Originally referred to as “Parley’s Park,” the now famous ski resort destination known as Park City is keeping close to its roots. The city’s father, Parley Pratt, made his bread from the toll road that connected travelers to the West and the hopes of striking it rich in the California Gold Rush. Today, visitors to Park City still pay handsomely for a pass to the promise of sparkling richness, but instead of precious metal, they seek white gold born from the sky where cold temperatures and heavy moisture make their magic.
Jupiter Peak, which rises 10,000 feet above Park City, can carve out as much as 360 inches of snow per year from the low pressure systems that move across the Wasatch Mountains during the winter. It is not your average snow either, but something more akin to white puffy clouds and good cake. I sometimes feel like I am in an old Batman episode: Holy Fat Skis, Batman! POW! In all the years I have been going to the Park City area it has never let me down.
Planning a Ski Vacation
Whenever you plan a ski vacation, you know deep down it is a bit of a crap shoot. Setting aside time from work, plunking down a pile of benjamins, and putting yourself at the whims of your most tolerable airline (Go Southwest!) are just a few of the maneuvers we have to make to go on a ski vacation. Once there it could grow too warm, become too cold and windy, or even simply do nothing. When one of these unfortunate scenarios occur, you and your travel companions will bury disappointment and perpetually assure one another that – it still beats work! Secretly, you’ll wonder if the gods are conspiring against you. This is why powder hungry, ski resort destination travelers typically like to bet on as-sure-of-a-thing-as-possible.
Salt Lake City Ski Resorts
Every Salt Lake local has their favorite mountain. Whether it is Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, Solitude, The Canyons, Park City, Deer Valley, Snowbasin, or Powder Mountain, the point is there are plenty of options. Personally, I enjoy each one for different reasons, but if I am going to travel many miles, especially with a group of friends, it is hard not to set my sights on the Park City area. Reason: you have 3 rather large resorts right at your fingertips and a fun downtown area for apres anything you want. If you want to travel to the other ski resorts you can. In fact, after a few days of exploring Deer Valley, Park City, and The Canyons I highly recommend making the drive from Park City to Snowbasin. A little bit of a down time goes a long way, for Snowbasin is one of the best kept secrets in the West.
The ease in which you can make the transition from town, to Town Lift, to tackling the numerous runs and hikes Park City has to offer is seamless. I occasionally hear people say that Park City is too small, or not as sweet as – insert other ski resort – but I think it’s pretty awesome. It is pretty difficult to do the whole resort in one day, and throw in the fact that you will hardly ever wait in a lift line and, well, I’m sold.
There are some great restaurants in Park City. Two staples for me are Shabu and Bangkok Thai. Both a little spendy and touristy, but the food is good and I’m there to spend and be a tourist. After dinner, throw yourself on the meat market at the No Name Saloon. Down a few Polygamy Porters and the overwhelming amount of men will still seem like a lot of men, but the women may look less like men? Either way, you won’t see any fur coats in this place.
The Canyons is equally if not more kick ass than Park City. On a stormy day there are plenty of great aspects in the trees, and when it is clear there are some really stellar hikes and traverses that connect you right back down to the network of different lifts. This year I experienced a first for me at The Canyons. Yes, I participated in a timeshare presentation to get a free lift ticket!
My friend, William has a habit of getting me into situations that I would otherwise avoid like the plague. However, upon exiting the uncomfortable experience we inevitably derive so many countless hours of post amusement from it that is generally deemed a success. And I confess, in this case I did have some latent fascination with the whole sales and marketing process and was curious to observe the practice firsthand.
If you are interested in having your very own 1/2 of a 1/3 of a 1/4 of a 1/6 then do I have a deal for you! For your very own week – for life – at an exclusive, amazing, star-spangled metropolis complete with saunas, pools, gyms, restaurants, and more people than you ever thought could co-habit one structure, you must only throw down somewhere in the realm of $58,000 plus fees, and who knows what else, maybe your soul? Just don’t forget that figure is based off of 52 weeks in the year. “But it doesn’t snow year round?,” you may ask. Genius. And the guy that looks like a cross between Dusty Rhoades and Gary Busey, who burns through a half-a-millions dollars like its chump change, may respond, “it’s 2 for 1.” He will then pull out a photo album containing pictures of his tan hide in like 50 other tropical locations, which have nothing to do with skiing, but also have giant hotels and timeshares that look like they could house an entire alien nation. If you are the type of person that enjoys these kinds of experiences, there could be some more opportunities at Deer Valley. Currently, it looks like they are building a giant Death Star with more rooms requiring more fractional investment. Despite all my sarcasm, if this stuff is for you then great. Needless to say, I am not their demographic, but I did appreciate the semi-free day of skiing.
My group stayed in a townhome not far off Main Street, and it was a nice place equipped with a kitchen and most importantly, a private hot tub with great views of the surrounding mountains. While we were in essence throwing money away for the experience, I feel great calm in the flexibility to choose something completely different the next time. Park City Lodging or Mountain Reservations can hook it up.
For more information on skiing in Utah, there is the Ski Utah blog, which is a collective effort of the local CVB and some ski resorts in the area. There are also quite a few ski resorts on Twitter. Local Park City veteran, Eric Hoffman has compiled a pretty comprehensive list on his blog. Whatever you do and wherever you go I hope you get the goods.