Park City

Utah, USA

Park City has a combination of several elements that make it one of the best ski resorts in North America. Not only is it a world-class ski mountain but it’s a charming and happening town, all within 35 minutes of a major airport. There aren’t many places you can fly to in the morning and be skiing in the afternoon. Park City is also famous for hosting a third of the events during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, as well as the annual Sundance Film Festival that sees the town bursting at the seams while the well-heeled and famous party. Park City is now connected to neighbouring Canyons Resort via a gondola and additional ski runs, offering a mammoth amount of terrain to explore.

Scout Loves

  • Bar hopping down the main street. Endless options for a night out on the town.
  • Fresh-made doughnuts at Cloud Dine, perfect for mid-morning snack!
  • Free resort bus service connecting the area’s three ski resorts and town areas.
  • More than 360in (9.1m) of annual snowfall
  • A family-friendly resort with great Kids Signature Programs at the ski school, and non-snow activities in town.

Scout Tips

  • Sufficient snow at both resorts will be required to run the connecting gondola.
  • Park City (the town) is great to use as a base for all three resorts, Park City, Deer Valley and Canyons. You can also catch shuttle buses further afield to AltaSnowbird and Solitude.
  • If staying in downtown Park City, you will need to catch a shuttle bus in the morning (about 5-10 minutes), or use the town lift and ski down to the resort base.
  • Advanced skiers will want to head to the back areas where Jupiter Bowl offers some challenging runs.

Scout Review

Park City ski resort is highly regarded as having some of the best intermediate terrain in the world. Whether it’s the wide open, rolling, groomed runs or the gladed runs where the trees are perfectly spaced apart, intermediate skiers will have an absolute ball. However, the area also has some excellent beginner terrain, and advanced skiers will find some challenging terrain in the back bowls. And freestylers will have some fun here as the terrain parks and pipes are excellent. Fortunately all this great terrain is backed up by an efficient lift system, including four high-speed six-seater chairs plus four express quads, all of which lift 31,000 guests an hour. There’s even a lift right to the middle of Main St so your apres activities can start from the moment you step off the lifts.

Since Vail Resort's purchase of the ski area in 2014 and $50m of improvements on the mountain, including a new gondola for 2015/16 that connects it with Canyons, it has become even better. Some of the other improvements include a brand new restaurant to replace Snow Hut Lodge and upgrading Motherload lift to a high speed detachable quad and King Kong express to a six-pack. New trails have also been created on Pine Ridge - the terrain serviced by the new gondola.

What hasn't changed is Park City’s Main St. It is still a bustling affair with plenty of great restaurants and bars scattered amongst some fun shops and galleries. It’s guaranteed you won’t get bored no matter how long you’re here.

From its beginnings in 1872, when the town went up almost overnight after silver was discovered in the mountains, Park City has gone through several iterations, but it’s as a ski resort (and now the United States' biggest) that it’s firmly established its presence on the circuit of ski fans around the world.

Park City Skiing

Take out the Canyons side of the resort, Park City is a massive ski area, with over 3300 acres of terrain to explore. The resort is easily distinguishable into two - the long wide groomers and trails lower mountain, and the multiple powder filled bowls and gladed tree areas of the upper mountain. Overall, Park City has a fantastic variety of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels.

When you look at the spread of the resort it's easy to think that there is only a small proportion of terrain for beginners, however, due to its size, there are quite a lot of runs and trail perfect for first-timers. Dedicated slow zones and a 'First Time' lift at the base of the resort are perfect for beginners, and the adjoining runs allow for good progression into harder terrain. Over half the resort caters to the intermediate skiers, with plenty of trails streaming off each chairlift. There are even Park City's "Signature" runs, which are just groomed black runs, and are a good spot for intermediates to take their skiing to the next level.

The Motherlode Meadows and Black Forest provide some exciting double black trees, where skiers can be rewarded with some decent powder stashes. A trip to Park City is not complete without a run through the legendary McConkie's Bowl, with a nice steep pitch, however, you better head there first on a powder day to get the best runs. Head to the highest point on the Park City mountain and there are endless double black trails likely to thrill the most avid expert skier. The Jupiter Bowl offers up nice wide slopes, glades, and some gnarly chutes, all with a decent pitch to match. Pinecone Ridge is a decent hike up from the chairlift, however, worth the extra effort to enjoy the 600 acres of powder bowls and glade that provide a perfect in-bounds backcountry experience.

Park City is home to great lift infrastructure, with most of the chairlifts running at high speeds. The all-important Interconnect Gondola between Park City and Canyons provided even easier (and quicker) access to the entire resort terrain. Lift lines are to be expected on weekends, and during holidays or peak periods, however, the resort has good signage to advise skiers of the possible wait times for some of the lifts.

Park City For Families

Park City is a fantastic choice for families. A wide variety of terrain means there are runs for all ability levels, including great dedicated slow zones and 'First Time' lift at the base of the resort. The town bridge also makes it easy for families to ski directly from the mountain to the lower Main Street of Park City.

The main base of Park City Ski Resort has a vast amount of facilities and services, alongside a second base on Main Street in downtown Park City. Between these two areas you have plenty of options for rentals, retail shops, restaurants, and childcare. The resort itself offers a combination of childcare and ski school for the younger children (from the ages of 3.5), but no childcare only programs, meaning if you were just requiring babysitting, a private session is required. The ski school on-mountain has a good range of programs, and a great instructor to child ratio. All lessons meet at the base of the resort, so generally recommended to choose accommodation nearby for convenience.

Both on-mountains and downtown provide a seemingly endless array of eateries and dining options for the whole family, so not matter what time of day or where you are on the mountain, when the cravings hit, you can easily grab a quick bite or settle in for the afternoon.

Park City has a stack of family friendly non-snow activities to keep the kids entertained, including the Alpine Coaster, and snow tubing at Gorgoza Park. The Utah Olympic Park has tubing, zip-lining, and museum tours, sure to fill a spare afternoon.

When looking at accommodation in Park City, there are a few bases to choose from: the Park City Mountain Resort base, downtown Park City and Main Street, Canyons, and futher out in the suburbs. We recommend choosing the best location based on your requirements as a family. For those who want the convenience of ski-in/ski-out and are participating in ski school, there are a variety of condos and hotels at the base of the resort. These are at premium prices, however, you're right in the heart of the action. Staying downtown Park City and Main Street means you're super close to all the restaurants, bars, and shopping, and you can easily access the resort via the Town lift and bridge. Also here, there are an array of condos and hotels for every family.

Park City Accommodation

There are plenty of hotels and condos to choose from in Park City and surrounding areas. The two main options if you want to stay in Park City itself are at the base area and downtown/main street. The base area is great for families that want to be very close to the slopes and activities (including ski school). Main street and downtown is connected to the ski resort via a chair lift and ski run so still convenient to the resort and great for those wanting to have all the main bars, restaurants and shops and their doorstep. It's better suited to groups of friends and couples. Generally, Park City accommodation is pricey, but there exists some budget options.

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Resort Activities

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As well as a bit of window shopping, there’s a ton of activities other than skiing. From hot-air ballooning to winter fishing, sleigh rides or a mountain railroad adventure - there’s something for everyone. Park City can also be used as a base for heli-skiing. Park City has a stack of family friendly non-snow activities to keep the kids entertained, including the Alpine Coaster, and snow tubing at Gorgoza Park. The Utah Olympic Park has tubing, zip-lining, and museum tours, sure to fill a spare afternoon.

Getting There and Around

Getting to Park City couldn’t be easier. It’s a 35-minute drive from Salt Lake City airport which is huge and a hub for many airlines, meaning there are frequent direct flights from almost every major city and plenty of small ones. Getting to the resort is easy via one of the many shuttle services with frequent shared shuttles (costing around $40pp one way) or private transfer options.

There’s a frequent and free public bus that services the mountain base and downtown areas and also extends to Canyons and Deer Valley. You won’t need a car in Park City.

When To Go

Park City has one of the longer ski seasons and is usually open from mid-November until mid-April.

Considering the amount of snow that falls on Park City, temperatures don’t get as brutal as other resorts in the US. January and February are reliable months and March skiing can be fantastic.

Accommodation is booked out well in advance during Sundance Film Festival and is hideously expensive so best to avoid the area. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the best times to ski as the slopes are relatively empty. Usually the festival is in the second last week of January.

Other holiday periods that are busy are:

  • Christmas and New Year.
  • Martin Luther King long weekend
  • President’s Day long weekend

Facts & Figures

Mountain Information   Lifts   Terrain    
Base Elevation 6900ft / 2013m Express Six Seater 4 Beginner 17%  
Summit Elevation 10,000ft / 3048m Express Quads 3 Intermediates 52%  
Vertical Drop 3100ft / 945m Triple Chairs 7 Advanced 31%  
Skiable Area 3300ac / 1335ha Double Chairs 2      
Annual Snowfall 365in / 9.2m Surface Lifts 3      
Longest Run 3.4 miles / 5.6km          
Operating Hours 9.00am –4.00pm          
Night Skiing (Dec 25-Mar 31) 4.00pm - 8pm          
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