"Long overshadowed by its larger cousin to the south, Ogden sits only 40 miles north of Salt Lake City's international airport and its two primary mountains—Snowbasin and Powder Mountain—have the same ethereal powder as the heralded resorts in Cottonwood Canyon without the pesky crowds that track everything out by lunch. Spread across the lower flanks of the famed Wasatch Range, Ogden, population 82,825, has recently become a key Rocky Mountain hub for the outdoor industry—Salomon, Atomic, Rossignol, Scott, and Descente all have headquarters here. But its sporty, buttoned-down veneer hides its past life as a rough-and-tumble railroad town and cultural melting pot, a past evident today in its surprising array of ethnic restaurants. The happening scene is on 25th Street downtown, where historic false-front buildings formerly home to brothels and opium dens now house hip bars and eateries. The nearby Salomon Center features indoor skydiving, climbing, and surfing.
Head 30 minutes into the Wasatch for your choice of skiing styles on two sprawling mountains. Snowbasin underwent major renovation for the 2002 Winter Olympics and features elegant base lodges with state-of-the-art lifts, including a tram and two gondolas. Powder Mountain is a throwback hill, with very non-high-speed chairlifts, simple lodges, and cheaper lift tickets. It also, somewhat charmingly, continuously runs a skiers' school bus along its access road to pick up skiers and boarders who drop the backside into its "Powder Country" zone. Snowbasin, which has expert terrain rivaling anything in Utah, has the superior steeps. While Powder Mountain, with its sprawling layout (7,000 acres) and abundant snow (500 inches a year), is an intermediate powder skier's dream. Both areas are shockingly uncrowded, especially Powder Mountain, which can also lay claim to being the largest ski area in the U.S., though that includes its hiking and snowcat terrain. The snowcat skiing may be the cheapest in the country, with single rides available for $12.
Ask a Local
Dan Alfieri, a 27-year ski patroller, moved from Vermont to Ogden in 1999 and never looked back. Here are his recommendations.
Budget: The Days Inn
Swank: Hampton Inn and Suites
Cheap: Dee's Family Restaurant has good American fare and is a good local place.
Gourmet: The Timbermine at the mouth of Ogden Canyon has great steaks, seafood, and prime rib. The restaurant itself is an eclectic museum with lots of local ski artifacts.
Best Aprés Spot
"The Shooting Star Saloon is a must, it's about as local as it gets," says Alfieri. "When you're in downtown Ogden, Brewskis is the place most people go. There's music, sometimes national acts, and decent food."
Best Rest-Day Activity
At the end of 25th Street is Union Station, where there is a museum about the railroads, a firearms museum, and a classic car museum, plus a restaurant. Then head to Crystal Hot Springs, which has about a dozen pools and is located about 35 minutes from town, in Honeyville.
Favorite Ski Run at Snowbasin
Strawberry—it's from the top of Strawberry Ridge into Sister's Bowl and then into WFO, which stands for way far out. It's like your own private Idaho out there; it goes from steep to low angle. It's just a great long run."
Photograph: Steve Lloyd, The New York Times/Redux