Don't want to stand out like a newbie? Here are some helpful tips.
There are abundant resources all over the internet to help newcomers to winter outdoor recreation including avalanche forecasts and weather apps, layering suggestions, gear recommendations, etc. We’ve even compiled some of our own recommendations and links here.
The information below can give visitors and newcomers to the Ogden area a few tips that are unique to winter recreation here.
In 2023, the Ogden area was honored by topping the charts on Ski Magazine having Powder Mountain and Snowbasin rank #1 and #2 in the Top 30 Ski Resorts in the West respectively!
Powder Mountain is one of the most unique resorts in Utah. Situated at 9,000 feet, it is the state’s only “top down” resort, meaning the bulk of the resort’s base operations (parking, restrooms, food and beverage) are located at the top of the mountain and not the bottom. This is important for a few reasons.
The road that accesses Powder Mountain is SR-158, referred to locally as “Powder Mountain Road,” and was constructed in another era and in a way that no Department of Transportation would allow in today’s world. It has the steepest grade of any road you’re likely to drive in your life along with some fairly exposed, tight turns.
Near the bottom, it perpetually smells like burning brakes. Near the top, it perpetually smells like boiling antifreeze. This isn’t a place to bring your leaky, ’94 Corolla with the bald tires. Don’t be the person that keeps powder hounds from their stashes by blocking the road on a powder day. Your best bet is to utilize the UTA Ski Bus. Not only will they handle the driving, they’ll drop you right at the ticket window and you don’t have to hassle with parking.
If you choose to drive your own vehicle to Powder Mountain, make sure it’s four-wheel drive. At bare minimum, have a set of tire chains in your car. And always check the status of the road before heading that way. During and after large storms, the road is often closed with a gate at the bottom while avalanche mitigation work is done above. If the road is closed, it’s better to enjoy one of our local coffee shops than to idle at the gate in a frosty car.
When you’re done for the day, put your vehicle in low gear (2nd gear at least) and let your engine do more work than your brakes as you descend.
As a top-down resort with abundant backcountry and side-country terrain, it is also important that you familiarize yourself with the area’s massive 9,000+ acre boundary as descending below the lowest chairlift can mean a long slog back up through deep snow. This is not a place to disrespect boundary markers.
Powder Mountain hosts offer complimentary resort tours daily at 10 a.m. starting at the Mountain Adventure Yurt just outside Timberline Lodge. The tours stick to the groomed terrain, but provide an overview of the resort’s vast acreage to help give you a lay of the land. The tours don’t include instruction. If you need to brush up on your skills, check out the Snow Sports School for lesson options.
NORTH FORK PARK
North Fork Park is maintained throughout the winter by Ogden Nordic as the area’s premiere cross-country ski area with groomed trails for both traditional and skate skiers. It also attracts snowshoers, hikers and fat bikers.
The most important thing to remember at North Fork Park is to respect the designated areas for each activity. Never hike, snowshoe or fat bike on traditional cross-country ski trails. Fat bike tire width should be no less than 3.7 inches and pressures should be adjusted to existing snow conditions (2-4 psi for soft snow, 3-8 psi for hard snow) and avoid leaving ruts deeper than one inch.
Give any wildlife (particularly moose) encountered abundant space and keep dogs on leash and under control. Wild animals are already running on low reserves through the winter and any aggravation is incredibly taxing.
Keep any fires within designated areas and minimize their impacts.
Pineview Reservoir is a popular ice skating and ice fishing location once ice thickness reaches 4 inches. Let it get to 6 inches if you plan to use a snowmobile or ATV. Use no larger than an 8-inch auger for ice fishing holes, and be aware of your surroundings as Search & Rescue teams have been known to make larger holes for ice rescue training purposes.
Be prepared for prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and winds, particularly during early morning and evening hours.
Slow your roll through Ogden Canyon as it rarely sees direct sunlight during the winter. Icy conditions may exist, even on warm days and the narrow nature of the road means snow gets piled high from passing snowplows, reducing visibility around corners. Be especially alert of residents pulling out of narrow driveways.
NORTH OGDEN DIVIDE
Beware of that short line on your map connecting North Ogden and Liberty in Ogden Valley. It might look like the quickest way to North Fork Park, Nordic Valley or Powder Mountain, but it can get pretty sketchy. The road is incredibly steep, narrow, and winding and avalanche danger poses a real threat throughout the winter. If you’re intent on driving over North Ogden Divide, see the recommendations above for Powder Mountain Road…four-wheel drive, tire chains, low gear, etc.
LOW ELEVATION TRAILS
The abundant lower elevation trails just east of Ogden and along the Ogden River can be inviting for those seeking less gear-intensive adventures in the winter. Even after large storms, the trails are typically packed down by users within a few hours. It’s always a good idea to have a pair of Yak-Tracks (or similar traction devices) in your pack. While trails in sun-exposed areas may be navigable with regular footwear, they are often iced up on north-facing slopes and can become more treacherous than expected.
Additionally, during thawing periods, sections of trail may become muddy. Avoid using trails when muddy if at all possible. If your winter hike unexpectedly comes upon a section of muddy trail, go “through” and not “around” so as not to inadvertently widen the trail or damage vegetation.
Most winter outdoor adventures in the Ogden area are going to end downtown…whether it’s strolling through our galleries and shops or enjoying a bit of après ski live music and food and drinks at our local watering holes.
Just keep this in mind: The Sun is far to the south during winter in Ogden. That means the shade from our historic buildings on the south side of our streets prevents the sun from ever hitting the sidewalk. It often warms snow on rooftops, only to cascade down and turn to ice below. Business and restaurant owners do their best to de-ice the areas in front of their buildings, but keep your eyes open for icy spots and stick to the sunny side of the street when possible.
If you can learn these nuggets of information, you’re halfway to being an Ogden local. To finish your journey, pay us a visit and let us treat you like one.