I ski Deer Valley Resort nearly every weekend (and some weekdays—shh, don’t tell my boss) throughout the ski season. It is my adopted home mountain and I know it like the back of my hand. When it’s a groomer day, I know what time to hit which trail so I can arc on softening corduroy. When it’s a powder day, I have my route mapped out in my head as soon as I hit the parking lot. On the day after that major storm, I know which trees to hit to still find the fluffy, untouched white snow.
And now, thanks to the magic of Deer Valley, there are more places to find snow hiding in the woods. The resort put in a huge effort to cut three new glades over the summer of 2021. Locals and visitors alike know that X Files off of the Empire Express chairlift is some of the most picturesque tree skiing in Utah, and under the leadership of Steve Graff, Deer Valley’s Director of Mountain Ops, the mountain team used that trail as their muse. Each glade they cut was intended to have a similar feel—low angle, beautiful and full of snow. And unlike X Files, which requires a bit of a hike through advanced terrain to get to it, these new trails are intended to be easily accessible—allowing everyone from beginners to experts to discover the beauty of tree skiing.
Not only are these new glades providing great skiing for everyone on the mountain, they are also doing good for our environment at the same time. Downed and dense trees are a major fire hazard, and wildfires are always a risk here in the mountain west. By opening up these glades to allow for more room between trees for you to make turns, Deer Valley is also mitigating fire danger.
The mountain worked with Park City, Summit County, Park City Fire, land owners and the state of Utah to put together a plan and enlisted the help of 12 Deer Valley employees on the trail crew—seven sawyers and five laborers. It was a ton of work and a massive group effort. The crew would go in and chainsaw each individual tree, targeting the dead, dying and diseased and then move on to trees that were overcrowded to allow the healthy ones survive. From there, they would limb each tree and cut them into two-foot-long chunks and hand stack them into six-foot-tall piles. The crew also met with the Bureau of Land Management along with state forestry and fire to prepare burn piles and all of the slash was burned—about 60 piles worth. Within just a few months, Deer Valley was able to get rid of a ton of wildfire fuel and help make our trails better.
The areas selected for glading were also intentionally picked to better spread out guests. Deer Valley does a wonderful job keeping crowds down at the resort by limiting lift ticket sales, but sometimes during those busy holiday weekends, some areas can get a little congested. Each one of these new trails pulls you toward a lift you might not normally explore, like Red Cloud and Silver Strike, encouraging you to explore the amazing terrain off these less-frequented lifts.
We all know Deer Valley as a place that first and foremost focuses on customer service. Their main ethos is to “enhance the guest experience,” and by using their existing footprint to expand the terrain so that visitors can experience more amazing skiing, this glade project fits exactly into that code. But Deer Valley's second, not as known, philosophy is to be a good steward of the environment, and by eliminating wildfire fuel and allowing our forest to breathe, they are giving back to the mountains we play in. I’m not sure there’s anything better than combining these two tenets.
So where are these elusive new glades? Well, they don’t quite have names yet and they’re not on the trail map, so it’s a little tough to point you toward, but I've included a small version of the map below. Download the full map here and circle the areas so you can find them next.
When you’re visiting Deer Valley this winter, stop a mountain host or join one of their twice-daily tours. They’d be happy to show you these new routes and let you experience all that my home mountain has to offer. Or, feel free to flag me down when you spot me! I’m often there and skiing around with a smile on my face and braided red hair and can show you everything this amazing resort has to offer. I’ll even point you toward the best chocolate chip cookies and cocktails after we’re done ripping the trees.
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