On the Left Coast, Colorado’s ski resorts are probably the most famous. But according to some skiers, Utah boasts the “Greatest Snow on Earth”—specifically, Park City, which is just outside of Salt Lake City. The views are breathtaking, the resorts rival the best in the world, plus there’s a small-town ambiance that’s getting harder and harder to find in Vail and Beaver Creek, Colorado’s two premiere resorts.
To find out more about the Park City scene, I jelly-rolled into the Park City ski shop, where I got the lowdown on the upper slopes. Jans, the owner of the shop, told me that there are three resorts in the area: Deer Valley, The Canyons, and Park City Mountain Resort. There’s not much difference between the three resorts as far as the price of lift tickets is concerned. But there is a difference in what they offer.
The poshest of the three is Deer Valley. Its runs, which cater to every skill level from ski-bunny to let-it-all-hang-out experts, are invariably groomed to perfection. Depending on your viewpoint, no flaws are allowed to exist at Deer Valley. However, if you’re one of those maniacal snowboarders, there is a flaw in their flawlessness: No snowboarding is allowed. Negative. Nada. No way. The skiers love it, of course. Less risk of grabbing carved snow or being cut off by some scalawag on a board. This is probably just as well, because the lodges and restaurants at Deer Valley are geared toward the very affluent. And generally speaking, even if they fit the affluent tag, most snowboarders are indifferent to that kind of stuff.
The Canyons, which is the largest ski resort in North America, does do snowboarding. In fact, they love it, offering the full spectrum of runs from gentle beginner slopes to banzai runs with beaucoup jumps. The lodging facilities at The Canyons are nothing if not luxurious, but have discarded the formality of Deer Valley. And high-caliber restaurants abound. The nice folks at Park City Ski Shop said free lift tickets for The Canyons are easy to come by, but there is a catch: You have to listen to a salesman wax eloquent about the advantages of time-share to get them.
The third resort, Park City Mountain Resort, has skiing and snowboarding, but in a much more relaxed way. It’s not quite slacker but definitely laissez-faire, like Bing Crosby in Vermont in White Christmas, if you get what I mean—alpine cabins, hot cider, cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate. The whole place screams “retro,” which explains why the patrons are younger and a bit rowdier than at the other two resorts.
So if you live on the Left Coast and you’re tired of skiing in California or tripping over celebrities in Vail, check out Park City, Utah, where they have something for everyone.