This post is part of a series on how to navigate a new ski area for the first time. For all of my general tips, read my first post, How to Navigate a New Mountain.
Sundance Mountain Resort is known for a commitment to the environment, art and exceptional service. It’s stunningly beautiful both in winter and summer and I highly suggest adding it to your bucket list. Like any new mountain, it will take a little while to find your way around, but Sundance is easier to navigate than most. Here are my tips for enjoying all that Sundance has to offer from day one.
Tips for Navigating Sundance Mountain
When you arrive at Sundance for a day, you’ll be directed to park either at the Lower Village or the Upper Village. Don’t worry if you have plans in the lower lot but have to park above, a free shuttle will whisk you back down. Rentals and tickets are available at either level.
The Lower Village is where you’ll find guest check-in, restaurants, shopping and other activities.
Sundance is easier to navigate on skis than most mountains. As you head downhill on the marked trails, they’ll mostly funnel into the Lower Village area. Maverick is the exception because it splits above the Upper Village. Keep to skier’s right to reach the base of Jake’s Lift or keep left on Maverick to continue to the Lower Village and Ray’s Lift.
Mountain Host Tours
One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the mountain is to tour with a Sundance mountain host. Luckily, Sundance offers free tours daily. Skiers of all levels can join the tour by meeting at Ray’s Lift at 10 am and 1 pm. Intermediate to advanced skiers can opt for a more customized tour at the top of Red’s Lift at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm. No reservations are needed, just show up.
Guides know more than the trails, so ask them anything about the resort. From trail tips to history, they have lots of info to share. After skiing with you, they’ll also be able to guide you to the right terrain for your interest and skill.
We visited on a blower storm day with full white-out conditions at the top of Red’s Summit. It was a really good day to ski with a Mountain Host! Our guide for the morning was Jerry Warren, Sundance Snowsports Director, who knows every curve and bump on the mountain, which was handy given we couldn’t see squat. I found myself closely following his bright coat like an insecure duckling.
Over the course of two hours, he shared history, tips and suggestions that made the remainder of our stay richer and more fun than if we’d tried to find our way alone. It also helped that the visibility improved after lunch. When I return, I plan to join the Mountain Host Tour again because it was so helpful.
Trails for All
Best Lift for All Skill Levels - Ray’s Lift has options for all skiers and is the best pick for novice skiers. Beginners can unload at midway for an easy run to the bottom. If you have control of your turns and speed, ride to the top and ski the greens leading toward Stampede.
TIP: If you happen to park at the upper lot, beginners can ride back down to Ray's on the shuttle.
Best Run for Beginners in Control – Stampede beginning from midway at Ray’s Lift.
Best Runs for Intermediate Skiers – In general, plan to work your way up the mountain from Jake’s or Ray’s Lifts. The top runs to watch for are Bear Claw and Wild Flower from the top of Red’s Lift. Bear Claw is pretty and a bit steep, so it can rank advanced intermediate, depending on conditions.
Runs for Advanced and Expert Skiers – Head for the back mountain and far east areas off of Flathead and Red’s Lifts – Bishops Bowl is an iconic run and will offer a mix of groomed plus mogul or powder depending on conditions. To check conditions beforehand, ask a mountain host.
TIP: In 2016, Sundance replaced the Arrowhead Lift with Red’s Lift. Lots of old maps and guides still refer to “Arrowhead Lift” which will leave you feeling like you missed something obvious. It’s not you, it’s them.
Dining and Quick Bites
Sundance is known for excellence in many areas, including dining. From a fast bite on the hill, to a gourmet meal in the Tree Room, you won’t be disappointed. Here’s a list of great choices, depending on your goal.
A speedy bite between runs - Skiing can crank up the appetite, so plan a fuel stop partway through the day to maintain your energy. Sundance has several options for quick bites between runs.
The Bearclaw Cabin at the top of Red’s Lift is my favorite spot for a quick bite and sweet views. It also keeps you on the mountain for a quick return to the slopes. The menu is brief because every bite must be hauled up to the rustic cabin, that said, everything I’ve tried there has been tasty!
Breakfast - The Sundance Deli is a relaxing and bright spot to enjoy a classic breakfast. Options include breakfast burritos, oatmeal, smoothie bowls, scrambled eggs, pancakes and more.
Lunch and Dinner - I’m a huge fan of the Foundry Grill both for lunch and dinner. The ingredients are the best available, often locally sourced. The chefs respect the food and let it shine through skillful preparation and thoughtful flavor pairing. The menu shifts by season.
Dish not to miss - Utah Trout at the Foundry Grill.
Best place for a romantic or elegant meal - Hands down, if you’re looking for a special dining experience, head to the Tree Room. The Tree Room has received the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Rating, Utah’s Best of State award for fine dining, the overall Best of State Statue (B.O.S.S.) and the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. The intimate dining room is lit by candlelight and occasionally features local acoustic music. The Tree Room is limited to guests age 12 and up.
Sundance Mountain is more than a ski resort, it’s a place that celebrates art of all forms. Allow time in your schedule to explore – especially the art studio and classes. If you’re lucky, you may see glass artists working molten glass into ornaments and colorful glassware. All of the glass is recycled from broken glassware, wine and beer bottles and sometimes donated by local residents.
Also check for other events at Sundance such as author presentations, and film screenings, or simply schedule a relaxing massage.
I hope these tips make your visit to Sundance more relaxed and enjoyable! If you have some to add, please comment below. And, if you liked this post, see my posts on navigating Park City Mountain and Deer Valley Resort.
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