Originally Posted by Tony Crocker
During that timeframe it is highly likely that coverage and open terrain will be much better in the Cottonwood Canyons than in any of the Park City or Ogden areas. You will have a car and can make these calls at the last minute, buying the discounted lift tickets at a Salt Lake ski shop.
Snowbasin had to install a decent snowmaking system for the Olympics. Powder Mt. has minimal snowmaking, and contrary to what they would like you to believe, only gets a little more snow (maybe 10-15%) than Snowbasin's 314-inch long term average.
Last year Powder Mt. was only 18% open on January 15. If the Paradise chair isn't open, there's definitely not enough snow to consider going there. Snowbasin's early season record is similar to Park City's.
If you enjoy skiing the Cirque at Snowbird, you should not waste your time at areas outside the Cottonwoods while they are still mostly open with manmade groomers. There will be years it will be worthwhile but you won't know until you get there, or maybe a few days before.
Much better? That depends. If the snow is light, sure. This is usually the case. If the snow just doesn't come, snowmaking may make the PC resorts better. Of course, you don't want to travel west of the Continental Divide to ski on man-made snow. Unfortunately, the status of PCMR is unknown right now. If the snow is plentiful early on, everywhere is fine. The OP is staying in Park City for a reason (I assume because of travel points, a relative is there, a business conference, he likes PC, or whatever.), and will lose little if anything by waiting to see how the weather pans out. Like Tony says, sometimes you don't know until you get there, or just before you get there. A couple of good storms is all it takes...
Along with the ski shop deals, occasionally Liftopia has good last minute lift ticket deals. The local COSTCO stores might have a good deal or two. A while ago, Backcountry and some others sold discounted lift tickets early season to benefit the Utah Avalanche Center. This could allow the OP to do well (saving money) by doing good. I am not sure if the deal will come back for this year, but if so look for it in mid-Dec.