Alta and Snowbird, UT: Where to Ski Now

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Powder is what every skier and boarder lives for, and there's no better place to float on the fluffy stuff than Alta and Snowbird. Tucked high up in Little Cottonwood Canyon, it's not unheard of for the two resorts to get some 800 inches of snow. When it dumps, follow the booms: the ski patrol rolls out the in-bounds openings throughout the day as they do avalanche control, meaning there are always fresh runs. But a can't-miss is the Snowbird Tram, which drops you off at the top of hidden peak, and from there you have your choice of open glades and bowls covering 2,100 vertical feet all the way to the bottom.

Where to Stay: Just 40 minutes away, Salt Lake City is well worth the after-ski drive. It's full of innovative restaurants, trendy hotels, and lively bars (yes, bars — the city relaxed its liquor laws in 2009), without the high prices or the hassles. Stay downtown at Hotel Monaco (from $159 a night), an upscale boutique in a former bank building. Then hit the Red Iguana for margaritas and mole and cap the evening with a touring band playing at the Urban Lounge or Kilby Court

Inside Tip: If you're expecting big snowstorms, pony up to stay in the Alta Lodge (starting at $405 for two adults on weekends). Since the road up Little Cottonwood canyon from Salt Lake is known to shut down for really big storms — they need to do avalanche control on it — you can avoid the traffic jam waiting at the bottom of the valley, and might even end up having an entire mountain to yourself (and a handful of other savvy skiers).

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