The Ultimate Guide to Park City, Utah
Written by Ron Thompson • Last updated Oct 10, 2017
The largest ski area in the entire United States, home to the greatest snow on earth (so locals claim), and named one of the top 20 prettiest towns in the country by Forbes… ladies and gentlemen, it’s Park City! As ski resorts go, this place is up there with the best in the world, totaling up an enormous 7,300 acres of ski terrain with over 300 trails and counting. But it’s not just sheer vastness that makes Park City stand out. It’s the holy grail of excellent quality powder, consistent snowfall, and a distinct lack of wind that generally keeps the white stuff fresh, dry, and floaty. Unique meteorological elements conspire to create spectacular snow that you’ll only find in Utah, with Park City enjoying just over 30 feet of it on average each year!
To keep things objective, it’s time to point out that Park City does have its flaws. Much of the accommodation here is located away from the lifts, so rolling out of bed and onto the slopes is unlikely. Being so popular, and close to Salt Lake City, means you should be prepared for lift queues and busy slopes, particularly on weekends. Nearby ski resort Alta also beats Park City in the numbers when it comes to steep slopes and snow depth. That said, the pros most certainly outweigh the cons, and it’s perfectly groomed airstrip-sized runs make Park City a mountain every skier and snowboarder will enjoy.
Second only to Whistler Blackcomb in size when compared to all the ski areas across North America, it’s no surprise that Park City has something for everyone (and that goes for non-skiers too!). All levels of ability are catered for, and freestylers will love the world class ramps and halfpipes here, courtesy of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Off the mountain, the town itself has been carefully restored, particularly around Main Street, where you’ll see charming historic buildings that hark back to the 19th-century silver mining boom. A short wander will quickly reveal refined restaurants, designer boutiques, and plenty of lively bars, proving that this town is far more sophisticated than first meets the eye. As if all that wasn't enough, it’s also home to the Sundance Film Festival!
What is now known as Park City used to be two separate ski areas, with the former Canyons Resort connected to create one colossal mountain resort. Vail Resorts pumped in over $50 million on the project to bring 17 mountain peaks within the all-encompassing Park City Mountain Resort. The two ski areas still retain their previous character despite the merger, with Canyons serving up longer runs with more vertical drop than its neighbor. Park City's specialty is an abundance of amazingly wide trails to keep even the most enthusiastic carver busy all week.
You do get a lot of vertical rise at this resort, 3,200 feet to be precise, with lifts reaching up to 10,000 feet. The majority of runs leading off the top peaks are double black diamond bowls and gullies, however the mountain is undeniably best-suited for intermediate skiers and snowboarders, with over 50% of all the trails on the mountain being blue squares. This might turn off advanced skiers and boarders craving the steep stuff, but there is a hidden blessing that comes with the resort being a haven for intermediates. After a big dump of fresh powder the off-piste isn’t tracked out anywhere near as fast as at other nearby resorts (Alta, Snowbird, we’re looking at you!)
When to Go
The ski season at Park City can last for five whole glorious months, from mid-November to mid-April. The start and tail end aren’t going to offer the best snow, so if you can aim your trip for any time between the beginning of February to the middle of March. This time of year gives you the best chance of scoring fresh deep powder with all the trails and lifts open. When it comes to snowfall, there is no reliable pattern in Utah, but the local consensus is that the second half of February is when the best powder is served, usually around the time of the Presidents’ Day national holiday. During the Sundance Film Festival, you may find the slopes surprisingly quiet, but restaurants get booked out months in advance and accommodation prices are usually turned up a notch, so make sure you've secured a ski and snowboard deal.
Great place! Love getting lost on this mountain only to ski into town for lunch. Skiing options for all levels, and never still find new trails and powder stashes. Wonderful staff as well.
Best resort in the west! Utah powder? Check! Massive amounts of terrain? Check! Lots of trails and lifts? Check! Snow bunnies? Utah has the finest! Even on busy days this resort is large enough to avoid the crowds and lines