Park & Ride – Park City
by Dean Seguin
Park & Ride – Park City
ALL EYES ON THE NEW SCENE AT PARK CITY
With a gritty mining past, Olympic legacy, and Hollywood cool, Park City — home of the Sundance Film Festival — nails the ski town trifecta. Now it can claim bragging rights to having the largest ski area in the country — and you can ski it on a single ticket.
An eight-passenger gondola link called Quicksilver now joins what was formerly Canyons Resort with Park City Mountain Resort. The two ski areas combining is the crown jewel of $50 million in improvements for what is now simply called Park City. Undertaken by Vail Resorts, the rollout includes new branding and trail map, upgraded lifts, plus restaurants, advanced snowmaking, and expanded terrain to the tune of 7,300 acres of skiing across 17 peaks. That’s significantly larger than any other Utah resort and even Vail Mountain itself, which looks paltry with its 5,289 acres.
This newly connected colossus is a boon for ski vacationers not just because of its sheer size, but also its ease of reaching it from Salt Lake, which is only 35 minutes by car, plus its range of upscale hotels, and a dining scene on par with cosmopolitan tastes. Echoing Whistler’s Peak 2 Peak Gondola that connected Whistler and Blackcomb mountains with much fanfare in 2008 and introduced far greater potential to B.C. skiers, Park City’s two-way Quicksilver marries two very different mountains for the benefit of Utah skiers. It also offers a new kind of ease to the après-loving skier, allowing riders to leave Park City’s bus shuttles behind and move between the two villages by lift and snow.
SKI The Canyons is known for its wide-open intermediate terrain mixed with an abundance of glades and steeper faces. Park City has oodles of gentler terrain, undulating groomers, and nine pretty bowls to choose from. The new Quicksilver Gondola — named after the region’s storied mining past as well as the quickness of the new lift — shuttles skiers between the base of the existing Silverlode Lift at Park City to the Flatiron Lift area at Canyons. A mid-station at Pine Cone Ridge offers access to three new runs leading to the Iron Mountain area, as well as gated access into Park City’s coveted Thaynes Canyon. The gondola’s mid-station is being touted as the new spot for Instagram-worthy panoramas of Park City, Old Town, and Canyons Village. What’s more, this season, Park City’s King Con lift has been upgraded to a six-person speedster, and the Motherlode lift has been powered up to a high-speed quad detachable.
EAT On the mountain, Cloud Dine at the Canyons gets the oh-so-good award for its buzz-worthy homemade donuts. Lookout Cabin serves smooth and peppery cheese fondue. And situated alongside the new gondola, Park City’s new Miners Camp replaces the old Snow Hut with a big-window view of the Wasatch peaks. In the evening, Park City’s frontier-era past comes alive in slick new concepts. At Riverhorse on Main, lofty ceilings, exposed brick, and crisp white tablecloths spread across two dining rooms and features a balcony overlooking the street. Here, the mountains meet the city — think Rocky Mountain rack of lamb with truffled mac and cheese, or Utah red trout in a pistachio nut crust. Opening this winter on Park City’s culinary scene is celebrity chef Mark Harris’s Tupelo, named after gold-standard tupelo honey. With items such as fried country ham, pork belly, and crispy okra on the menu, expect Harris’s Southern roots to show through.
DRINK A block off the town’s main street, kissing the base of the slopes at Park City, is High West Distillery — the world’s only ski-in distillery and saloon and first distiller in Utah in well over a century. That distinction alone is worth a stop, but its revered whiskeys are poured here alongside plates of inspired comfort food, all in a unique Victorian house/livery stable combination. High West’s fall opening of a 30,000-square-foot distillery on Blue Sky Ranch conducts tours, tastings, and high-country food pairings with savory libations.
SLEEP The Waldorf Astoria Park City is draped in luxury down to every last detail. Soaring ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and leather mixed with wood accents make for a rich feel. The
hotel is connected to the lift system at Canyons via its own private gondola. Right on the slopes, have your gear valeted at the Grand Summit at Canyons, a rustic-chic lodge with impeccable Utahan hospitality. Step out the door to the ski school to leave the kids for a lesson. From there you’ll have the option of the Red Pine Gondola or the Orange Bubble Express, with heated seats. In Park City, old school takes on a new meaning at the Washington School House. Walk out onto the town with easy access to the best restaurants, bars, shopping and galleries from a historic landmark that’s tastefully curated with modern touches while maintaining its original integrity.
RUSH Thrill seekers ages 13 and up can experience the rush of Olympic gold on the Comet Bobsled Ride at Utah Olympic Park (UOP). Built for the 2002 Winter Games, a professional bobsled pilot will shoot you down the sliding track reaching speeds of up to 60 mph and 3 Gs of force — all in less than a minute. Only slightly less fast is UOP’s new Extreme Tubing adventure that jets you to speeds of 50 mph by sliding down the landing hills of the Olympic ski jumps.