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A Local's Guide to Skiing in Park City, Utah

Published on 02/01/2023 · 14 min readLooking for a fun getaway this ski season? Ski Expert Robbie Preece spills the tea on where to ski, eat, drink, and more in Park City, Utah!
By Ski Expert Robbie Preece

Photo by Ethan Walsweer

It’s easy to get lost in the headlines and hype surrounding a luxury destination like Park City Mountain Resort. Yes, it's the largest ski resort in the country. Historic Main Street is packed with a quaint-yet-modern authenticity. Movie stars descend each January to see and be seen for the annual Sundance Film Festival. And all of this is only 35 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport. The rich, the famous, the bold and beautiful all come here at one point or another, so it can be tempting to ask: Is Park City good for skiing? Actual skiing? Let me answer that with a resounding yes! Beneath all the numbers, all the fame, and all the glitz is a ski mountain and town that is almost without comparison—not only in the United States, but in the entire world.

Park City by the Numbers

A misty day over Iron Mountain at Park City. Photo by Robbie Preece

The numbers are as good a place to start as any. The ski area is a truly staggering 7,300 skiable acres—that’s half the area of Manhattan. From base to summit (a vertical rise of over 3200 vertical feet, or, if we are sticking with Manhattan measurements, over three Chrysler Buildings stacked on top of each other), you’ll find a huge range of trails (over 330) and slopes for all skill levels. There are terrain parks and a world-class half pipe. Park City has hosted the Winter Olympic Games, for heaven's sake! And the city averages 350” or more each season of that dry, sublime, fluffy snow for which Utah is famous.

With so many outstanding numbers staring at you, how do you keep it simple and experience this place the way it’s meant to be? Relax and let me tell you. Having lived in Utah for 20 years and instructed at Park City for six of them, I’ll tell you where to ski, where to eat, and where to drink like a local. In this article, I’ll balance options for both the thrifty and the spendy, because even locals like to get fancy every now and then!

Where to Ski and Board at Park City

The grin of a happy skier. Photo by Robbie Preece

My most important piece of advice: before all else, pick a zone for the day and stick to it!

It’s best to focus on a small number of lifts—say four or five—in the same general place, and preferably from the same base area (Canyons Village and Park City Mountain Village, respectively). If you try skiing or snowboarding all 42 lifts in one day (a really fun but really difficult challenge), you’ll end up spending all day traveling around instead of logging some good vertical. Here are the best spots to ski and ride at both bases.

Canyons Base Skiing

Super Condor Express

One of the most under-skied areas at Canyons Base is Super Condor Express. It’s hard to say why no one goes here–maybe it’s just tucked off to the side and out of sight. But trust me, if it’s a good snow year and Condor has good coverage, you’ll be content to spend an entire morning here.

At just shy of 1900 vertical feet, the runs serve up turn after turn. If you’re there first on a pow day, duck into Condor Woods (any gate will do) for steep, north-facing glades that empty into the legendary and humbling Canis Lupus—a narrow natural halfpipe that is not for the faint of heart (or weak-legged).

For the carvers among us, make sure you rip one up on Apex Ridge, and check out Kestrel, Applande, or Devil’s Friend—whichever was groomed the night prior. If you need a relaxing cruiser, Boa can’t be beat. And for a cherry on top, I’ve found two-day-old powder stashes in Rendezvous Bowl and Snow Draw. One of the best things about Condor, too, is how easy it is to return to the Canyons Base when you need a break!

Iron Mountain Express

On the other side of Canyons is another gem that’s hiding in plain sight: Iron Mountain. At just under 1500 feet of vertical, it’s another lift that serves up good, long runs. And Iron Mountain always feels like an especially fast lift!

Most people seem to use Iron Mountain as a means to get to the Quicksilver Gondola, which really short sells the terrain available here. Cobalt Woods, Heavy Metal, and Iron Man are often genuinely great powder stashes with good vertical drop and not too many crowds.

For the groomer enthusiast, Mercury is just plain, fast fun, and Copperhead is easygoing perfection—long sweeping turns with expansive views are the name of the game here. A quick hop on Timberline to Over and Out gets you back to base within half an hour, lines notwithstanding (the Tombstone area gets pretty backed up and is often unavoidable), so try to time this before the three p.m. “end-of-day” rush.

Orange Bubble Express

Once the masses of people get up onto the mountain, don’t sleep on the terrain served by the Orange Bubble Express’s mid-station (called OBX by locals). The term “mid-station” is key here: there are two stops on this lift, and if you get off at the second stop, you’ll miss all these trails!

Once you unload, you’re faced with a decision: going straight ahead on the cat track takes you to Super Fury, G-Force, and the Tube for steep, north-facing powder runs (although you can bail and stick to blues by continuing on the cat track and you’ll empty down to Sun Peak, Super Condor, and eventually OBX base). But, if you pull a fast u-turn after unloading at mid-station OBX, you’ll get to a fork.

On the left is Lookout Ridge, and on the right is Doc’s Run. These top-to-bottom ridge runs are great groomers (particularly Lookout, which is far and away less crowded), and there are countless ungroomed shots off these ridges that see very few people. Favorites of mine are Tower and Lynx. Don’t let the way these runs look on the trail map fool you—they are longer than they look on paper!

Park City Base Skiing

Spotting old mining buildings is a historic highlight of skiing at Park City. Photo by Robbie Preece

Avoid Silverlode: The Alternatives

To locals, much of the key to a successful day at PC Base is knowing where to not go. The key takeaway here: avoid Silverlode when possible. Sure, it’s a fast six-pack, but it’s a natural collection point for tons of people wanting to go to tons of places—so crowds are inevitable.

The good news is that immediately surrounding Silverlode are amazing options for the blue skier that often see fewer crowds. Courchevel, Sitka, and Shamus off of King Con are quick lightning rounds that you can knock out again and again before lunch. Parley’s Park and Sunnyside underneath Motherlode are more of the same, and the groomers take special pride in keeping Parley’s Park pristine.


Park City Base is known for its crowded groomers, so why not look for steeps and bowls instead? Head up the Jupiter lift for some of the crown jewels of the whole mountain. My friends might kill me for spilling the secret, but we call our stash “Land of Giants,” and it’s a steep and, at times, very tight glade of massive evergreen trees between Portuguese Gap and Shadow Ridge. A quick hike to Scott’s or West Scott’s Bowl is often worth it on a powder day, too. Your lungs won’t thank me, but your giddy laughs will.

If you’re really feeling adventurous and strong in the legs, a hike up to Jupiter Peak itself (either from Jupiter Lift or from McConkey’s) can be well worth the effort. Jupiter Peak is probably the most photogenic mountain peak in the whole resort, and there is something so satisfying about standing atop it. The views from the summit are awe-inspiring, too. And who doesn’t like to make their friends jealous on Instagram?

The Chutes from Jupiter Summit are iconic, with their diagonal cliff bands serving as both a decoration and a warning. Keep in mind, though: this beauty is not for the faint of heart or for those lacking in steep skiing ability.

Dead Tree, West Face, and First Bowl on the west side of Jupiter Peak are a bit less overtly hazardous, but still require expert-level skills and a willingness to hike for anywhere from 15–30 minutes. These areas are usually devoid of people, or populated with those who—like you—are willing to earn their turns.

Finding a lack of crowds at Park City is a treasure on its own, and in my opinion, more than justifies a walk beyond even the benefits of untouched freshies.

Just For Fun

On low tide days, take some time to check out the “Adventure Trails” on the PC side. They’re silly and fun and will make you feel like you’re 12 again—but often demand that you’re pretty agile on your feet! Some favorites of mine are Powder Monkey—which is in a gully towards the bottom of McConkey’s; Short Fuse off of Claimjumper or Assessment via the Bonanza Lift is a winding wiggle tucked into the trees; and Detonator is a little detour off of Mel’s Alley that’s a fun diversion on your way back to Silverlode. If you’re traveling with kids, they’re a no-brainer anyway. Many have fun, photogenic sculptures along the way, too!

Where to Eat & Drink in Park City

You’ve got to fill up your tank before you go full-throttle on the hill! Park City’s dining is truly world-class, and choosing where to eat and drink can be as overwhelming as choosing where to ski. Here are some great options where you can start or finish your day.

Breakfast on Main Street

The Eating Establishment—which serves up breakfast all day—was re-done in 2017 by a local group that also owns the beloved Beer Bar and Bar X in Salt Lake City. The update was a welcome addition to an already treasured local spot, and it’s well worth the visit. Try the shakshuka if you’re visiting from abroad, and let us Americans know if we’re doing it right!

The Bridge is also a great choice for many reasons, not least because of its location. It’s smack dab next to the Town Lift base, so getting on-hill after the check is a breeze. But location isn’t all that glitters at this delicious spot. This breakfast bistro boasts a Brazilian bend. It is a great change of pace to see brazuca omelets and burrinho on the menu next to eggs benedict and bacon. Be brave and try the Cristo Redentor—this twist on a Monte Cristo of sorts is all kinds of sweet and savory.

Breakfast on the Mountain

If you’re launching out of PC Base, one spot to me is a clear winner: Harvest. Tucked away at the base of one of the ski school’s magic carpets, it’s where you’ll see instructors alongside guests enjoying a pastry, coffee, or delicious breakfast sandwich before a day of teaching. It’s hard to beat the simplicity of their smashed avocado, and as a former instructor at Park City myself, I can tell you it’ll give you more than enough energy to last till lunch without weighing you down.

For days that start at Canyons, and for those with a sweet tooth like me, nothing beats a doughnut at First Tracks Cafe in the lobby of the Grand Summit. The frosting tastes like it’s been harvested straight from fresh berries, and the cake of the doughnuts is a perfectly satisfying sugar rush you’ll use to energize you for your actual first tracks. If you want a bit more substance, I’ve never had a bad breakfast burrito from First Tracks.

Lunch on the Mountain

Sometimes the easiest solution is the best, and in those moments, you need an easy-to-access, jack-of-all-trades, large-capacity lunch spot that’ll please folks of all ages. In these ways, it’s genuinely hard to beat Red Pine Lodge at Canyons Base (at the summit of the Red Pine Gondola), and Miners Camp at Park City Base (next to Silverlode). Sure, they’re the most commonly visited places on the mountain, but they’re centrally located and have tons of seating (just be sure to make a reservation at Red Pine).

And don’t fear: it’s not all mass-produced burgers and hot dogs in these places! The soups at Red Pine are almost all handmade by the chefs each summer, and a lovely bit of warmth on a cold day. And who thought that you’d be able to get a Greek gyro on a ski hill? At Miners Camp, that’s a reality. The facility is also very new and vast—though try getting there around 11 a.m., or after the lunch rush.

When you want something more upscale and (often) less crowded, Park City has you covered. On the Canyons side, check out Lookout Cabin. This perpetually overlooked spot has breathtaking views and delicious fondues, bison bolognese, short ribs, and more. Over at the Park City Base, I love lunches and drinks at Mid Mountain Lodge & Public House. The resort remodeled this lodge several seasons ago, and although it can be a bit tricky to find, the food, drinks, and funky yet historic vibe are worth finding your way there for.

Dinner, Drinks, and More in Park City

Raclette at Deer Valley's Fireside Dining. Photo by Robbie Preece

When the skiing is done and it’s time for a drink at the Park City Base, you’ll see locals make a beeline towards the Pig Pen or the Corner Store. These are native spots that have little glamor but lots of authenticity. The live music at the Corner Store’s patio is just perfect when it’s sunny, and the laid-back vibes at Pig Pen are the perfect antidote to pretense. They’re also great places to down a PBR with a PC old timer.

If a drink and live music on Main Street is your nightlife vibe, avoid places like Park City Live (a bit too night-clubby, unless someone really great is playing) and check out OP Rockwell, instead, behind the easy-to-miss red door and tucked between two art galleries. It’s underground, well-appointed, relaxed, features great music, and named after a true local legend whose story is almost too Wild West to be believed.

When it’s dinnertime, your choice gets really tough. Do you go for a Forbes Four Star restaurant like Riverhorse (the macadamia-crusted halibut will be a lifelong memory); or for comfortable, upscale, and delightful Southern food off of Main Street in the newly reopened Tupelo (Chef Matt Harris and wife Maggie are heroes for the buttermilk biscuits alone, and the menu just skyrockets in tastiness from there); or do you hit up swanky hotel dining like Stein Eriksen’s Glitretind?

For the gem in your vacation dining crown, though, get over to Deer Valley’s Fireside Dining. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is genuinely, truly, spectacularly magical. Deer Valley’s incomparable team converts an entire day lodge into a Swiss and Austrian Alps-style raclette and roasted meat extravaganza—complete with enormous wheels of cheese melting their oozy goodness over open fires and right onto your plate. It’s great for kids, too—there are sleigh rides prancing around all night.

For one last special experience, head to The St. Regis at Deer Valley. Ride the funicular up to the restaurant and bar, and check out their evening champagne saber ritual. It’s a flourish of drama set against a stunning background, and there is real history behind the ceremony—going all the way back to Napoleon! Last time I visited this lovely hotel, they also offered s’mores each night, so that’s a definite win.

Final Thoughts

Furry friends are often visible from Over and Out at Canyons Village. Photo by Robbie Preece

When it comes to skiing, eating, and drinking in Park City, you really and truly are spoiled for choice. And that’s the point! Where else can you have this much variety, this much quality, and this much decadence mixed with a down-to-earth mountain vibe this close to an airport as easily accessed at Salt Lake International? I’d say nowhere on earth, and that’s what makes this mountain town truly without parallel.

Plus, now you know where locals who like to keep it simple and get gussied up spend their days and nights. So, book your flight, buy your lift tickets, make your plan, and thank me later.

Before you do any of those things, though, remember that adventures on the mountain are a heck of a lot more fun with the right gear. There’s no better way to get outfitted like a PC local than to talk to a real Curated Expert (like me!) who can tell you if you really need 120mm-wide planks in Park City in December (chances are no). We Experts are genuinely invested in your fun. And hey, if you’re headed to Park City anytime soon, send me a message and I might be convinced to spill the secrets on the stashes I couldn’t bear to mention here! WWhile we’re at it, we’ll find that perfect roller bag to make gliding through the airport with your gear a breeze. Talk soon!

Robbie Preece, Ski Expert
Robbie Preece
Ski Expert
Hi, I'm Robbie! ​ I have been skiing since I was 8, and decided to make a career of it in 2005, when I first started instructing at Robert Redford's Sundance Resort. I taught there for 4 seasons, earned my PSIA Alpine Level 2 certification, then transitioned to the luxury ski hotel industry for several years before moving into my current role as a Ski & Snowboard School supervisor at Park City Mountain. I adore a steep and deep powder day, but secretly also get giddy to rip up some corduroy with slalom skis. ​ My time in luxury hotels and on the mountain means that when you shop with me, you get advice from a five-star ski bum who knows how to instruct! Let's get you some great skis.
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Written by:
Robbie Preece, Ski Expert
Robbie Preece
Ski Expert
Hi, I'm Robbie! ​ I have been skiing since I was 8, and decided to make a career of it in 2005, when I first started instructing at Robert Redford's Sundance Resort. I taught there for 4 seasons, earned my PSIA Alpine Level 2 certification, then transitioned to the luxury ski hotel industry for several years before moving into my current role as a Ski & Snowboard School supervisor at Park City Mountain. I adore a steep and deep powder day, but secretly also get giddy to rip up some corduroy with slalom skis. ​ My time in luxury hotels and on the mountain means that when you shop with me, you get advice from a five-star ski bum who knows how to instruct! Let's get you some great skis.

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