April 21, 2024

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How to Plan the Perfect Ski Trip to Deer Valley Utah

Instructors in signature green ski jackets and pants, expertly groomed terrain, and not a snowboarder in sight: That’s how you know you’ve made it to Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah. One of the two ski resorts in the mountain town — Park City Mountain Resort is the other — it’s perhaps most widely recognized for its ski-only policy, which it’s held since opening in 1981.


As someone who grew up skiing on the East Coast and then took a decade-long hiatus from the slopes, I’ve spent the last couple of years rebuilding my confidence and technique. So, when I had the opportunity to visit Deer Valley’s long, smooth runs, I jumped at the chance to try out the intermediate-friendly Western terrain. After two full days skiing in the Wasatch Mountains, though, I discovered that the Deer Valley experience is about more than just great groomers. There’s a dedication to curating an inimitable ski trip that’s unmatched by most other resorts, and it’s found everywhere from the complimentary curbside ski valet service to the upcoming expansion that will add 3,700 acres of skiable terrain, more than doubling the resort’s current size (phased opening is slated to begin in the 2025-26 season).


Even without the added runs, Deer Valley has a stacked resume. As of the 2023-24 season, there are 2,026 skiable acres, three ski villages (Snow Park, Empire Canyon, and Silver Lake), 103 trails, six bowls, and a vertical drop of 3,000 feet. The powder is pretty good, too. OnTheSnow reports that Deer Valley witnesses an average annual snowfall of 252 inches — although history was made in 2023 with a final count of 606 inches for the season. With these impressive numbers, it’s no surprise that Deer Valley is also a favorite resort for several Winter Olympians, including Jillian Vogtli, Ted Ligety, and Lindsey Vonn.


  • Deer Valley is one of three resorts in the U.S. with a ski-only policy; with it comes an aura of exclusivity as well as services and amenities — like ski valets and impeccably groomed trails — specifically tailored to skiers.  
  • The well-groomed trails ensure beginner and intermediate skiers feel more comfortable making their way down the slopes. 
  • With more than 500 experienced instructors, Deer Valley’s Ski School is one of the largest in the country. Even skiers with years of experience can benefit from a few hours of perfecting their technique in a private or group lesson. 
  • Deer Valley’s roster of luxury ski-in, ski-out hotels includes several winners from the T+L World’s Best Awards: Montage Deer Valley, Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley, The St. Regis Deer Valley, and Goldener Hirsch, Auberge Resorts Collection. 


Whether you’re trying to squeeze in one last ski weekend this season (spring skiing in Park City comes highly recommended by locals), or you’re already plotting out your trips for next winter, here’s everything you need to know to plan the perfect ski trip to Deer Valley. 




Brandon Flint/Courtesy of Visit Park City




When to Go

Weather dependent, Deer Valley usually opens in late November or early December and lasts through mid-April. If you visit on the earlier side of the season, there may be several runs that aren’t yet open — but it’ll be less crowded. Early spring is technically the best time to visit Deer Valley; you’ll avoid peak season and peak prices, but you’ll still get to take advantage of the excellent powder the area typically receives this time of year.


Christian Horan/Courtesy of Montage Deer Valley




Where to Stay 


Montage Deer Valley: In August 2023, Montage Deer Valley reopened to reveal a complete transformation — all 154 guest rooms and suites were redesigned to balance modern and traditional aesthetics, with tasteful touches of Western culture, and its restaurants and lounges also received major upgrades. Not only does the property have direct access to the ski slopes via high-speed chairlifts, but guests don’t even need to leave the resort to get outfitted in their ski gear. On-site outfitter Compass Sports provides rentals, lift tickets, and any accessory you may have forgotten at home (gloves, hats, extra layers, etc). 


The St. Regis Deer Valley: To reach St. Regis Deer Valley’s main resort, you’ll take a 90-second ride on a funicular,  which can also be used to get to Snow Park Lodge (where Deer Valley Ski School is located). This unique mode of transportation — you won’t find it at any other ski resort in the U.S. — is just the beginning of the slopeside resort’s thoughtful, luxurious amenities. Ski valets are at the ready to help carry or store equipment, and there are a few can’t-miss après-ski spots on property, including The Vintage Room and the sophisticated St. Regis Bar. 


Stein Erikson Deer Valley: The namesake of Norwegian Olympic skier Stein Eriksen, Stein Erikson Deer Valley is a European-style ski lodge decked out with all kinds of five-star features, including an outdoor heated pool and hot tub, a Forbes Five-Star spa, and every ski amenity you could think of (a sports shop, shuttle service, a locker room, ski valet, etc).


Goldener Hirsch, Auberge Resorts Collection: Goldener Hirsch, Auberge Resorts Collection is one of the resort area’s more intimate properties, with just 68 guest rooms and suites — but don’t underestimate this long-standing property. The alpine-styled hotel works tirelessly to ensure its guests want for nothing; there’s a rooftop pool and hot tub, après lounges, and easy access to Deer Valley’s pistes. 


Courtesy of Montage Deer Valley




Where to Eat

Cast & Cut | Seafood Dining: Cast & Cut’s seafood buffet, a longtime resort favorite that paused service during the COVID-19 pandemic, made its return in the 2023-24 season as Cast & Cut | Seafood Dining. For $125, you have your pick of seafood stations — from oysters and crab legs to paella and a poke bar. Reservations are required. 


Yama Sushi: You can’t beat après-ski sushi — lean protein and carbs are helpful for muscle recovery — and Yama Sushi at Montage Deer Valley has a menu you’ll be dreaming of long after the winter season comes to an end. Standouts include the Surf N Turf roll (wagyu, lobster, asparagus, truffle salt, and caviar) and the Yama Fried Rice. 


Silver Lake Restaurant and Empire Canyon Lodge: When skiing at Deer Valley, the resort’s famous turkey chili is usually on the menu. Stop by Silver Lake Restaurant to try it in a bread bowl, or swing by Empire Canyon Lodge for turkey chili french fries. You can also bring the taste of Deer Valley home; the chili mix is available for purchase in the resort’s shops.



Where to Après Ski

No Name Saloon: Every mountain town has a go-to après-ski bar; in Park City, it’s the No Name Saloon. The multi-level watering hole is located on Main Street, and it’s the kind of place where you sit down for a burger and a beer, and end up leaving many hours later with several new friends in your contact list. 


The Sticky Wicket, Silver Lake Lodge: A brand-new addition to Deer Valley, The Sticky Wicket is an ode to the ski culture of the ’70s and ’80s. Think ski-related decor, neon colors, and shot skis for those who dare. The 21-and-up bar is located upstairs at Silver Lake Lodge, and its menu features items like sticky-finger brisket fries and nachos to soak up any adult beverages consumed before heading back outside.


Ski Beach: It’s not technically a bar, but the ski beach outside Silver Lake Lodge is an excellent place to park, particularly on a bluebird day, after your last run. Grab a drink, reapply your face sunscreen, and soak up the remaining rays from the comfort of the white beach chairs.


Courtesy of Visit Park City




Off-mountain Activities 

Spend an afternoon at the spa: Skiing is a full-body workout, and there’s no better way to recover than a massage and restorative soak in a hot tub. Montage Deer Valley, the St. Regis Deer Valley, and Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley all have on-property spas; non-guests are welcome to book a treatment and enjoy the spa’s other amenities.


Go on a cross-country skiing or snowshoeing tour: If you’re in Park City for a longer trip, it’s perfectly acceptable to take a break from downhill skiing. You can still enjoy the snow — albeit at a slower pace — by embarking on guided cross-country ski or snowshoe excursions. Both White Pine Touring and All Seasons Adventures offer custom tours of the surrounding area. 


Explore the snowy terrain on a snowmobile: Craving a bit more speed? Book a snowmobiling trip with All Seasons Adventures or directly through Deer Valley Resort. You’ll spend a couple of hours traversing nearby trails and getting more than a few unforgettable photo ops. 



How to Ride

Tickets: Deer Valley does limit the number of daily lift tickets, so reserving in advance is always recommended. Adult single-day lift tickets cost anywhere from $239 to $289. Depending on how far ahead you book, you may receive a discount; midweek tickets are also lower than weekend prices. If you have an Ikon Pass, you can ski seven days at Deer Valley, but you’ll still need to reserve your slot. Skiers planning on spending a significant amount of time in the area can consider a season pass; these run anywhere from $245 (ages 4 and under) to $3,525 (adults ages 23-64).


Rentals: Those who don’t travel with their own equipment have a few different options at Deer Valley. If you’re staying at a hotel with a gear shop (Compass Sports at Montage Deer Valley, JANS Mountain Outfitters at The St. Regis Deer Valley), you can rent directly from them. Snow Park Lodge and Silver Lake Lodge also offer on-property rentals; Ski Butlers will even bring your equipment directly to your accommodations. A full-day package — which includes skis, poles, and boots — costs anywhere from $75 to $86. Helmets are rented separately. 



Skiing Info

Deer Valley Resort has 21 lifts — a high-speed four-passenger gondola, 14 high-speed quad lifts, 5 triple chairs, and one double chair — to access its 103 runs. The skiable terrain is 27 percent beginner, 41 percent intermediate, and 32 percent expert-level. 


Carla Boecklin/Courtesy of Visit Park City




Programming

Deer Valley’s renowned Ski School provides lessons for all ages and skill levels. Adults can opt for private or group lessons, and for children and teenagers (under 17), there’s the Bambi Club, Reindeer Club, Adventure Club, or Teen Escape. To take it one step further, the resort created its Ski With a Champion program. Starting at $2,570 for a full day and $1,470 for a half-day, skiers will have the opportunity to hit the slopes with one of the resort’s six Olympic snowsport athletes. 


Complimentary Mountain Host tours are also offered four times daily for intermediate and expert-level skiers to get familiarized with the terrain, discover new runs, and learn some of the resort’s history.