The Best Ski Resorts in Utah (with video)
To find out if the three resorts in the Park City, Utah area really do represent "The Greatest Snow on Earth", we skied and apres-skied and learned first-hand how fabulous the town and it's amenities have become. Indeed, the area has come a long way from the area's poor, silver mining history.
During the recent Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah was teeming with glittery Hollywood types littering local restaurants and bars, meanwhile abandoning the perfectly powdered slopes. Over the ten-day stretch, those idyllic resort town slopes– located less than an hour's drive from the Salt Lake City airport, stand virtually empty. It's an insider secret that the week and a half is ideal for powder junkies hungry for crowd-free runs during high season.
(Good luck finding a hotel room though!) As it turns out Hollywood isn't so into that kind of snow.
Fortunately out west ski and snowboard season run long. A good year means soft, fluffy snow starts falling just after Thanksgiving until -- if you're really, really lucky -- as late as Cinco de Mayo. Utah doesn't claim "Greatest Snow on Earth" for nothing -- the trademarked white stuff maintains a unique blend of "consistency, abundance and quality," says Ski Utah's Director of Communications Jessica Kunzer, "Anyone who skis dreams of skiing out west. You might like skiing wherever you're from originally -- if it's Minnesota, or, out east in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, [but] the general wish is to experience our soft, ice-free slopes."
The fleeting effects of Sundance come and go, but the snow steadily falls and the apres ski scene never dies. Here are three stellar spots to kick back and relax between smooth runs and story-worthy wipe-outs.
The luxury resort covers six majestic mountains attracting posh skiers preferring to keep the slopes old school and off limits to snowboarders. With thirty years in the business, Deer Valley has the bragging rights of being the #1 ski resort in North America four times over by SKI magazine. Credit the resort's focus on high-end luxury services and it's five-star hotel feel. Details like capping the number of lift tickets distributed at a time; taking OCD measures to keep the 100 runs spread across 2,006 acres and servicing 22 lifts well groomed; and thoughtful touches like outdoor wooden tissue boxes for on-the-run runny noses all make Deer Valley standout. The only thing missing are chairlifts with heated seats. (Leave that to The Canyons' with their very own "orange bubble express.")
Dining options are considered the best in town. The seafood dinner buffet is fresh with day-of shipped crustaceans thanks to Delta's direct flights. (The challah French toast for breakfast is legendary too.) The Grand Lodge at Empire Pass, is the pinnacle of luxury ski living. The wood and marble finishes and vintage decor repurposing old skis into coat racks and hooks add charm. The picturesque condos located at the base of a scenic snow-covered mountain are warm and cozy, making it tough to get out of bed and off the couch. Fortunately, the residences are located at the base of an express chairlift with ski-in and ski-out access. Prices start at $450/night and reach up to $1,785/night. www.deervalleyresort.com; 1-800-424-3337. Another place worth checking out is the newly opened St. Regis Deer Crest, which is a 12-acre property adjacent to the slopes. It offers a butler service, a Jean-Georges Vonerichten restaurant. The 181 room (including 67 luxury suites) hotel offers rates that currently range from approximately $809 to $1500 (plus tax and other charges).
Alta, Utah, the traditional and legendary spot previously used as a silver mining center, is sprawled across an epic collection of mountains that consistently score an annual snowfall of 500 inches -- often reaching as much as 700 inches. There's a mile long green run, perfect for newbies looking to gain more experience and confidence in a single run, and scenic for pros swishing down the more skilled runs that weave in and out of the "bunny slope." (Don't let the pros tell you it's a bunny slope though – it isn't beginner easy.) In a way, Alta is your cool grandfather's lodge you have no desire to retire. While there's no snowboarding and no pedestrian village decorated with flashy gear boutiques, Alta is simply a classic, quintessential spot straight from the silver screen. It attracts families who return year after year, generation after generation.
Lodging options are at the mountain base of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest and include five different options with ski-in and out accommodations. The vibe is laidback rustic yet elegant with a lovely heated outdoor pool and four-course dinner menus enjoyed by well-heeled yet often bootless patrons. While all the resorts throw an end of the season party, Alta's is notoriously debaucherous. The High Boy party at the top of High Rustler Mountain is the place to be. Essentially, after full-time operation of the mountain ceases, a wildly costumed staff and locals tailgate in the parking lot and traverse the mountain for one last bittersweet, inebriated yet cautious hurrah. Speaking of drinking, Alta's Sitzmark Bar, a classic ski bar dating back 72 years is where the apres ski scene is best practiced. The 'Boomerang' named for a beloved Alta skier Billy Poole is a hot cider spiked with whiskey and tequila -- the perfect way to warm the blood after freezing the tush. The price for a standard room during regular season is $425 – includes lodging for two people with breakfast and four-course dinner. For more information call (800) 707-2582,
Park City Mountain Resort
Here is where skiing and snowboarding can finally unite. Beginners and experts, skiers and snowboarders all ride powder together in harmony. The 3,300 acres stretching across eight peaks and nine bowls, translates as a lot snow to spray. There are 114 trails serviced by 16 lifts. With three terrain parks sporting impressive moguls and a Super pipe, Park City is revered as a haven for snowboarders and more daredevil-y skiers. Skiing and snowboarding aren't the only outdoor activity here. Those who grow tired of skiing and snowboarding can still keep their heart rate up – with a more controlled and less physical ride on the Alpine Coaster. The outdoor rollercoaster situated on an elevated track speeds up to 30 mph through over a mile of loops, curves and hairpin curves. Each bobsled is left for the rider to control so those riding can cruise or coast through the stunning Park City snowscape. Prices for adult lift tickets are $90 for the whole day. Season passes are $1,399. www.parkcitymountain.com; 1-800-222-7275.
This post was contributed via Seed.com, AOL's new platform for freelance writers.