By the time March and April roll in, most of us believe ski season is over. However, that is not the case in Park City. Spring Skiing in Park City, Utah is something to experience!
Located just 40 minutes east of Salt Lake City in the Wasatch Mountains, the quaint little town of Park City, is not only the setting of the renowned Sundance Film Festival each year. Park City, Utah is also the home of three ski resorts that are not to be missed.
Our family had the opportunity to visit Park City over our kid’s spring break last week. We found out there are all sorts of reasons to ski in the spring.
- A warmer climate means less bundling up.
- We never had to stop due to frozen fingers or toes.
- The slopes are less crowded.
- The hotels offer some great deals at the end of ski season.
- The ski shops have amazing sales on equipment and clothing.
- Plus, it’s your last chance to satisfy your ski fever before fall.
Lt. Dan and the kids had never gone snow skiing before. I however, have skied in Colorado and New Mexico, but it has been over 20 years since my last ski trip. With this in mind, we knew it would be best for the whole family to take ski lessons during our stay.
We spent our first two days of skiing at Deer Valley Resort. Then we spent one day skiing at Park City Mountain Resort, and one day at Canyons Resort. At all three resorts we met with ski instructors to make sure we were prepared for the slopes. My goals for our trip were: A. To make marvelous family memories. B. To come home without any injuries.
I believe ski school was the key to making both goals happen. Not only did we have a fantastically fun and safe time, we discovered each resort offers appealing features that are distinct, and worth mentioning.
Spring Skiing in Park City Utah
Here are the highlights of each resort…
Deer Valley Resort: Deer Valley is unique in many ways. First and foremost, Deer Valley is for skiers only… No snow boarders allowed. If your family is made up of all skiers, and/or you like the idea of not having to share the slopes with snow boarders, Deer Valley is a fabulous place to visit, with a cozy family feel.
Deer Valley Resort has ranked as the top ski resort in guest services for all of North America in Ski Magazine. They pay meticulous attention to detail. Plus, the ski school at Deer Valley is considered to be in the top 10 worldwide. What an amazing place for us to learn to ski!
The kids absolutely loved their ski instructor George Cartwright. They were with him all day in Adventure Club the first two days and made impressive progress. In fact, by the time we met up with them on the second day, I’m pretty sure they had both passed us by in ski ability.
George kept a close watch on the kids and was able to see their specific strengths and help them build on them. As a mom, I worried a little about them being away from us in ski school. Yet honestly, they could not have been happier… All smiles when we picked them up in the afternoons! That allowed Dan and I to meet with a ski instructor, to focus on our lessons, without corralling the children.
We stayed with Bruce Simpson, a seasoned Deer Valley ski instructor. Both mornings, Bruce took us out and gave us the confidence to tackle snow conditions and slopes we might have otherwise been fearful of. I would highly recommend the ski school at Deer Valley, along with both instructors.
Deer Valley has the best snow making capability in the region, so the snow conditions stay as pristine as possible through the end of spring ski season. This year happened to be a record-breaking warm ski season in Utah, yet we still had plenty of slopes to ski at Deer Valley and even got a fresh layer of natural powdery snow one night!
Another dimension of Deer Valley that is worth mentioning is that the resort as a whole is focused on providing their visitors with a unique culinary experience. Deer Valley offers twelve restaurants on the property with options from casual cafeteria-style quick meals and cafés, to fine dining in rustic elegance. Deer Valley uses local mountain farms to source their restaurants, and has their very own specialty cheese makers, so that each meal they serve is as fresh as possible. It was a treat to eat at Deer Valley Resort… So much so that I’ll share more on our Deer Valley dining experiences in a couple weeks.
Park City Mountain Resort: Park City Mountain Resort is probably the best-known ski resort of the three we visited. With ski lifts that end right near Main Street in old-town Park City, PCMR offers convenience and lively appeal.
From the Park City Mountain Resort ski lifts, you can stop in town to grab a quick bite, or walk to your hotel when you’re tired. The resort also has it’s own little village at the bottom of the mountain with shops, eateries, pubs, and live music.
Park City Mountain Resort is party central! Snow boarders (and twin tip skiers) are welcome, and love their popular terrain parks and half pipes.
Park City Mountain Resort projects music over many of the slopes for skier enjoyment, and offers night skiing through most of the season with bright lights lining their most popular slopes.
Park City Mountain Resort’s 2002 Winter Olympic courses are still available, so on any given day you can watch trainees racing down the speed slopes or practicing on the half-pipe.
We took a ride on one of PCMR’s other attractions, the Alpine Coaster. This single seat roller coaster lining the mountainside rolls above the ski slopes up a speed hill, then curves back down to the bottom. You actually get to handle the breaks on the Alpine Coaster if you feel the ride is going too fast. Yet we felt the best way to experience it, is to ride without touching the breaks at all!
PCMR also offers a Flying Eagle Zip Line chair ride we’ll have to try out next time we’re in town.
Canyons Resort: Last but not least, Canyons Resort is the largest of the three ski resorts in Park City, Utah. The property is uniquely shaped like a triangle with a very small narrow base that expands over the mountain tops. Because of this, you get to take a gondola ride up over the mountain to the main ski area, as only one ski slope ends at the base of the resort, this time of year.
This was our last day of skiing so instead of sending the kids to full-day ski school, we took a family lesson, so we could all stay together. We had a marvelous ski instructor named Robert Messina. Robert worked with all of us on our level and put everyone at ease.
He also took us through one of the Canyons special features, the mini half-pipe… a smaller half-pipe for practicing skiers and snow boarders to experience. The kids loved zipping back and forth across the half-pipe and making sharp parallel turns on the edges…
Okay, we all loved doing that!
Canyons Resort has plenty of easy skiing options for beginners like us, but is also known for offering more difficult (exhilarating) terrain for advanced skiers.
Skiers and snow boarders are welcome at the Canyons, yet because the Canyons Resort is so large and the ski slopes are spread out, it seemed much less crowded than the previous day of skiing. Canyons also offers a special terrain park area for snow boarders and extreme skiers.
At the end of the day, we headed down the gondola and sat out at an open café to listen to live music at Canyon’s outdoor theater.
It should also be known we had one of our most memorable meals at the Canyon’s “The Farm” restaurant earlier that day. The Farm happens to be rated as one of Utah’s top 25 restaurants. More on that later…
Which ski resort should you visit?
Well, they are all so close together you could do what we did, and visit all three!
- Deer Valley is luxurious, flawlessly groomed, offers an award-winning ski school, and a distinct culinary edge. Deer Valley is for skiers only. (No snowboarding.)
- Park City Resort is perfect for those that like to be right in the middle of all the action, with special activities taking place everywhere you look.
- Canyons offers a little bit of luxury and action, with aggressive slopes for advanced skiers. Don’t miss The Farm restaurant, and the live music at the bottom of the mountain.
We just found out, this year Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort are undergoing a major upgrade that will connect both resorts with a giant gondola. In 2016 you will be able to ski both Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons without taking off your ski boots. (You can also buy an Epic Pass that allows you to ski all Vail owned or operated properties across the US for an entire year!)
Want to visit Park City, Utah this summer?
There’s plenty to do all year long! All the resorts offer fun outdoor activities throughout the warm season. From mountain biking to golfing, zip lines to art shows, wheeled bobsled rides to shopping on Main Street, Park City. There is something for everyone in the family to enjoy in Park City!
- When signing up for ski school, you can request ski instructors. We loved the ones we mentioned above, and found Dan and I did best with a mature instructor.
- We rented our ski equipment through Skis on the Run, a company that came to our condo to fit us for skis, boots, and helmets the day before we hit the slopes. This service made our ski experience feel personal and hassle-free.
Disclosure: Visit Park City hosted our family on this trip. All opinions are our own.