Going Local: Park City Mountain Resort

Cresting a ridge that previously left the resort in two separate pieces, the Quicksilver Gondola provides access to epic terrain, as well as epic views, at Park City Mountain Resort. Photo credit: fox13now.com
Cresting a ridge that previously left the resort in two separate pieces, the Quicksilver Gondola provides access to epic terrain, as well as epic views, at Park City Mountain Resort. Photo credit: fox13now.com

As ski season approaches, we at VIP Limousine have been taking the time to highlight the local ski areas in northern and central Utah. There are many which we enjoy going to personally and to which we chauffeur guests, but there’s one in particular that simply dwarfs the rest. The daddy, the big kahuna, the monster, the epicenter…call it whatever you want, but for us as a business and for residents and visitors to Utah, it is often considered the crown jewel of skiing and snowboarding since 1963. That place is the beautiful giant known to us as Park City Mountain Resort.

Located a mere 35 minutes from the Salt Lake City International Airport via freeway, and also accessible by public transportation with the Utah Transit Authority and Park City Transit, the tall peaks of Park City beckon to the world. Indeed, they did during the 2002 Winter Olympics, playing host to several of the events. With over 3,000 feet of vertical from top to bottom, the imposing appearance is backed up with the terrain. The hulking sprawl of 7,300 acres is thoroughly impressive and is the largest in the United States, giving skiers and riders new places to explore every day.

Some of the other numbers: 348 marked ski trails; 41 chairlifts with a combined length which could reach Salt Lake City; 13 bowls; 17 peaks; two separate summits around 10,000 feet above sea level; 13 sister resorts including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe, Wilmot Mountain, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, Perisher in New South Wales, Australia, Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada; and over 30 feet of average annual snowfall.

Stretching six miles from end to end, Park City's expansive terrain is easily accessible and is an adventure from start to finish. Photo credit: parkcitymountain.com
Stretching six miles from end to end, Park City’s expansive terrain is easily accessible and is an adventure from start to finish. Photo credit: parkcitymountain.com

To get to that famous Utah powder, Park City has three access points. The southernmost is via the Town Lift and the plaza right next to Park City’s famous Main Street (which we wrote about here), which skiers and riders can simply walk to and enjoy a scenic ride up into the area. Next to the Town Lift are some of the original chairlift towers used to access the mountain.

Just around the corner lies the main village of Park City, home to the Legacy Lodge, some guest lodging and hotels, the lower beginner area, and several other winter activities. It is common for this area to have a lot of skier traffic, but it maintains a bustling vibe at all times with all ages and experiences converging here. The fastest way out and up to higher ground from here is via the Crescent Express, which climbs quickly up to the main ridge along the front of the resort area.

The Bonanza Express rises to the first summit on the Park City village side. McConkey's Bowl can be seen in the background. Photo credit: allparkcity.com
The Bonanza Express rises to the first summit on the Park City village side. McConkey’s Bowl can be seen in the background. Photo credit: allparkcity.com

For a more laid-back vibe and less skier traffic, we recommend the Park City Canyons Village entrance, the northernmost portion of the resort. This part was originally known as Park West, a sister resort to Park City, but in the last two decades it bloomed into a paradise that became known as Canyons Resort prior to merging with the original Park City. A quick blast up the Red Pine Gondola or the Orange Bubble Express takes guests deep into the heart of the mountain. This side of the resort is quieter but has equally challenging terrain and stunning vistas that have far less attention than the main resort. It is also home to The Colony, a vast real estate development expertly integrated into the hillside with beautiful ski-in/ski-out homes.

Putting all of this together on a map is no small feat, but navigating the resort is actually fairly easy. The vast lift network is also very fast, including two gondolas, a bevy of six-seater detachables, and the aforementioned luxurious Orange Bubble Express, which is equipped with heated seats. The Quicksilver Gondola, built in conjunction with the merger of the two separate resorts as part of a $50 million investment and expansion, links the two sides across Pinecone Ridge and Thaynes Canyon. The two summits at Ninety-Nine Ninety and Jupiter Peak are lift-serviced by namesake chairlifts and have famous expert terrain. The resort is also bookmarked by McConkey’s Bowl and Murdock Bowl, which also contain tough runs.

The Orange Bubble Express, Park City's longest lift, rises up above the valley floor in two stages carrying guests in great comfort and speed. Photo credit: liftblog.org
The Orange Bubble Express, Park City’s longest lift, rises up above the valley floor in two stages carrying guests in great comfort and speed. Photo credit: liftblog.org

All that skiing might make you hungry, but Park City has thought of that. Between the villages and the slopes there are over a dozen restaurants and lodges with a variety of great food options made fresh. They are located at key points across the resort to spread out crowds and increase the ease of access.

The resort is also home to some great après-ski, with an outdoor ski beach area, live music, bonfires, and one of the finest restaurants in Utah, The Farm. If one of these isn’t to your liking, Park City’s famous Main Street is right next door to the main village and a quick fare-free bus ride away from Park City Canyons Village. There are loads of local hot spots to explore and make your time there memorable. Park City is now a year-round resort, too, and it has a plethora of cycling and hiking trails available from the base areas or a chairlift ride to the top.

Once done for the day, Park City is home to a great assortment of hotels for all budgets, from the Best Western Landmark Inn and Newpark Hotel in Kimball Junction, to four different Marriott properties, to Park City’s signature properties, to the The Waldorf Astoria Park City with a private gondola.

The metamorphosis of Park City Mountain Resort, from a small town hill with leftover mining equipment to a world-famous destination on the cutting edge, has been extraordinary. This place is at or beyond world-class in so many ways. And the experts and the public agree; Park City is consistently ranked amongst the best resorts in the nation, and the ski visits continue to increase year over year which brings new traffic. But this place can handle it, and it’s a testament to the resort’s greatness; any wait here is worth it. Between Vail Resorts’ investments, great attention to detail, and the expansive terrain where one can still avoid crowds and escape into sheer bliss, Park City is incredible in so many regards. That’s just part of why when the snow starts to fall, we at VIP Limousine gladly gear up our four-wheel-drive systems to take locals and visitors up to The Greatest Snow on Earth®. Why do they come here? Because, as they say, it’s Park City. There Is Only One.

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