Deep Powder, Open Bowls: The Best Utah Cat Skiing

The Utah backcountry beckons with guaranteed powder turns (even well after a storm), great views, no crowds or lift lines, and varied terrain options. A cat-ski trip gets you maximum untracked runs with minimal hiking, and it’s not as big a hit to your wallet as heli-skiing. Here’s how.

Written By Jill Robinson

Jeremiah Watt

Getting first tracks on fresh corduroy is a satisfying feeling, but it’s fluffy powder that skiers really dream of — those deep, untouched stashes that make the most dedicated souls get up and out the door in the wee hours, when everyone else is enjoying another hour of sleep before getting ready for the day. The Utah backcountry beckons with guaranteed powder turns (even well after a storm), great views, no crowds or lift lines and varied terrain options. (Read: 4 Tips to Prepare for Utah's Winter Backcountry)

While there are several ways to get into the backcountry, a cat-ski trip gets you maximum untracked runs with minimal hiking, and it’s not as big a hit to your wallet as heli-skiing. Go alone, bring your friends along, or add a guide for the best local knowledge, and load up in a cozy snowcat with the heater cranked and stereo booming. 

Here are some of the best options for Utah cat skiing this winter.

Park City Powder Cats plays host to 15,000 skiables acres in the Uinta Mountains.

Photo: Jeremiah Watt

Park City Powder Cats

With 15,000 skiables acres to play on in the Uinta Mountains, Park City Powder Cats provides a dream-come-true for powder hounds. Located just 35 miles from Park City, Utah, the territory here includes four open bowls — Giant Steps, Four Eagle, No Name and M&M — chutes, glades, cliff drops and nearly perfect tree skiing. With cat rides taking only 5-10 minutes each, you’ll have hours of fast laps (with 800–2,000 feet of vertical per run) and plenty of time to enjoy the wealth of what’s out there. After a day of sweet skiing with Park City Powder Cats, that après beverage and hot tub are especially rewarding. Oh, and breakfast, lunch, snacks and avalanche beacons are provided. While you may want to bring your phone along to take sick photos, there’s no cell service out here, so save the posting for later. 

Powder Mountain Cat Skiing

With affordable and flexible cat-skiing options, Powder Mountain has quietly established itself as one of the premier cat skiing resorts in the country. Considering that Pow Mow has more than 8,464 acres, the most space of any ski resort in the United States, you’ll want to get out beyond the groomers to truly experience it. Unguided snowcat rides head to the top of Lightning Ridge and Raintree, and you can board with a single cat ride pass, purchased alongside your lift ticket or season pass. But because it’s not your private snowcat, sometimes you have to wait in line. Another option is to head out for the day with a guide and up to 11 fellow powder seekers to access more than 3,000 acres of backcountry terrain, including untracked bowls, glades and chutes. Lunch and avalanche equipment are provided. (Read: Another Day in Powadise)


Cat skiing at Powder Mountain

Photo: Austen Diamond

Snowbird snowcat skiing includes a half-day of guided backcountry adventuring.

Photo: Scott Markewitz

Snowbird Snowcat Skiing 

Duck into Snowbird Resort’s private property south and east of the resort for a half-day of guided backcountry snowcat skiing. Want to add on more? Consider a private or custom snowcat tour, so you can make the ski day of your dreams. Snowbird Mountain Guides take guests through upper American Fork Canyon, including Sinner’s Pass, the north-facing slopes of Pagan Basin, and Borussia in Mineral Basin, rolling terrain and aspen trees of Miller Hill and majestic Mary Ellen Gulch.

Proceeds from Snowbird’s snowcat skiing benefit the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation and the Wasatch Water Legacy Partnership, working with volunteers to improve the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and Salt Lake City’s drinking water. Breakfast at The Forklift restaurant and avalanche transceivers are included.

Basecamp Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City makes a great gateway for travelers making a trip to Utah's ski resorts. Frequently referred to as the "Crossroads of the West," its location is also ideal for longer roadtrips northward to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Though as those who attempt to pass through often find, you'll frequently talk yourself into staying longer than you expected. 

Salt Lake City

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