Vail Daily travel story: Park City makes its mark as a ski-town destination
Special to the Daily
The trip from Vail to Park City, Utah, is around 430 miles — about a seven-hour drive without stopping. Flights out of Denver to Salt Lake City, 33 miles from Park City, start at around $145, round trip; out of Eagle airport, flights are priced at around $435.
Something pretty epic is happening in Park City, Utah. More than a decade after the cluster of mountain resorts played host to the 2002 Winter Olympics, the largest ski resort in the country is coming to the area.
Once every piece of the proposal is approved, the $50 million Vail Resorts project will begin this summer. It will link Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort to create 7,300 acres of skiing and riding — significantly more terrain than the Summit County resorts and even Vail Mountain, which boasts 5,289 acres.
Many Colorado skiers and riders already have a good reason to go check out Canyons and Park City — the Epic Pass. So, grab your gear and take a seven-hour road trip this spring, or catch a quick flight to Salt Lake City (just 33 miles, about 40 minutes of driving, from these mountains). If you need a getaway now or want to make your plans for next season, then here’s a peek into Park City.
STAY BY THE SLOPES
It’s easy to get out of the car and onto the slopes at Park City Mountain Resort (www.parkcitymountain.com), but to get up to Canyons (www.canyonsresort.com) takes an extra lift ride and little more time. Make it easy by staying slopeside at Canyons Grand Summit Hotel. It’s ski in and out, with an outdoor pool, a resort spa, fitness center and on-site restaurant.
Support Local Journalism
Have your gear valeted, and then step right out to the resort’s ski school to leave the kids for a lesson. Walk a few more feet onto the Red Pine Gondola or the Orange Bubble Express (a chairlift with heated seats). The hotel is right at the base of where the Interconnect Gondola will start on the Canyons side once the resort connection is complete for next season.
“I think the resort connection will be good,” said Victoria Ritzinger, snowshoe guide for White Pine Touring, “because it will feel more like Europe, like when you can ski all day crossing the Alps.”
For a more upscale stay, the Waldorf Astoria Park City is just an extra lift ride away from the Canyons Resort base — it’s easy to jump on the Waldorf Gondola to make your way slopeside (www.parkcitywaldorfastoria.com).
The offset location of this hotel is quiet and luxurious, with a large pool and private courtyard, a beautiful on-site spa and Powder restaurant. A couple or a family will love having a one-, two- or three-bedroom suite, complete with a full kitchen, dining table, living area, two gas fireplaces and a full-sized washer and dryer.
The Waldorf’s complimentary shuttle service makes it easy to pop into downtown Park City or take some turns at Park City Mountain Resort, or to head up 15 minutes to the exclusive destination of Deer Valley.
GET OUT AND PLAY
Park City got some good snow in February, but the powder has been pretty scarce this season and the past few. On the days when the snow doesn’t fall, head over to the Alpine Coaster at Park City Mountain Resort. Double up with a buddy for extra speed, as the toboggan-style cars take you down almost 4,000 feet of curvy track.
Like most all ski towns we know so well, Park City has a lot of recreation other than skiing and snowboarding. White Pine Touring is a guide service and retailer for all things outside, including snowshoeing and on-snow fat biking in the winter. The company operates a 20-kilometer cross-country ski center for skate and classic skiing (whitepinetouring.com).
“Like a lot of the Western mountains, especially those in Utah, the last couple of years have not brought the snow we are used to,” said Scott House, of White Pine Touring. “But we keep the (Nordic) track going, and the snowshoeing in the upper elevations has been really good.”
Deborah Flamish, co-owner of Montgomery-Lee Fine Art, said with the acquisition of Canyons and Park City by Vail Resorts, she can only imagine how the ski town will continue to become world class. She shared how she “loves the progress.”
“Our town is one of the best resort art hubs in the country, with our gallery clients from every corner of the world,” Flamish said.
Montgomery-Lee Fine Art is one of the many art galleries in downtown Park City — a long strip that’s complete with a variety of retailers and restaurants (www.montgomeryleefineart.com).
RETREAT AND EAT
Slightly off the main street path, but right at the base of the slopes at Park City Mountain Resort, is High West Distillery (www.highwest.com). It’s worth a stop, but you may have to fight for a seat, as its nationally known whiskeys are poured here alongside plates of creative bar food.
A dining gem in this rustic town is Silver Restaurant (www.silver restaurant.com). The sleek and modern interior sets the scene for “progressive American cuisine” — it’s a chef-inspired style that focuses on fresh, seasonal and local ingredients, whenever possible. The menu does change often, but for a taste, starters include dishes such as bay scallops, silky and flavorful on a set of romanesco, sour corn and parsley chimichurri. Also, always count on executive chef Serge Smith’s seasonal rendition of Niman Ranch pork cheeks as an innovative and delicious entree.
Drive just minutes up a windy road above Park City and you’ll find Deer Valley, known for it’s alpine ambiance and upscale amenities (www.deer valley.com). Don’t miss the Spa Montage at Montage Deer Valley to experience 35,000 square feet of wellness retreat. The space features redwood saunas, steam rooms, jetted whirlpools, deluge showers, a salon and a multitude of treatment options (www.montagehotels.com/deervalley).
Purchase a day pass to enjoy the facility, or book an Elements of Wellness Signature Experience to pinpoint the exact treatment you need. This unique and individualized service unites any combination of massage, aromatherapy, homeopathy, reflexology, hydrotherapy, manual lymphatic drainage and more.
The treatment room windows overlook the Montage’s private tubing hill and, in the distance, the valley of Park City.
“Park City has world-class skiing, the greatest snow on earth, Sundance Film Festival, art galleries … phenomenal dining, gorgeous views no matter which direction you look, and the welcoming locals that keep visitors coming back, year after year,” Flamish said. “That’s why I’m so proud to call this place home.”