As international travel resumes, it’s time to dust off the passport and plan that ski trip. Photo / Unsplash
The resumption of international travel is welcome news for adventurous ski-bunnies across Australasia, who after two years of closed borders have had their snow senses tingling after the Winter Olympics.
Although the icey manufactured snow in China disappointed purists, the daring displays on snow and in the air surely inspired many to dust off the passport and search for that ideal winter escape.
For enthusiasts, beginners, families and younger groups thirsty for the apres options, there are few regions across the globe offering a wider variety of conditions and activities than Park City in the US.
Nestled in the mountains of Utah’s Wasatch Range, the area is easily accessed from most major Australian airports via Los Angeles and a brief second flight on to Salt Lake City.
The sprawling ski fields of Park City Mountain offer a wide range of terrain for traditional and freestyle skiers and snowboarders, while the surrounding region includes snowmobile riding, dog sledding, clay shooting, and even an ex-Olympic bobsled luge for the adrenaline seekers.
But it’s the city’s neighbouring resort, Deer Valley, that offers pristine snow for skiing enthusiasts.
Deer Valley Resort
Known as the ritzy sister resort to Park City Mountain, Deer Valley is one of only three mountains in the US where snowboarders are not allowed, with its ski-only policy allowing the perfectly groomed tracks to stay manicured for longer without being carved up by snowboarders ..
The rule is also a blessing for many families or more cautious skiers, who may resent the chaos of sharing a mountain with snowboarders.
But it is known as the ritzy sister for a reason — Deer Valley caps ski lift sales each day to ensure waiting at ski lifts is dramatically reduced and slopes aren’t crowded.
Another annoying aspect of winter sport, carrying ski gear, is also ditched at Deer Valley because each gondola and apres facility includes a valet service, where staff take care of your ski gear and fetch it for you when you’re ready.
The valet service also extends to the bottom of the mountain, meaning you can hand over your skis and poles when you come to a stop and collect them again in the morning when you hit the slopes.
Park City Mountain
Less than five minutes down the road, Park City Mountain offers a very different atmosphere.
The city itself has quintessential Wild West charm and architecture coupled with modern bars and is home to the iconic Sundance Film Festival.
It’s easy to forget the main drawcard of the small town is the snow fields given the abundance of cosmopolitan outlets including a whiskey distillery, High West, and rooftop bars, until a ski lift zooming up the mountain reminds visitors of the adventure waiting on the sprawling mountains.
Park City Mountain is the largest ski and snowboard mountain in the US and has endless options for thrillseekers, with more than 330 trails, 42 lifts, 13 bowls, six terrain parks, a half-pipe and a mini pipe — it has it all.
Thrill-seekers can throw themselves down steep cliff faces into bowls and ski through trees, but the mountain also offers a wide range of trails for the less advanced, with 42 per cent of the mountain suitable for intermediate riders and 8 per cent for beginners.
What else can I do?
When the legs are burning and a break from the ski fields is needed, take a ride on a snowmobile with the team from Summit Meadows Adventures.
The tour combines daring speeds with scenic views of the surrounding mountain ranges.
And for a journey with similarly breathtaking views at a more gentle pace and adorable companions, take a dog sledding journey through a ranch with Wasatch Adventure Guides.
The thrillseekers can also enjoy a bobsled ride with some veteran sliders on the Utah Olympic Park course, where the Winter Olympics were held in 2002.
A major benefit of visiting Park City is that Park City Mountain is owned by Vail Resorts, meaning the company’s Epic Pass allows the user to ski at a range of ski fields across the US, Canada and even Australia at Hotham and Perisher.
Where to stay
No visit to the snow is complete without ski-in ski-out accommodation and The Lowell Condominiums just meters from the ski lifts at Park City Mountain is the perfect option.
The rooms are great for multiple families or big groups with large self-contained rooms and generous kitchens to allow guests to cook their own meals and reduce the cost of the trip.
The facility also has a heated pool to jump into after a long day shredding the mountain.