Little Cottonwood Canyon Weather & Avalanche Information

 

Little Cottonwood Canyon from West side of Mt. Baldy, overlooking Peruvian Gulch area of Snowbird. Photo copyright by Matthew Wallace.

 

Little Cottonwood Canyon is on the east side of Salt Lake County at about 9000 South on the County street grid. The canyon is home to a large variety both lift-served controlled access and “earn-your-turns” open backcountry ski terrain. Much of the backcountry portion of LCC is accessed from the White Pine parking lot. LCC is home to Alta & Snowbird ski areas and is surrounded by two wilderness areas: Twin Peaks Wilderness to the North and Lone Peak Wilderness to the South. State Road 210 provides access up the canyon and is prone to avalanche activity. (The wilderness boundaries are near the road on both North and South sides of the road.) The road is often closed for short periods during the Winter for avalanche control, usually perhaps over-night, but certainly sometimes in mornings during and after snow storms, sometimes even mid-day if conditions warrant.

LCC is a unique weather environment, the weather often being not what it is in the Salt Lake Valley (clear or cloudy in the valley, cloudy and snowing up the canyon). LCC is favored by Northwest flows, that is storms coming from the Northwest. (Simplistically, storms come into the Salt Lake Valley and are funneled up LCC where they deposit their snow-load due to orographic lifting, which is why the upper reaches of the canyon receive prodigious quantities of snow. (See Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth for detailed information on weather along the Wasatch.)

Avalanches are common in the canyon, check with the Utah Avalanche Center for current avalanche conditions and daily avalanche hazard and mountain weather updates. Also check with UDOTavy on Instagram or Twitter for road and backcountry closures. (Yes, the backcountry can be closed due to avalanche control work.) Also check Unified Police for canyon alerts on road closures. Alta and Snowbird both reliably post on their websites if the road is closed. BTW, if you drive the canyon during Winter without snow tires, well, good luck. (Snow tires on the car from October 1 through April 30, or chains in the vehicle so you can put them on when you get stuck, are required by law.) Finally, if you plan on skiing the backcountry be prepared with the right gear, the knowledge of how to use it and pay attention to UAC avalanche information. It all may save your life. Live to ski/board/ride another day!

Little Cottonwood Canyon Weather & Avalanche Information

Ski Areas:

National Weather Service:

Utah Avalanche Center:

Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT):

Other:

 

Mt._Superior_Alta_UT - Wikimedia Commons

Mt Superior - Alta Ski Resort by Danny Fay - DanFay1009 on Flickr.

 
 

National Geographic Topo Map showing Twin Peaks and Lone Peak Wilderness Areas adjacent to LCC Hwy 210.