Happy New Year! I rang in 2017 by spending four nights in Park City, Utah with over 20 friends for three days of skiing and socializing. It was my first time skiing at Park City Mountain and visiting the state of Utah! It feels like each time I ski, I have a new favorite destination, but Park City might have just taken over as my number one.
From the long, wide runs to the seemingly never-ending skiable acreage, you could easily spend a season in Park City and still not get to it all! Last year, after Vail Resorts acquired Park City Mountain Resort, it merged Park City with the nearby Canyons Resort to become the largest ski resort in the United States (if you’ve been reading for a while, you might remember that when we skied at Big Sky, it was the largest). The new resort features over 7,300 skiable acres consisting of 17 slopes, 14 bowls, over 330 trails, 22 miles of lifts, and a fancy new gondola to connect the two ski areas in under 10 minutes. The base elevation is 6,800 feet and the summit elevation is 10,026 feet, so the vertical rise is just over 3,200 feet – great for long runs. The price of lift tickets varies by season, but make sure you buy them in advance online to get the best deal. If you are an Epic Pass holder (which includes resorts in California, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Michigan, Minnesota, and outside of the States in Japan, Switzerland and France), the new Park City Mountain is included.
Park City is an intermediate skier’s dream as 48% of the mountain is intermediate level terrain. See the trail map here. Although true beginners might be limited as only 8% of the mountain is beginner (green) terrain, Park City offers ski school for all levels. There are blues upon blues throughout every area of the mountain, along with double blues and easier blacks for those who are ready to take it to the next level. There is a good balance of groomed and ungroomed runs. I stick to mostly blues and a few blacks myself, but there are plenty of double black diamonds both in the bowls and on the slopes for more advanced skiers, as well as designated backcountry zones for the more adventurous. There are also multiple terrain parks and halfpipes for those who enjoy jumps and tricks. A unique feature of the mountain was the Snow Meadow (accessed off of the DreamScape Lift) which, while a blue run, is ungroomed and filled with trees making for a challenging but fun run.
My favorite runs were all located in either Park City or the middle part of Canyons between Park City and Canyons. On our second day, we skied all the way over to the farthest lift, Super Condor Express, in Canyons, but it took us most of the morning to traverse all the way over there and most of the afternoon to get back. On our first and third day, we stayed closer to Park City which allowed us to do more runs overall. Here is a complete list of my favorite runs, all intermediate to more difficult:
- All of the blue runs off of King Con lift
- Prospector (double blue) and Parley’s Park (blue) off of Silverlode
- Georgeanna (blue) and Tycoon (double blue) off of McConkey’s Express
- Crescent (black) off of Crescent Express
- Lead Foot and Copperhead (blues) off of Iron Mountain Express
- Alpenglow and Snow Meadow (blues) off of Dreamscape
- Upper and Middle Crowning Glory off of Peak 5
Because I live in Florida and usually only get to ski once a year, I like to maximize my time on the mountain and ski all day. In this case, that meant 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Park City makes it so easy to stay on the mountain the whole day by offering a multitude of restaurants, snack shops, and rest areas for skiers to warm up and replenish with food and drinks. My favorite spots were Miners Camp, Summit House, and The Umbrella Bar.
Summit House is at the top of three lifts – Bonanza Express, Motherlode, and Silverlode. We used it as a meet up spot for our group so we could ski home together to our ski in/ski out condo at the end of each day. Summit House has beer, coffee, hot chocolate, light eats, and plenty of grab and go items.
Miners Camp is at the base of the Quicksilver Gondola and Silverlode lifts and was probably the biggest restaurant that we visited on the mountain. You can get salads, chili, burgers, and more. There is a small store which is useful if you lost a glove on the mountain and the bathrooms are supplied with lotion and sunscreen (this was particularly convenient for us since all three days were pure sunshine).
Umbrella Bar is located at the base of Canyons Village and has 360 degree views through the glass windows. They have a full bar, great sandwich options, and several TVs, which we appreciated so we could watch the college football games during lunch.
Also, both Cloud Dine (top of DreamScape lift) and Lookout Cabin (middle access off the Orange Bubble Express) offered incredible views.
Another perk of skiing in Park City is its proximity to the Salt Lake City Airport. In good weather and traffic, it only takes 35-45 minutes to get into Park City. Our uber rides each way only cost about $50, so if you don’t need a car while you’re visiting, it is quite affordable to rely on alternate transportation. Once you’re in Park City, there is a free bus system that is very easy to navigate and runs frequently. It can take you to the main Park City base, Canyons Village, or other parts of town.
We got our rentals at Utah Ski and Golf. The company was easy to work with and conveniently located near our condo in the town of Park City. They even gave us a discount since we had such a large group of skiers. Skis, boots, and poles were under $30 plus $2 a day for the damage waiver (I highly recommend the small damage waiver as you are responsible for the entire cost of the skis if they are damaged!). Demo skis were an additional $10 per day and a helmet was $10 per day.
To me, one of the best parts of a ski trip is always the après ski. We stocked up on food at the local Fresh Market (there is also a Whole Foods nearby) and State Liquor Store so most days, we had a drink and pre-dinner snacks at the condo while we relaxed and unwound from the long day on the slopes. Note: Utah’s alcohol laws prohibit grocery stores from selling beer with over 3.2% alcohol/vol. and wine, so you’ll have to buy full-strength beer or wine at the liquor store. For dinner, we had pizza, chili, and grilled ham and cheeses at the house, but ventured into town one night to eat at Flanagan’s On Main. The restaurant offers traditional Irish dishes like boxty, fish and chips, and corned beef sandwiches, as well as a large selection of local beer. On our last night, we had local beers at Wasatch Brewery, which has a great selection of year-round and special seasonal craft brews on tap.
Finally, I must mention our VRBO condo. It slept 10 and had a sauna, which was key to relax our sore muscles at the end of the day. The condo was located off of Woodside Avenue with easy skiable access to the town lift to begin the day and access off of the Quittin’ Time run at the end of the day. Quittin’ Time, though a blue run, was typically steep and icy and quite challenging. Most of us had at least one fall coming home and we were pretty much all cursing the run by the end of the trip. If you stay in town and aren’t a strong skier, it might be better to take Homerun to the town lift and carry your skis up the road to the condo.
All in all, Park City was one of my favorite ski resorts due to the amount of intermediate terrain, wide-open runs, and great amenities. I will definitely return for both a ski trip, and I hope, a summer hiking and mountain biking trip. The friendly locals who we met couldn’t stop raving about the year-round outdoor activities and truly seemed to love Utah. Let me assure you, their passion for the region was contagious!
Disclosure: Vail Resorts provided lift tickets for my time in Park City, but as always, my opinions are my own.