When the tail end of ski season is upon us and spring skiing is in full force, it's a bittersweet time of the season. You’re running out of time to ski, but you’ll also find longer days, more sunshine, warmer patios for après ski, and a handful of annual end-of-season events. Park City, Utah, happens to be an ideal place to visit in the springtime for all of those reasons.
The base of Park City Mountain Resort sits at 6,800 feet, while the summit is at 10,000 feet, providing 3,200 feet of vertical drop, more than 300 trails and 7,300 skiable acres that zigzag across 17 peaks. Also in Park City, Deer Valley Resort offers more than 100 trails over more than 2,000 acres, and it’s known for the best groomers in the country, as well as for its impeccable customer service.
With the busy season having come to a close, you’ll find fewer people at the resorts, giving you more range to take turns and take your time. Park City Mountain’s season is punctuated by Spring Grüv, a 16-day celebration marking the close of the season with long-standing tradition and exciting festivities. This year the festival begins on March 25 and lasts till April 9. That’s 16 days of *free *concerts and events spread across the mountain’s two villages: Park City Base Area and Canyons Village.
Perhaps the most fun and popular Spring Grüv event is the annual Pond Skimming Contest. Now in its 21st year, the event features costumed contestants who attempt to cross a 100-foot pond on snowboards or skis. Equal parts colorful and absurd, the event has brought laughter, success, and vibrance to the mountain for more than two decades.
The Spring Concert Series at both Park City Base Area and Canyons Village takes place in March and April at the end of the mountain’s last day of the ski season. Every weekend during the season means free music on Saturdays and, sometimes, Fridays and Saturdays too. So, there’s always reggae or blues or folk rock to look forward to.
"It’s the perfect perfect place to visit in the springtime." says Margo Van Ness, Park City Mountain’s senior manager of communications. “Early season snowfall and storms throughout February set us up for a great rest of the season.” In fact, this year Park City Mountain has received the most snow since 2010.
"You don't have to bundle up as much," says avid Park City snowboarder, Jen Alt. “The biggest buzzkill on the mountain are frozen fingers and toes—and those warmer months make me feel like I'm surfing—it’s so fun if your board is waxed up really well!”
Local insight to skiing the mountain in the springtime suggests you ski the trails directly hit by sunlight earlier in the day (to avoid the inevitable wet snow that sometimes comes later in the day—although this is a given on any mountain). Grab the first lift of the day and take note of the surrounding trails’ position to the sun and chart your course for the rest of the day.
But, back to après ski traditions for a moment: You’ll find countless patios, both on the mountain and throughout the charming downtown, and there’s no better way to stay cozy after a sunny day on the slopes than to throw back a microbrew or whiskey in the late afternoon sun.
"Spring skiing is an après delight, and Park City knows how to après," says Alec Zogas, a Park City regular. The Town Lift, right on Park Avenue, that brings skiers right downtown “definitely encourages this.”
If you prefer your ski-day snacks and drinks on the tops of mountains, Park City Mountain has many optionsthat are perfect for a midday break. Summit House is, perhaps, the most accessible because of its proximity to five different lifts. At 9,250 feet, there’s a heated deck and expansive views in every direction. Lookout Cabin and Red Pine Lodge are two other favorites that can be accessed along different trails.
Deer Valley Resort is known for its hospitality and incredible food choices on the mountain.
At Cushing’s Cabin at the top of Flagstaff Mountain you can grab quick bites as well as Deer Valley’s famous turkey chili. For spring skiers, Deer Valley Resort’s "ski beach" (located at Silver Lake Lodge) is a huge draw. Take a break from the action while basking in the sun on the adirondack chairs spread out on the mountain.
The Bridge Cafe & Grill, right at Town Lift, is considered one of the best patios in the city. Conveniently situated at the base of the mountain, the bar and restaurant is a ski-in/ski-out establishment, so you can come and go as you please and feel free to take a break or call it a day inside or out.
Spring skiing also means discounted hotels, and deals at local gear shops, which are generally givens at any well-trafficked resort. This year, Park City Mountain is offering a $200 Delta Airlines voucher for every 3-night stay booked between March 1 and April 16, with discounts as deep as 40 percent off for some local accommodations.
So no excuses: There’s still plenty of ski time in the springtime in Park City. Take advantage of the deals and discover why for many people this is the best time of the year to visit.
Originally written for Visit Park City.