As I approached Park City on the drive up from Salt Lake City airport, I thought it a little ironic that the first resort I passed, The Canyons, would be the last one I skied on this Utah trip. As it worked out, the Thursday we skied there was a morning front that brought early snow and afternoon sun. However, the morning snow was in fact the first opportunity for my daughter and I to ski in some fresh Utah powder.
Approaching The Canyons
The approach to The Canyons skiing is a unique experience. You park in a road level area and carry your skis, boots, backpack, etc. onto a cabriolet. This cabriolet lift takes you up to the Resort Village base area. I’ve done the routine throughout Europe where you leave the lowlands for the alps in trams and trains, but this cabriolet was a first for me. The cabriolet is an open air lift that takes non-skiers an exuberant little ride and preps skiers for some mountain adventures covering 8 mountains, many canyons and 3700 acres of beautiful Utah snow.
The Canyons Resort Village
We started the day stowing our city gear in a good size locker and changing area in the Resort Village. I must mention that you could easily leave your car and ride the cabriolet ready to ski, but I couldn’t talk my daughter out of wearing her Moon Boots around the village. Should you have any questions after reaching Resort Village you will find area ambassadors – that is, if a puzzled look on your face doesn't have them finding you first. Be attentive and inquisitive, because these people really enjoy helping you find your way around and making suggestions as to where you might want to go.
The obligatory trail map one of resort ambassadors will hand you (or you can grab most anywhere on the mountain should you lose one) is probably the easiest trail map I have ever navigated with. On unfamiliar mountains, I tend to get turned around often and have to ask directions but had no need to at the Canyons. Katie and I skied runs on every mountain from end to end with virtually no problems navigating. A cursory glance at the map and good trail signage kept us motoring from lift to lift.
From the Resort Village, we headed up the Flight of the Canyons Gondola and really into the mountains. The heavy snow made the ride seem like a trip into a new country. When you get to the top you are into a whole new level of activities at the Red Pine Lodge area which is really center stage for skiing the whole resort. Katie and I opted to start touring right off and explore this area at lunch time. So, we took a short chair ride on the aptly named Short Cut chair.
This chair introduced us to why The Canyons is so named. Taken together, the chairlift system at The Canyons is a roller coaster ride down and up and through many canyons. You roll past magnificent views of interior mountains and the out-bounded city area. Were there no skiing, the chairs alone would be a winter wonderland adventure. But the Short Cut set us up for a tour around Sun Peak just when the snow paused and the sun came out. We could have easily spent the day sliding around on these northernmost peaks, but we wanted to head south toward the new DreamCatcher quad chair.
We worked our way back to the Red Pine Lodge area and since the snow was starting to fall again we opted to skip a break. We kept heading south and on the way to Peak 5 and Ninety-Nine 90, I made my only error of the day. Off the Tombstone Express I ended back at the bottom - but that chair is worth a second ride anytime.
Peak 5 to Dream Peak via the new DreamCatcher, and we skied the south boundary to make Katie happy. Then, back up into Snow Meadow where it was really laying down snow. It seemed like nobody knew where this was, and we had this whole little area to ourselves for several runs. The reason we didn’t see a lot of people is because the Canyons is so expansive. Actually, at late morning, the snow here was a different texture than what was falling earlier and on the north end. But here, we really got a little taste of new Utah powder that was building up over our boots.
This little private stash we were in blew all plans to meet some friends for lunch, but we really didn’t want to leave. However, after several runs where the only tracks we crossed were our own, we finally headed north just as the snow stopped. A trip up Day Break chair brought us into the middle of some really nice homes and we opted on a long easy run through the Colony and back to the Tombstone Expressway then up and down to Red Pine Lodge.
Red Pine Lodge has a well laid out food area with indoor and outdoor tables and window length counter and stool sitting. The window counter seating can really accommodate a lot of people and is an excellent use of a usually neglected space. The food was good and although I usually have a cookie to get the mojo working after a break, Katie advised the one I was consuming had 480 calories! Needless to say, we had to tool around the rest of the afternoon just to burn them off and we headed back over the Short Cut chair for some kicking views and nice soft afternoon spring snow.
Don’t pass up the opportunity to ski The Canyons. Remember you’ll be skiing one of the largest ski areas in the country so, if you can, give it more then a day because there are many, many little stashes to uncover and make your own for hours on end.