Snowbasin's general manager talks the new Middle Bowl lift, vandalized rope tow, and the future of the resort

By Mekenna Malan | September 27, 2021

Photos courtesy of Brooks Roe

"I believe we have one of the best teams in the ski industry—people who are dedicated to great service and the future of Snowbasin," says Davy Ratchford, the general manager of the resort.

And what will that future look like? Ratchford clues us in to Snowbasin's exciting updates in the Q&A below. 

The new lift announcement came as a surprise to a lot of locals. What drove the decision to upgrade Middle Bowl over the other lifts?

The old Middle Bowl chair was a 43-year-old lift and required the most attention of any of our lifts. The lift maintenance team are some of the best I’ve seen in the ski industry, so when they tell me that we should replace Middle Bowl first, I listen. Strategically, we think it’s important that more people use that lift. Keeping people on the mountain vs. skiing down to the base area is important to the flow of the operation. We have a comprehensive mountain master plan that looks at every aspect of the operation from snowmaking, lift infrastructure, power, water, trails, and more. Middle Bowl was on that list and was a strategic imperative to replace. I’m excited to see people enjoy the new lift and the speed of access to that terrain it serves.

How will the new lift be different or better, and will it still be able to access Needles Lodge?

The new Middle Bowl will take only around 5 ½ minutes to get to the top terminal. It’s also a 6-pack (with a safety bar). Come early season and late season, it’s a critical lift to the operation. With it being a heavier lift, it is less prone to wind stoppages. You will still be able to easily access Needles Lodge via a new access road from the top terminal location. We needed to move the top terminal uphill, as running into the side of Needles Lodge was no longer an option. The adjusted bottom and top terminal locations are a much easier user experience for loading and unloading the lift.

Snowbasin's rope tow was vandalized at the end of last season, putting it out of commission. What's the current status of that lift?

We have fixed the rope tow and it will be operational again this winter season. I think the rope tow is a great addition to the resort, and it was unfortunate that someone felt the need to vandalize it and shut it down early. That’s been dealt with and our team was able to get it operational again.

Parking at Snowbasin also got an upgrade for this season. How many more spots have been created and how does the parking at Snowbasin compare to other Utah resorts at this point?

With the new 435 spots we built this summer, Snowbasin now has over 3,100 parking spots. To my understanding, that is the most of any ski resort in Utah (even though we have far less visits than some of the other resorts). Although we continue to invest in parking and public transportation efforts, I strongly encourage more carpooling with our guests. Because we are a very popular local ski resort with excellent access, we see a lot of folks driving up by themselves, which adds to congestion, other traffic issues, and sometimes parking woes. 

What other news or updates do you want visitors to know prior to the upcoming season?

It’s really important to come pick up your pass prior to the beginning of the season. We partnered with Solomon—and even have a section of their retail shop in Ogden—where guests can pick up their passes. As locals know, the season pass line can be long at the beginning of the season, so grab yours in advance so you can go straight to the lift.

We are also closely monitoring COVID and the impacts of the ongoing pandemic in our local communities. I ask everyone to please be respectful to the staff and the resort itself. We unfortunately saw some sad situations take place last season with guests on all sides of the situation showing frustration and taking it out on others. We all work very hard to provide a great experience, and I’m committed to safeguarding the guests of Snowbasin and my team. Please, please be kind to those around you and enjoy the mountains.

Why should skiers and snowboarders ride Snowbasin?

It’s hard these days to be at an independent resort that has a legacy identity. Our team respects our history and looks to the future of the resort. I’m grateful to work for a company that continues to invest in improving a resort that largely services a local audience. We aren't perfect, but we strive every day to make the mountains feel like a sanctuary from the outside world.

What's next for the resort in the coming seasons, if there's anything you can share?

We just announced our master development plan that looks out over the next several decades. We will be venturing into the overnight lodging world while still recognizing locals comprise the majority of our visits. It’s important to look to the future and make Snowbasin a competitive resort that remains independent. To do that requires vision and understanding of what needs to take place. This plan is well thought out, and honors the past and the future. We have been a very patient company and have been diligent in being deliberate in our actions. I look forward to the next several years and the advancements we will make in improving the guest experience.

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