It's BIG - Biggest Resort in the U.S.

By Yeti Sep 1, 2015
There are 100 million reasons to ski Utah this winter. With over $100 million dollars in ski resort improvements coming on line for the 2015–16 winter check out the details of the emergence of the NEW Park City in the first of a four-part series.
It's BIG - Biggest Resort in the U.S.

It's BIG. 

1 of a 4 Part Series by Jeremy Pugh.

With over $100 million dollars in Utah ski resort improvements coming on line this winter, major changes to Utah's ski landscape are making history. This is the year to say you came to Utah.

Park City - The Biggest Resort in the United States - 7,300 Skiable Acres
Last season Park City becomes the largest ski and snowboarding area in the United States, combining Canyons Resort and Park City Mountain Resort into one 7,300-acre playground. The routes that used to terminate at the Silverlode lift will become the best commute ever, dropping you at the Quicksilver gondola station and unlocking former Canyons 4,300 acres. You’ll blast down Prospector and have the option of returning to the peak on Silverlode Express, continuing down to King Con or taking the nine-minute express gondola over the ridge line to the east side of the biggest resort in America. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

But it all started when the resort we used to call Canyons was Park West and Park West was the smaller neighbor of Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley. Operations began in 1968, in a wild and wooly place with rickety lifts and iffy terrain. Generations of Salt Lakers and Park City-ites remember Park West fondly as much for its outdoor concert series as the skiing. 

Along came Wolf Mountain and then The Canyons. More lifts were added and the resort’s footprint continued to grow. In 2008, real estate juggernaut Talisker bought the resort. A vast influx of capital culminated in 2010 with a major rejiggering of the elements that had frustrated skiers. The resort realigned its gondola and installed a fancy, heated-seat, high-speed lift that whisked skiers up to the top in total comfort. The food got better, the service got better and The Canyons dropped ”the,” becoming simply “Canyons.” Then, in 2014, Talisker turned over the ski operation to the experts at Vail Resorts.  

The shared border between Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort has always been on the mind of every skier who has peered across Pine Cone Ridge. The resorts were practically begging to be connected. The transition took four years to play out as Vail purchased Park City Mountain Resort from Powdr Corp in the fall of 2014.  

Vail officially began operating Park City Mountain Resort during the 2014–15 season. And that same season Bill Rock, Park City’s chief operating officer, came to town from Northstar in Lake Tahoe on a mission to merge the two resorts into one epic area (also part of Vail’s Epic pass, BTW).

“This is the biggest, most inspiring opportunity I’ve had in my career,” Rock says looking back on his 20 years in the ski biz. “We are putting two resorts, both with rich history, together into one, and we get to have the best of both to create something entirely new. It’s humbling.”

On Rock’s watch, Park City has laid out the largest single-season infrastructure investment in the history of the sport in America—a $50 million spend that will build the new border-erasing Quicksilver gondola line as well as the brand new Miners Camp Lodge in the Silverlode area to serve as the gondola’s arrivals and departures lounge. And Christmas comes early this season for skiers and boarders who have long bemoaned the old Motherlode lift, up for a long-overdue upgrade. And King Con lift gets bigger going from a high-speed quad to a high-speed six-pack.

“This connection is going to really combine these two resorts. As you ride the gondola over Pine Cone Ridge, you’re gonna whoop,” Rock says. “We’re taking people into a whole new world.”   

There is nothing else in the world like the new Park City. Imagine waking up at the Grand Summit Lodge at Canyons Village, riding the Orange Bubble Express up the mountain and cruising your way to Park City’s Main Street, a European-type ski experience over the snow. Now that there is only one, you have at your disposal a giant mountain playground that stretches from the southern edge of Park City right to Main Street. That’s 6.5 miles from edge to edge, and, as you can imagine, it took a herculean effort by legendary ski map artist James Niehues just to fit this resort onto one trail map. Only one.

A Quick Look at Park City's Improvements: 

  • Construction of the  eight-passenger Quicksilver gondola from the Silverlode area at Park City to the former Canyons' Iron Mountain area.
  • Much needed upgrades to the once slow Motherlode chairlift and extra seats for King Con Express.
  • A new lodge and restaurant at the gondola base on the PCMR side. 
  • More snowmaking in the Iron Mountain area of former Canyons.
  • Upgrades to Red Pine Lodge (Canyons' mid-mountain lodge) that will include additional seating and other improvements.
Did we mention there are over $100 million dollars in Utah ski resort improvements becoming a reality this winter? Check out the photo gallery showcasing the new gondolas and hard work across the state. Read more about the new Snowbird or check out the changes at Solitude.