The newest ski resort in Utah is shrouded in secrecy. Wasatch Peaks Ranch first opened during the 2021-22 season, and we haven’t really heard much about it. Back in 2021, Ski Area Management described the target market for the private ski resort as the “one percent of the richest one percent.”
One of the first articles that I wrote for Unofficial Networks was about the launch of their vague website, which hasn’t changed that much in nearly two years. I also traveled to the area to get some photos of the construction from afar back in August 2021, but wildfire smoke made the images low quality.
The ski resort has opened, but still faces opposition from locals, who aim to get a referendum onto the Morgan County ballot in order to block the ski resort from operating.
I went into this writing process to try and uncover what the past two years of operations have been like for the private ski resort. I reached out to them to ask some questions about the ski resort, but they declined the opportunity for an interview or to provide any information about the property. I decided to dig deep across the internet, and found out quite a bit about the growing ski resort.
Here’s what we know about the fully-fledged plans, which were announced in 2021. The 12,740-acre property could eventually have 3000 acres of skiable terrain, nine lifts, and a 3600-foot vertical drop.
In 2021, they installed two Leitner-Poma high-speed bubble quad chairlifts, with their seats also being heated, The Diamond Ridge chairlift from the base area is 8000 feet in length, with the Jacobs Ridge chairlift having a peak elevation of 9500 feet. These two lifts give access to 1,650 acres of skiable terrain. A third Leitner-Poma lift was installed before the 2022-23 season, and another lift is planned for next winter.
The community will consist of up to 750 housing units. Offseason activities at the private club will include an 18-hole Tom Fazio golf course, mountain biking trails, hiking routes, and fishing on the property’s streams.
I did end up finding a trail map of the ski resort from its first year of operations on Skimap.org. The Diamond Peak terrain is a mix of intermediate and advanced runs, while Jacob’s Ridge features black diamond bowl terrain. How the terrain is set up reminds me a lot of Snowbasin Resort in nearby Huntsville, Utah.
I found out more about the skiing experience from a private Instagram page for their members. Each day, their bio updates with a new snow report. Here’s one for Saturday, January 28th:
With such an elite club comes controversy, especially from locals. The first controversy came when fisherman Josh Bell, known on Instagram as @utahtrouthunter, found the water from his family property’s stream diverted to the Wasatch Peaks Ranch. Many fish in the diminished stream was left in there, which resulted in some of them dying. What remained were small ponds with fish trapped, and the pump, which was still removing water. Josh moved most of the fish to the non-diverted portion of the river and posted this video online to raise awareness.
This move by Wasatch Peaks Ranch was legal, which was confirmed by the Utah Department of Natural Resources due to Wasatch Peaks obtaining the proper permits to remove the water.
However, following the video, a biologist and conservation officer with DNR met with the contractors & are monitoring the project. My view on this issue is that it’s more on the contractor who did the water diversion work, and not on the ski resort because they likely wouldn’t have directly overseen it.
Still, it’s not a great look for Wasatch Peaks Ranch, especially with having fishing listed as one of your offseason activities.
Then there are the actions by locals to derail the project entirely over the past couple of years. The Standard-Examiner has thoroughly covered the efforts by six locals to stop the development.
According to the Examiner, the referendum tried to make voters “decide whether to approve or overturn the county council’s October 2019 approval of a development agreement with Wasatch Peaks authorizing the 11,000-acre ski and golf resort area development above Peterson.”
A county clerk blocked the petition due to procedural flaws, but the opponents brought their case to court. On April 19th, a 2nd District Judge will decide whether the disqualification of their petition for a referendum in 2019 was legal. The ski resort is arguing that procedural deficits make it invalid under Utah state law.
On April 17th, the same 2nd district Judge will hear a case brought forth by Wasatch Peaks Ranch, in which the ski resort accuses the referendum backers of damaging the economic success of the property. They’re seeking $10 million in damages.
My thoughts on this whole situation are that I think it’s too late to stop the development. Multiple lifts have already been installed, and people have bought their memberships. They also have added jobs to the community, which is important. Should they continue to grow? Maybe not, but they can definitely be better stewards in the community.
Not being a public ski resort is fine, but perhaps they should allow locals to ski there on a limited number of days. If they don’t want to do that, they should look at other ways to support the community through charitable endeavors.
Not having public marketing hurts them, and makes them come off as more elitist than other private ski resorts, which I ultimately believe is their intention. For example, private ski resorts like the Yellowstone Club and Hermitage Club have descriptive websites detailing why people should buy real estate there.
Behaving as the Hermit Kingdom of North American skiing is not likely to take them far, as you need rich people to know about your ski resort in order for them to join a pricey club.
Image/Video Credits: Wasatch Peaks Ranch, Skimap.org, Utah Trout Hunter, Whitney Croft