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. In 2015 Park City was connected to Canyons Resort via a gondola and new ski runs following its purchase by Vail Resorts. This review focuses on the Park City side of the resort.

Scout Loves

  • Bar hopping down the main street.
  • A shoppers paradise with more than 100 shops and galleries.
  • Convenient and free bus service connecting the area’s three ski resorts and town areas.
  • More than 360in (9.1m) of annual snowfall
  • A family-friendly resort and Kids Signature Programs.

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 for an even more varied experience.
  • The main base area of Park City is separated from the downtown area. If staying in town 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 base.
  • Advanced skiers will want to head to the back areas where Jupiter Bowl offers some challenging runs.
  • The resort can get crowded on weekends. 

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 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.

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, January 17-20 (2014).
  • President’s Day long weekend, February 14-17 (2014).

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          
Photo: Aspen Snowmass

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