Skiing in Park City, Utah
It’s been almost eight years since it last snowed in New Orleans, and with temperatures in the 70s already upon us, snow won’t be falling this winter. So now is the perfect time to pack a bag and take off for some great spring skiing.
A fantastic place for this is Park City, Utah. Home of the 2002 Winter Olympics, Park City Mountain Resort was already one of the top ski resorts in North America. Recently acquired by Vail Resorts, Park City has expanded to include The Canyons Resort.
Vail Resorts invested $50 million in the Park City Mountain Resort, and Park City is now the largest ski resort in the United States. Now, the combined properties feature over 300 trails, 38 lifts, and almost 7,500 acres of skiing. Their website www.parkcitymountain.com is a great place to start to plan out your trip.
One of the great advantages of Park City is its proximity to Salt Lake City. It’s merely a 26-mile drive from the airport, which makes it one of the most convenient to reach ski resorts in the world. All major airlines fly to Salt Lake City, though Delta is the only one who flies there non-stop from New Orleans.
There are numerous spots to stay in the Park City area, as most major hotel chains have locations there. Room rates go up depending on how close you stay to the ski lifts and how luxurious you want your accommodations. Air B’n B and VRBO also offer a number of great options that are worth exploring.
Park City offers accessible skiing for everyone from beginner to expert. The resort features a great ski school taught by top instructors. Ski school enrollment, as well as lift tickets, can be purchased in advance on-line for a significant discount. Lessons are offered in groups or privately.
The resort has plenty of easy runs, or Green slopes, for beginners. Park City features the most groomed terrain in all of North America. It also features 14 bowls, or large mountain basins, filled with Double Black Diamond runs for the more advanced skier.
In addition to great skiing, the mountain features fantastic dining with various food options in numerous locations. Many of these spots feature outdoor dining, which makes the perfect excuse to enjoy some Utah sun over a hot chocolate. The new Miners Camp is a prime spot for a meal on the mountain; it features fantastic soups, salads, kabobs, and Park City Resort’s famous Buffalo Chili.
Park City is a great place to enjoy other winter activities than skiing, including sleigh rides and snowshoe tours. But if you are looking for a truly memorable experience, be sure to reserve a snowmobile tour from Red Pine Adventures. Located in The Canyons area of Park City, Red Pine Adventures is situated on privately owned property in Red Pine Canyon. www.redpinetours.com
Snow clothes, gloves, and goggles are must for the snowmobile adventure, as you speed down groomed trails and through heavily forested deep powder mountain terrain. Snowmobiling is a truly thrilling experience, and Red Pine Adventures features brand new Ski Doo Snowmobiles that quickly get up to 40 mph. Tours are two hours long and can be done as in a group or privately. They are offered at various times throughout the day.
If you do choose to visit Red Pine Adventures, be sure to ask for Bayou Dave to be your tour guide. A die hard Saints fan originally from Natchitoches, Dave has been in the Park City area for almost 20 years. He offers a wealth of information about the history and terrain of the area, with particular knowledge of the wild animals that roam the mountain. Dave is also a great photographer who is happy to take photos of you flying through the air on your snowmobile.
What also makes Park City one of North America’s top ski resorts is the town of Park City itself. Park City was first visited by Mormon pioneers in the mid-1800’s. Like many towns out west, for decades it relied on mining as its primary industry. Skiing began in Park City in 1963, and soon the town flourished.
Home to the Sundance Film Festival, Park City is filled with plenty of things to do when the skiing ends. The free transit bus makes it easy to get anywhere in town, though cabs are plentiful and UBER is prevalent. Main Street is where the action congregates, with numerous restaurants and bars.
For a state in which alcohol was practically illegal for so many years, there is an amazing array of options. A great place that combines both food and drink is the Wasatch Brew Pub. Wasatch Brewery was brewing suds long before it became the hip thing to do. Since 1986, Wasatch Brewery was producing beers such as Polygamy Porter, Jalapeno Cream Ale, and Devastator Double Bock. The Wasatch Brew Pub is located at 250 Main Street. www.wasatchbeers.com
The Brew Pub is a great spot to enjoy a cold draft at the bar or a full meal in the restaurant. The menu includes great tavern staples like burgers, salads, and amazing soups. The local meat and cheese appetizer, a must-order, includes wild boar, Beehive Promontory Cheddar Cheese, and other local treats. The Shepherd’s Pie that features Niman Ranch Top Sirloin is the perfect meal after a day on the slopes, and the Fish & Chips with their own Wasatch Beer batter is a showstopper.
If spirits are more your thing than beer, then a visit to Park City is not complete without a stop at the High West Distillery and Saloon. Having won numerous awards as one of the country’s premier whiskey producers, High West became Utah’s first legal distillery since 1870. High West is known for such creations as High West Whiskey Campfire, American Prairie, and A Midwinter Nights Dram. www.highwest.com
The High West Saloon is as distinguished as its spirits. Chef James Dumas fuses classic techniques, regional and seasonal flavors to create innovative nouveau Western fare. Many of the offerings feature a sauce, grain, or herb directly related to the production of the High West distilled spirits.
The perfect way to start the meal is with a cocktail using High West spirits. If you’re feeling the cold, go for the hot Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Elixir made with High West Double Rye, maple syrup, and butter. The true whiskey enthusiastic can’t miss the High West Flight, known as High West 101. It offers four one-ounce tastings of some of High West’s most popular spirits served on a menu that offers notes on each whiskey.
Highlights on the menu include the Fried Pig Chips, the Pork “Wings,” and the amazing Five Cheese Fondue. These are served as small plates that are perfect for sharing with the table. Larger plates features such specialties as the Wild Boar Stew, Trout Salad, and an amazing Pot Pie packed with chicken, wild mushrooms, and root vegetables.
For another great spot where the food comes first, Handle is a popular Park City restaurant. Located just steps from Main Street, Handle features nouveau American cuisine that is locally sourced according to the season. While Handle also has innovative cocktails and a great wine list, it’s the small plate offerings that make it a great spot for your group. www.handleparkcity.com
The Sunchoke Chawanmushi is a wonderful appetizer that is as delicious as its name is interesting, as are the Sweet Potato Jalapeno Hush Puppies. Other highlights include the Smoked Hummus and the Beet Salad, made with chicories. For large groups, don’t miss the fantastic Fried Chicken and “The Baller”: a 25 ounce prime bone-in ribeye.
No visit to Handle is complete without ordering the Caramel Budino with Chex Topping for dessert. What appears to be a simple butterscotch pudding explodes with flavor as soon as it hits your tongue. The New York Times highlighted the Caramel Budino as a top dish for the entire state of Utah, so you know that it is a winner.
Book your flight now, because the springtime is a great time to visit Park City!