Park City, Utah: A Guide to America's Best Ski Resort



9008665656?profile=originalIn 2004 I almost bought a condo in Park City, Utah, but I never pulled the trigger. That failure of nerve still keeps me up at night, especially during ski season, because Park City is my favorite winter sports destination. Here are ten reasons (there are more) why I'm still kicking myself:


  • Park City has three ski resortsDeer Valley, The Canyons, and Park City Mountain Resort – sitting side by side and looming over an authentic old mountain village.

  • Add up DV, TC, and PCMR's skiable terrain, and you get 9,000 acres. By comparison, Vail, the largest resort in the U.S., has 5,300 skiable acres. What about Whistler-Blackcomb, the largest ski area in all North America? 8,100.
  • Although all three ski areas feature that famous light, dry Utah powder and offer a range of easy to challenging slopes – groomers, glades, bumps, bowls, terrain parks, childrens areas – each has distinct strengths. 

  • It takes me no more time to get from Manhattan to reach Park City, Utah, than to drive to Stowe, Vermont. You can fly from NYC to Salt Lake City in 5 1/2 hours, ride up to Park City in 35 minutes, and hit the slopes that same day.

  • You save money by choosing Park City, too. The van from the airport to Park City costs $39, but after that there are no transportation costs. You needn't rent a car (that means you 9008665877?profile=originalneedn't pay to park a car, either), because the shuttles connecting the town and the ski areas offer the best bus service in the Rockies. We're talking free buses that run at short intervals. Really.

  • Most hotels offer first arrivals a free lift ticket at any of the three ski areas. So if I take the 8:30 a.m. JetBlue flight to Salt Lake City, which lands around noon, I can arrive at my hotel, change into ski gear, and get in a couple of hours on the slopes before dark.

  • Speaking of hotels, you could stay slopeside at any of the three resorts, but right in town there are accommodations at all price levels. For example, a dorm room at the Chateau Apres (left) costs as little as $40, and a private room goes for $110 – even during Christmas week. Park City Crash Pads offers two-bedroom condos from $200 a night. Besides, it's fun to stay in town rather than slopeside  because Park City is full of great restaurants, bars, shops, galleries, grocery stores, everything. And there's a Park City Mountain Resort ski lift right in town.

  • I can't begin to list my favorite bars and restaurants, from young-crowd brew pubs to restaurants with cutting-edge cuisine. I will say that the raves for Zoom, Robert Redford's unpretentious New American cuisine restaurant, are well deserved.

  • 9008665500?profile=originalPark City's relatively low elevation for a Rocky Mountains destination (about 7,000 feet above sea level) spares visitors like my wife the indignity of altitude sickness and, well, throwing up.

  • Skiing and snowboarding are not the only options. You can go gallery-hopping, tubing, sledding, horse-drawn sleighs, ziplining, ballooning, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing, or just hang out in one of the friendly, warm coffee shops. At the Utah Olympic Park, celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2012, you can try quasi-extreme activities like luging. That is, you can, but I won't. 

    P.S. With three ski areas bumping up against each other, so to speak, competition is spirited, so this year all three are rolling out some innovative and even surprising improvements. Click here for a quick look at what's new.

    Photos: Dan Campbell

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  • I like Park City too because you travel there easily and without a car and the brewpubs and bars are cheerful. Of the 3 resorts I ski the Canyons because all 3 have some challenging terrain but if your an advance skier the Canyons is king.

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