are in town: harryosclub.com. 427 Main Street in Park City, (435) 647-9494

Cisero’s
They’ve got Italian food upstairs and dance-dance-dancing downstairs. 306 Main Street in Park City, (435) 649-5044

SLEEPING:
If you want mellow mountain style, head up to Snowbird in Little Cottonwood Canyon or the Village at Solitude. Stay in Park City to double-up on mountains plus nightlife (just keep in mind you’ll be far from the other Cottonwood resorts). Stay in the South Valley of SLC to be in the middle of it all.

Hotel Monaco
For the high-rollers, the Monaco is a historic high-class art-deco hotel right downtown. 15 West 200 South, 1-877-294-9710

Residence Inn Salt Lake City Cottonwood
Condo-like suites rest at the base of the Cottonwood resorts.6425 South 3000 East, (801) 453-0430

Fairfield Inn Salt Lake City South
594 West 4500 South, (801) 265-9600

Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort
Snowbird Resort, 1-800-453-3000

Local Shops: These shops also sell discounted lift tickets to local resorts.
Salty Peaks
This local shop doubles as a snowboarding museum. 3055 East 3300 South, (801) 467-8000 saltypeaks.com

Milo Sport

The who’s who of SLC snowboarding shop teams: Walker, Biittner, Coulter, Mendenhall, Huot, Bozung, Parker, Kooley, Hadar …3119 East 330 South, (801) 487-8600

Don’t Miss:
Sundance Film Festival It invades Park City. Shred with Ashton, dine with Natalie Portman, and party with Paris at Harry O’s. The slopes are uncrowded-just don’t even think about trying to park downtown.

The Rail Garden
It’s a hilly garden of shreddable rails in the foothills of Salt Lake. The pros use this spot to warm up and dial in tricks. Take the 3300/3900 south exit off the 215, and head right to a right turn on 4500 south. It’s around there.

EXTRAS:

Local Pros

Pro Snowboarders in Salt Lake City are as common as celebrities in Hollywood. Keep your eyes peeled for these riders on the slopes and in town.
BJ and Eric Leines, Nate Bozung, Marc Frank Montoya, Amber Stackhouse, Chris Coulter, Brandon Ruff, Erin Comstock, Seth Huot, Jeremy Jones, JP Walker, Mitch Nelson, Brandon Bybee, Mike LeBlanc, Ali Goulet, J2, Jon Kooley, Justin Hebbel, Jordan Mendenhall, Matty Ryan, JP Tomich, Aaron Biittner