Snowbird’s Peruvian Tunnel is one of the most unique features of any ski resort in the country.
You can access this tunnel off the Peruvian Express chairlift, and it houses a one-way “Magic Carpet” that will easily transport you to Snowbasin’s backside terrain.
It’s truly a unique experience that’s not only functional, but quite a bit of fun, too!
Read on for 10 interesting facts about this modern marvel!
1. It’s the only ski tunnel in North America
Snowbird’s Peruvian Express Tunnel connects the front side of the mountain to the backside’s large Mineral Basin bowl. To do so, it goes literally through the mountain!
No other resort in all of North America has a mountain tunnel like this. It’s an experience unlike any other!
2. It’s two football fields long.
At 600 feet long, (well, 595 feet, exactly) the tunnel isn’t playing around!
About halfway through the tunnel, look up! You’re over 200 feet below the mountain top!
The inside of the tunnel itself is relatively small – only bout 10 feet by 12 feet.
3. Snowbird opened the tunnel in 2006.
Snowbird completed the improvement at the same time as installing the upgraded Peruvian Express chairlift, which unloads directly in front of the tunnel.
The project’s goal was allowing easier access to the resort’s Mineral Basin/Lupine Loop, and to that we’d say, “Bravo!”
4. The mining crew built it 24 feet a day.
To construct the tunnel, Snowbird contracted with Small Mine Development, LLC, a company from Boise, Idaho.
The owner of the mining development company explained that his team viewed it as a fun project, and they actually used it as reward project for some of their best employees.
The biggest challenge? The miners had to wait for all of Snowbird’s snow to melt before they could move in their boring equipment. Because of an epic snow year, that didn’t happen until early August!
5. Environmentalists kept a close eye on the project.
There were at least 30 to 50 sets of environmental eyeballs looking at it every half hour,” the construction company’s owner, Ron Gill, told The Salt Lake Tribune.
The project included many environmental considerations, such as a sediment trapping pond to ensure the tunnel boring didn’t cause water pollution.
6. Final price tag? $1.4 million.
Although originally reported with an $800,000 budget, Snowbird’s operations director confirmed the Peruvian Tunnel cost $1.4 million. That price includes all the excavation work and the “magic carpet” conveyer belt lift.
Interestingly, that total is a relative steal compared to the cost of the Peruvian Express chairlift, which came in at $5.6 million.
7. The tunnel is filled with legitimate antiques.
As you ride through the tunnel, you may notice old relics to either side of the magic carpet.
These are actual antiques that pay homage to Snowbird’s rich mining history. At its peak, Snowbird was a silver mining town with over 8,000 miners living in the canyon. (Before snowbird’s legendary snowfall brought an avalanche that destroyed the whole town!)
8. The ride lasts about four minutes.
To get specific, the magic carpet moves at 160 feet per minute, which is roughly a normal person’s walking speed. As a result, the total total time to go from one side of the tunnel to the other is a little less than four minutes.
9. It makes a great Plan B.
When high winds close the Aerial Tram, the tunnel can be a backup plan to quickly reach the backside Mineral Basin area from frontside.
It’s also a solid choice for intermediate skiers to get to the Mineral Basin area. That’s because the runs starting on the other side of the tunnel are noticeably easier than the black runs mostly off the top of the Tram.
10. The tunnel stays open year round!
In the summer, snowbird closes down the magic carpet, but you can still walk through the tunnel during warmer months.
To get there, you can either hike by foot to the tunnel entrance, or take a scenic summer tram ride and then walk the short distance down to the tunnel entrance.