The Slopes of Utah


Park City Utah

Ski areas abound, making Utah a true winter wonderland—whether you’re a beginner or a former Olympian.

It seems that your plane has barely touched down at the Salt Lake City airport and you’re already riding a lift into the winter-white wilderness. Of Utah’s 14 ski resorts, 11 are less than an hour’s drive from the airport. Several are clustered together, offering a combination of activities and terrain for a wide range of abilities. Here’s an overview of what you’ll find.

AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES
Just 29 miles from the airport is Snowbird, which has a range of slopes for skiers and riders. It’s connected to skiers-only Alta, right next door. The two combined have 4,700 acres of powdery paradise. For chilling out après-ski at Snowbird, the place to be is the Cliff Spa, which has a view-filled rooftop pool and hot tub.

The drive from the airport to Solitude takes about 45 minutes. You’ll find a cute European-style village at the mountain’s base, and 1,500 acres of skiable terrain. Drive 5 minutes more and you’re at Brighton, one of the state’s most popular resorts for families both for its affordability and for its terrain.

PARK CITY RETREATS
Resorts in the Park City area include Park City Mountain Resort, Canyons and Deer Valley. All are less than 36 miles from the airport and have state-of-the-art lifts—including Canyons’ Orange Bubble chair, which has heated seats—and terrain to please a wide range of abilities. What’s more, Park City itself is within 15 minutes’ drive. Its Main Street is lined with shops selling one-of-a-kind fashions and jewelry as well as bars and restaurants of all sorts. A plus: Many buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, since Park City was founded during the silver boom. A short drive away is Sundance Resort, with 6,000 acres at the base of Mount Timpanogos.

Utah

NORTHERN DELIGHTS
Thirty minutes north of Salt Lake City is Odgen, a former railroad town that’s a hub for outdoor enthusiasts. Three ski resorts are within a half-hour’s drive: Snowbasin, Wolf Mountain and Powder Mountain. The latter, known as Pow Mow, is North America’s largest ski area, offering 7,000 acres of skiable terrain. Even on the busiest days, you can find yourself skiing alone on untouched corduroy. In Ogden itself, consider a visit to iFly, an indoor sky-diving simulator that’s so effective, sky divers use it to train. Farther north but still only 90 minutes from Salt Lake City is family-owned Beaver Mountain.

SOUTHERN GEMS
Utah’s southern resorts, Eagle Point and Brian Head, are a bit farther afield. Three hours south of Salt Lake City, they deliver reliably good conditions all season long, with plenty of fresh powder.

 

NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.

 

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Park City's Winter Wonderland


Utah

This old mining town has sure built itself up into an incredible getaway.

At first light you were schlepping a plastic bin through an airport security line. Now, the only line you’re worried about is which of the pitched white curves of Deer Valley’s Ontario Bowl to ski down—still untracked, it should be noted, at two in the afternoon. Visiting Park City is like slipping through a rabbit hole: It’s a quick, convenient and a true getaway. This historic mining town, just 40 minutes from the Salt Lake City airport, beguiles you with its downtown full of top-notch restaurants and galleries, and then tempts you with a trio of world-class ski resorts. Welcome to wonderland, Alice.

THE SERENDIPITY OF SILVER
While many ski towns try to manufacture charm, old Park City’s nearly abandoned boxy Wild West storefronts and frilly Victorians were waiting in mothballs, courtesy of the miners who chiseled more than $400 million worth of silver out of the surrounding Wasatch Mountains in the 1800s. Today, Park City’s fairy-tale Main Street twinkles with lights and brims with activity. Since the skiing here is considered less challenging than at neighboring resorts like Snowbird and Alta, the clientele tends to be of intermediate skill—couples and families looking for a well-rounded experience that includes shopping, dining and relaxing.

Pack snow-proof footwear, because this is a town for strolling. On foot, you’ll discover a warren of diversions tucked above, below and along Main Street and Park Avenue. Browse Bahnhof Sport for skiwear, Chloe Lane for designer jeans and Mary Jane’s for funky women’s clothing and accessories. A free trolley travels Main Street if you find yourself loaded down with packages.

Two dozen art galleries showcase everything from local watercolor landscapes to western bronze statues. Start with Phoenix Gallery, an airy, three-story space that provides a perfect backdrop for the contemporary mixed-media sculpture on display.

Shops and galleries seem to be outnumbered only by restaurants. It’s not easy to find a bargain, but the financial hit is worth it for some memorable meals. Rustic chophouses serve chile-rubbed prime cuts; trattorias could hold their own in Tuscany. The name on locals’ lips is Shabu, where you can cook your food in sizzling broth at the table. The atmosphere is fun and informal, and the “freestyle Asian cuisine” playfully pairs flavors, like sake-steamed sea bass with black bean and garlic paste.

Despite what you may have heard about Utah’s bewildering liquor laws, nightspots abound as well. Those wishing to close out a day on the slopes with a cocktail need only pay a nominal “membership fee” to get in to most clubs. Whether your tastes lean toward meeting for martinis and appetizers (Jean Louis) or drinking beer and dancing until dawn (Harry O’s), you can find it in spades in Park City. In Utah terms, Park City is “Sin City,” and the town takes pride in that nickname.

UP ON THE SLOPES
Above all, Park City is a ski town. Its fortunes were transformed from silver to snow in 1963, when a local mining company opened Treasure Mountain to skiing. Photos at the Park City Museum show zealous skiers traveling through old mine shafts and surfacing in soot-covered parkas on mid-mountain slopes.

Today Park City has 3 ski resorts, all regularly deluged with the dry-as-dust Utah snows that drift down the east side of the Great Salt Lake. Few ski hills are as centrally located as Park City Mountain Resort. To hit the slopes, all you need to do is hop on a chairlift downtown and soar over the city up the mountain. On the way down, skiers and snowboarders still schuss past the occasional mining relic. This 3,300-acre resort is especially well suited for families, thanks to its great location, abundance of ski-in/ski-out lodging, diversity of runs and teen-pleasing terrain parks (even lighted for night-riding) that routinely win kudos from snowboarding magazines. Near the base is the Alpine Coaster, a 2-person roller coaster that blazes downhill.

Four miles north, The Canyons has quietly become one of the largest ski areas in the country, with 3,700 acres of terrific bowls, gullies and ridiculously long, mellow cruisers. It's still expanding: 300 acres of aspen glades were added in 2008 around the new Dreamcatcher chairlift. And there's a growing village at the resort's base, though guests staying there might feel a bit isolated from Park City's other attractions.

The area's toniest accommodations can be found sidled up to Deer Valley Resort, a mile south of downtown Park City. This exclusive mountain prides itself on elite customer service and amenities. To prevent lift lines and give skiers plenty of elbow room, ticket sales are limited. Trail grooming approaches high art, and snowboarding is prohibited. Mid-mountain restaurants cater to the upscale clientele with dishes like grilled Atlantic salmon with orange hollandaise; the resort even markets its own line of signature foods (cilantro-lime glaze, anyone?). On sunny afternoons, after their 2-hour lunches, guests contentedly sip blueberry mojitos on The Beach, where Adirondack chairs are lined up in the snow.

The 1,825 acres of ski terrain at Deer Valley gets better every year. Guests tend to gravitate to those delightful corduroy groomers, leaving the wide-open steeps and glades for accomplished skiers off the Empire and new Lady Morgan chairlifts.

Not that you need more variety, but the scissor-sawed peaks ringing the horizon are home to more than a half-dozen additional ski resorts. These include Alta and Snowbird at the south end of Salt Lake City in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Robert Redford's Sundance near Provo, and the virtually undiscovered expanses of Snowbasin and Powder Mountain north near Ogden.

THE DETAILS

Bahnhof Sport: 693 Main St.; 435-645-9700

Chloe Lane: 556 Main St.; 435-645-9888

Mary Jane’s: 613 Main St.; 435-645-7463

Phoenix Gallery: 508 Main St.; 435-649-1006

Jean Louis: 136 Heber Ave.; 435-200-0260

Harry O’s: 427 Main St.; 435-655-7579

Park City Museum: 528 Main St; 435.649.7457; www.parkcityhistory.org

Park City Mountain Resort: 435-649-8111; parkcitymountain.com

The Canyons: 435-649-5400; thecanyons.com

Deer Valley Resort: 800-424-3337; deervalley.com

The Olympic Nordic Center at Soldier Hollow: soldierhollow.com

Utah Olympic Park: olyparks.com

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Park City, Utah – A true, four season destination


Dan "The RCI Guy" - Vacation Travels with RCI TV's Dan "The RCI Guy"I've been lucky over the years... I've lived in some of the most beautiful states in the country. When I was young I lived in Northern California, then we moved to Alaska. I've also lived in Colorado and Connecticut and I've had a job that has taken me to all 50 states... numerous times. Having said that, I think I now live in the best state of all...Utah! You can literally go skiing in the morning and play golf that same afternoon. I love it! And while there are cool cities and towns everywhere in Utah, you have to visit Park City!

Park City is the perfect place - there are three ski resorts within just a few miles of each other - The Canyons, Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley. Each has won their share of International awards. One of the things I love about Park City is its easy access. There is a 6 lane freeway (I-80) that runs right past it and you can actually fly into Salt Lake City International airport and be at any of these resorts within 45 minutes.

Park City has just the right mix of locals and tourists. If you like to shop there is a huge outlet mall out by the freeway exit as well and another shopping center less than a mile away that has new cinemas, the latest stores and good restaurants, too. But the best part of Park City is "Historic Main Street". Park City was built up during the 19th century as a mining town and many of the earliest original buildings are still a part of Main Street. Main Street has a little bit of everything... really unique shops and stores selling everything from your typical souvenirs to high-end furs. There are great art galleries and lots of really quaint, local restaurants, diners, coffee shops and ice cream stores. The one thing you won't find on Main Street is any kind of a chain store or restaurant - I absolutely love it.

Park City is a true, four season destination. I live about 45 minutes away and we play in Park City year round. I grew up in Alaska so I definitely like to hit the slopes during the winter. But I also love photography and, during the spring, the mountains and meadows burst with color as a result of all the spring flowers. During the summer we've enjoyed everything from hot air balloon rides to great rounds of golf and lots of outdoor concerts. Fall in Park City is amazing as all the leaves change colors and everything is blazing in oranges, reds, yellows and greens. This is the time of year that we typically use some of our Points and exchange through RCI to stay at any of their affiliated resorts - we really like The Miners Club at The Canyons.

If you like amazing natural beauty with the fun and sophistication of a classy resort town proud of its history and heritage, you will LOVE Park City.  And besides...it seems like the air is always clean and crisp and the sun a little brighter up here. If you haven't been to Park City you really should check it out... and if you have been here, well... I know you'll be back!

This week on the RCI Blog, we’ll be sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have visited Park City. Be sure to come back to read about their adventures!

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Try an RCI Timeshare Exchange for a Romantic Getaway


Jen V. - RCI Timeshare Exchanges and RCI.comI can't think of any better way to spend a vacation than with the person you love (or want to get to know better!).

Whether you’re sitting together in front of a fireplace in a Breckenridge ski resort, or lounging on a beach on your Myrtle Beach vacation, sharing a relaxing experience is a great way to not only get some down time, but to strengthen your relationship with your significant other.

I went on vacation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with my boyfriend last year — our first vacation together, in fact — and had a great time. Cabo is one of those places that you can take your family, or just one person, and there's something for everyone. The place we stayed in had different pools for families and adults. Some restaurants were family friendly, and some were fancier, so they didn't have kids. At those places, we had dinner at our own little table on the beach, watched people play live music, and listened to the waves. And some nights, we just sat on our balcony, drinking wine and looking out at the ocean.

A couple years ago, I stayed in Snowbird, Utah for a resort vacation, but that was with my brother, which is hardly romantic. But I could see how it could have been for a couple in love. This was one of those cozy ski lodges where you can cuddle up by the fireplace with a glass of wine and some snacks. But again, there were several families, so there is something for everyone there too.

Of course, I know everyone has different tastes and wants a different vacation experience. RCI tries to provide this for you. Try out our improved search engine (I’m very excited about this – I’m on the Online Team). You can search for amenities and experiences, not just dates or locations, and see what places are available.

Say you want to find a spa or a ski vacation. Go to our search engine, set the filter to show only spa or ski vacation types, and see what locations and dates are open. You can be a little more specific and add additional filters for date ranges and geography. So if you only want skiing locations in February in the western US, if they're available, they'll show up in the search results. Then you can easily see additional information, photos and videos, and member reviews to figure out which site is just right for you and your special someone.

Now it’s your turn – what was your most memorable romantic getaway that you booked with RCI? Comment below and let us know.

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