Has Deer Valley Maintained Its Top Shelf Status?



Deer Valley has been consistently ranked toward the top of most lists when it comes to preferred ski resorts. It has been voted the United States’ Best Ski Resort by the World Ski Awards for six consecutive years. At an improbably close 36 miles from Salt Lake City International Airport, the resort’s ease of access, abundant snowfall, award-winning ski school, first-class lodging, and acclaimed dining scene make the resort the standard against which most resorts are compared.

The question I had is whether the accolades are still deserved. What I found is that Deer Valley has indeed maintained its pre-eminent preferred status.

There are various standards of review, so let’s tick off the ones that are the most influential.

But before we get underway, if you are a rider this discussion is moot – Deer Valley is one of the last resorts that bans snowboarding.

Deer Valley limits the number of lift tickets sold, so that ensures that on even the most sunny holiday weekend, the lift lines won’t be a scrum. Other resorts pay lip service to limiting ticket sales, but I have bemoaned too many experiences where the lift lines seemed endless.

The grooming of the runs at Deer Valley are notoriously excellent. Even if you don’t get to partake of the vaunted first tracks early in the morning, the runs remain enjoyable throughout the day. I visited during an impressive evening snow dump, but by morning the runs I prefer were toned like corduroy very nicely. For those who prefer the challenge of moguls, myriad runs are available.

Deer Valley excels in the small things that add up to a smooth day of skiing. The greeters who help you load and unload your equipment at the curb, the heated sidewalks, the free overnight storage, the free daily basket storage and the plethora of water stations are each seemingly inconsequential but aggregate into a generous whole.

The staff at Deer Valley are consistently gracious and helpful. Kids glom onto their ski instructors in ways I seldom see elsewhere.

Because of all these factors, international competitions often choose Deer Valley. I was there during the FIS World Championships, and the excitement was palpable. The resort does a great job of ensuring that skiers aren’t disrupted by the event, by only limiting a small area for the competition. Attendance to watch the championships are free. In talking to several of the competitors from 40 countries across the globe, each reiterated how much they enjoy competing at Deer Valley.

But for those of us whose ambition is not exceeded by ability, the 3000 vertical feet and 103 runs at Deer Valley make for a satisfying day of skiing. The lifts are fast and smooth.

In fact, Deer Valley’s total uphill lift capacity of 50,470 skiers per hour is approximately 50% higher than the capacity of nearby Park City Resort.

Also renowned is the food at Deer Valley. Its famous turkey chili is a staple at lunch (and the dry mix is the perfect souvenir to take home). I have found that food prices don’t seem to vary dramatically across ski resorts, so the quality offered at Deer Valley is a bargain.

After a day of skiing, Deer Valley leverages is culinary expertise and offers a stunning seafood dinner buffet. In anticipation of that dinner, I had a light lunch. I was therefore better able to enjoy the vast spread at dinner. I started with a lovely coconut ginger lobster bisque, generously loaded with fresh lobster chunks. Little neck clams and mussels were featured in a white wine and garlic broth. I then moved to the banks of iced offerings: fresh crab, oysters (from Virginia and the Pacific Northwest), as well as fresh peel and eat shrimp. The poke bar allowed for customized bowls, built mostly around tuna and trout. I left room to taste several hot dishes: honey soy glazed sablefish (black cod) on jasmine rice, jerk rubbed snapper, ahi tuna seared to order and an especially flavorful langoustine saffron risotto. The latter included poached fennel for a lovely contrasting taste.

That was a dinner to remember, and it only seemed to heighten the enjoyment of the next day skiing at Deer Valley.

Deer Valley has kept its high standards intact, as skiers from around the globe can attest. For those interested in going long and deep, the Ikon Pass opens the door to 37 other destinations.


Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.