Three acclaimed resorts and amazing slopes elevate Park City to luxurious levels.
Written bySuzanna Cullen Hamilton
When the plane touches down at Salt Lake City airport, it’s a quick, 30-minute drive to the beautiful Wasatch Back Range and some of the best powder skiing in the country. Founded in 1849, the once-abundant silver mining town of Park City is now filled with world-class ski resorts, fantastic shopping and fine dining. The resorts of Park City Mountain, Canyons and Deer Valley comprise the 2002 Winter Olympic site. With a combined total of 9,000 skiable acres, the three resorts offer every amenity—from ski school to private backcountry heli-skiing tours. When the Sundance Film Festival takes over the town in mid-January, the Old West greets Hollywood with panache on historic Main Street.
As of September 2014, Vail Resorts owns both Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort. Once the new lift connects the two resorts, skiers will have access to 7,300 acres of trails and parks. With a total of eight half-pipes and six terrain parks, Park City Mountain and Canyons are magnets for snowboarders of all levels.
Additionally, the recent merger includes Park City Mountain in the Epic Pass program. For a season pass of $749, skiers have unlimited access to more than a dozen ski resorts in America, Europe and Japan.
Founded in 1981, Deer Valley consistently ranks as one of America’s top ski destinations. With an emphasis on customer service, a limited number of lift tickets are sold each day, and a 3-to-1 guest-to-staff ratio ensures unparalleled attention.
Significantly, Deer Valley remains a ski-only resort where snowboards are not permitted. While this rankles boarders, Deer Valley is committed to remaining a traditional ski resort.
Where to Stay
Most of the town of Park City offers ski-in-, ski-out accommodations with easy access to the mountain via the Town Lift. The majority of lodging in the historic area of Park City is comfortable, and it receives high marks for convenience and cost. If you’re looking for luxury in town, the Waldorf Astoria Park City offers the refined elegance and comfort associated with this renowned brand. (parkcitywaldorfastoria.com)
Deer Valley is only a mile from town, but all of the accommodations are grand at this resort. There are several massive, luxurious, on-mountain hotels that cater to the affluent crowd. Both the Stein Eriksen Lodge and the Montage Deer Valley offer fantastic amenities including opulent spas, upscale dining and ski storage. (steinlodge.com)
However, if you want a veritable Alpine experience, stay at the Goldener Hirsch Inn. This discrete, slope-side boutique hotel offers the understated elegance found in the picturesque Tyrolean Alps. Antler chandeliers, hand-painted furniture and authentic European details are reminders of charming Kitzbühel. (goldenerhirschinn.com)
Where to Shop
If the cowboy culture of Park City starts to tear at your heart, saddle up to Burns Cowboy Shop for custom boots. Established in 1876, Burns remains a bastion on Main Street, and clients range from local skiers to Hollywood celebrities.
Lightweight but incredibly warm alpaca is appropriate for cold Utah winters as well as chilly South Bay nights. The lush sweaters and wraps at Alpaca International add a dash of elegance to jeans and boots.
Foodies will revel in Mountain Town Olive Oil Co., where barrels contain every flavor of the rich oil. Aged balsamic vinegars and gourmet foods further delight the senses in this Main Street food boutique.
Where to Eat
Historic Main Street in Park City lights up at night with an incredible array of dining options. Riverhorse on Main is renowned for its seasonal menu set in a contemporary mountain interior with nightly live music.
Across the street, Washo—An Asian Grill has become a locals’ favorite, where curtained booths and finger towels complete this swanky, Jazz Age-era setting. It’s worth the wait at Chimayo, where you’ll find authentic Southwestern food in an upscale but rustic and romantic retreat.
What to Do
If you’re not completely exhausted after a day on the slopes, there’s plenty to do in and around Park City. The Egyptian Theatre was built in 1926, and it remains a landmark destination—particularly during the Sundance Film Festival. With a revolving calendar of shows and concerts, it offers a multitude of events.
Gorgoza Park is not just for kids, though there are plenty of activities to keep little ones entertained. Seven long tubing lanes are served via lift lines, ensuring fun for the entire family.
After skiing these slopes for 20 years, I remain enamored with Deer Valley and Park City and the rich but relaxed atmosphere of this distinctly Western town.
My bluebird powder ski days are matched by the high caliber of lodging, dining and shopping.
Lions and tigers and bears—oh my!