News from the snow
The Canyons USA
The most remarkable North American resort development of the late 1990s, The Canyons has evolved from 'pretty much nowhere' into a world class destination resort in less than two years. Everything changed at this ski area in July 1997 when the now defunct American Skiing Company added it to their 'family of resorts'. Formerly Park West and, for a brief period, Wolf Mountain, it was the poor relation to neighbouring 2002 Olympic destinations Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley. Although the American Skiing company is no more, at the time it was one of the leading resort groups in America owning 10 resorts from coast to coast, with The canyons its number one star. The Canyons had $20 million lavished on it within a few months of the American Skiing Company take-over to create the biggest ever single-season expansion in Utah and North America's largest resort growth for that season. Five new quad chairs and Utah's first gondola, an eight seater, were installed as well as the Red Pine Mid-Mountain Lodge. By the following season The Canyons was the largest resort in Utah and the potential is for it to overtake the long standard US giants of Colorado and California to become the largest ski area in the US. The opening of Ninety-Nine 90 peak added a further 800 acres for 1998 - 99 and the plan was to reach 6000 acres by 2002, served by 20 high speed detachable quad lifts. These figures would give The Canyons the biggest ski area in the US, second only to Whistler-Blackcomb in North America, and the world's most high-speed quads, depending on what other resorts do in the meantime! They're still yet to be realised but The Canyons has become one of the continents biggest ski areas none-the-less, and the potential is still there. If a lift link was ever made to Park City Mountain Resort and/or Deer Valley - a relatively easy operation physically, if not politically - then the area would certainly be North America's and one of the world's largest ski areas. Development at the base of the mountain is centred on Canyons Resort Village Center which based around the 360 room four-star slopeside Grand Summit Resort Hotel. The village has been skillfully designed to give easy pedestrian access to all amenities. The village is designed using indigenous materials like Utah red rock and Wasatch pines. Native Utah designs like petroglyphs and pictographs will be featured prominantly.
Formerly Park West and for a brierf period Wolf Mountain, The Canyons was re-christened in 1997 adding Utah's first gondola (8 seater) and a host of other new high sped lifts, creating one of North America's largest ski areas.
Intermediates will find that 44% of the trails are graded 'more difficult' with plenty of fast fun cruising down through the forest. Expert skiers were blessed when Ninety-Nine 90 peak became lift served with spectacular views of Utah's Summit county and a reputation for knee deep powder on wide open slopes with 360 degree access to the downhill.
The mountain's peak, the highest terrain the resort will reach, is one of the few sectors above the treeline - the vast majority of terrain being on forested slopes. If you like tree skiing then for thinly gladed terrain try The Pines on the north-side of Saddleback. For steep and deep the north-side trees off Tombstone is the best option. There are many other areas to attract advanced and expert skiers who will find 43% of the current extent of The Canyon's terrain suited to them. Most notable are the chutes on the south side of Murdock Peak with the powder slopes above accessible with a short hike.
The Canyon's child-friendly efforts are centred on Kids Central which pre-dates the current resort ownership, having been established in the early '80s and run successfully since. Rental, ticket sales, ski school and day care are all housed in the one building.
There are around 80 restaurants in Park City itself so you won't be short of finding a place to eat. They divide up relatively evenly, with around a third offering a gourmet standard of cuisine, a further third still offering great food but more 'casual' than 'chic'; and the final third dividing up between fast food and speciality wine, ice cream and coffee outlets.
At the top end of the prices pile are the Riverhorse Café, the lengendary Seafood Buffet or Mariposa at Deer Valley, Chimayo for Mexican, Chez Betty's, the Coyote Grill and the Goldener Hirsch. For international variations try Café Terigo or Cisero's - two off the half-dozen Italian choices, Jambalaya for Cajun, Bahja Cantina for south Western American (and one of half a dozen also serving Mexican) and the Ichiban for Japanese - again one of a further half-dozen serving Eastern and Oriental cuisine.
In 2009 a new law came into effect changing Park City’s and indeed the State’s bar scene. In the past purchasing a temporary membership was required to get into a bar or club. Bars, pubs and clubs now have an open door policy to welcome all comers over 21 and no longer require customers to purchase a temporary membership.
It's easy to get in to Salt Lake for big city attractions and facilities, including NBA basketball, Utah's Symphony orchestra, Opera and Ballet companies and the Mormon's Temple Square and famous Tabernacle Choir. Trips to the casinos in nearby Nevada are also organised from here.