- Overall Rating 4
- Family Friendly 4
- All-Mtn. Terrain 5
- Terrain Park 0
- Nightlife 5
Date Visited: Feb 14, 2008
Just returned from a quick trip to the Canyons, which was our first trip to Utah. We stayed at the Sundial, which is the second closest Condo to the gondola, the Grand Summit being the closest.
Convenience: The Canyons and Park City are incredibly convenient from SLC airport: 35 minutes and I'm in the lobby of the Sundial. And, all the Park City resorts give you free skiing the day you arrive via air, so we left Chicago at 7am and were skiing by 1pm. 3 hours of skiing in the afternoon (for free) gives you a great opportunity to get the layout of the mountain without feeling you need to ski as much terrain as possible. At the time we were there, the Canyons had an incredible deal where $99 gets you a lift pass for two plus lunch: a burger and beer for each of us (which on the menue would cost $15 each). Without buying advanced discount passes in the fall, I can't image a better deal in North American for a major ski resort.
The accommodations: The Sundial was great for us; my wife and I stayed in a studio, which was perfect for what we needed. It was clean, had a kitchenette, fireplace, deck etc and plenty, I mean plenty of very nice towels and towel robes. Nice rooftop hot tub too. They have a ski check in the lobby, which is definitely better than having your own locker, just had the guy your skis and poles and your done. It also had underground parking. I'd say it was a 200 yd walk from lobby of Sundial to gondola; not great but doable. The people-mover lift from the main parking lot drops folks off at about 150 yd walk. The best and most convenient is definitely the Grand Summit, where the gondola is about 25 yds out the back door of the lobby. It is also has more hotel amenities than the Sundial and would be my choice to stay next time.
Eating: Downtown Park City is awesome; best looking downtown to a ski area I've experienced. Very historic yet upscale at same time with lots of art galleries and upscale shops. It has a ton of restaurant choices for all types of folks and pocketbooks. We ate at the Italian Cisero's one night and it was great. We also splurged at the Stein Erickson restaurant (Gliterand), which had outstanding service, very very fancy and complex fare with prices to match.
The skiing: The most disappointing part of our trip was the quality of snow. While Park City received a ton of snow over the last month, we unfortunately got there after all that and worse, after a warm up and cool down. The result was very crunchy snow. We spent a large part of the time trying to find good snow that wasn't hard, chunky or icey. I know you can't blame the resort for mother nature, but we were disappointed that we didn't get to savior that famous Utah powder. As for the mountain layout, it was very different than Colorado resorts. The Wasatch Mountains are full of mountain peaks and valleys all over the place (hence the "canyons"); so its not like skiing down one big hill; but going up and down about 7 peaks into valleys, each leading to another. Its very wide and spead out with lots of off-trail terrain everywhere; which we unfortunely didn't try much of because you just didn't know what type of snow you'd get into. I would suggest studying the trail map before you venture, as you need a plan to get around the mountain. Although they say there is 3000 verticle, given all the peaks and valleys, it felt like most of the runs were alot shorter, maybe 1/2 of that. I wonder if its 3000 from the highest possible peak (9990, which we did by mistake) to the base at the Gondola, which is 3 or 4 mountains away. As for trail markings, generally good. I thought the grading of trails was over-stated; I am an upper intermediate skier and I thought the blues were more like Colorado greens, the double-blues more like blues and some of the single black diamonds more like double-blues in Colorado. We did one double-black on 9990 by mistake, and that was definitely a double black. There was a lot of terrain with ridiculous pitches through dense trees, for the true experts. One incredibly unique aspect of the Canyons is The Colony, which is a group of $5-10 mil homes built up the side of the mountains with ski trails traversing and winding through, with a lot of bridges and tunnels to avoid the access roads; very cool.
Overall, we had a great visit and nothing but good things to say about the Canyons and Park City. For convenience of travel, you just can't beat it. The accommodations were on par with similar slopeside accommodations in Colorado, and the atmosphere of downtown Park City is outstanding. The ski resort is large with great variety of terrain that I only regret we couldn't fully experience because of the snow conditions. I don't hold that against the resort, only mother nature, and look forward to returning to exact my revenge.