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Park City’s Ski Resorts: Skier Heaven

Skiing Deer Valley's famous groomed snow. Photo by Adam Barker/Deer Valley

Skiing in Park City dates back to 1920 when a few hardy souls took the mine train (which was still part of active silver mining) to the top of Thaynes Canyon so they could ski down. The first ski jump was built in 1930, followed by the first lift in 1946.

But it wasn’t until 1958, with mining on the skids, that United Park City Mines did a study to see of it could branch out into the ski business and it wasn’t until 1963, with a federal loan, that a gondola and chairlift were built, actually launching a real ski area. By 1982, mining was history, but skiing was just really getting started.

Along the way, the area sprouted Deer Valley (1981) and Canyons (which actually started in the late ‘60s as Park West and Wolf Mountain but reimagined itself as Canyons in 1997).

So now, the area has three resorts. And while folks do have to choose, each area has its own personality. And it’s made Park City a skiers’ mecca in the West.

Eight peaks, nine bowls with 3,300 skiable acres, 3,100 vertical feet, 116 trails, 19 lifts.

Alpine Coaster Park City Mountain Resort 2

Visitors hang on to Park City Mountain Resort’s Alpine Coaster.
Photo by Dan Campbell/Park City Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau

The seminal Park City resort, whose claims to fame include:

  • Five “Adventure Alleys” for kids – These trails through trees and shallow ravines are marked at the start by “snow bugs,” original metal sculptures that look like kids’ cartoons gone wild. The trails twist and turn and roll and, along the way, kids have fun while learning to turn and judge distance and all that good ski stuff.
  • Alpine Coaster – A rollercoaster (yes, a real ‘coaster’) that follows the hill contours and is more exciting that you expect, though each car has brakes so you can, if you wish, control the speed. Plus, you do this in your ski boots so you can just ski up to the thing.
  • Eagle zipline – Zipping in your ski boots through the trees.
  • Ice skating rink at the base.
  • Seriously cool mining artifacts salted around the runs. Visit what’s left of the Thaynes Lift exit and more. A dozen of these are marked on the ski map and have historical markers explaining their past.
  • Jupiter Bowl, Park City’s claim to expert terrain fame.
  • Night skiing.
  • Tubing center – not actually at the ski hill but it is part of the Park City Mountain Resort complex.

DEER VALLEY RESORT

Deer Valley Resort yard art Park City

At Deer Valley Resort, a visitor snaps a photo of the famous “Yard art” sculptures on the decks and front yards of multimillion dollar homes along Last Chance Run .

Five peaks with 1,750 skiable acres, 3,000 vertical feet, 90 trails, 21 lifts.

This is the resort that invented ski glam. There were telephones on lift poles here in the early 1980s so skiers could stay connected, well before folks could pull a cell phone out of their pockets. There were ski packages that included butlers. And of course, there were gourmet buffets with half a dozen kinds of mushrooms.

People shook their heads when the lodge opened with its peeled logs, brass bathroom fixtures and original oil paintings. But it didn’t take long for other resorts to copy the idea.

I personally once witnessed a ski guide stop one morning on a perfectly manicured run to pick up a chunk of ice and chuck it into the trees, lest some hapless CEO hook a ski tip on it.

To this day, Deer Valley bans snowboards but, eventually, it did cut some expert runs and glade the forests for tree runs. So while powder hounds are cutting Utah’s famed fluff to shreds at the other two Park City resorts, the “good stuff” often remains there for the picking at Deer Valley.

Snow tubing Gorgonza Park Park City

Children enjoy tubing at Gorgoza Park, Park City. Photo by Dan Campbell/Park City Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

It’s a good place for a day to relax. The mountains aren’t too complicated, the runs are well groomed, comfy lodges are everywhere.

Among Deer Valley’s more interesting offerings is the “yard art” along Last Chance Run. Several homes worth in the $10 million range have added carved skiing bears, raccoons, a mountain goat, a totem poll and a moose in the front yard or hanging off the decks, along with two hand carved loggers halfway up a tree.

And on the horizon is an ambitious $50 million expansion to add up to 1,000 new acres with a half dozen new lifts, a new lodge and maybe yet another ultra upscale hotel.

Plus, there is the gondola. Serious plans are in the works for a gondola from the town of Park City’s Main Street up to Deer Valley’s mid mountain area. Park City Resort already runs its own gondola so this would give the town two gondolas serving two separate resorts. Shades of Europe.

CANYONS

Nine peaks, five bowls, with 4,000 skiable acres, 3,190 vertical feet, 183 trails, 21 lifts.

The Beach_Deer Valley Resort

Skiers enjoy the sun at “The Beach,” Deer Valley Silver Lake mid mountain. Photo by Eric Schramm/Deer Valley

This was always Park City’s sleeper… the place most visitors overlooked.

What sets Canyons apart is … well, the canyons, which give impressive variety to the terrain. This is the kind of place you could spend a week exploring and never hit it all. Yes, there is easier terrain, but THIS is where serious skiers in Park City come to ski. Nearly half the mountain is expert.

Canyons borrows a bit from the other two resorts. For adventure, there’s a zip line and for luxury, a bubble chairlift with heated seats. There are also terrain parks and a welter of nice lodges and restaurants.

If You Go

Park City (the town) –www.visitparkcity.com/

Park City Mountain Resort – parkcitymountain.com/

Deer Valley – deervalley.com/

Canyons – canyonsresort.com/

Yvette Cardozo, RFT Ski Editor, Powder Stagecoach.                                                                                             – story and photos by Yvette Cardozo, RFT Ski & Dive Editor

 

Want to know more about Park City, Utah? Check out Yvette’s other stories:

“Ski Park City: A Food History Tour”

“Beer Battered Coconut Shrimp with Mango Dipping Sauce from Park City”



Yvette Cardozo, RFT Ski & Dive Editor

Yvette Cardozo from the Seattle, Washington area, likes to visit interesting places and learn about interesting cultures and, if a tasty local dish is involved, so much the better. She’s eaten everything from gourmet food at the world’s finest restaurants to native food in Asia, the arctic, and all kinds of places in between.Yvette recalls being in Antarctica and going out on the land with Inuit elders in arctic Canada , then bagging a caribou. They dragged it back to camp and ate it on the spot raw. She quips, “Hey, if you like steak tartare….”Yvette, who is a veteran skier and diver, is RFT’s Ski & Dive Editor.


2 thoughts on “Park City’s Ski Resorts: Skier Heaven

    1. Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT EditorBobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

      No, sorry. Our photos come from a variety of sources, including our regular photographers. This Park City story contains both photos by Yvette Cardozo and photos from professional photographers who shoot for the resort. I can’t authorize use of photos I don’t personally own. If you’re looking for pro ski photos, I suggest you contact the destination. They can assist you. Thanks for asking and good luck. — Bobbie, RFT Editor

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