Park City Mountain Resort – Bigger Skiing Than Elsewhere, With a Small Town Atmosphere

After years of enjoying skiing in southern California at Mammoth and Big Bear, it was time to venture to Utah and discover the town of Park City. The short flight to Salt Lake City and the easy 40 minute ride into the mountains made me appreciate the draw of Park City.

Park City was host to the 2002 Winter Olympics, with events spread across the three main ski resorts (Deer Valley, Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort). Canyons and PCMR recently came under common ownership, and are now physically joined by a gondola, so one lift ticket affords a plethora of choices.

The double symbol for infinity works well for the country’s largest ski resort.

Although other areas in Utah enjoy a longer ski season, the ease of access to Park City is hard to beat.

We started our day at the base of PCMR, and warmed up on Payday, a long looping run on the southwest edge of the resort. The snow that fell the night before was groomed into an inviting corduroy surface, and we skimmed down the hill several times in delight. The wide runs thinned the occasional cluster of skiers in very pleasant fashion.

From there we moved higher, taking Crescent Express to runs like Sitka and Shamus. For those interested in moguls, PCMR offered plenty. For those of us with more flattened expectations, we were provided a bounty of choices.

We found better than expected dining at Mid-Mountain Lodge, which was completely transformed this season with a new menu, interior and Utah’s only on-mountain full-service bar. My brisket and Muenster grilled cheese sandwich as excellent.

The dogleg Quicksilver gondola connected us to the Canyons side of the mountain. There we found many even longer runs, the favorites being Mercury and Copperhead. Our ambition was not matched by our ability, so we could only look at the double black diamond runs further up the 10,000 foot elevation.

Overall, PCMR offers a vertical rise of 3,226 feet across an astounding 17 mountain peaks. There are over 330 separate runs within the massive 7300 skiable acres, half of which are expert. The other half of the terrain is mostly intermediate, with only 8% devoted to beginner runs. But the new High Meadow Park at Canyons Village offers guests a dedicated learning area designed exclusively for beginner skiers.

What do all those statistics mean? It means Park City Mountain Resort is the largest ski resort in the USA.

The city offers free bus service, so once you arrive in Park City getting around is quite easy. In mid-January the town is the epicenter of the film world because of the Sundance Film Festival, which has grown well beyond the original expectations of founder Robert Redford. You can also visit Utah Olympic Park and ride the bobsled, or the more commerce oriented can visit a vast factory outlet shopping center. Park City is a relatively small town with a population of 8,000, but the average number of tourists in Park City is about 600,000 annually.

If all of this warrants more than a few days of lift tickets, and it should, the Epic Pass is the hot tip. The Epic Pass offers unlimited, unrestricted access to Park City Mountain Resort and 18 other mountain resorts plus additional access to 46 more, including 20 new mountains for the 2018-19 season. Whether you are able to scramble your personal Gulfstream, you can discover 65 of the world’s premier resorts throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria.

(photos courtesy Park City Mountain)


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.