People who live in cold climates and come to stay in warm ones during the winter of their usual home. So called because they're fleeing the snow (or because many people who can do this are retired and have snow-white hair). Florida is full of them from at least December to March.

I was surprised to find snowbirds in places like Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. I had just assumed that once the Termination Dust had hit the mountain peaks around my home in Alaska they dispersed, spreading their malignant presence evenly over Canada and the Lower 48. But, alas, no. True to their name they migrate in large, land-bound, slow-moving flocks of RV's, through Canada and into warmer climbs to gnaw at otherwise peaceful communities. (Bastards) As a friend of mine said to a particularly obnoxious group of pukers, "Don't you people have lives? Get back to them!". But snowbirds don't have lives. They are the most insidious form of tourist. They are retirees.

My school used to hold ski trips. Being a public school and thus short of money, we would forgo the semi-decent skiing to be found in places like Vermont, and my class would instead find ourselves on such dubious "mountains" as Blue Mountain.

I never truly enjoyed these ski trips. You know how Plato was getting all philosophical 'n' shit in some allegory? That was fucking me! I had seen the light.

In any case, I did have fun listening to my classmates brag about how they had mastered the "double black diamond!" For my part, I had difficulty distinguishing one icy incline from another on that bleak hill.

You see, when I was little, my family would fly out 2,500 miles to Salt Lake City, Utah for winter break and spend a week enjoying the mountain. At first, we simply rented a small house in Salt Lake City. After a few years, however, we caved in and bought a timeshare; there was a hotel right on the mountain that relieved us of driving the miles of icy mountain roads to and from the resort.



Snowbird is a ski resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon, located near Salt Lake City, Utah. It's a mere 35 minute drive from Salt Lake International Airport, and has plenty of lodging both on- and off-mountain.

The skiing there is absolutely phenomenal. An outdoor magazine recently rated Snowbird the number two ski resort in North America, next to one in British Columbia. The honor is well deserved.

Snowboarders, partly due to the rising popularity of the sport, are now given full access to the lifts and rides. Runs range in difficulty from 10 degrees to above 50 (overall). Two halfpipes and smallish (10 objects) terrain park were featured last time I was there. They have since added more rails, tabletops, jumps and pipes.

The snow itself is excellent. Snowbird usually gets over 500 inches of powder per winter. It's not unusual to wake up and find the mountain got a foot of snow while you were asleep and now the mountain looks absolutely perfect. Until you reach it, of course... As for temperature, it can vary from negative (with windchill) to relatively balmy (50 degrees in March). Then again, my family have seen it get up to 80 degrees. In March. On the mountain.

Needless to say, the runs got a bit...runny, if I may make a small pun. Slushy, to say the least.




Statistics:

* 500 inches of snowfall annually
* 3,240 ft vertical drop
* Snowbird has a relationship with their next-door-but-separately-owned ski resort, Alta, to provide over 5000 acres of snow on ONE ski pass. Unfortunately, snowboarding is not permitted at Alta. * 2,500+ skiable acreage on Snowbird (not including Alta)
Longest Descent: Gad Valley, 3.5 miles
Longest Designated Run: Chips Run, 2.5 miles
Steepest Run: Great Scott, 40-50% grade


Prices:
 A few of the most important lift ticket prices below:
  • Daily:
    • Adult : $ 42 per pass
    • Kids : $ priceless (free)
  • Unlimited Season:
    • Adult:
      • Alta-Snowbird : $1300 per pass
      • Snowbird Only : $ 999 per pass
    • Student:
      • Independent
        • College: $ 549 per pass
        • K-12 : $ 199 per pass
      • Requires adult pass purchase
        • College: $ 449 per pass
        • K-12 : $ 99 per pass
  • Special:
    • Before Nov. 22:
    • 10 day chairlift-only : $ 299 per pass




    Lodging:
    Assuming you're coming from out of town, rather than staying for extended periods of time, you have a few major options: You can stay at the base of the mountain in a building of some kind. Or your car, if you're that sort of person. The Cliff Lodge is right at the foot of the Snowbird runs, so you can literally walk out into people skiing the bunny slopes. In your pyjamas. In sandals. And yes, I have done that. Don't ask why. Please.

    If you can manage it, I'd recommend the latter option. The Cliff Lodge, besides being closer and somewhat classier has another thing going for it: An arcade in the basement! Hot damn! They've got pool, air hockey, police shooters, the works. Oh, yes, that brings me, somehow, to my next point:



    Fooood!
    If there's one thing you shouldn't skimp on in your travels at Snowbird (indeed, anywhere) is the food. The Cliff Lodge has a 5 star restraunt on the top floor. You can drive down to Salt Lake City if you wish for more good foodness.

    On the mountain, you'll find that for lunch, you'll be stopping by a handily-located Mid-Gad Lodge. They have cheap but hearty meals, fruit, energy drinks, sodas, and more. They almost always have hot soup and bread... EAT IT!

    FOOD FOOD FOOD! FOOD MAKES YOU STRONG! STRENGTH CRUSHES MOUNTAINS! FOOD!



    OK. Enough silliness. Here's some nifty miscellanea for you to chew on:

    Snowbird is somewhat famous for having HELICOPTER skiing. Yes, that's right. You hire a helicopter to fly up to the top of some god-forsaken mountain that hasn't been touched since the last big storm, they push you out, and you hope to land right. If you do, you then ski down, call the helicopter, and get taken either to another mountaintop or the lodge. OK, sometimes, if you pay them a little bit extra, they'll let you out more gently. Whatever.

    With the introduction of a terrain park trixx ain't just for kidas... Lessons are also available, both public and private, for skiing and snowboarding. I highly recommend them, even if you've skiied other places; they can help you ski anything from green circles to double black diamonds. Well worth it; a full day's private lesson is only $120. Just you.



    Final Thoughts:
    Good god, this writeup was a bad idea! Now I want to go to Snowbird sooooo badly! It's a pity I'm flat broke, otherwise, well, I wouldn't be here to finish this node. Snowbird is one of the best vacations you can take; you'll have fun, outside, getting exercise and breathing fresh air. What more can you ask for? If you can afford it, do it! Bring a friend! Bring the family! You'll love it.

    I've also had good experiences skiing in Big Sky, Montana. I'll node my experiences in Vermont when I actually get to go. Peace.


    Directions:
    From Salt Lake City Airport:
    Driving Directions: Take Interstate 215 south, exit at 6200 South (exit #6), then east on Wasatch Blvd., following the signs to Little Cottonwood Canyon. 33 mi. / 53 km.



    Sources:
    http://www.onthesnow.com/apps/packages.pl?s=55&c=404 : Prices for going to/staying at Snowbird
    http://goamericanwest.com/utah/skisnowbird.shtml : Directions, Fooding
    http://www.snowbird.com : The Official Website

    Pretty pictures!
    http://www.snowbird.com/pages/news_images/images.php?season=winter

Snow"bird (?), n. Zool. (a)

An arctic finch (Plectrophenax, ∨ Plectrophanes, nivalis) common, in winter, both in Europe and the United States, and often appearing in large flocks during snowstorms. It is partially white, but variously marked with chestnut and brown. Called also snow bunting, snowflake, snowfleck, and snowflight.

(b)

Any finch of the genus Junco which appears in flocks in winter time, especially J. hyemalis in the Eastern United States; -- called also blue snowbird. See Junco.

(c)

The fieldfare.

[Prov. Eng.]

 

© Webster 1913.

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