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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Utah Day 3 - Deer Valley and Park City, Utah

If you want a ski vacation with variety and easy access,
Utah delivers. 

This western state is so special because of it's easy access to so many different ski mountains.  You get to the airport and in less than an hour, you can be on the lift at one of Utah's ten resorts.  These ten resorts all have their different culture - a different flavor for different skiers or different moods for different days.   

So you just got off the plane in Salt Lake City, you grabbed your ski bags and your rental car and you are trying to figure out where to go.  

If you want that old school "simple is best" vibe on a world-class mountain, head to Alta.  If you want more of a local mountain with a lower-priced lift ticket and a night skiing option, Brighton is for you. If you want the open bowls of Mineral Basin and to ride the tram, head to Snowbird.  If you want fewer crowds and what I call the best run in Utah (Honeycomb Canyon) head to Solitude.  

If you want perfect groomers on fresh corduroy, all at a high-end intricately detailed resort with a lot of lodging, somewhere where the staff greets you to help you look at the trail map and somewhere where the restaurants are high end and can (and should) include the famous seafood buffet, head to Deer Valley.  

Deer Valley isn't at the top of my radar when it comes to Utah skiing.  For starters, it's high lift ticket price turned me off from the start ($179 for one day of skiing and lift ticket sales are capped at a certain number).  Second, it just had that overly pretentious vibe that didn't suit my style.  Lastly, it is groomers, and a lot of them.  While there is some awesome tree skiing and the resort is huge with a lot of terrain, it is the land of groomers for people who want to relax and ski down some corduroy.

But Deer Valley is on the Ikon Pass and after Adam's first day of skiing in Utah, we decided a day of groomers isn't a bad thing, and why not ski this famous resort while in town?    

We got there on a Thursday and unknown to us, it was the Thursday that Sundance Film Festival started in Park City.  What this meant was that the resort was full but the mountains were empty.  The lodging was booked up for the festival and not for the skiing which makes for an easy uncrowded day on the mountain. 

What We Thought 

I was amazed at how big deer valley is, and how much lodging this resort has.  You get on a lift head over a peak and you are in another part of the mountain with its own village if you will.  The mountain seemed endless and there are so many lifts with so much terrain to ski.  On a clear day, you also have some amazing views while you ski, we happily zoomed along and greeted a glimpse of blue skies and an open view of the mountains by Park City.  

We packed sandwiches but grabbed a bowl of (expensive) turkey chili to share and we were so impressed by the high-quality food options here.  The chili was amazing and everything from the salad bar to the soups and sandwiches looked top-notch.  

The groomers were a nice break for our legs and Adam got to experience a much different style of mountain compared to Alta just the day before.  The lodges were beautiful, attention to detail all there, and we loved stopping to warm up by the fire midday.  

I heard the trees of Deer Valley are amazing and we finally got to experience this in person.  Adam knows I like the tree skiing/non-groomed trails and I happily followed suit when he suggested we head down one of the double black diamond runs (centennial) that took us off the east side of the mountain off Lady Morgan, through the steeps and the trees. 

We spent the day traversing the mountain, trying to ride as many lifts as we can (there are 21 lifts covering 103 trails and 7 bowls).  We made most lifts, and covered every single peak from Lady Morgan and Empire to the east, across Flagstaff and Bald Eagle, over to Bald and Little Baldy.  We skied past the famous St. Regis and it's funicular and after a full day of skiing, headed back to the car to spend the evening in Park City.  

Deer Valley Statistics

Vertical Rise: 3000 feet
Skiable Terrain: 1750 acres
Peak Elevation: 9570 feet
Base Elevation: 6570 feet

Park City

After a day at Deer Valley, we were planning on spending the evening in Park City.  I was excited to show Adam one of my favorite little towns in Utah while enjoying some awesome food.  I wanted a bit of the typical ski vacation with that bit of "apres ski" via hot tub, but I didn't want to pay high resort or spa prices.  I also wanted to shower after skiing without having to trek all the way back to Salt Lake City.  I did a little research and after eliminating pricey day passes for local spas, I stumbled upon the PC-MARC - the Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center.  For only $12 for an out-of-state (non-resident) visitor, we had a day pass to the entire rec center.  You could do a punch pass or a longer commitment but for these two skiers in Park City for the day, this was the perfect option.  We had access to the fitness center, tennis courts, bouldering wall, bathroom and steam room and most importantly, the hot tub.  

We paid our $24 and happily sat in the outdoor hot tub with a view of the mountains, soaked in the steam room, and showered before heading out to walk around Main Street, Park City.  Because our trip (accidentally) coincided with the start of Sundance, Park City was a little chaotic.  We paid our very overpriced admission into the parking garage and started out Tour de Park City at one of my favorite casual spots, Collies.  We sat down to smoked wings before walking up and down Main Street.  We wandered in and out of shops and even stopped in the Park City Museum Park City Museum, learning about the mining and skiing history in the area. 

We had planned on spending a lot more time in Park City but with the crowds and the chaos, we moved our dinner reservation (an okay dinner at Six West at 501 main) to an earlier time and snuck out of the City before the partying started. 

It was a good day, from the slopes of Deer Valley to the streets of Park City.  Good food, good skiing, and a soak in a hot tub with mountain views. 

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