The Canyons Ski Getaways

ski getaways

Four miles from downtown Park City is The Canyons, whose 3,700 acres offer an expansive and diverse skiing and riding experience. In just a few years the resort has grown to become one of largest in the country and the largest stand-alone winter resort in the state. Eight separate mountain areas and 152 named trails ensure you'll find at least a few days' worth of terrain suited to your abilities.

Formerly a rather run-down place called Wolf Mountain, with a handful of old creaky lifts serving 1400 acres of terrain, and then morphing into a locals' powder hangout called Park West, The Canyons has undergone a remarkable transformation under the ownership of ASC. Seven of its 17 lifts are high speed, there's snowmaking in all key areas, places to eat on the mountain, and a growing base village. The infrastructure is modern.

The skiing and riding span 3190 feet of vertical and top out at 9990 feet. The topography may seem convoluted at first but it's really pretty simple. Most of the trails run down the sides of the ridges into the canyons, where a trail will take you back to a lift. There are of course some exceptions. The fine intermediate terrain off the Dreamscape chair is all on the same side of a ridge as the chair, and at the uppermost elevations bowls, chutes, and mini-cirques stand above the canyons. Another way to orient yourself is to stand in the base village and follow the line of the gondola with your eyes: Most lifts run roughly parallel to this or fan out gently from here left or right.

Novice skiers and riders will want to go directly to the Red Pine Lodge area where the two learning areas are. There's not a great deal of green circle terrain otherwise, but The Canyon's wide groomed intermediate boulevards are for the most part negotiable by solid wedge-turners. Intermediates have a vast array of fine choices available, from the expansive terrain off the Dreamscape and Day Break chairs to the long cruisers from the top of the Peaks chair. To fully appreciate the latter requires a two-lift ride, starting with the Tombstone Express, which itself serves some excellent and somewhat more difficult cruising terrain. In fact, there are excellent intermediate or advanced intermediate options over most of the resort.

Advanced and experts snow riders will find much to appreciate. When the gates are open head to the Condor Woods or the steeps of Murdock Peak, accessibly via the Super Condor Express. Murdock Peak's bowls and chutes require some hiking along a ridge to access, but the rest of the steep stuff off this lift does not. The Ninety-Nine 90 Express serves more gated terrain. It's here and over at the top of the Peaks chair that you'll find backcountry access gates. Intermediates need only avoid the Ninety-Nine 90 chair. Beginners should consult a trail map to see which chairs offer relatively easy runs.

There are a number of natural half pipes dotted about the complex, but the big formal terrain park, Respect, will be found off the Sun Peak Express by the Sun Lodge. There is also a progression park off the Saddlback Express with beginner to intermediate features.