So you’re making out to Park City, Utah to do some skiing or snowboarding and are looking to maximize all you can ski in the short time you have in town. Well you’ve come to the right place. I’ll brake down the best way to maximize your turns on your skis and snowboard while on some of the greatest snow on Earth. Remember to be honest with yourself and your abilities, because every mountain in the world grades their runs differently. A black diamond back on the East Coast, like Pennsylvania and West Virginia might only be a Blue Square out West where the mountains are bigger, steeper, and all around more challenging. With that being said, skiing at Park City will be some of the best turns you’ve ever had, especially after a winter storm comes in that can drop anywhere from 6″ to 24″ of fresh snow overnight, sometimes so deep you’ll need a snorkel!
If you’re familiar with how the Park City ski resort is laid out, then feel free to skip to below. For those who haven’t been up to Park City, Utah before, you’re in for a beautiful treat at the largest ski resort in the USA (see Map HERE). The town of Park City, just a quick 30-45 minute drive from the Salt Lake City airport, sits at a base elevation of 7,000ft. The town sits at the base of the back of the Wasatch Mountains and is the home of two major ski resorts, Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort. Park City Mountain Resort is technically broken up into two sides, connected by the Quicksilver Gondola, called Canyons to the north with a peak elevation of 9,990′ and Park City Mountain to the South with a peak elevation of 10,026′. Each area has their own set of lifts, lodges, and unique styles. And yes, you can ski both sides of the resort in the same day if you really want to!
Expert Skiers (Double Black Diamond)
The best lifts to access the most difficult terrain at Park City are going to be Jupiter, McConkey’s Express, and actually the Quicksilver Gondola. The best zones off Jupiter Peak from McConkey’s and Jupiter are The Chutes, Pinyon Ridge, and West Face off Jupiter Peak and the entire bowl and ridge off Jupiter are steep and challenging. Runs off Jupiter Peak will require hiking from either side. And speaking of hiking, if you want to tour/hike to get to some of the most untouched powder at the resort, hike from the mid-station of Quick Silver Gondola up Pinecone Ridge to countless steep runs.
The best lifts to access the most difficult terrain on the Canyons side are Ninety-Nine 90 Express, Peak 5, and Super Condor Express. Ninety-Nine 90 has steep, cliff runs off both sides of the ridge, but the Red Pine Chutes are the best and 94 turns is the perfect run for a deep pow day. Peak 5 has amazing steep tree runs that drain into Dutch Draw. Lastly, Super Condor Express is the best lift on a crowded day to access steep, rocky lines off the ridge like Lone Pine and Yard Sale. But the best area off this lift is the hike up to Murdock Peak for perpetually, untouched powder runs down a steep, open bowl.
Experienced/Advanced (Black Diamond)
The best lifts to access the Black Diamond terrain at the Park City side are Crescent Express and Motherlode Express. Turning right when you get off Crescent to traverse to access the zone for Willy’s Run and Erika’s gold for some of the old Olympic Ski runs. Motherlode is home to some of the best tree runs near the motherlode meadows.
The best lifts to access the Black Diamond terrain on the Canyons side are Dreamcatcher, Tombstone Express, and Super Condor Express. Though Dreamcatcher is hard to access, the steep bowl with wide open trees under the lift on Chimera and Specter are challenging but long runouts that allow you to push your skills with less commitment found on the more technical sides of the mountain. Tombstone is a classic lift to find tighter tree runs, like Paradise Bowl, but they do get bumped out on a powder day. The steep runs off Super Condor Express has classic steep open trails and tight tree runs like Devil’s Freind and down through Condor Woods.
Moderate (Blue Square)
The best lifts to access the moderate Blue Square terrain at the Park City side is King Con Express and Silverlode Express. King Con is the perfect lift to access the highest density of blue trails on the mountain, with 12 trails skiable right from the top, all are similar and ideal to carve, work on moguls, and enjoy the pristine grooming in the mornings. Silverlode is another fast lift to access 6 longer blue runs, some through the trees and others with wide open runs like Hidden Splendor and Parley’s Park.
The best lifts to access the moderate Blue Square terrain on the Canyons side Iron Mountain Express, Dreamscape, and Saddleback Express. Iron Mountain Express has a great access to blue trails that are long, and not as steep as other areas on the mountain, but great for long carves like on Silver Streak. Dreamscape, tucked away on the far-side of the mountain, offers incredible views of the entire ski area below, the massive mansions in the colony, and of course wide open trails that hold powder longer than most runs at the resort.
Beginner/Novice (Green Circle)
The best lifts to access the easiest Green Circle terrain at the Park City side are First Time, and Payday Express. For beginners and those trying to shake off the rust, I’d recommend starting with the First Time, to access the short, not very steep, beginner trailed called First Time as well. For those looking to take the next step and ski a long, easy run with a lot of descent, take the Payday Lift up and ski Homerun down.
The best lifts to access the easiest Green Circle terrain on the Canyons side is really only the High Meadow Express. There aren’t many beginner areas on this side of the mountain besides this area, and it’s a perfectly mellow area to learn to ski, usually packed with other novice skiers and snowboarders. There really aren’t any green runs on the Canyons side that are longer before jumping onto a blue run. For that, I’d recommend going over to the Park City side.
Navigating Town & Parking
Some days, getting to the mountain can be the hardest part lately with how much traffic has back up in town. If you’re driving to the mountain (like most people), you have a few options. First, reserve a spot at the Park City Mountain and pay the $25 per day. Second, drive to the Canyons side lower parking lot and then take the Cabriolet up to the resort. The best way, I’ve found, is to park at the Park City High School parking lot, and take the free, continuous bus (Red or Yellow Line) to the Park City Mountain Resort center. If you’re already staying in town, I cannot recommend taking the free buses from wherever you’re staying and avoid driving all together. Once you’ve gotten to the resort, it’s easy to navigate your way through the base area to the first set of lifts or Gondolas to get up the mountain for the start of an epic day!
Well I hope after reading this, you’re not only super stoked to get out to ski but you also feel more comfortable on where to go when you get to the mountain. When in doubt, just ask someone for help. Obviously the Park City & Canyons staff are all there to help, but even the people on the lift with you will definitely be able to share their knowledge and advice with you! Hope to see you out on the slopes!
Hi there, my name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.