Utah and its frontiers for skiing and snowboarding have long been on my list for exploration, and my recent trip there did not disappoint. In fact, I was amazed at how easy it was to get there (a non-stop from JFK to SLC on Delta plus 35 minutes in my Enterprise rental car from the airport to Park City—with no harrowing mountain pass requiring tire chains). And it was so much fun (9,026 acres of skiing; hundreds of hotels to choose from, sunny skies, and, since 2009, no more “membership” necessary to enter a bar and buy a drink). One local told me he always felt like Park City was the redheaded stepchild of the U.S. ski areas, but I think it is soon to be (if not already) one of the favorites.
Apex and Spider Monkey, The Canyons (lift ticket $85 a day)—trails here are generally fairly narrow, which made me feel immersed in nature, much like when I hike. Apex varies intermediate and advanced tilt down a thrilling ridge, and Spider Monkey bops beneath a cathedral of tall pines.
Prospector and Double Jack, Park City Mountain Resort (lift ticket $86 a day)—PCMR’s lifts and trails all connect effortlessly and there is always superfriendly staff member available to point you in the right direction. Prospector is a double-blue in the Silverlode area, perfect for cruising fast and smooth; Double Jack is a black diamond (groomed the day that I was there) in the less frequented though no less excellent Thaynes area.
(I didn’t go to Deer Valley because it only allows skiers, but after venturing to its base and hearing about how great it is, I am likely to get my ski-legs back just to have a chance at it.)
Favorite Lunch Spots:
Lookout Cabin, The Canyons (lunch for two $70)—don’t miss the maple-walnut-cream-cheese-stuffed wontons; sounds weird but is soooo good.
Summit House Restaurant, Park City Mountain Resort (lunch for two $30)—standard on-mountain fare, but with a heated outdoor terrace and stunning views of Park City Valley and the Uinta Range.
Favorite Dinner Spots:
Spruce, Dakota Mountain Lodge, The Canyons (435-647-5566; dinner for two $180)—this sultry, dark room has a 900+ bottle wine list, top-notch service, and beautifully prepared often-local fare, such as elk.
High West Distillery and Saloon (above, dinner for two $80)—the slow-roasted Campari tomatoes and the black-coffee-and-bourbon-glazed cod are sublimely delicious at this newcomer to the Park City scene; ask resident mixologist Mary Lee for a taste of her latest High West spirit–based concoction.
Golden Door, Dakota Mountain Lodge (435-647-5555; $15 with your stay at the Dakota Mountain Lodge, or free with a scheduled treatment; starting at $140)—I hung around for three hours and could easily have spent an entire day at this renowned destination spa.
Hotel Park City (435-200-2000; doubles from $229)—a favorite of discerning skiers since 2007, this comfy and elegant lodge is perfectly located for access to historic Main Street and to all three valley ski resorts; HPC has a spa and a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on-site for when you après-ski legs just can’t manage another step.
For very affordable and delicious eats, the home crew drops in at El Chubasco (dinner for two $20).
For original homemade ice cream, and local art and music, drop by Yellow Snow, owned and operated by a longtime local snowboard instructor from The Canyons.
Laura Teusink is Travel + Leisure’s associate managing editor.