Nestled in Utah's Wasatch Range at about 2,100 metres above sea level and a 45-minute drive from the state capital, Park City is a ski town steeped in history.
It was incorporated in 1884, thanks to abundant silver mining, but alpine skiing took hold in 1946 when the first chairlift was installed. The town has never looked back—sure, it’s also home to the Hollywood who’s-who Sundance Film Festival, but winter action has been the town’s raison d'être for 70 years and counting. Here are five reasons you should fly to Utah’s Wasatch Range this winter:
Utahans have boasted “the best snow on Earth” for decades. They might be on to something, thanks to the Great Salt Lake—the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. The full meteorological rundown is lengthy, but in essence, that never-freezing salt-waterbody both encourages precipitation while adding very little moisture to the air. As such, the consistent snowfall hitting the 11 ski hills orbiting the state capital (including of course, Park City's two resorts) not only has a measured lower water content than coastal flurries, but is comprised of snowflakes with a special structure dubbed “dendrites.” This fluffy stuff lofts up like the down in your jacket, resulting in exceptionally dry snow that also has enough body to float a pair of skis. It isn’t braggadocio. It’s science. (Park City Mountain Resort, pictured above.)
Park City Mountain Resort
Park City Mountain Resort is a beast. At 2,933 hectares, it’s larger than Whistler or Blackcomb. It juts up to more than 3,000 metres above sea level; high enough to leave newcomers breathless if they dare to ski top-terrain without proper acclimatization. It has two different sides with split personalities: the Park City side and the Canyons side. It’s all serviced by 41 lifts and boasts 44 per cent black-diamond terrain. On the Park City side, powder hounds can get their fill of steep-and-deep at Silverlode, Bonanza and McConkey’s—moving later to the Jupiter, which reaches up to 3,055 metres. On the Canyons side, Dreamscape and Dreamcatcher lifts will get the quads ready for the gnarly terrain of Super Condor Express or the steeps of Ninety-Nine 90. Only 33 lifts left to explore!
Deer Valley Resort
Located next-door to Park City Mountain, Deer Valley Resort is one step away from a private club. For starters, this independently owned ski hill caps ticket sales so skiers won’t have to wait in long lift lines, and one can always find a seat in the lodge. To further limit lines, they’ve installed a ludicrous number of chairlifts, many of which converge at the same summit. How many? In their 800 hectares of skiable terrain, you’ll find 24 lifts. (For comparison, Alberta’s Lake Louise has more than twice the area, but only 10 lifts.) Plus, come lunch, rather than lugging your own planks to the ski-rack, there’s a no-charge ski concierge. Lodge fare is also a cut above. Prime rib? Roast duck? You got it. But fine fare and zigzagging lifts aside, oh… the snow. Stands of aspen trees, perfectly spaced, are home to nonstop knee-deep Utah fluff. Plus, with industry leading grooming, this hill caters to all abilities. Oddly, the resort still bans snowboarders.
Utah Olympic Park
There are a lot of reasons to visit Utah Olympic Park. You can learn about the local legacy of sport as well as the meteorological phenomena that give the area its epic snow. You can view events, like bobsled and skeleton racing or ski-jumping competitions. An adventure ropes course? A zipline? Sure—all fun. But the number-one reason is the Winter Bobsled Experience. Here, you’ll board a real bobsled for a guided run down an Olympic course. It's only about 45 seconds of excitement, but that’s more than enough—the velocities and G-force are staggering. A must-do while in Park City.
High West Distillery & Saloon
Worthy of its own inclusion due to uniqueness in Utah and in the ski industry at-large. For starters, High West Distillery & Saloon is the first distillery opened in Utah since the 1870s (testament to the state’s strict liquor laws). Further, it’s currently the world’s only ski-in distillery—though you’ll likely have to pop off the planks for at least the final few steps along the sidewalk. With the saloon located in downtown Park City and the Town Lift running nearby, it’s easy to close out a day at Park City with a groomer leading to a glass of whiskey or a high-end cocktail.
When You Go
Stay: Book accommodation at Black Bear Resorts by Resorts West. Not only will you enjoy log-cabin style, walk-out access to Deer Valley and a free shuttle to Park City, but a private hot tub in every room.
Eat: Set on Park City’s historic Main Street, Tupelo offers unique takes on fare from American producers—trout, lamb, beef, produce—all in a chic but casual atmosphere.
Info: Learn more about the area at visitparkcity.com.