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Dispatches From Snowbird Interlodge

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 By: Sammi Bushman, Product Content Writer | April 10, 2023

Interlodge is a right of passage in the central Wasatch for any “hardcore,” rider (as well as the employees, residents, and corporate execs who flew their families out for spring break). Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC) sits directly in one of the most active avalanche paths in the world. This means when the snow falls, slides from the surrounding ridgelines can fall into the road. Utah has developed a robust system to manage this danger, which includes road closures, extensive avalanche mitigation, and shelter in place measures, commonly known as “Interlodge.”

The average Interlodge lasts less than a day, maybe a wild night if you’re lucky enough to get locked in one of the more iconic lodges like Goldminer's Daughter. Snowstorms in April are normal too, but this much? Historic. Over 60 inches of snow fell during the first week of April. Snowbird broke it's all-time snow record. Alta has seen almost 900 inches caress the slopes since October of 2022. On Thursday April 6, Mt. Superior, LCC’s biggest peak, slid into the path of Snowbird’s beginner lift (everyone was okay). Multiple road blocking avalanches have prevented plows from fully clearing the road and at the time of publishing, the road remains closed during the day because high temps threaten catastrophic wet slides. Spring has come to Salt Lake City with a fury.

When my mom agreed to a self-care spa night at Snowbird, I don't think she expected to be stuck in a hotel room with me for five nights. Thankfully she’s from Boston and brags about “growing up in bad weather.” We got along well, and later reflected that our forced time together was a sort of gift. Only child things I guess. 

By the time you read this, I will have spent five nights at the Cliff Lodge at Snowbird, absolutely not on purpose. Each day was spent waiting for news, moving from table to table, and clicking at the keys of my computer trying to work, while small humans screamed and thumped at the floors above and below me. But to tell you interlodge was unexpected would be a lie. I knew this was possible, for the threat has always been there. In my first winter in the Salt Lake Valley, I’ve learned anything is possible.

Please enjoy these small snippets, or dispatches from my time in Interlodge.


A mom meanders to the elevator with two kids in tow, a six pack in her hand. One of the drinks is open as she presses a floor, chuckling to herself. Just like me, the lines on her forehead bulge and her posture has suffered from being inside. All the screaming children were supposed to be in lessons, not throwing straws across the atrium from the smoothie machine.

I go to Superior Snacks to buy a five dollar Snickers bar. They also have a seven dollar package of duck tape and an alcohol section with beer that doesn’t exceed 5%. On the counter is a daily calendar made by the alcohol authorities, how cute. The shop attendant exclaims “Interlodge special,” when people walk up to the counter with machine-made cappuccinos and hot cocoa. I grab a big cup and check out, it’s free. The sweetness makes my stomach flip over, but the syrup softens the blow of watching pow pass me by. I’m not even sure there’s coffee in this drink. It could be worse, I could be dead in an avalanche

The Unified Police officer sitting next to us said he could leave the canyon but just didn’t want to be outside. I don’t blame him, but now that the sun has come out it's harder to understand this point of view. Apart from work on monday, he’d been chillin’ just like everyone else. Mom talked to him for 20 minutes, trying to convince him to go on the record for this piece. No, he was not optimistic about the road opening today. At least it’s been a good season.

Back downstairs, things are heating up. A kid wanders the hallways complaining to his mom about getting waitlisted from Harvard. Somehow everyone is still wearing shoes.



 “Lemmings,” my restless new dad friend exclaims about the 30 or so men (and one woman) who have gathered by the door in anticipation of the resort opening. It’s 12:30. The interlodge signs are still up and the employee who has been guarding the door is playing phone games. “They don’t have any insider information,” my dad-friend sighs, shaking his head. At 2 pm the lemmings are still waiting. The resort did not, in fact, open.

Back in the room, Mom opens the window of our hotel room and sticks her face out. She’s the type to open a car window even if it’s hailing golf balls. The woman loves fresh air and I can’t blame her, but isn’t that technically illegal? 

3:30 PM: Interlodge is lifted!! The road is still closed. For the first time in days I step out into the gleaming sunlight, fully embodying Eloise at the Plaza. I earned this. Footprints are scattered across fresh groomed corduroy at the base area as sweaty dads and frown-lined mothers slip and slide up the hill with their screaming children. My mom heads straight for the market, picking up a six-pack and sweet talking the human behind the sandwich counter. She meanders out to the patio and cracks a cold one, “I’m going to take a picture and send it to the brewery,” she exclaims. “They’re going to give me free beverages.”


The happiness is short lived, as the resort temporarily goes back into interlodge on wednesday night, and at 1 pm on thursday, after the mandates have yet again been lifted, Superior slides and all hell breaks loose. Mom and I are swiping through the checkout in the market that also has a government run liquor store. “They’re putting us into max interlodge,” an employee sighs. We walk outside to snowmobiles revving their engines and avalanche dogs tight at their heels. The resort was open, the slide fell into beginner terrain. Employees strain their voices after too much overtime, ushering people inside. We are lucky, no one is hurt. Selfishly and despite all my avalanche knowledge affirming another interlodge is the safest decision, I still want out. 

“We should call your dad,” my long divorced mother says. Later, she tells a stranger where I was conceived. 


On Friday, April 7, LCC opened for downhill travel only and then immediately closed. I made it to my warm bed in 30 minutes, and mom began her journey home to Portland. The sun continues to shine as temps warm and rapidly melt the Wasatch’s record-breaking snowpack, creating dangerous avalanche conditions. As of April 10th, both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons remain fully closed during the day for safety. The resorts are operating thanks to a group of hard-working staff. Ski enthusiasts have moved onto biking. Big avalanche has come for us all. Will the valley flood? Only time will tell. 

Next time, mom is learning to climb at the evo hotel instead.

In the meantime, my country club pow day will become a mere memory. For now I will watch ski patrol lay down the beautiful lines they deserve after four days of hard work. I am determined to save these memories for the next time I am confronted by an unsolicited story of untouched pow, so I can contribute to the lift line one-upmanship.

Thank you to the Snowbird, Alta, and UDOT staffers for keeping my family safe.
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