Lured by sparkling powder, charming ski towns and some of the most luxurious lodges found this side of the Alps, snow-seekers descend on Utah every ski season to take advantage of its winter playground. With more than a dozen mountain resorts scattered around the state there’s a hill for everybody, whether you’re a daredevil who prefers to tackle untouched backcountry trails, or the type who thinks that après is the best part of a snow day.
So which hill is best for you? Here’s how to ski Utah three different ways.
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The Old School Skier: Deer Valley
Deer Valley is best described as the country club of ski resorts. This posh property in Park City caters to folks who enjoy the finer things in life, like high-end dining options, luxuriously appointed lodges and classic decor (think dark wood panelling, chess boards and plenty of comfy couches for relaxing between runs). The resort prides itself on its impeccable service, which includes curbside valet service where staff will unload your skis, complimentary ski storage, and limiting the number of guests per day to ensure a good experience. Even their eco-friendly trail maps are fancy, and printed on paper made from reclaimed stone which makes them waterproof and tear-resistant.
Deer Valley is known for keeping its runs groomed in tip-top shape, as well as for not allowing snowboarders—a trait that frequent guests appreciate (nearby Alta mountain resort is also a ski-only hill). Spectacular lookout points offer panoramic views of the Wasatch Mountains and Park City, particularly on runs like Jordanelle which looks out over the Jordanelle Reservoir.
When tackling the trails, it can sometimes feel like you’re passing through a ritzy neighbourhood versus skiing down a mountain, as runs pass beside multi-million dollar homes frequented by celebrities, former presidents and dot-com billionaires. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Deer Field Gondola, which one homeowner with money to burn built to connect their home to the hill—even though the actual distance is less than a couple hundred feet!
Besides serving up divine hot cocoas, the Stein Eriksen Lodge is the place to see and be seen. Head here for celeb-spotting, and chances are you’ll also see a few well-dressed non-skiers lounging around hoping to land a millionaire (seriously, it happens).
One of the best dining experiences in Park City is at the Empire Canyon Lodge, found 8,300 feet up. Their Fireside Dining offering is straight out of the Alps, in a gorgeous timber-framed room warmed by grand stone fireplaces. The four-course meal includes charcuterie paired with mouth-watering cheese fondue, hearty stews, mains such as beef short ribs and lamb, and a dessert station complete with chocolate and lemon-flavoured sauces.
Family Fun: Park City Mountain
Holding bragging rights as the largest ski resort in America, Park City Mountain is like two resorts in one. There are two different bases leading to 7,300 skiable acres of terrain: Park City Mountain Village which is home to ski in/out lodging, rental shops and restaurants, and Canyons Village which has a fun gathering spot complete with a fire pit, bars, foosball tables and plenty of shops. The hill has more than 300 trails, a super pipe and 13 different bowls, making it a great option for families with different skill levels.
Parents can hit the slopes with their kiddos, or leave the lessons to the pros and send their children to ski school (because who doesn’t love getting an early start on après). There are also daycare options available for those who aren’t quite old enough yet to strap on skis, and activities include a gondola ride up the mountain to a snow-covered play hill. Need the young ones to burn off even more energy? Send them on an adrenaline-fuelled ride down the Flying Eagle Zip Line, or the Alpine Coaster where toboggan-style cars are controlled by handbrakes, making it a fun, safe activity for all ages.
On a sun-soaked day, the St. Regis Deer Valley is the most happening spot in town for après, thanks to its massive outdoor patio. There’s also a champagne sabering demonstration every day at 5:30 p.m.
The Viking Yurt transports diners to Scandinavia with its Nordic-inspired fare. Found along the Homerun trail under the Bonanza Express chairlift, this cozy spot is warmed by a wood-burning stove that guests can gather around while sipping a steaming mug of mulled wine. For a truly unique experience, reserve a spot for their dinner experience which starts with a ride 1,800 feet up the mountain on a sleigh pulled by a snow-cat, and includes a six-course gourmet dinner accompanied by tunes from a baby grand piano.
Made for Millennials: Powder Mountain
Millennials love to get off the beaten path, which is why those in-the-know leave Park City and head to Powder Mountain instead. Based in Eden which is a one hour drive from Salt Lake City, this hidden gem gets back to basics by focusing less on appearances and more on the terrain—though some might find certain aspects almost too old school, like the one chairlift that doesn’t have safety bars. You won’t find any ski bunnies here, and the unpretentious, laid-back vibe can be a welcome change from Park City’s swanky scene. Lift tickets are also much cheaper at PowMow compared to hills around Park City…which means millennials can keep more of their money to fund that avocado toast habit.
With 8,400 skiable acres and a daily ticket limit of 1,500, it always feels like you have the whole place to yourself, and the views of the surrounding valley are magical, particularly after a fresh snowfall.
Jam out at Powder Keg, located in the Timberline Cafeteria at the resort’s base. With a large selection of beers on tap and live music, it’s the perfect place to keep the fun going after a day on the slopes.
As if there weren’t already enough runs to tear down at Powder Mountain, the backcountry is also accessible thanks to their famed cat skiing expeditions. The full-day, guided tours grant access to another 3,000 acres of untouched terrain, in Davenport and Gertsen Canyon. Reservations are required.
Globe Guide hit the slopes as a guest of Visit Utah. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.
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