Buckle up. Click in. Let loose. This is going to be the greatest season of our lives. As on-hill events make a comeback—and the “triple-dip La Niña” delivers
Utah’s beloved powder (fingers crossed)—the 2022–2023 on-mountain adventure potential is off the charts. Of course, knowing the ins and outs of the resorts at your ski tips and snowboard edges is paramount to living the snowy dream.
Here, we guide you through some can’t-miss happenings at Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain.
Deer Valley Resort
Known for impeccable grooming and a highly civilized vibe, ski-only Deer Valley Resort (deervalley.com) spans 2,026 skiable acres, roughly 3,000 feet of jaw-dropping vertical, and six peaks—all of which have an easy (or at least, intermediate) way down. Powder stashes used to last for weeks chez DV, but an influx of savvy Ikon passholders—who tend to chase down the deep stuff more than the erstwhile stick-to-groomers regulars—have made the race for pow a little more competitive these days. DV still sells out, based on lodge capacity, so even on the busiest days, it’s possible to carve out elbow room.
Cue the cowbells. The No. 1, must-experience event at DV is the Intermountain Healthcare Freestyle International Ski World Cup, February 2–4, 2023. This long-standing tradition buzzes with an Olympics-esque vibe as elite bump-skiers and aerialists throw down ridiculous tricks on Champion and White Owl, respectively. Covid precautions moved events to daylight hours in recent years, but, this season, it’s back to a bundled-up party under the lights as skiers flip, twist, and soar into the night. Tip: Be prepared to hoof it up the hill to the base of the action—and remember to throw some water and warming drinks in your pack.
An homage to winter, the resort’s annual Torchlight Parade, December 30, delivers holiday cheer in spades as skiers float down the slopes in graceful formation. As dusk falls, partake in complimentary cocoa and cookies beside Snow Park Lodge—or watch the spectacle with cocktail in hand either from the terrace at lofty St. Regis Deer Valley or at Snow Park Lodge’s watering hole, Fresh Tracks.
On the good cause front, Shred for Red, benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (cure.lls.org), adds some warm fuzzies to opening day, December 3, along with an on-hill scavenger hunt, skiing with Olympians, racecourse competitions, and DV-style après nibbles and sips in the lodge. And be sure to dust off the onesie for National Ability Center’s “Wine on the Mountain,” (redwhiteandsnow.org/events/wine-on-the-mountain/) on March 3, where retro ski garb accompanies vino at St. Regis Deer Valley to benefit the local nonprofit’s programs.
ICONIC SNOWY EXPERIENCES
To get a genuine feel for Deer Valley, meet at the top of Carpenter Express chairlift for a complimentary mountain host-led tour (deervalley.com/things-to-do/activities/mountain-host-tours). Five tours—two for experts and three for intermediate skiers—depart daily with friendly guides delivering snippets on area history, under-the-radar skiing finds, and other insider tips. Of note: Know your ski level. Expert tours are for true experts.
Splurge on Ski Utah’s Interconnect Tour, a bucket-list experience for advanced and expert skiers who’ve always had a hankering to venture beyond the ropes. The inter-resort tour spans up to six Wasatch ski areas (Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, Solitude, Brighton, Alta, and Snowbird) and the backcountry terrain in between. The tour originates at Deer Valley or Snowbird.
Best Ways Down—and Around
Most powderhounds head to Empire for the steep-and-deep promise of Daly Chutes and X-Files, not to mention the eponymous bowl itself. But don’t overlook Mayflower (the tortoise-like pace of the chair is a good way to rest those burning thighs and a decent exchange for uncrowded descents). Other pow-finds of note: Ruins of Pompeii, particularly Peerless Trees (skier’s right), Ontario Bowl, and Centennial Trees off Lady Morgan chair. For a low-angle, entry-level, gladed powder experience, check out Sunset Glades or Oompa-Loompa Land.
For Groomer Days:
Stein’s Way is a must with its big views and fun stint of vertical. Also, check out Stargazer off Red Cloud, and Sidewinder off Northside. Deer Valley outranks most resorts in terms of grooming, so check out the day’s reports for the corduroy du jour.
For Spring Skiing:
Once the sun warms the snow into that beloved sugary consistency or corn snow, Empire Bowl is a prime spring-swooshing area. Other printemps pistes: Tycoon (via Wasatch) and Magnet (off Lady Morgan). As the day warms, shift toward runs with a later-sun aspect, such as Nabob or Keno (off Wasatch Express) or Hawkeye (off Northside).
For Those Seeking Green Circles:
A reconfigured Snow Park chairlift system (slated for completion mid-January) should give beginners and small fries easier access to gently angled, typically less-crowded runs like Deer Hollow and Gnat’s Eye. Kids will also want to check out whoop-de-whoop fun in short-ski-friendly Bucky’s Frontyard, Ruby’s Tail, Silver’s Aspen Slalom, the Enchanted Forest, and Quincy’s Cabin—all of which can be found on a new, parent-friendly map of the Children’s Adventure Zones.
“Look at the grooming report with special attention to the second-shift groomers, particularly if you want something a little softer in spring conditions.”
—Brad Lewis, professional photographer who has skied Deer Valley terrain since 1972, before the resort existed
EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY
Deer Valley’s legacy of top-notch dining goes above and beyond its signature—and legit—turkey chili. Here are some not-to-miss noshes.
For a quintessential, winter wonderland experience, Fireside Dining at Empire Lodge, preferably accompanied by a ride in a horse-drawn sleigh, delivers on ambience and hearty culinary exquisiteness. Roaring fireplaces yield raclette, hearty stews, and melted chocolate sumptuousness. In spring, hit the deck of Rime Raw Bar, at the top of Jordanelle gondola (yes, non-skiing friends can ride up and join you), for lobster rolls and oysters on the half shell—or a French dip sandwich if seafood isn’t your thing—and top-notch views. Year-round, tuck into brunch at Stein Eriksen Lodge, fondue at Goldener Hirsch, and mussels (or sinfully rich hot chocolate) at the St. Regis Deer Valley.
The après-ski scene has ticked up a notch in recent years at DV, particularly in March. Weekend pairings of live music and trendy sips—from the likes of Whispering Angel Rosé and High West Distillery—transform the “beach” at Silver Lake into a hopping afternoon spot. Think ice sculptures, air streams, and more. At Snow Park, “Brews and Tunes,” featuring live music or DJs and local beers, liven up the deck on Saturdays, from March 4 through closing bell.
For opulent and unique experiences, both St. Regis and Montage have chic, on-snow structures—a “vintage room” and yurt, respectively—worthy of pinkies-up après-ski-by. Plus, the St. Regis’s garden-o’-fire flanked terrace is a go-to for al fresco drinks and truffle fries. Check out Stein Eriksen Lodge’s on-the-deck Alpenglobes for an intimate and enchanting slopeside (sans the outdoor chill) dining experience.
For family-friendly après, eats, and entertainment (i.e., billiards and retro arcades), check out Stein’s Champion’s Club or, for bowling, Montage’s Daly’s Pub & Rec.
“Stein’s Way is the most scenic, go-to photography spot on the mountain, but Deer Valley really does offer vistas in every direction.” —Brad Lewis
More DV events to have on your radar this winter
• Visits with Santa on December 24
• New Year’s Eve party at the new Cast & Cut at Snow Park Lodge
• “Taste of Luxury” series featuring world-renowned chefs like Michelin-starred Massimo Bottura
Park City Mountain
Big, beautiful Park City Mountain (parkcitymountain.com) encompasses a mind-boggling expanse of skiable terrain. Skiing rope-to-rope takes a fair while, given the 7,300 acres and Quicksilver Gondola ride in between, so it’s best to start by sampling this mammoth ski area in village-centric chunks. Whether you get your bearings on the Park City side or hop aboard the lifts from Canyons Village, the skiing and riding is downright fun—particularly when you discover the terrain parks, half-pipes, and hit the elbows-out lift line at “Jupe” (a.k.a. Jupiter Peak) on a glorious pow day. Epic, indeed.
Two of the longest-standing, most beloved, PCM traditions graciously bookend the season: the elegant, magical Torchlight Parade on December 24 and Pond Skimming, an outrageously fun rite of spring that typically lands near the resort’s closing day. The former aligns with a slew of holiday-centric, ice sculpture-flanked happenings during Snowfest, mid-December through New Year’s Eve. The latter rocks as an impressively comedic and sometimes awe-inspiring wrap-up to the Spring Grüv lineup, which also includes concerts and bluebird-day-inspired antics. In between, Silver Sky Nights combine big-time live music, fireworks, ice carving, complimentary hot cocoa, and more at Canyons Village for six wintery evenings.
For impressive, alpine racing action, be sure to cheer on the oft-Paralympics-bound adaptive athletes at the 34th Annual Huntsman Cup World Para Alpine Ski Races, February 1–3. And, on the good cause side of the equation, keep an eye out for the return of the rose-hued, on-the-slopes fundraiser benefiting Huntsman Cancer Institute, a.k.a. Pink Park City (pinkparkcity.com) in March of 2023 or 2024. The return of Elevation Utah’s Gay Ski Week (utahgayskiweek.com), February 22–26, delivers both on-mountain and off-piste fun for its 13th year in PC. And, though unofficial, costume-bedecked Clown Day traditionally ends the season with smiles—and a lot of PBR empties.
ICONIC SNOWY EXPERIENCES
Riding Town Lift from the bustling historic hub of Park City to the slopes is a must—as is cruising into town via runs like Quittin’ Time and Creole. Plus, an easy-breezy town pop-in opens the door to shopping, dining, and après fun before returning to the slopes. For another only-at-PCM-experience, mosey over to the Canyons Village side for a toasty ascent via the resort’s heated chairlift, the Orange Bubble Express.
Don’t miss a guided tour of the mountain to soak up fascinating local history (i.e., dig into the stories of those authentic mine relics scattered around the resort). The first-come, first-served Silver to Slopes Historic Mining Tour starts at 10 a.m. on the Park City Village side (meet at the Eagle Statue). On the Canyons Village side, a complimentary Mountain Experience Tour gives skiers and riders the skinny on the resort terrain and departs at 10 a.m. from the top of Red Pine Gondola.
“Earn your lunch. Hike Jupiter Peak and ski all the way down into town to hit Davanza’s for the best cheesy garlic bread in town. Try the pizza and Philly cheesesteak, too.” —Todd Fischer, owner Silver Star Ski and Sport and Park City local since 1998 (who has skied Park City since 1984)
Best WaysDown—and Around
With 330 runs, a half-dozen terrain parks, and several peaks to top, PCM’s “best” runs are most likely its least crowded. So, think about hitting the hill early, skiing and riding through lunch, and having a quick chit-chat with a mountain host (the friendly folks beside the maps) to get the inside track on the day’s less-traveled finds.
Local experts typically head for the high country on a deep-snow day, namely McConkeys and Jupiter (on the Park City side). Thankfully, the land dispute over Scott’s Bowl ended last season, so once you’re up “Jupe,” there is room to disperse amongst the bowls and glades. If lift-line jostling for fresh tracks isn’t really your speed, consider Keystone (off Thaynes), Assessment and Powder Keg (off Bonanza), and Fool’s Gold (via Motherlode chair). Or, go against the grain and hit the lower elevations for laps on Ski Team Ridge, like Erika’s Gold. For Canyons-side powder-hounding, beeline for Ninety-Nine-90 for freshies on 94 Turns and the tremendous runs off Super Condor. For smile-inducing, gladed skiing, point those tips toward Mystic Pines off Peak 5.
For Groomer Days:
On those just-wanna-carve, bluebird days, Silver Queen, Tycoon, and Assessment are the go-tos on the Park City side. The runs off King Con aren’t too shabby either, thanks to S-turn-friendly Sitka and Shamus. When open to the public and the corduroy is laid out just so, C.B.’s Run (the Olympics racecourse) is one heck of a ride. Not to be outdone, the Canyons side has a slew of cruisers. Check out Harmony and Boa, both lengthy runs, for a little thigh-burn, thanks to the number of turns you’ll accomplish on the way down.
For Spring Skiing:
Once the sun transforms frozen crust into that soft, swoosh-able stuff, West Face and Dead Tree (both off Jupiter) are spring-savvy pics for advanced skiers. And fans of moguls should consider charging the slushy bumps on Thaynes. On the Canyons side, hop onto Flying Salmon off Saddleback as well as Phantasm and Boogeyman off Dreamcatcher.
For Shredders (both small and tall):
Ridiculously fun terrain parks are sprinkled throughout PCM. Get started at Little Kings (via Blaster Adventure Trail off Bonanza chair), go big at 3 Kings (the 2019 World Champs playground), and go huge in the tracks of Olympians at the 22-foot Eagle Pipe (Park City side). Be sure to check out flowy Transitions on the Canyons side for more jibs and jabs. For folks just trying to get a handle on green-level fun, High Meadows Park (Canyons) has plenty of pizza-wedge-making space, and adventure trails (demarcated by Pac-Man-like metallic sculptures, a.k.a. “Snow Bugs,” throughout the resort) are popular with little rippers.
“Always have a neck gaiter with you because you never know when the weather is going to change. And the No. 1 thing that you can’t live without in Park City is ChapStick.” —Linda Larson, Park City Mountain ski instructor since 1985
EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY
A good rule of thumb for avoiding the hangries at PCM—and pretty much any ski resort—is to hit the lodges before 11 a.m. or after 1:30 p.m. on busy days. With that in mind, consider unbuckling those boots for a lengthy stint at Lookout Cabin, sidling up to the bar at Mid-Mountain, or tucking into some ahi nachos at Legends. For outdoorsy dining, glide up to the decks at Miners Camp or Tombstone Grill. Or, get away from the on-hill crowds by sliding into town for a bite.
After the lifts stop spinning, two long-standing culinary adventures stand out with altitude. Raise a pewter chalice of glogg alongside a multi-course Scandinavian feast, while a pianist tickles the ivories at the Viking Yurt (vikingyurt.com). For western eats (trout, prime rib, and High West whiskey-spiked cider) accompanied by a guitar-strumming singer, check out Snowed Inn Sleigh Company (snowedinnsleigh.com). Both experiences start and end with a sleigh ride—the former via snowcat and the latter fueled by draft horses. Giddy up.
The après staples on the Park City side are the Corner Store and the Pig Pen, both of which get rockin’ outdoors, particularly on a sunny spring day. At the Canyons, the Umbrella Bar is the go-to, but this season, keep an eye on the burgeoning scene at Red Tail Grill, given its expanded, fire-pit-bedecked patio. The new Pendry plaza—at the base of Sunrise lift and just around the corner from the bustling Forum—also has sneaky-fun après potential.
Additional culinary experiences of note in the vast PCM environs: The Farm (Canyons), Silver Star Café (on Three Kings Drive, near Park City base), and High West Distillery (in town).