Excitement is in the air at Canyons. Whether you are looking for awesome snow adventures or unexpected après experiences, Canyons is the spot for your family.
When it comes to snow, Canyons thinks big. Really big. Thanks to some recent acquisitions, the resort now has massive acreage. In addition to the groomed trails, you'll find terrain parks, glade skiing, and plenty of back country.
Canyons is located in Park City, Utah and in my opinion flies under the radar. Most ski families have heard of Deer Valley and Park City, but they should know about this gem. Though many east coast skiers don't know it, Canyons Resort is Utah’s largest single ski and snowboard resort. Here are the numbers: 4,000 acres, 185 trails, 19 lifts, three terrain parks, and six natural half pipes. Kind of crazy that I'd never heard of them before last year!
Canyons is made for folks who want to ski all day and enjoy great meals. We were most impressed with the quality of the food and the vastness of the terrain. Let's dive into details.
Ski fun: Quite possibly my favorite thing at Canyons was the heated chair lift. The Orange Bubble Express keeps the cold at bay as you climb up the mountain. We loved the breathtaking views of the Wasatch range and we even spotted elk munching grass along the side of the trails. We enjoyed balmy spring conditions, but I imagine in the bitter cold this heated run would be THE ONLY one I would want to ride. As we took the lift to Doc's Run (one of my favorite runs), we were happy to take gloves off and map out our day.
We did a lot of family skiing at Canyons. I loved seeing our older daughter take some jumps on the terrain parks (The Painted Horse is a good place to get ones feet wet on obstacles). My husband loved the Ninety-Nine 90 Express--it's the top of the resort 9,990 feet up with plenty of trees hiding untouched snow. One run was enough for me up there, but the more daring duo of our group kept in this area for hours--up there where no crowds could be found.
For groomers, I loved the runs off of Day Break lift--like Elk Dance. In fact, there is plenty of blue to ski. Here's how the terrain breaks out: 10% Beginner, 44% Intermediate, 46% Expert. NOTE: You'll need to consult your trail map often. The mountain is huge. Also, it usually takes longer to get to base than you think. Plan accordingly.
Ski School:Get the kids signed up for a day with their peers at Ski School. Our older daughter signed on for Canyon Carvers and spent a day with Coach James Smith. They worked on jumps (which is something my husband and I wouldn't coach!). My little one spent the day with Matt in the CATS SKI program. Programs are offered for children ages 2-14 including private and group lessons. The young ones have a 4 to 1 student to teacher ration. For kids 7-12, the ration is 5 to 1. They do a decent job of splitting the kids up by ability. We did find the instructors very cheerful and eager to please.
Dining. Everyone agreed that THE FARM was exceptional. With a localvore theme, we loved the wide menu. TIP: order milk for the kids; it comes in the cutest vintage glass milk jugs. The Farm was named the "Best New Restaurant" in Utah in February 2012 by Salt Lake Magazine and offers fresh, prepared from scratch, sustainably-raised fare. Definitely try some of the local game. This is a fancish restaurant so you might want to get a sitter or dine early if you are bringing the kids.
Plan to take a long lunch at the Lookout Cabin midway up the Orange Bubble Express (the heated lift we mention above). What to order? Try one of the amazing Bloody Mary's and the hearty mac 'n cheese. Just the right type of refueling! This was some of the most inspired mid-mountain dining I've experienced. This is a can't miss!
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If the on-mountain options aren't enough (though they should be!) it's just 4 miles from historic Main Street in Park City with tons more restaurants to visit. We made a trip to town to visit friends and it took just a few minutes to get there.
Lodging:We stayed at the Sundial Lodge. It was a well-outfitted ski lodge with two sunny bedrooms and a satisfactory kitchen. It's very serviceable--especially when you plan to spend the day outdoors NOT indoors. For fancier lodging, try the Grand Summit, we had friends staying there and it was SWANK! Fancier still is the Waldorf Astoria (which I did not see). The girls were happy with this small hot tub on our floor of our building. There was a larger, more bustling pool that would have been more of an effort to visit.
The staff at the lodge was friendly and super helpful when it was time to unload and load the skis into the car. We thoroughly enjoyed all the other families we met at the pool and on the slopes. All smiles at Canyons!
We also found the ski valets very helpful. At the end and beginning of the day you check in with the Valet. You'll store your skis, boots and poles here. Trust me, it's so much nicer that a locker room stuck in a basement somewhere. The team was very organized with fetching everything during "rush" hours.
Adrenaline:Try the Red Pine Zip Tour! This is for the brave ones among you! The tour takes you on an 800 foot long tree top ride. I watched from my outdoor lunch spot as a few courageous (!!!!) souls spanned 2,111 feet on a wire. I was happy sipping my cocktail.
A short drive away at Park City you can take the kids to the Alpine Coaster. Hop into your toboggan-style car (we rode with the girls because they didn't meet the height requirement) and zoom down the hill. This was a fun break from skiing on the day when things got a little slushy in the late afternoon.
Spa:Now this is more my speed. Thank your legs for navigating all the powder with a message at the Grand Summit Hotel.
Day trippers:If you happen to be staying in Park City instead of Canyons, use the Cabriolet--a little gondola that brings you from the parking lot to the mountain. I used the Cabriolet to go for a run down in the valley. When I was exhausted after a 5-nile run in the altitude, the Cabriolet was a welcome lift back up to my hotel.
Epic Pass: Since Canyons is a part of Vail resorts they have GREAT deals on multi-mountain tickets. I highly recommend the Epic 7-Day (A total of 7 unrestricted tickets valid at: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Arapahoe Basin, Plus 7 FREE days at Afton Alps or Mt. Brighton) it's a deal for $569. Check out the other EPIC pass options here /www.canyonsresort.com/plan-your-trip/season-passes/season-passes-explorer.aspx
This is not a sponsored post. Canyons Resort supplied lift tickets and lodging. We paid for air fare and all the other expenses. We ski a lot, we really like ski families so trust my opinions on these resorts.