I know a lot of my outdoor industry colleagues can relate when I say that Park City is like a second home to me. Things have changed over the years, but something consistently angelic remains.
One of my early PC trips was on a press junket with Mountain Hardwear and we were staying at one of the new hotels at the time at the base of The Canyons, which originally opened in 1968, five years after Park City Mountain Resort. We were there to ski the Interconnect, but there was too much snow, avi danger too high, so we rode lifts and shralped at The Canyons for two days before heading down the hill to the Outdoor Retailer trade show. It’s just always like that in January in Utah and I love it.
Needless to say, the past ten years have been a time of growth and expansion for Park City Mountain, and during this time Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort were joined to become the largest lift-served ski area in the United States. In 2013, owner Talisker leased Canyons Resort to Colorado-based Vail Resorts, which began operating the area during the 2013-14 season, and in the fall of 2014, VR announced it had purchased Park City Mountain Resort from POWDR. Vail Resorts invested heavily in both Canyons and Park City ultimately connecting the two in 2015 and unifying them under the name Park City. The connection was completed in 2015 with the installation of a new 8-person gondola to carry guests from Thaynes Canyon, near the base of Silverlode Express, up and over Pinecone Ridge into White Pine Canyon near Dreamcatcher. The addition of Quicksilver Gondola enabled guests to ski and ride across the entire combined 7,300-acre resort.
According to Ski Utah, Park City Mountain got its start from a handful of strong-willed miners, the remnants of which you can still ski and ride around on the mountain. This season the resort will celebrate its 60th season with plenty of events, firework celebrations and concerts. I also highly recommend getting over to Deer Valley and doing a day with Park City Powder Cats while you’re in town.
The Red Pine Gondola at Park City Mountain got a face lift this summer with new cabins offering world-class 360-degree views of the surrounding peaks and a “smoother, quieter ride.” I can’t wait to check this out. Of course, the mountain biking in the summer is also epic.
Speaking of epic, Park City Mountain and all Vail Resorts will launch the new My Epic App for guests to access mobile ski passes and utilize Bluetooth to access on the turnstiles. VR says guests can activate their ski pass or lift ticket online and store it on their mobile device within the My Epic app, helping to eliminate waiting in line at a ticket window. This new technology also supports the company’s Commitment to Zero sustainability program, according to Ski Utah, to help end plastic waste from ski passes. It also eliminates the need for RFID chips.
At Canyons Village, additional snowmaking systems were installed on Iron Mountain to help expand terrain earlier in the season, and several popular runs were widened to improve access to Tombstone Express and the new gondola. They continue to invest in the guest experience at Canyons Village with all-new cabins on Red Pine Gondola this winter. The new cabins will transport guests from Canyons Village base area to Red Pine Lodge. They feature floor-to-ceiling windows and will treat guests to a 360-degree view of the Wasatch Mountains as they head up the slopes for the day. Park City Mountain is working with the Canyons Village Management Association to explore the replacement of the Sunrise chairlift with a 10-person gondola to improve circulation and access from Canyons Village to the Red Pine area. This project is in the early stages of planning and is subject to approvals.
Where to Stay
This past summer I had the chance to check out Westgate Park City Resort & Spa, and I highly recommend it for families and ski bums alike. They’ve even got a Rocky Mountain Resident Rate for anyone from Cali, Utah, and Colorado (as well as AAA and military discounts). And while anyone can access their Instagram-worthy patio bubbles and Edge Steakhouse as well as their Drafts Burger Bar right from the plaza level of Canyons Village, it’s also worth making a reservation to the Serenity Spa, where I spent about four hours one day.
Try to find a deal for the upcoming winter season and you won’t regret it. They’ve got plenty of parking, yoga, pools, a coffee shop, ski storage and a mini-market all right on site, as well as a free shuttle to take you into Park City.
Ski you out there!
(photos courtesy of Westgate, VR, and Ski Utah)
—Definitely Wild is a column by EO Contributing Editor Aaron Bible. He has been writing for Elevation Outdoors and Blue Ridge Outdoors, among other outdoor publications, for more than two decades, covering cycling, skiing, gear, adventure travel and mountain life. The opinions expressed here are his own. Follow him on Instagram at @DefinitelyWild.