I dare you.
Just try to ski every run at Park City’s Canyons Resort in a week of fast and furious slope attacks. It doesn’t matter how speedily you shred the snow. This mountain sports wonderland in Utah is so big that cruising it is akin to S-turning your way through the state of Alaska. Sprawling across nine peaks, encompassing tree-dotted backcountry and a plethora of groomers, this local favorite has long been the biggest ski resort in Utah.
And soon, it will be the largest in the United States. Last September Vail Resorts acquired Canyons, as well as neighboring Park City Mountain Resort, and has plans to link the two with a high-speed gondola in time for next winter—when that happens, you certainly won’t be able to whoosh down every run in a week’s vacation, though it’d sure be fun to try. While the project won’t be finished until next ski season, the two resorts are already celebrating their marriage with the Epic Pass, which allows access to both ski kingdoms—a first for Park City.
These are the sorts of wintry developments that have long drawn seasoned hot doggers, two-foot tot bombers without poles, graceful skiers, pizza-wedge beginners and stomping snowboarders alike to Park City. With a trio of resorts renowned for snow so fluffy it has earned the name champagne powder, this haven just 35 minutes from Salt Lake City is the jewel of the Wasatch Mountains. Once a stagecoach stop and mining town, Park City gained acclaim when it hosted some of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. It is also known as the snowy backdrop for the celebrity-studded Sundance Film Festival each winter.
For all of us regular folk who crave the simple pleasure of a few days on the slopes, Park City offers three can’t miss choices. For 3,000-plus acres of family friendly terrain, try Park City Mountain, perhaps the soul of the region. Defined by its location mid-hamlet, the resort looms above historic Main Street. Leave the town’s antique, clapboard houses and hip boutiques, bars, galleries and restaurants behind instantly when you ride the Town Lift up to access abundant groomed trails and bowls, including a variety that can be skied at night. Buzz down the aptly named Home Run trail, which proceeds for 3.5 miles, one of the longest descents in the region. At the end of the day, fly down Quit ’N Time, where you can begin your après ski experience at High West, the only ski-in-ski-out distillery in the world. For the in-town experience, bunk at The Sky Lodge, just steps from the Town Lift. Set amid 19th-century structures, the contemporary interiors of this all-suite hotel prove Park City’s penchant for modern-day swank. Loft-style suites overlook the mountain and the still-vintage parts of town, providing the visitor a unique sense of place.
Just four minutes from Main Street, Canyons Resort annually gets an average of 355 inches of the region’s light-as-fairy-dust snowfall. Composed of 4,000 skiable acres, it boasts six natural half-pipes, three terrain parks, five bowls and 21 lifts. With only 10 percent of its runs marked beginner, Canyons caters to more experienced skiers and snowboarders, though its mountain recreation schools are solid enough to ensure even a novice has a ball here. An added bonus: The heated Orange Bubble Express, a high-speed quad up the mountain, provides ideal transport for cold days.
When you’re ready for a break from the trail, take advantage of the slew of complimentary amusements Canyons offers. Learn about owls and other birds of prey in hands-on afternoon seminars at the foot of the mountain. Families can revel in snowman-making contests or just sit around a roaring fire while sipping hot chocolate and roasting marshmallows for s’mores. Nearby, the Waldorf Astoria Park City understands that not everybody wants to bomb down the sheers. Want to learn to speed skate? The hotel will set you up with Patrick Meek, a former Olympian who will teach you to slice the ice like a pro. Or sign up for the hotel’s No Ski For Me Package, which comes with shopping advice, gift cards, yoga lessons and red wine.
While none will rival the combined size of Canyons and Park City Mountain, Deer Valley takes another tack. Opened in 1981, this six-peak sanctuary welcomes only skiers (sorry, snowboarders). Ranked No. 1 in guest services among North American ski resorts, Deer Valley charges higher daily lift ticket prices and limits the number of skiers each day, minimizing lift lines and maximizing elbowroom on the trail. The most chi chi of Park City’s three resorts, Deer Valley gratifies intermediate skiers most of all, but does offer glades, bowls and moguls for the more advanced. With award-winning ski schools, it also ensures that beginners have plenty of territory to practice their traverses.
With such high standards, ski concierges in uniform, gourmet slope-side cafes and champagne bars go without saying. If that’s your ski style, stay at one of the most glamorous Deer Valley lodges, the Montage Deer Valley in Empire Pass. You’ll be greeted at the door by Monty, a toothy, tail-wagging Bernese mountain dog who loves to spend time with guests. A grand hotel with mountain spirit, the Montage has plenty of nooks and crannies—such as an unexpected bowling alley—that make it feel like its own village. Ski butlers pull off your boots for you before storing your skis, and the Spa Montage unravels the knots with stellar treatments and copper soaking tubs where skiers can contemplate this truly amazing possibility: that Park City may be even better next winter.
When You Go
Fly Most major airlines fly from San Antonio to Salt Lake City. From there, rent a car for the 30-minute trek or arrange transport via your hotel.
Drink At the Waldorf Astoria’s Powder Ice Lounge, an igloo-style, 14-foot bar made from carved ice and bedecked with ice-sculpted furniture, even the glasses are made from ice. parkcitywaldorfastoria.com