Utah Powder ... Where the Locals Ski; Three Low-Key Resorts East of Ogden

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Utah powder . . . where the locals ski

That dry, pillowy snow that can makeeven a tyro feel effortlessly cloud-borne, Utah powder is a powerful lure to skiers. Most of those lured head for the Wasatch Range resorts east of Salt Lake City. But the powder falls in equally generous quantities in other parts of the Wasatch.

Northeast of Salt Lake City, east of Ogden,lie three ski resorts: Powder Mountain, Nordic Valley, and Snowbasin. They're different from Utah's betterknown ski resorts, being in some ways reminders of an earlier, more relaxed era of the sport. They cater mainly to locals and to families. Lift tickets are relatively inexpensive, life lines relatively short. (Expect at the most a 10- to 20-minute wait on weekends; we found no wait at all when we visited on a weekday.) The bulk of the terrain can be classed as intermediate, but there are many gentle runs for beginners and some challenging slopes for experts. With fewer skiers around, it's possible--especially on a weekday--to finish a run, look back up the slope, and see that yours is the sole pair of tracks breaking the snow.

The season for these resorts normally lastsinto April. All three have equipment rentals, ski schools, and day lodges, but apres-ski opportunities are limited, and there are no overnight accommodations. You'll find some lodging in nearby Huntsville or Eden, with more options in Ogden.

Up Ogden Canyon to the resorts

To reach the three resorts from Salt LakeCity, take Interstate Highway 15 north 35 miles to Ogden, then State 39 east up Ogden Canyon.

The canyon drive is in itself worth thetrip. Some of the vacation houses you pass have been christened with names from Norse mythology, and for once such names don't seem merely the quixotic fancy of the over-proud cabin owner: Odin might well have found this quartzite chasm a suitable place for a throne.

Come prepared with snow tires or chains;for a recording that gives current highway conditions throughout the area, call (801) 479-5840.

Powder Mountain. This resort is reachedby taking State 162 about 5 miles north from its intersection with State 39, then following the signs. Powder Mountain has 580 acres of skiing: 26 runs serviced by two tows and three chair lifts.

New from last season is a day lodge at thetop of Hidden Lake lift. From here on a clear day, you can see west to Pilot Peak in Nevada, northeast into Idaho and Wyoming. …