- Scott Markewitz / Park City Mountain Resort
In a way, nothing seems simpler: Strap some boards to your feet, find snow at the top of a hill, and let gravity do the rest. While much of the joy of skiing and snowboarding comes from their universal simplicity, the business of catering to those skiers and boarders gets ever-more-complex, and is constantly changing from microchip technology to brand new lifts.
The people luring you to Utah's mountain resorts are always pushing the envelope. The 15 resorts that call Utah home—including the brand new Woodard Park City and Black Rock Mountain Resort—have all sorts of new attractions for the 2019-20 season. And many resorts are scheduled to open before Thanksgiving. Here are some of the highlights.
Scan-and-Go: Deer Valley Resort (deervalley.com) spent $7.6 million on capital improvements to get ready for the upcoming season. Visitors will experience a new ticketing system with built-in chip technology that allows direct-to-lift access, but can also be scanned in throughout the resort. There will also be new digital signs that will have real-time information for guests about ticket availability, pricing and mountain conditions.
What's Old is New: The oldest building at Alta Ski Area (alta.com), the Snowpine Lodge, is looking new after a two-year rebuild. It opened mid-season last year, so this will be its first full season in the snow. The luxury lodge features a spa complete with a grotto, as well as Swen's Restaurant and The Gulch, a full-service bar. Getting to Alta will be a little bit easier this year, as they've set aside 25% of the Wildcat parking lot for carpools packing three or more skiers, and they are also joining the Ride app.
Over and Out: Park City Mountain (parkcitymountain.com) has installed a new fixed-grip quad chairlift named "Over and Out," that will take people from a location at the bottom of the Tombstone Express Lift up near the top of the Sunrise Lift on the front side of the mountain. This new route will give skiers and riders a more direct shot to Canyons Village from the center of the resort. Whatever lift you take, find a way to get to Tombstone BBQ to experience a new version of a Park City Mountain classic. The area that once had a food truck and BBQ shed for this traditional food favorite has been transformed into a permanent building with heated indoor seating for 50 as well as outdoor picnic tables.
Walk-up Waffles: What's better than piping hot waffles after a cold day on the slopes? How about Liege-style waffles served with a variety of toppings? You can find them at Little Dollie Waffles at Solitude Mountain Resort (solitudemountain.com) in the Moonbeam Center, the mountain's main day lodge.
More Than a Resort: Woodward Park City (campwoodward.com) is not only the newest of Utah's 15 ski resorts, it also claims to be America's first "all-in-one action sports and ski resort." Plans for the Woodard "campus" include indoor and outdoor venues, with the facilities scheduled to be open 365 days per year for 10 different sports and activities. Woodward will also offer monthly memberships for access to all the facilities.
Ice and Snow: Another new addition is Black Rock Mountain Resort (blackrockmountainresort.com), located adjacent to Jordanelle Reservoir, about 10 minutes from Deer Valley and 15 minutes from Main Street in Park City. Black Rock will have 250 condo-style rooms to go along with a total of three ice rinks—two indoor and one outdoor.
Passed Out: Check out Ski Utah (skiutah.com) for passes ranging from the lavish to the affordable. The Ski Utah Gold Pass ($5,300) gives skiers and riders unlimited days at all 15 of Utah's resorts. It can also be used to ride the lifts during the summer. There are limited numbers available. The Ski Utah Yeti Pass ($649) gives you one lift ticket at every Utah resort. Families might want to consider pairing the Yeti with the Ski Utah Passport ($45), which gives Utah fifth-graders three days of free skiing and sixth-graders one day of skiing at every Utah resort.
Passes also range from local to worldwide. The Ski City Super Pass (starting at $300) gets you unrestricted access to Alta, Snowbird, Brighton or Solitude for anywhere from three to 10 days, depending on how many days you want to purchase. The Epic Pass (starting at $109) gets you into any of the Vail Resorts around the globe, be it Park City Mountain or Courchevel in the French Alps. The Ikon Pass ($749) is good for 41 world-wide resorts, some of which happen to be Deer Valley, Solitude, Brighton, Alta and Snowbird.