11. The Canyons, Utah

If you haven’t ridden The Canyons for a while, you’re in for a surprise. No, make that a shock, the place is going off. Ever since its acquisition by American Skiing Company in 1997, the once sleepy little snowboard resort has exploded into a mega-mountain.

Like a resort expecting an invasion (the Olympics?), The Canyons has expanded to encompass 3,625 lift-accessed acres, all of which are privately owned. This eruption of growth has vaulted The Canyons into the position as the largest snowboard resort in Utah.

The Canyon’s domain includes a fleet of lifts¿nine quads, a double, a triple, and an eight-passenger gondola¿along with no less than eight peaks and 3,200-feet of vertical.

With an annual snowfall of 350 inches and a substantial snowmaking system to back it up, the resort is poised to provide excellent coverage on its diversified terrain.

The recently opened Ninety nine-90 quad shares its name with the resort’s highest peak, not coincidently at an elevation of 9,990 feet. Home to some of the best pow turns at The Canyons, Fantasy Ridge divides the steep, north-facing Red Pine Chutes from the open Alpine face of 94 Turns. The vertical Freight Face and Gully plunge down the throat of the quad’s liftline. This peak also accesses the gates to some sweet backcountry stashes¿check out Dutch’s drainage.

At the resort’s north end, the Super Condor Express lifts you to the seven South Side Chutes, which, along with Canis Lupis (a cool twisting natural halfpipe) highlight this part of the mountain. A twenty-minute hike from the top of this quad to Murdock Peaks’ 9,602-foot summit opens the door to fresh tracks in Murdock Bowl, The Saddle Chutes, or One-Hundred Turns (five on a board).

The Canyons advanced/expert terrain is further enhanced by six natural terrain gullies and halfpipes, along with five secluded tree-riding zones, that have been cultivated throughout the mountain.

Intermediate riders can revel in the abundance of terrain at their disposal. Billed as an “intermediate paradise,” the combination of last years’ Peak Five quad and the new 2001 Dreamscape Express quad open an additional 625 acres of mellow glades and ridges and long perfectly pitched groomers.

Novice and beginning riders can ride the Flight of the Canyons Gondola to the High Meadow Learning Center where the Meadow Quad accesses ideal terrain for improving skills and gaining confidence.

Since the resort’s inception, The Canyons has cultivated a positive relationship with snowboarding¿hosting an array of events from the Quiksilver Boarder-X to a steady stream of amateur and locally sponsored big-air, halfpipe, and slopestyle contests. The mountain features a full-time halfpipe, a terrain park for novices, and another park full of bigger hits for advanced riders.

For 2001, The Canyons is a major resort destination. The mountain and terrain are excellent, the lift system is modern and efficient, and it all keeps growing. The newly completed Grand Summit Resort Hotel and Sundial Lodge are right at the mountain base. Next to those is a plaza/arena with amenities that include a bonfire and live entertainment. The resort is 35 minutes from a major international airport and five minutes from Park City¿one of the best mountain towns in North America.

Folks, The Canyons is just getting started¿put your seat belt on and don’t blink.

¿Steve Shand