The Guide to Park City
We love the Sierras—really, we do. But if you’re a snow addict, sometimes Tahoe isn’t enough. You need a fix of the light-as-a-feather stuff—the powder you can find only in Utah. And given that you can get there in a less-than-two-hour plane ride (rather than a chain-swaddled drive over Donner Pass) for about $200, well, it only makes sense to give in to your craving.
Now, if neck-deep powder is all you need, you can stick with Salt Lake City—home to four bare-bones resorts (and that’s about it). But if you’re looking for more cushion with your schussin’, drive a smooth 36 miles east, to Park City and its posh hotels, top restaurants, high-end art galleries, indulgent spas, and three world-class ski resorts in the heart of the Wasatch Mountains.
Deer Valley Resort. The numero uno ski spot in the country according to Ski magazine, this 25-year-old fancy-shmancy skiers-only resort (sorry, no snowboarders allowed) has sunk $8 million into upgrading its mountain this season: Look out for 75 new skiable acres and expanded snowmaking.
The summit: 9,570 feet
The drop: 3,000 feet
The scope: 91 trails, 21 lifts, 1,825 acres
The scoop: Fifty percent of the mountain is marked for blue-square skiers, but its expert bowls and glades are the best places to be in Park City on a powder day because so little gets skied off.
The lunchtime spread: New York strip carved off the roast, homemade butternut squash soup with maple pecans, fresh-rolled sushi, jumbo, still-warm snickerdoodle cookies
The scene: So-so skiers cruising in Chanel ski goggles. (Yeah, I didn’t know they made them either.)
The $74 lift ticket buys you: Slope space among 6,500 skiers—max. And a chaise longue on the recently expanded sun deck at the mid-mountain Silver Lake Lodge.
The info: 2250 Deer Valley Dr. S., (800) 424-3337, www.deervalley.com
Park City Mountain Resort. The 2002 Olympics put this behemoth on the map: The resort hosted all the snowboarding events as well as the men’s and women’s Giant Alpine Slalom. For the past two years, it’s been voted the best terrain park in North America by the readers of Transworld Snowboarding magazine.
The summit: 10,000 feet
The drop: 3,100 feet
The scope: 100 trails, 9 bowls, 15 lifts, 3,300 acres
The scoop: New “signature runs” are expert trails groomed especially for inspired intermediates looking to explore more of the mountain. Beginners have a whopping 18 percent of the mountain to themselves, while adrenaline junkies get some of the best steeps in the country.
The lunchtime spread: Options upgraded this year include halibut and salmon flown in fresh from Oregon, tuna from Mexico, and penne, rigatoni, and fettuccine with your pick of marinara, Alfredo, or pesto sauce.
The scene: ’Boarders and skiers looking for air at the four terrain parks, plus lots of families. Just about every lift serves all
types of terrain, so everyone can ride up together, ski their separate ways, and reunite at the bottom.
The $65–$75 lift ticket buys you: A snazzy après-ski scene at Legends Bar and Grill in the remodeled Legacy Lodge. Plus free entertainment: You can watch pros take on the new 22-foot half-pipe, the biggest in the nation.
The info: 1310 Lowell Ave., (800) 514-0328, www.parkcitymountainresort.com
The Canyons Resort. A monster of a mountain—the largest of Park City’s three resorts and one of the five biggest in the country—where even longtime locals still find new spots to explore.
The summit: 9,990 feet
The drop: 3,190 feet
The scope: 146 trails, 16 lifts, 6 natural half-pipes, 3,500 acres
The scoop: A $400 million expansion project is taking place on the mountain this year.
The lunchtime spread: Pull in for a sit-down, gourmet lunch (with full bar) at the Lookout Cabin, which, appropriately enough, has a killer view of the Wasatch range.
The scene: All types—skiers, ’boarders, telemarkers—at all levels, and a fair share of adventure seekers heading out of bounds.
The $65–$77 lift ticket buys you: Lots of backcountry access (but if you see the skull-and-crossbones sign it’s best to steer clear).
The info: 4000 The Canyons Resort Dr., (435) 649-5400, www.thecanyons.com
Food and Drink
Whether you’re hungry for no-frills grub, haute cuisine, or homemade delicacies delivered to your door, you’ll be able to find what you’re craving.
Morning Ray Café. Healthy, hearty, prepared-with-care fare. Go for the Morning Ray: house fries piled high with sautéed mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, scallions, melted Jack cheese, jalapeños, guacamole, and two fried eggs. You’ll be more than set for a day on the slopes. 255 Main St., (435) 649-5686, entrées $6–$9
The Mariposa. Arguably the best restaurant at elevation (8,100 feet) anywhere in the country. Top off a day of powder skiing by enjoying house-cured salmon or the Rocky Mountain rack of lamb while sipping wine selected from an expansive list. You might mistake this place for heaven. Deer Valley, mid-mountain at the Silver Lake Lodge. (435) 645-6715, entrées $30–$46
Grappa. Fine dining at the top of Main Street, where lovey-dovey couples and venture capitalists on vacation hunker down before bottles of wine and rustic Italian dishes like roasted lamb loin and wild mushroom ravioli.151 Main St., (435) 645-0636, entrées $31–$42
Ghidotti’s. Bill White (of Grappa, Chimayo, and Wahso fame) has opened an old-world Italian restaurant (think chicken marsala, fettuccine Alfredo, and veal piccata) out of the hubbub in the Redstone Town Center. 6030 N. Market St., (435) 658-0669, www.ghidottis.com, entrées $13–$24
Robert and Kevin Valaika are veteran culinary stars in this town—they’ve worked in many of Park City’s best restaurants—and they’re available to cook for your family in your kitchen, or just to drop off a gourmet dinner. (435) 640-6512, www.pcprivatechefs.com, entrées $30–$45 generally, but varies with group size
Dash through the snow to fireside dining at Deer Valley’s Empire Canyon Lodge. Bundle up the family for a horse-drawn sleigh ride under the stars before hunkering down in front of a roaring fireplace for a raclette and fondue buffet. Adults pair wines and beers with each of the three hearty courses, while kids ooh and aah over the gooey cheese and chocolate. (435) 645-6632, www.deervalley.com, $44 prix fixe, Wednesday and Thursday evenings only
How to Eat Like a Movie Star
Celebrities love wintering in Park City, even when it’s not Sundance Film Festival time. And they have to eat, too. (Well, most of them do, anyway.) Here are the hottest spots to dine and be seen.
350 Main. Enjoy black sesame sea scallops with Asian vegetable salad, warm asparagus salad and lobster coleslaw, and a selection from the acclaimed 125-bottle wine list—a favorite of Wine Spectator. The address? Um, that would be 350 Main St. (435) 649-3140, www.350main.com, entrées $19–$32
The Mustang. Celebs have been eating up chef Bill Hufferd’s grilled Honduran lobster and Muscovy duck–stuffed chili relleno since The Mustang opened in December 2004. 890 Main St., (435) 658-3975, entrées $25–$40
Shabu. Sip a Tokyo sunset sake martini at the strip’s super-hip “freestyle Asian” restaurant. Listen to live jazz (Wednesday–Sunday) while you dig chopsticks into shrimp teriyaki sizzle pans and pad thai. 333 Main St., (435) 645-7253, entrées $15–$35
Zoom. Try lunch at Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort’s restaurant, which serves Angus burgers, baby spinach salads, and fab fish tacos. 660 Main St., (435) 649-9108, lunch $8–$15, dinner $20–$30
How to Order a Drink in Utah
It might not feel like it, but Park City is still Mormon country. That means to get a mixed drink or wine you’ll need to go to a restaurant and order one with your meal or visit a nonexclusive private club, where you become a temporary member for a nominal fee (usually less than $5). You’ll be able to host up to seven guests, and you can usually sign up at the door.
Bacchus, the town’s only wine bar, offers wines by the glass, ranging from $5 to $64, with 52 types of cheeses, $1 oysters on the half shell on Tuesday nights, and all kinds of caviar. 442 Main St., (435) 940-9463
Brew pubs, on the other hand, don’t have membership requirements. Linger over a porter—make that a Polygamy Porter—at the Wasatch Brew Pub. You can also have fish ’n’ chips or more upscale pub food with a view of the vats. 250 Main St., (435) 649-0900
Or head to The Beach. No sand, of course, but there’s a sunny après-ski scene mid-mountain at Deer Valley, where deep chairs curve to your aching body, and beers from the nearby Royal Street Café go down easy. Or grab a few beers (and a half-pound buffalo burger) at the no name saloon and Grill. Go early, before it gets too loud—and too crowded to score a seat. 447 Main St., (435) 649-6667, www.nonamesaloon.net
Fun off the Slopes
Good old-fashioned fun (before there was alpine, there was Nordic), not to mention one heck of a workout. Glide on the 18 kilometers of groomed tracks at the White Pine Nordic Center, located between The Canyons and Park City Mountain. Or make your own tracks on a four-hour guided tour in the Uinta Mountains, just 20 minutes outside of town. 1685 Bonanza Dr., (435) 649-8710, www.whitepinetouring.com
“If you can walk you can snowshoe!” is Mountain Vista Touring’s motto. And it’s true. These guides know every inch of the area, what kind of trees you’re weaving among, and where to spot the wildlife. Head out for a day of trekking interspersed with stops for hot tea. (435) 640-2979, www.parkcityhiking.com
Speed through open snowfields and gaze upward at mountain peaks as a team of yelping, hardworking huskies pulls you at 10–12 mph. At $350 a ride, dogsledding makes the price of a lift ticket seem like a bargain—but it’s one of the most exhilarating ways to spend an hour and a half. All Seasons Adventures, (435) 649-9619, www.allseasonsadventures.com
Yep, you can do it in the winter—how Marlboro Man. Don your thermal socks and warm gloves, saddle up your pick of Paso Fino horses, and go riding through the snow. Wind in your hair, 2565 S. State Road 32, Wanship, (435) 336-4795, www.windinyourhair.com
With three lifts, beginner lanes, advanced bumps—and lights!—kids can bomb down happily until 8 p.m. at Gorgoza Park at Park City Mountain Resort. 1310 Lowell Ave., (435) 658-2648, www.parkcity
Unleash your inner Olympian
The Utah Olympic Park’s fantasy camps and clinics allow you and your kids (if you can bear to let them) try those seen-only-on-TV sports that have always seemed as scary as heck. Here’s your chance to rip down a sheet of ice at 75 mph on the 2002 Olympic bobsled track; soar like an eagle off the Nordic ski jump; learn to maneuver feet-first in a luge sled; or, if you’re completely fearless, sign up for an introductory class in skeleton—a sled you ride facedown with your nose three inches from the ice. 3000 Bear Hollow Dr., (435) 658-4200, www.olyparks.com
Make figure eights at the sparkling-new indoor ice rink at the 46,000-square-foot Quinn’s Recreation Complex. 600 Gilmore Way, at the junction of Highway 228 and Highway 40, www.pcice.org
Know your snow
Tour the ski memorabilia–filled Alf Engen Museum to learn about Park City’s rich history, from its silver-mining days to its Olympic glory. The exhibits are interactive and impressive. Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center at Utah Olympic Park, 2990 Bear Hollow Dr., (435) 658-4240, www.engenmuseum.org
Catch a show
Score seats at the Egyptian Theatre. This month’s production is The Full Monty. This historic, 260-seat theater runs real-deal mountain-town-style musicals at reasonable prices. 328 Main St., (435) 649-9371, www.egyptiantheatrecompany.org, $18–$32
Ditch the Kids
Deer Valley has all-day day care for nonskiers as young as two months, and The Canyons will watch even your six-week-old little one. Deer Valley reservations (435) 645-6648, The Canyons reservations (435) 615-8036
Check out art
The town’s 30-plus galleries open their doors on the last Friday evening of every month for the Arts and Eats Gallery Stroll. Five bucks gets you a map of participating galleries, some of which serve nibbles. Pick up tickets the day of the event at The Kimball Art Center. The center will be dishing up food with its exhibit Ray Atkeson’s Ski and Snow Country, which presents photographs from the 1930s through the ’50s (through March 5). Kimball Art Center, 638 Park Ave., (435) 649-8882, www.kimball-art.org
And don’t miss Scanlan Windows to the World, a charming gallery whose walls are covered with drop-dead-beautiful photography of gotta-get-there-in-your-life places, taken by members of the talented Scanlan family during their travels. 545-B Main St., (435) 658-3696
Access the Outdoors
Park City is home to one of the country’s most respected outdoor programs for people with disabilities. Wintertime fun at the 26-acre National Ability Center focuses on alpine and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and bobsledding. Families and friends can reserve a fully accessible room in the bunkhouse, which is convenient to the camps and clinics. (435) 649-3991, www.nac1985.org
The Essence of Park City treatment at the Spa at Hotel Park City is 80 minutes of exfoliation, Vichy rain showers, and scalp massage, finished off with a full-body cocoa butter–warmed wrap that rehydrates your skin and rejuvenates your soul. $170. 2001 Park Ave., (435) 200-2000, www.hotelparkcity.com
There may be nothing more relaxing in the world than a head-to-toe lavender lube. At the Papillon Spa at Westgate, you can take the Alpine Lavender Journey, which also includes a hair washing, pressure point massage, salt glow exfoliation, and cleansing facial. $185. 3000 The Canyons Resort, (435) 655-2266, www.wgparkcity.com
Top Four Things You Didn’t Plan on Buying but …
A pair of handcrafted Lucchese pink leather cowboy boots ($500–$3,000) at Chloe Lane. (Book the whole shop for an evening of private personal shopping and buy clothes to go with the boots.) Three locations: 556 Main St., 558 Main St., and 562 Main St., (435) 645-9888
Diamonds from O. C. Tanner, the official manufacturer of the gold, silver, and bronze medals for the 2002 Olympic Games. 416 Main St., (435) 940-9470, www.octannerstore.com
A two-by-five-foot framed photo of snow-covered aspens, $1,940, from the David Whitten Gallery. 523 Main St., (435) 649-3860, www.davidwhittenphoto.com
A pair of $1,065 Völkl Unlimited AC4 skis. The guys at Cole Sport, a real haven for gearheads, specialize in fitting your foot, and they know how to talk up the latest technology till you just gotta have it. 1615 Park Ave., (435) 649-4800, www.colesport.com
And One Thing You Most Definitely Won’t Be Buying …
The rabbit fur–covered jock strap (just $19.99!) on display at the Alaska Fur Gallery. Then again, the saleswoman says they sell thousands of these babies a year. And it does get chilly at night. … 751 Main St., (435) 649-3820, and 537 Main St., (435) 649-1241
Hotel Park City. This upscale hotel
was completed in 2003. The world-class
golf course is a draw come springtime.
The rooms: 54 elegantly cozy suites replete with goose-down comforters, roaring gas fireplaces, thick robes, three-nozzle European showers, and snowy views of the spectacular Wasatch Mountains.
The service: Five star yet down-to-earth
The spa: 10,000 square feet with single-sex indoor whirlpools, herbal-infused steam room and sauna, eight treatment rooms, and heated outdoor pool and hot tub
That special touch: Turndown service that includes chocolates, classical music, and meditations on happiness printed on tiny note cards. The Bulgari soaps and shampoo aren’t too shabby either.
The price: $399–$3,000 a night
The info: 2001 Park Ave. (435) 200-2000, www.hotelparkcity.com
Silver Queen Hotel. Recently restored, this cozy-yet-elegant hotel is smack in the center of Park City’s downtown district.
The rooms: Six two-bedroom and six one-bedroom suites right on Main Street—literally steps from all the best restaurants. The décor now appears a bit outdated, but the couches are soft, and the beds are comfy.
The service: Lug your own luggage, or you can ask the concierge to help.
The spa: No spa, but you’ll likely have the rooftop hot tub to yourselves
That special touch: On special occasions, the lobby is stocked with an endless supply of white and dark chocolate–dipped strawberries.
The price: $299–$525
The info: 632 Main St., (800) 447-6423, www.silverqueenhotel.com
Washington School Inn. Also within walking distance of Park City’s restaurants and shops, this refurbished schoolhouse has been hosting overnight guests since 1985.
The rooms: 15 lavishly quaint rooms (four of them are former classrooms) named after real teachers from the schoolhouse. The Ms. Thatcher suite has a wood-burning fireplace and a four-poster cushy king bed.
The service: Happy and sincere. (No disciplinarian principals to fear here.)
The spa: Not full-service, but the hot tub and sauna downstairs are all you need après-ski.
That special touch: Wine and appetizers such as homemade cookies and warm Brie every evening at 5. And 720-thread-count linens and featherbeds in some rooms.
The most important meal: Breakfast is the main meal of the day here; the buffet is loaded with tasty items like blueberry crepes and apple wood–smoked bacon. The Vermont maple syrup is produced by a friend of the inn’s owners.
The price: $265–$475
The info: 543 Park Ave., (800) 824-1672, www.washingtonschoolinn.com
Deer Valley Lodging has more than 650 sky-high-end properties—from one-bedroom condos to seven-bedroom homes with wraparound decks, billiards rooms, and outdoor hot tubs—that you can commandeer by the night, the week, or the month (during summer). Some are slopeside ski-in-ski-outs, others offer door-to-mountain shuttle service, and they’ve all got access to a concierge who will arrange whatever you request: restaurant reservations, private chefs, in-house massages, and grocery deliveries.
The price: $350–$5,550 per night
The info: 1375 Deer Valley Dr. S., (888) 976-2732, www.deervalleylodging.com
Two-bedroom condos start at $300,000 and go up to $2.5 million for larger slopeside units. Homes range from the high $300,000s to as much as $25 million for the top-of-the-line abodes. Check www.parkcity4sale.com or www.parkcityrealestateforsale.com.
You can fly nonstop to Salt Lake City from Oakland (Delta and Southwest), San Francisco (United and Delta), and San Jose (Delta). It’s a 35-minute drive from Salt Lake City to Park City, and Park City Transportation takes you door-to-door for $33 per person. (800) 637-3803, www.parkcitytransportation.com
Park City Transit. A free townwide transit system that takes you anywhere you want to go, from breakfast to the slopes to the bar to bed. Runs every 20 minutes from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., then every half hour until 2:30 a.m.
Music Taxi. One bored cabbie came up with a brilliant way to keep himself—and his passengers—entertained: in-car karaoke! He decked out his minivan with a disco ball, rhinestone tiaras, microphones, and an MP3 player stocked with every sloshed group’s dream set list: Madonna, Neil, Janis, Aretha. You could tool around for hours. (435) 649-6496, www.music-taxi.com
Hotel Park City’s Shuttle. This door-to-door service takes guests to and from the resorts and Main Street. A fabulous perk that comes with the resort’s hefty price tag.
Rachel Levin is a freelance writer based in San Francisco.