Winter Is the Best Time to Visit Park City, Utah—Here’s What You Need To Know

It’s no secret that Park City offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the Beehive State.

A mountain near Park City, Utah, covered in snow

Though it’s worth a visit any time of year, Park City is known for its world-class powder.

Photo by Matt Omann/Unsplash

Located an hour east of Salt Lake City is one of the Beehive State’s most popular and exciting ski destinations: Park City.

Founded by pioneering members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the late 1840s, Park City exploded with growth during the 1860s when veins of silver, gold, and lead were found in the area (Park City, however, primarily focused on mining silver). Unfortunately, silver prices fell dramatically during the 1960s, when the U.S. Treasury began phasing it out of use in currency. So the town turned to the next best thing: ski tourism.

Park City, with its legendarily fluffy powder and alpine conditions, is arguably one of the best places to ski in Utah. It’s so nice, in fact, that in 2002, it co-hosted the Winter Olympics. Visitors can get the Olympic experience by heading to Utah Olympic Park, which features six Nordic ski jumps, one of only four sliding tracks in North America, and a 2002 Winter Games museum.

Thanks to its close proximity to Salt Lake, Park City is a perfect weekend getaway destination—especially when it comes to skiing and snowboarding. But there are plenty of reasons to visit the town that don’t involve a single snowflake. Use this guide to plan the perfect winter weekend getaway to Park City.

The best things to do in Park City

A person in a red jacket on a green snowboard carving down a mountain in Park City

The best thing to do in Park City during the winter? Ski or snowboard, of course.

Courtesy of Park City Mountain Resort

Ski and snowboard

Calling all powder hounds: Park City receives an average of 350 inches of snow per year. The powder there is so fluffy and dry, it’s often called “the best snow on earth.” Skiing and snowboarding activities typically run from mid-December through early April.

Visitors can take their pick from three ski resorts:

  • Deer Valley Resort: At Deer Valley, it’s all about skiing—snowboarding is not allowed. There are over 2,000 skiable acres here, and 27 percent of the terrain has been rated green (i.e., bunny slopes friendly for beginners), so there’s still plenty more-challenging slopes for intermediate and advanced skiers. Fun fact: The 2002 Olympic slalom and freestyle ski competitions were held here.
  • Woodward Park City: Formerly known as Gorgoza Park, Woodward Park City is an all-in-one action-sports and ski-resort campus. The 125-acre property accommodates lift-accessed skiing, snowboarding, and tubing in the winter and mountain biking, BMX, and skateboarding when it’s not snowing.
  • Park City Mountain: Park City Mountain is the largest ski resort in the United States and boasts over 7,300 skiable acres. There are a whopping 341 runs at Park City Mountain, and 41 lifts provide access to the six terrain parks (including six half-pipes) on the property.

Thankfully, no skate-skiing or poling is required to get between these three Park City resorts—instead, there’s a gondola that whisks travelers from Deer Valley to Park City Mountain in less than nine minutes. Hop off at the midpoint on Pine Cone Ridge and you can drop down into either. Attention Vail and Tahoe skiers: If you have an Epic or an Ikon pass, you’re covered here.

Attend the Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival takes place each year in January at the Egyptian Theatre, in the depths of ski season. So catching an indie flick downtown and then hitting the mountains isn’t unreasonable to put on your itinerary. Though the event attracts filmmakers and celebrities from around the world, attendees don’t need to be Hollywood insiders to go to the festival. Founded in 1978 by the Utah Film Commission, the festival was called the Utah/United States Film Festival for a while and was created to promote independent film and the Utah film industry. After struggling for a few years, it came under the purview of actor Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, which is devoted to nurturing the careers of independent filmmakers. In 1991, the event changed its name to the Sundance Film Festival, and the rest is history—it’s since been credited with sparking the careers of auteurs like the Coen brothers, Richard Linklater, and Quentin Tarantino.

In 2024, after three years of virtual and hybrid events, the Sundance Film Festival will be held in-person once again. This year, attendees can look forward to films including Frida (a documentary that covers the life of Frida Kahlo), Between the Temples (a comedy starring Jason Schwartzman), and Exhibiting Forgiveness (which will be the feature debut of painter Titus Kaphar), not to mention Agent of Happiness, a documentary that focuses on a Bhutanese government employee who collects data on people’s happiness levels.

Stroll and shop along Park City’s historic Main Street

Park City’s Main Street was once the base camp of the town’s silver-mining operations but is now peppered with more than 100 independent boutiques. For cute, locally made gifts, peruse at Olive + Tweed, which stocks artisan-made jewelry, clothing, and gifts. If you need to grab a new ski jacket or pair of boots before hitting the slopes, check out the selection at Stio Mountain Studio, which offers everything that an outdoor enthusiast needs. And if being in Utah has riled up your cowboy spirit, don’t forget to make a stop at Burns Cowboy Shop, the country’s oldest family-owned Western-wear store. Don’t want to buy anything? Main Street’s gorgeous Victorian buildings make the stroll downtown a pleasant experience without a single cent spent.

Where to eat and drink

Whiskey barrels out in the snow at High West Distillery

For the ultimate Park City experience, consider getting a glass of High West bourbon after a day on the slopes.

Photo by PureRadiancePhoto/Shutterstock

High West Saloon

Because of its Mormon history and roots, Utah has a reputation when it comes to alcohol (i.e., that it dislikes it). It is, after all, one of 17 alcoholic beverage control states in the country (meaning that the state has a monopoly on the sale of alcoholic beverages), and not too long ago, folks needed a “private club membership” to enter bars. However, the Beehive State is slowly adapting to modern customs.

One of the most notable examples of Utah’s changing attitude toward liquor is the cult fervor and success surrounding the whiskey brand High West Distillery. Founded in 2006 by husband-and-wife duo David and Jane Perkins, High West is best known for its complex bourbons. Whiskey enthusiasts can sample High West in person at the brick-and-mortar location in Park City, which boasts a distillery, tasting room, saloon, and prix fixe restaurant. Whiskeys are available to sip neat, of course, but there are also fun, inventive whiskey-based cocktails, such as the Smoke Signal, which features double rye, rum, smoked syrup, and burnt honey, as well as the Wildflower, a fragrant blend of bourbon, gin, coconut water, tarragon, lime, and lavender bitters.

Yuki Yama Sushi

I know, I know. Utah isn’t on the coast, so you wouldn’t expect to find good sushi. But given Park City’s close proximity to SLC airport, fresh fish can be flown in from all over the world—a perk that Japanese restaurant Yuki Yama takes full advantage of. Located on Park City’s Main Street, Yuki Yama is helmed by chef Kirk Terashima and features a menu filled with both hot Japanese dishes like ramen and stuffed shishito peppers and cold items including, you guessed it, sushi. There’s also a hefty drinks menu featuring a rich selection of Japanese whiskey and sake.

Lookout Cabin

Truffle mac and cheese with a glass of chardonnay at Lookout Cabin is your best bet for a civilized sit-down slope-side lunch. The million-dollar mountaintop view will make you forget for the moment that you’re wearing wet ski boots. Don’t miss out on menu items like the apple-braised pork belly or the pan-seared diver scallops.

Where to stay

A fire burning in a pit outside the Waldorf Astoria Park City

Park City is home to several luxurious ski hotels.

Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Park City

Hotel Park City, Autograph Collection

Situated at the base of the Park City slopes, this Autograph Collection hotel charms with an old-world ski-resort vibe. It’s grand lobby features soaring ceilings, exposed wood beams, and a stone fireplace surrounded by leather club chairs. Hotel Park City has 100 suites, each of which comes with its own fireplace and private balcony or patio. Other amenities include an outdoor heated pool and a 10,000-square-foot spa that has an herbal-infused steam room, a dry cedar sauna, and recovery treatments such as a therapeutic mineral soak and a reflexology foot massage. There are two on-site restaurants: Ruth’s Chris Steak House and the more casual Bandannas Grill, where you can pair quinoa burgers with local brews.

Waldorf Astoria

Park City’s Waldorf Astoria opened its doors in 2009 and sits on seven pretty acres. The stone-and-log lodge has 174 guest rooms and suites, all of which feature gas fireplaces. Inside, visitors will find stylish details like a Baccarat crystal chandelier, Italian marble fireplaces, and leather furnishings. Outside, the hotel’s private gondola whisks skiers to the slopes and back, after which they can soak in the heated outdoor pool or indulge in a massage at the on-site spa.

Montage Deer Valley

Montage Deer Valley is a ski-in, ski-out hotel wedged into the head of Empire Canyon. The hotel’s X-shaped footprint means nearly every single one of its 174 deluxe guest rooms, suites, and private residences has a small deck with mountain or valley views. Averaging about 600 square feet, large guest rooms are airy and inviting with lofted ceilings and soothing natural hues. Remote-controlled gas fireplaces are the centerpiece of each room, though the bath suite with heated limestone floors, a marble vanity, a rain shower, and a soaking tub could occupy your entire evening. For guests looking for entertainment off the slopes, the hotel has a museum-quality collection of Western art, including Carl Rungius panoramas, John James Audubon prints, and Frederic Remington portraits.

How to Get to Park City

Fly into Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), which is one of the busiest flight hubs in the United States. There’s a full schedule of nonstop flights that touch down in about four and a half hours from the East Coast and in a much zippier hour and a half from the West Coast, making a trip to Park City potentially easier than a slog through Friday traffic to your local mountain. And, with plenty of shuttles from the SLC airport and a beloved free bus that circles Park City and its resorts, you could skip a car rental and chill as someone else drives.

Lisa Trottier is a journalist whose work has appeared in AFAR and Sunset Magazine.
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