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Denver Post: Park City, Utah What's Not to Like?!

It's not often that you get the Denver Post to write a great article about why Park City, Utah is such a great place to ski/snowboard. Kyle Wagner, Denver Post's travel editor, recently visited. Read below for an excerpt out of her article:

Park City, Utah: What's not to like?

Easy access to three resorts, world-class snow, great food and lodging

"Tomorrow, I'm gonna check out Deer Valley," the San Francisco native says. "Never been. I hear it's kind of serious but not hard like the Canyons."

That's one of the big draws of Park City. If you have three days, you easily can ski three resorts. In fact, if you have the money and the inclination, you could ski all of them on the same day, because they're only about 10 minutes apart.

Park City sits 32 miles east of Salt Lake City, in north-central Utah. Like Moab, the state's other big resort town, it has the outdoors to recommend it, including some mountain biking, fishing and hunting, hiking and golf.

The Town Lift serves a variety of terrain and reasonably priced eateries alike. (Kyle Wagner, The Denver Post )

Moab and Park City seem like opposites, however. Moab is all about the warm-weather activities, and Park City is far more about the cold.

Most people, though, have heard about Park City because of the Sundance Film Festival, which wrapped up here a few weeks ago.

But not long after the town's founding in 1870 by miners, residents discovered that above the mine shafts and underground train passageways sat mounds and mounds of fluffy white stuff, and it kept on coming, offering prime skiing real estate that they started taking advantage of as early as the 1920s.

Many remnants of the town's mining past remain beneath the resorts, and the town still sports more than 60 original Victorian buildings along its Main Street.

Add to the appeal a relatively carefree drive from Salt Lake. In good weather, which is most of the time, and during nonpeak times — which is any time that is not rush hour or just before or after the lifts open and close — the drive takes about 30 to 40 minutes.

The folks in Park City even like to brag that it's just as fast — or faster — to get from their mountain resorts to Denver than it is from Aspen to Denver any day, or to Denver from most resorts along the Interstate

Don't ski or snowboard? Gorgoza Park Tubing Hill in Park City offers a slick and thrilling option. (Park City Mountain Resort )
70 corridor on those late Sunday afternoons in mid-February after a powder day.

And it turns out that they're right: My travel time to Park City, including getting to the airport 90 minutes early, was four hours and 50 minutes.

It's that combination of easy access, three varied-terrain ski areas and the quaint — albeit increasingly commercialized — town that makes Park City a continually irresistible winter draw.

According to some longtime visitors — and more than a few residents — the downside is that, between the largest independent film festival and the growing number of Californians choosing Utah's ski areas over overcrowded hills in their own state, Park City has changed. It's too crowded, they say, and no longer cool.

But you can find plenty of happy repeat visitors who disagree.

That's why on another day, I find myself sharing a shuttle from Deer Valley to Park City Mountain Resort with Aaron Khosh, 15, his brother, Ryan Khosh, 17, and their best friend Travis Jones, 17.

Avid snowboarders, they have been coming to Park City with their families from Newport Beach, Calif., together, and occasionally separately, for about six years.

They offer the expected vocal support and encouragement for one another for their demographic — meaning, they frequently denounce each others' shredding skills loudly and use the word "sucks" a lot — along with sharing their reasons Park City is a great snowboarding mountain and their picks for the best runs.

"Park City is really spread out," Jones says. "There's never a lot of people, and the runs are really wide, there's really a lot of room, which means we can get up some speed and goof around without having to worry so much, like at places where it's really packed."

The brothers, who travel quite a bit with their family, like that Park City is rarely icy. "The snow really holds up," Aaron says. "Even when it's cold, you'll get some of that crusty stuff, but it's not super-slick like some ski areas where it turns into a death zone."

Ryan says he likes to come up with loops that they can do repeatedly without getting tired, where there are wide- open runs with short lift lines and plenty of room to move. "We like to go up the Payday lift and then down Homerun, it's one of the larger runs, and then go up Payday again and over to the Bonanza lift and do Homerun over there," Ryan says. "And then we'll do a loop of Claim Jumper down to the Silverlode lift and around again, to Homerun and Claim Jumper. If you do that early in the day, everybody else is still over at the base."

Aaron adds that they also like the smaller, connector runs off the Bonanza lift. "There are all of these narrow little chutes in there that you can find," he says. "And you can pick around in between the trees and find little powder stashes in there too."

Park City also sports the enviable Town Lift, a chair smack in the middle of it all that makes it heart-wrenching to be a local with a day job. It adds to the sense that Park City is the Everyman's mountain, the one with the most reasonably priced eateries dotting its base and the most varied terrain, with the largest number of beginner trails of the three areas (27 percent).

See the entire article here.

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