Park City, Utah may the skiing version of the Holy Grail in the United States. Park City Mountain Resort extends more than 7,300 acres with close to 350 trails, making it the largest ski resort in the United States. With that many options, there’s truly something for every type of skier no matter what your level or preference. Approximately 50 percent of the terrain at Park City is classified as intermediate terrain.
When my husband and I decided on a ski vacation, we felt like we were solid blue skiers and were ready to tackle the 100+ trails at our disposal. However, we live in South Carolina, and our experience on slopes outside of the Southeast was limited to one day skiing at Grand Targhee, Wyoming, at the very beginning of the ski season. When you’re used to skiing on what is essentially a giant snow cone, the “greatest snow on Earth” sounds pretty appealing. What we didn’t anticipate was how different the snow would feel compared to the gritty surfaces we’re used to! It was a bit slippery, so we decided to warm up with a few green runs before moving to blue terrain.
With Park City being such a huge resort, there are naturally plenty of options for beginner skiers. However, when compared to the number of intermediate, advanced, and expert runs, there are relatively few beginner choices, which means that the green runs are typically quite crowded, especially on the weekends. If you need some time to warm up, make sure to hit the slopes early in the morning to beat the crowds. We found that the green runs at Park City were somewhat inconsistent – some were truly easy, wide runs with a gentle slope, while others had a definite steepness that we don’t see much in the Southeast.
If you’re concerned about the difficulty of the terrain, I’d recommend asking one of the many guides you’ll see all over the resort. After some of the green runs seemed a bit more challenging than we expected, we asked a guide for some straightforward blue runs to get a feel for the terrain. She pointed us in the direction of shorter blue runs that veer off Homerun, one of the popular green runs. Mel’s Alley and Assessment were personal favorites, while Powder Keg provided a new challenge in the form of ungroomed moguls – something we definitely don’t have in the Carolinas!
Over the course of the long weekend, we explored nearly every blue run at the resort. One thing that constantly surprised us was the amount of variety in the terrain, even among the intermediate runs. Some of the blue runs were relatively gentle in terms of slope but were narrow, providing limited room to turn, while others were wide but noticeably steep (or at least, they seemed steep to us). Park City grooms their runs each night, but it can be challenging to know which runs are in the best condition on any given day without asking around. The EpicMix app also provides useful information about which lifts and runs are open on any given day.
If avoiding the crowds is your goal, the intermediate runs off of Tombstone Express and Peak 5 travel around residential neighborhoods and are rarely crowded. I did several runs where I didn’t see a single soul! Copperhead is a narrow, winding run with a gentle slope and great scenic views. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, try Upper Lookout Ridge and Lookout Ridge. This wide run is decidedly steep for an intermediate slope, so it’s one you’ll want to attempt if you are feeling confident with your abilities.
When the time comes, ask a guide for their advice on the best black diamond run to try for your first one! My husband and I conquered our first black diamond ever on this trip (Cloud 9) thanks to the excellent advice of a helpful guide who was able to give us pointers on which runs were the most hospitable to intermediate skiers looking to make the next step based on that day’s conditions.
Another way to learn the trails at Park City Mountain Resort is to take a lesson with one of the many qualified ski instructors on the mountain. While we didn’t take a lesson in Park City, I wish we had, because we would have benefited tremendously from pointers on the terrain.
No trip to Park City would be complete without plenty of après ski libations and a trip to KÜHL Park City store! Some of our favorite spots to stop for drinks included the famous No Name Saloon (worth the wait, I promise!), High West Distillery, and Old Town Cellars, a local winery.
Having never had the option to visit a KÜHL store in person, my trip there was definitely an experience to remember. Don’t miss it when you visit!
Danielle Cemprola is a freelance writer, marathoner x 52 and world traveler. Danielle and her husband, AJ, love to hike, travel, and eat their way across the planet. She’s a self-described carry-on enthusiast who loves challenging herself to pack for any trip, no matter the length or destination, in a carry-on bag. When Danielle’s not flying the friendly skies, you’re likely to find her working at her day job as an environmental scientist – hey, someone needs to pay for all those plane tickets!