You could spend all day, every day, for an entire month exploring Park City Mountain Resort’s terrain and still not come close to getting on all of the 300-plus ski trails here. Yes, 300. Park City is the largest ski area in the United States and is a paradise for every level of skier with vast expanses of terrain ranging from silky smooth groomers for beginners to powder-filled vertical chutes for experts.
Once a booming mining territory, the ski area first opened in 1963 in an effort to revitalize and repopulate the town of Park City. Initially called Treasure Mountain, its transportation system was a silver mining train that transported skiers through a dark tunnel to a mining elevator that hoisted them nearly 2,000 feet to the summit. The resort also opened with a gondola—the longest in the U.S. at the time—a double chairlift, and single-person J-Bar lift, all converted from mineral-hauling trams.
The resort’s name was changed to Park City Ski Area in 1966 and to Park City Mountain Resort in 1996. Park City West, a neighboring ski area, opened in 1968 and had a few names until finally becoming Canyons Resort in 2010 and part of Park City Mountain Resort in 2015. Today, the massive assortment of terrain can be accessed by 41 lifts and sprawls over 7,300 acres, including a mind-boggling 14 bowls.
Before you even arrive at America’s largest ski resort, one of its most incredible features is its convenient access, situated just 45 minutes from Salt Lake City.
Given its immense size, it’s not easy to decide where to start on Park City’s slopes. Because there are so many options for every level of skier and rider, we put together a few suggestions.
Before you get started, don’t forget to download the EpicMix appon your phone while you’re in Park City. The app will track your runs throughout the day and you can collect virtual pins for all kinds of achievements: covering 26,400 feet in one season, riding the Orange Bubble Express, skiing on your birthday, riding different lifts, checking in a certain number of times, and more.
There are several areas that are ideal for warming up, the first of which stems directly out of the main Park City base area, off a lift and trail aptly named First Time. Even if it’s not your first time, this short, gentle trail will get you back in the groove of things.
Once you’re comfortable, make your way up the Crescent Express to one of the Load trails (1/4, 1/2, and 3/4—names harkening back to the silver mining days when ore was indeed hauled off of this very mountain in various sized loads). These will all funnel onto Claimjumper, a delightfully wide open green run.
Take the Silverlode Express and ski down the longest run at the resort (Home Run, measuring 3.5 miles) to the base area. Take it back to the top via Bonanza Express or make your way into the middle of historic downtown Park City down a short but relatively mild blue run like Creole or Quit’n Time.
Canyons Village is a prime starting point for intermediate skiers. Take the Red Pine Gondola to the newly-widened Chicane, an outstanding warm-up run that takes you down to the Tombstone Express lift. From the top of Tombstone, take a left down Another World and revel in what is possibly the most magical low-angle, aspen glade-flecked terrain in the world. Take your pick from a labyrinth of fun, narrow trails weaving through the glades and eventually funneling you back to the base of Tombstone Express.
This time, take Silver Spur run (from the top of Tombstone Express) to the Peak 5 lift and from there, follow Harmony to the Dreamscape chair. From here, you’ll discover a bowl-like paradise of nearly treeless terrain on the front side of the ridge and another expansive aspen forest specked with blue runs and a not-too-steep black (Shadowlands).
The top-to-bottom Harmony trail takes you back to the base of Tombstone Express, where you can make your way back to Red Pine or to the Short Cut lift for an afternoon run or two in Silverado Bowl before returning to Canyons Village.
The most concentrated areas of expert terrain can be found on Jupiter Peak and Jupiter Bowl beginning in Historic Park City at the Town Lift or the Park City Base Area, or on Murdock Peak, accessed via Canyons Village.
Murdock involves two chair lifts, starting with a quick ride up Orange Bubble Express and a burner warm-up (Grizzly is fun and not much burn) to Super Condor Express. From here, you can go left to immediately dive into the steep aspen-lined glades of A Chute or Funnel Cloud, or go right to hit the untouched powder in Condor Woods. Murdock Bowl and the Chutes (Saddle, Whippets) hugging the resort boundary beyond are also worth the hike, as you’re often rewarded with untouched lines.
Jupiter Peak and Jupiter Bowl both require three lift rides to access and you’ll have to hoof it up to the steeps off of the summit of Jupiter Peak. Alternately, hang a left off the top of McConkey’s Express to experience the thrill of making pro-style jump turns down McConkey’s Bowl like the area’s legendary namesake.
The Jupiter double chair is the most isolated lift on the mountain and serves a bounty of short, narrow steeps and glades as well as the always powdery Main Bowl.
Where to get lunch
There are a few dining options on the mountain with a variety of options from salads to pizza to chili. These three are the most convenient based on the recommended runs above.
If you’ve worked up an appetite, the brand new Miners Camp restaurant sits at the base of Claimjumper. Grab a hot soup and made-to-order sandwich and head out to the huge sunny deck – great for people watching and taking in the action.
A trip up Silverlode Express will take you to a high elevation lunch spot – The Summit House – with amazing panoramic views of Deer Valley and the surrounding peaks as well as tasty pizza and burgers.
Cloud Dine restaurant at the top of Dreamcatcher and Dreamscape offers some of the most striking panoramic views in all of Utah and gourmet cafeteria eats.
Where to après
If you finish the day in Canyons Village, don’t leave without grabbing a glass of bubbly at the swanky Waldorf Astoria Arctic Lounge, complete with an ice bar, ice sculptures, and decorative fountains. Legends Bar & Grill at the base of Park City is a casual spot that’s perfect for celebrating the day over a plate of ahi tuna nachos. No Park City ski trip would be complete without a trip to the High West Distillery for a double rye cocktail like the Spaghetti Western or the Rusty Miner.
Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a family vacation, Park City has plenty to offer. Book your lodging, lift tickets, ski lessons, and more at ParkCityMountain.com.
Originally written by RootsRated for Rent Skis.
Featured image provided by © Vail Resorts