Best Family Ski Resorts in Utah, Part 3: Snowbasin

Several things stand out right away at Utah’s Snowbasin Resort: down-to-earth elegance; warm, friendly service; a simple layout that seems designed straight from a parent’s wish list. Oh, and bathrooms. The bathrooms will blow your hair back. But more on those later.

Snowbasin Plaza, the heart of the resort, puts dining, snowsports school, retail and more within steps of each other. Photo: Snowbasin, A Sun Valley Resort.

Snowbasin Plaza, the heart of the resort, puts dining, snowsports school, retail and more within steps of each other. Photo: Snowbasin, a Sun Valley Resort.

Snowbasin Ski Resort Review for Families

Snowbasin Resort Highlights

Although it hosted major ski events during the Salt Lake Olympics, Snowbasin still flies under the radar compared to some of its neighbors. It remains very much a locals’ mountain, and I think that’s the secret to its affable charm. The snow doesn’t hurt either: giant dumps of Utah’s sublime powder blanket the bowls and glades through early April. Spring break calls!

Snowbasin’s base area is compact and easy to navigate, so you don’t have to worry about losing little ones in a maze of buildings. Even better, the snowsports school, gear rentals and childcare center all sit under the same roof. How’s that for a one-stop shop?

The tubing hill is the perfect off-the-slopes adrenaline rush. Photo: Snowbasin, a Sun Valley Resort.

The tubing hill is the perfect off-the-slopes adrenaline rush. Photo: Snowbasin, a Sun Valley Resort.

The terrain has something for everyone, with a nice mix of beginner and intermediate runs to balance the steeps. Snowboarders can choose from four parks, ranked as small, medium and large to correspond with skill levels. Kids aged 3-6 have their own Burton Riglet park for learning the ropes.

Ski school is outstanding — my one-on-one lesson was the perfect blend of challenge and comfort zone, and the kids’ lessons I observed had extremely small instructor/student ratios. A short green run and an adjacent beginners’ terrain park at the base, with a dedicated chairlift, give little ones plenty of room to practice without the risk of getting mowed down on the slopes.

One of my favorite features at Snowbasin is the Nordic trails on the property. I love Nordic skiing and I’m a big fan of it for families. At many ski resorts you have to go to an offsite Nordic center, but here you can push off at the parking lot. The resort also offers tubing, a guaranteed kid-pleaser.

Earl's Lodge at the base has plush trappings, but the atmosphere is totally relaxed. Photo: Snowbasin, a Sun Valley Resort.

Earl’s Lodge at the base has plush trappings, but the atmosphere is totally relaxed. Photo: Snowbasin, a Sun Valley Resort.

Despite their log-cabin exteriors, Snowbasin’s three lodges feel more Town & Country than Field & Stream. Yet they’re not at all imposing; no one will bat an eye if kids sprawl out by the fireplace or pad around in their sock feet. Dining is mainly cafeteria-style (not that most cafeterias have granite countertops, tufted armchairs and gilt chandeliers). The sit-down Cinnabar restaurant in Earl’s Lodge at the base offers a menu of creative small plates, sandwiches and entrees, and draws families for drinks and live music après-ski.

So back to those bathrooms. I lost count of how many people mentioned them before I came anywhere near the resort. Once I took a peek inside, I totally got the fuss. I won’t spoil the big reveal with a photo, but think exotic woods, gleaming marble … the works.

Ogden’s Salomon Center packs a block’s worth of family fun into a single building. Photo: Visit Ogden.

Snowbasin has no onsite accommodations. While that may sound like a hassle, I actually think it’s a plus, as it keeps a lid on crowds. There are a handful of condo developments in the surrounding area, such as Lakeside Resort Properties in Huntsville. I didn’t scout these in person, but they’re worth investigating if you want a self-catering option.

Many people stay in Ogden, roughly a 25-minute drive from the resort, for easy access to dining, shopping and services. Ogden is geared toward outdoor adventure and its railroad-hub roots rather than luxury — by and large, accommodations are value-based, such as the Summit Hotel and Conference Center. A ski bus picks up right by the Summit and other points downtown to shuttle guests to the slopes.

When you want a change of pace, Ogden’s Salomon Center will keep both parents and kids engaged for hours. The showpiece is iFly, an indoor skydiving facility with a vertical wind tunnel that holds you airborne. Kids as young as 3 can get in on the fun. The Salomon Center also has a gaming arcade, a rock-climbing wall, a Flowrider indoor surfing facility, an enormous Gold’s Gym and more. The only tough part? Deciding what to do first.

Need Help Planning a Family Ski Vacation?

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Relevant Links:

Best family ski resorts in Utah: Alta

Best family ski resorts in Utah: Canyons

10 ways to make a family ski trip less expensive

Three very good reasons to ski in Park City, Utah with kids

Editorial Note: Ciao Bambino was part of a media trip to experience Snowbasin Resort and the Summit Hotel and Conference Center. As always, our opinions are our own. 

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