We recently returned from a snowkiting trip to Utah, and got 5 days of kiting out of 5, the best average for all our trips there. This was partially due to having the flexibility to go to either Skyline or Strawberry depending on the forecast.
While Skyline is definitely more reliable for wind, when Strawberry has a good snowpack like this year, it is a better place to kite if the wind is good, as it isn't as cold, is lower elevation (7600 vs 10,000) so you're not as out of breath, and has more terrain and glide hill options and often better powder.
However, the wind is more fickle and less reliably reaches the forecasted level there than at Skyline. In addition, there are a number of different parking areas within a 10 mile radius along HWY 40 and there can be significant differences in the wind between them on any given day, depending on wind direction and other local variables.
The main ones, in order from driving in are Strawberry River (best for NW and N); Co-op Creek; Chicken Creek; Ladders; View Area (best for W and SW; also our favorite with an excellent glide hill a mile southeast of the parking area we call Lonetree because of the solitary juniper half way down the slope that is visible from the parking lot); and last is Cabins. Connecting with local kiters is key to finding the best site on any given day.
The windmeter closest to Strawberry Reservoir is at Daniel's Summit which you pass a few miles before getting to Strawberry, and on windfinder is listed as Strawberry Reservoir/North. However, it is blocked by mountains and trees for some directions and often unreliable for knowing what it's blowing at the kite sites. We were hanging out with a number of locals at the View Area one afternoon when the wind didn't come in at 1 PM as forecast, and they wouldn't be discussing what the windmeter showed, but would pass along texts that ravens were spotted soaring above the glide hill at Strawberry River or that chimney smoke at Cabins had turned sideways.
bordy wrote:Let be real for just a moment... I ride strawberry often, I have never ridden the cabins alone or with out carrying snow shoes( if snowboarding or AT gear if skiing), collasable poles, warm stuff, water (in a reusable container that I can melt snow in if need be), food, a cell phone(my sprint service seems to work in a few places around strawbs) A lighter and some times a shovel ( just in case a jump or snow cave needs to be built). It also makes sense to bring a pump if you fly inflatables cuz you can break down to walk with out dragging you kite.
There have been days when my friends and I cover a hundred plus miles in a day at the cabins and never see anyone. We have discused evac plans and whould not question the need for a helo in a life threating problem.
As a former memeber of a Army mountain warefare unit I know to much about exposere to want to die from kiting the cabins alone, and that could very well happen at this kite spot.
Yes indeed, RagingGrandpa, be careful.
Strawberry feels safer than Skyline because it's not so exposed atop a high mountain ridge, but many of the best kiting areas are quite far from the parking areas, while Skyline's terrain is mostly relatively close in, and the wind there usually holds up well past sunset.
One favorite Strawbs glide hill a top local loves is Island Mountain, an island in the lake 3-4 miles south of the View Area, but getting back if the wind dies can be a potentially dangerous situation.
Our first day he took us out the mile or so to Lonetree, and we were just loving it, and pretty soon a number of the other top gliders in the country showed up and filled the air with an incredible show. What a sight it was.
As it got later, they all gradually filtered off back towards the parking area, but being snowkite deprived we just kept going as long as we could. It was about 45 mins before sunset, and the wind was holding up fine, but after one glide my kite just fell and wouldn't relaunch. After about 10 minutes I got enough of a gust to reverse hot launch, and we hightailed back pumping our kites and grateful to barely get back without having to hike.
One local later was saying it often dies rather quickly like that at Strawberry, and when the sun gets to about 20 degrees from setting, it's time to head in even if it still seems good. At one point the locals were sharing their worst stories and the areas where they happened.
Good information on Strawberry. Locals have all been stranded. The best bet if you want to kite late into the day is to stay close to the road. The alternative is to use AT skies and carry skins and telescopic poles in your pack.
There are two other launches that you omitted from your map, Mud Creek (good on a west wind) and Strawberry Marina (good on a S - SW wind. Thank you for sharing the map.
The biggest advantage of riding Strawberry over Skyline is the potential to long downwind explorations. The terrain is so diverse with both man-made and natural features to ride.
I keep meaning to put together a Utah ride guide, but between work and riding, I have been putting it off. Thank you for sharing this info and I am glad you had a solid trip to Utah.