Visiting the largest ski resort in the nation for the first time can be mind-boggling. The Park City trail map unfurls like a centerfold revealing more mountain than most could ski in a day. With over 7,300 acres, 348 trails, 41 lifts, it’s a good thing guests have a couple of options to explore the mountain with a host.
Wanting to learn more about Park City’s mountain host program, I signed on for the guided intermediate-level Silver to Slopes Historic Mining Tour. I expected to learn a little about navigating the mountain and maybe a bit of trivia, but it was so much more!
Park City Mountain wasn’t always a destination for skiers. It began as a silver mining camp during the 1860s, rich with stories of hardship, success, wealth, and failure. Eventually the price of silver began to decline, and by 1963 it was more profitable to convert the area into a ski resort, initially named Treasure Mountain.
Yet mining and skiing coexisted until roughly 1980 when the last mines shut down for good. Today, historic buildings and relics can still be seen scattered across the slopes. I’d visited Park City multiple times and spotted two or three of the intriguing structures. Little did I know there were dozens!
We gathered for the 10:00 a.m. tour at the Park City Mountain Village next to the Eagle Statue (there’s a story about the stature, be sure to ask!) Our guide, Sandy Melville, was an expert skier, personable, and possessed a deep knowledge of local history. After a quick briefing, we headed for the lift.
He pointed out where to catch a view, find great runs, and score the best bites.
The views at the top of the lift were stunning but the wind was howling. Sandy helped us get our bearings using prominent landmarks before we carved a few turns to the first historic site and shelter from the wind. At this stop, and all the rest, he not only shared the history of the mountain, but he also pointed out where to catch a view, find great runs, and score the best bites.
Ziz-zagging up and down the mountain we covered a good chunk of the Park City side of the resort. One of my favorite spots was the Thaynes Shaft Complex located near Thaynes Lift. Built in 1937, the shaft was part of the Silver King Mine and was briefly repurposed to haul skiers up the mountain via the Spiro Tunnel. Dubbed the "skier subway" it was a rather cold and dirty ride in a mining cart.
I’m not going to share all the cool historic facts here because that would ruin the fun of taking the tour. However, I will share several insights I gathered from Sandy during the tour.
Good run for an intermediate skier:
Check out the view at the top of McConkey’s on a clear day.
Adrenaline rush for expert skiers:
Check out the terrain off Jupiter Lift or hike to Jupiter Peak.
Delicious lunch spot:
Head to the Mid-Mountain Lodge. It has a great deck, is just the right size so you can hear a conversation, and the food is good. This lodge has a lot of history and is slated to get an update in the coming year. Fun fact: The little pole high on the roof once supported a suggestion box until a storm blew it down. The only suggestion found inside…"put the box someplace easier to reach.”
Best tip for skiers who only get on snow 1-2 times a year:
Take a lesson right away. You’ll not only increase your confidence, you’ll also learn your way around the mountain. Most instructors are locals who can also give you ideas for fun things to do in town or other activities not to miss. If you don’t want a lesson then at least take a tour with a mountain host such as Silver to Slopes.
This was when I learned one of the coolest tips ever…Stash Items.
When the tour was over, we decided to take Sandy’s suggestion to eat at the Mid-Mountain Lodge. This was when I learned one of the coolest tips ever…Stash Items. Whaaaat you ask? These are hidden lunch upgrades you have to ask for, and then they are FREE. Most mountain dining locations have a dish with a “Stash” option. The Stash Item at the Mid-Mountain Lodge was the grilled cheese. Ask for it “Pickle Axe Style” and you get a house-made pickle skewer added to the sandwich.
Legacy Lodge - "Double Black Style" Chipotle Queso Sauce for the Quesadilla
Mid Mountain Lodge - "Pickle Axe Style" House made pickles stacked and skewered to the grilled cheese sandwich
Summit House - "Blue Bird Style" Warm Buffalo Sauce/ Fresh Blue Cheese added to Tenders
Miners Camp - "Silver "loaded" Style" Fries with house made Sriracha beer cheese sauce, crumbled bacon bits and green onions
Cloud Dine - "Papa Mitch Style” Garlic Butter dipping sauce for the pizzas
Tombstone - "Inferno Style” Extra-Extra-Hot BBQ Sauce
Red Pine Lodge – “Buffalutah Style” Local Slide Ridge Honey Buffalo Sauce added to the Tenders or Fries Smothered
Sun Lodge – “Border (boarder) Style” Green Chilies, Salsa Verde, Sour Cream, and Jalapenos on fries (will be rung in the same as chili-cheese fries cost).
Silver to Slopes Historic Mining Tour on the Park City Base Area side of the mountain, Park City Mountain Village at 10:00 am near the Eagle Statue and 1:00 p.m. at the Trail Map near the top of Bonanza Express lift. After the tour, you’ll receive a signature pin to commemorate your visit to Park City.
Mountain Experience Tour on the Canyons Village side. This tour meets at the top of Red Pine Gondola at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and focuses on familiarizing the on-mountain terrain on the Canyons Village side.
Both tours require intermediate skiing/riding skills and last roughly 2 hours. They can fill up, so be sure to arrive early.
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