The Canyons: dollar signs come to mind when I think about the resort. A lift ticket is spendy—very spendy—and the quality of the terrain is thought to be questionable. I also picture $1,000 groomer skis, Napajiri jackets, and fur coats abounding everywhere. On top of all that, lift lines that go on as far as the eye can see.
Well, you can put most of these thoughts to rest.
Walking up to The Canyons, you can tell instantly that it’s a different type of resort from the Cottonwood canyon resorts. It’s trendy, hip, and expensive. Fancy stand-up lifts transport you from the lower parking lot up to the hoighty-toighty base village. Tons of embroidered Canyons staffers ask you if they can help you with anything, carry your skis, or help you find something. It’s a tourist trap, more than anything. I almost started to regret my decision to come to The Canyons, until I realized it was free (the Park City QuickStart is a blessing for anyone who flys into Utah…check it out at www.parkcity.info, and get a free lift ticket for the day of our arrival with a boarding pass). Then I really regretted my initial assumption after getting into some great powder lines right off the plane.
True enough, The Canyon’s is not going to be for the hardcore skier. It’s mostly groomers and very crowded. It’s too trendy, sacrificing the traditional ski aura for user friendliness. But if you play your cards right, you can get to terrain that makes your (free) lift ticket work. For me, that was up the Flight of the Canyons Gondola, then taking the Shortcut lift to skier’s left. From there, we dropped down G Force—a soft, powdery mogul run that was the first run of the day, right off the plane, and really got you into the mood—and got down to the Super Condor Express lift. At the top, we took a cat track back to Murdock bowl—where tons of fresh snow was waiting (they had just got 10” the day previous)—but found the gates closed. We took the blue run back to the Super Condor and started lapping through the Renedezous bowl and smaller runs in between. These runs were soft and powdery, with great waist-deep powder shots. It was a perfect day to start out with for my first time all year out West. We stuck on the far skier’s left of the Canyons all day, until last chair, killing fresh powder turns.
I have a feeling (I can’t speak directly to this, I can only go off my observations,) that The Canyons is going to be a great place for family skiing—although the prices may scare off most families. The place is HUGE—with tons of terrain…even expert terrain for the taking, if you desire. But mostly, the groomers will be the draw for the family. The few groomers we spent time on were wide open and soft, not moguled or tracked, and were always clearly marked.
The powder turns that day at The Canyons—plus the temptation of the backcountry in Murdock bowl—seemed to make me want to return to The Canyons, but then I realized the price. For a significant amount less, I can get more of the terrain I want to ski at Alta or even Snowbird. But if groomers are your deal, then The Canyons has it. And I you crave attention from the resort staff, they have that too…on top of a base village that would make Vail proud.
It pays to say “I’ve been to The Canyons,” but if you do this, make sure you are doing it either for the groomers, or because you got a free ticket with the QuickStart program (www.parkcity.info). Otherwise, if you want to ski above the treeline or get backcountry time in, save a few bucks and head to the Cottonwood canyons.