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The term “Hawaiian vacation” instantly brings to mind a few stereotypical things: beaches, palm trees, surfing and fruity cocktails. Similarly, the term “ski vacation” comes with a set of expectations that include slope-side lodges, cozy fireplaces, a bearskin rug and hot toddies. While a ski vacation in Notoriously Independent Ogden, Utah can accommodate all of those expectations, it also opens up options that simply don’t exist in any other ski destination.
How many ski vacations might include a ballet performance, a comedy club with nationally touring acts, museums ranging from dinosaurs to firearms to military aircraft, indoor surfing, rock climbing and skydiving, or a college basketball game at the arena where NBA All-Star Damian Lillard launched his career?
Originally settled as an outpost for fur trappers, Ogden became known as “Junction City” as all transcontinental rail traffic passed through. In the century leading up to commercial air travel and the advent of the interstate freeway system, it was said, “You can’t go anywhere without coming to Ogden.”
Nestled at the foot of the Wasatch Mountain Range, Ogden provides a mountain-to-metro experience for skiers and snowboarders. Three independently owned and operated ski resorts lie within 25 minutes of downtown. Nordic Valley is a throwback to whatever ski hill you made your first turns on, and is fully lit for night skiing. It’s a great place to get your ski legs under you before heading to one of the two larger resorts.
Powder Mountain is a sprawling resort of over 8,400 acres, making it the largest independently operated resort in North America. Most of it is lift served, but one of Pow Mow’s biggest draws is the snowcat-accessed side country. As if the huge amount of terrain isn’t enough, the resort caps daily skiers at 1,500, which can keep powder stashes untouched for days. No day at Powder Mountain is complete without a couple of cold beers at the Powder Keg, a couple of slices of Lucky Slice pizza and a couple hours of live music.
Snowbasin Resort boasts the area’s most opulent lodges and cuisine as well as a variety of terrain to suit any skier or snowboarder. Be sure to take the Mount Allen Tram to the start of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games downhill events. The tram accesses expert-only terrain, but can be ridden back down for those just looking for a view. Either way, the scene from the top takes in four states (Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming). When the day is done, unwind with a signature cocktail in the Cinnabar inside the stunning Earl’s Lodge.
As the setting sun lights the Wasatch Range with winter alpenglow, downtown Ogden is just getting warmed up. Here, you’ll find every category and price range of restaurant available, whether you’re trying to feed a large family on a budget or enjoy intimate fine dining. You’ll find the locals you met on the mountain at any of the pub-style restaurants including Slackwater, Roosters, Harp & Hound, Angry Goat or Funk n’ Dive. The beer selection is excellent at all of them, and each has a signature plate of carbs and protein to refill the tank you emptied on the mountain…naughty fries, pulled pork nachos, “Angry Goat Balls,” and “Totchos (that’s nachos made on a bed of tater tots instead of chips).
As a rule, Ogden is pretty much a “come as you are” kind of place, so you’ll fit right in wearing ski pants, puffy coats and beanies. If you want to step it up a notch, change out of your ski clothes and head to Tona Sushi Bar & Grill for some of the best sushi you’ll ever have anywhere, or hit Hearth on 25th for truly upscale, artisan cuisine.
If you’re traveling with the littles, the Ogden ski vacation offers much more than plopping them on the couch to mindlessly stare at an iPad. If they’ve still got energy after a day of skiing, let them burn the rest of it at the Salomon Center. There you’ll find indoor surfing at Flowrider, iRock’s five-story, top-belay climbing wall, and indoor skydiving at the wind tunnel at iFly. If the youngest ones need something quieter, the Treehouse Children’s Museum can engage their minds and creativity for hours. The older ones may prefer to be dropped off at the 13-screen Megaplex to catch a movie while the adults unwind in the eclectic retail shops, art galleries and bars of 25th Street.
The unique urban setting that Ogden provides at the base of epic mountains makes for a cultural scene that no other ski destination offers. Live music abounds on most nights in the bars up and down Historic 25th Street. Live theater is an option at Peery’s Egyptian Theater or Good Company Theatre, both located in the heart of downtown. Wiseguys Comedy Club is always good for a night of laughter, and nearby Weber State University features a full schedule of performing arts and athletics.
If the ski legs need a break for a day, an abundance of museums fill the area. You’ll find exhibits from cowboys and western heritage to trains and Browning firearms (located inside historic Union Station), to the Aerospace museum at nearby Hill Air Force Base or the Dinosaur Park.
Whether you’re a group of dudes looking for a “man-cation” filled with skiing, dive bars, college basketball and live music, ladies on a “girls trip” looking for snowboarding, spas and signature cocktails, or a budget-oriented family looking to affordably get the young ones on the snow during the day while preventing cabin fever at night, an Ogden ski vacation is like no other ski vacation.
Get in on the notoriously amazing good times in Ogden.