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Any thoughts on The Canyons? Other destinations?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Well, its time to start planning the annual western trip. After seeing the Warren Miller movie "Journey", it got me to thinking about the Canyons. Is this place a good destination resort? As compared to Snowmass or Steamboat for instance? Here are our stats & preferences:

myself- solid advanced (likes powder, trees, steep & long groomers)
wife - solid upper intermediate (likes blues and groomed blacks)

Preferences:

minimal crowds
good vertical
good snow (and good possibility of powder)
slopeside lodging
access to PC? (how close, bus etc)
good base area for apres ski drinking & general fun

We've been to PCMR, but it was a really off year snow-wise, so we spent the whole time at Alta (via bus).

Any thoughts or alternative suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks :
post #2 of 29
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post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
Gee Thanks
post #4 of 29
I have logged quite a few days at the Canyons over the years. The Canyons on a good day is a superb place to ski. It's not particularly crowded so it doesn't track out quickly on a powder day. It has lots of high speed lifts that sprawl over a bunch of ridge lines.

9990 is a superb advanced hill. It's high enough to hold snow well and it has a pretty good microclimate with substantially more snow than the rest of the resort. 9990 doesn't get groomed.

You won't confuse the tree skiing with Shadows or Closet at Steamboat but there are tons of interesting ways down through the trees. More evergreens than aspens.

The slopeside lodging is quite nice. Unfortunately, you're a 10 minute bus ride from Park City where the food and bars live. It's flat between the Canyons and Park City so access is never an issue. The Canyons has a people mover lift that brings you up from the main parking lot. Not ideal but better than the shuttle bus they used to run. I'd probably opt to stay off mountain since I'm going to leave every evening to hit Park City.

You typically get your vertical 1000 feet at a time with runouts back to the lifts. The place is a bunch of interconnected ridge lines.

The base area has a cool funky bar and BBQ joint that's the only survivor from the old Wolf Mountain / Park City West days. On-mountain, there's a place called Lookout or Outlook or Overlook that's fairly dissapointing. The day lodge at the top of the gondola is small and mobbed. The day lodge over by Snow Canyon is even smaller. Both have horrible American Skiing Company food. You won't confuse food and services with Snowmass and you certainly won't confuse them with Deer Valley. I typically bring food in a day pack.

Much of the resort is lower elevation and/or sits in the sun. The lower parts can be very firm snowmaking snow and the parts in the sun can melt out completely. They get roughly half the snowfall of AltaBird though the microclimate up on 9990 probably gets 80% of AltaBird.

From your description of yourself and your wife, I'd think you'd actually be a good candidate to ski Deer Valley. Great on-the-map tree skiing with groomed intermediate terrain a few hundred yards away. Intermediate clientel that doesn't venture out on powder days. Best grooming in the world. Best food & services in North America. They limit ticket sales so it's never wildly crowded. Very good automobile access and decent bus loop access from Park City. The down sides are lift ticket cost, it doesn't have a huge amount of vertical, and the action is all 10 minutes away in Park City.
post #5 of 29
My impression of the Canyon's, being a New England skier and having a few trips under my belt, as I've described it to others before, if I wanted to ski at Killington I'd drive 3 hours. I thought Killington and the Canyon's were very similar (and oddly similar snow conditions based on being in Utah, I never expected to see that much man-made at a Utah ski area), the Canyon's however have more money invested in the base, thus a nicer base area. The terrain (granted I only had limited exposure) wasn't that great, and many trails were closed (which seemed odd because Alta, the Bird, Solitude and Snow Basin were all fully operational) when I was there. Overall, being an east coaster, I would have prefered to go elsewhere. However, if you have kids too, it's probably a great place to go as it seemed more family oriented than a lot of other areas (at least on the surface).

Just my $.02
post #6 of 29
Superior input from the other responders. Don't have much novel to add since I'm a non-Utahan (another from Terps land). Canyons could work, especially if the free shuttle connects from there to PC. When I visited long before the big makeover it would have been a bit claustrophobic from the point of view of someone who likes lots of long cruisers.

Have you thought about Whistler? Except for the no-crowds thing, you might get a super sized sampling of what you like there =
(http://community.webshots.com/photo/...26725691mpRGSZ & http://community.webshots.com/slides...737&key=FeSzoG). Wonder if crowds are ok in early Feb at Whistler?
post #7 of 29
actually in Whistler (I've gone for a week for the last two years), I rarely encountered a crowd, its just too big and spread out.

If looking at Utah, I greatly prefered the Big/Little Cottonwood Canyon areas (Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton I think) although the nightlife/social aspect will not be the same, I felt the skiing was much greater (plus you can stay in SLC, accessable nightlife, just a bit hard to find sometimes) but staying in SLC centralizes you from the 4 areas of Big/Little Cottonwood Canyons (all within 20 minutes or so).

Jackson is a good trip too, but you risk the possibility of so-so snow, and much opposed to many people thinking you don't have to be great to have a blast at Jackson.
post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manus
I thought Killington and the Canyon's were very similar (and oddly similar snow conditions based on being in Utah, I never expected to see that much man-made at a Utah ski area), the Canyon's however have more money invested in the base, thus a nicer base area. The terrain (granted I only had limited exposure) wasn't that great, and many trails were closed
That's a pretty good description of The Canyons when the snow isn't good. The lower mountain is eastern conditions. A bunch of it has melted out in the sun. On a powder day, it's a really good place since it sprawls, there are tons of modern lifts, and it doesn't get all that many skier visits. Where AltaBird has been tracked out by the powder Nazis by 10:30, you're still finding tons of untracked when the lifts close.
post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info guys.

Quote:
From your description of yourself and your wife, I'd think you'd actually be a good candidate to ski Deer Valley.
Deer Valley eh? I'll check it out. I never considered it due to the fact that it seems to cater to non-serious skiers. But then again if your prediction for powder days is true...

Quote:
If looking at Utah, I greatly prefered the Big/Little Cottonwood Canyon areas (Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton I think)
I agree, the problem is that Alta/Bird is very expensive for lodging and we really like going out. OTOH, if you are there for skiing it is really hard to beat the Cottonwood canyons.

I'll add Whistler and Jackson to the list. Thanks again.:
post #10 of 29
I would suggest that you find lodgeing right in Park City. I live right in Old town and can walk to Park City Mountain Resort. It is only a few mins by bus or car to The Canyons and Deer Valley All 3 resorts are all within a few mins of each other. That is close to 9000 acers of skiing to chose from. If you can get an early flight there is a fly in and ski that same day for free deal for all three resorts. there is plenty to do in town. good places to eat and yes you can get a drink in Utah. If you want to try something diffrent take a 45 min drive over to Snowbasin. Snowbasin has got to be my favorite place to ski. Never any crowds. great terrain from blows to chutes to long, long fast leg burning cruisers. try doing the mens down hill from top to bottom without stopping if you don't have legs of steel they will be jello by the end of the run. Lodges are great The food is good and the restrooms have to be seen to be believed.
post #11 of 29
When Utah is going off (3'+ dumps) there is no better place to ski in the world. Even the resorts with lower snow totals cough up staggering amounts of light fluffy snow. As some posters have noted, the Park City resorts are actually better for finding untracked during/after storms because of their size, layout and less commited powder freaks.

The problem is when visitors arrive between (occasional) longer periods of dry weather. For some reason, visitors expect the snow to always be like they see in the brochures/movies and complain that they got short changed when it is not. Think about your local hill. Doesn't it suck sometimes too? Utah just doesn't suck as often. Alta/Bird sucks even less due to higher altitude and less direct sunlight (steeper aspects), which preserves the snow to a fine art. Less snow at the Park City resorts really doesn't play into the equation as much, especially in a big snow year. Park City resorts still get 350+ inches a year, a lot by Colorado standards.

But I digress. The best experience would be to stay in Park City and ski all the areas in the vicinity. After a few days, you will decide which you like the best and ski there the rest of the trip. You can also drive to Alta/Bird, Sol/Bright or Snow Basin (IMO one of the best resorts in America) if you feel the need. Park City has the best dining and nightlife in the state, and if you stay further out of town (The Canyons) you feel like you spent all your non-skiing time driving into Park City.

Powdr
post #12 of 29
DV would be better for you, although they tend to overgroom the runs, which can make the snow very hard. But that's only if it hasn't snowed for a week. Fantastic tree skiing and bumps. Only a little bit of scary stuff; if you are into that, head for the cottonwood canyons. And the food is every bit as good as you have heard. Also, having no snowboarders makes for a different experience, I don't know if that matters to you.
post #13 of 29
Canyons is flat and full of long boring runouts. Utah has much better to offer in the cottonwoods. Deer Valley is an option if nightlife/proximity to Park City is more important than the skiing to you.
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manus
My impression of the Canyon's, being a New England skier and having a few trips under my belt, as I've described it to others before, if I wanted to ski at Killington I'd drive 3 hours.

Just my $.02
BWAHJAHAHA

That is so true

Destination with small crowds in Utah: Snowbasin.
post #15 of 29
had my first major ski ingery there althought a good reasort in my opinion.
post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manus
actually in Whistler (I've gone for a week for the last two years), I rarely encountered a crowd, its just too big and spread out.

If looking at Utah, I greatly prefered the Big/Little Cottonwood Canyon areas (Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton I think) although the nightlife/social aspect will not be the same, I felt the skiing was much greater (plus you can stay in SLC, accessable nightlife, just a bit hard to find sometimes) but staying in SLC centralizes you from the 4 areas of Big/Little Cottonwood Canyons (all within 20 minutes or so).

Jackson is a good trip too, but you risk the possibility of so-so snow, and much opposed to many people thinking you don't have to be great to have a blast at Jackson.
No crowds in Whistler? You've either been very lucky or hallucinating!! Every time I go to Whistler, I get stuck in crowds (and I never go anywhere during a holiday period). The only place consistently more crowded is the "Mid-Vail" area of Vail.

If Whistler had Utah or Colorado QUALITY of snow, it may be the best place on earth. However, it's snow quality is lacking, fog has screwed me over on at least 20% of my days there and I've NEVER been anywhere where it has RAINED in Janunary and February like it does in Whistler.
post #17 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiingman
BWAHJAHAHA

That is so true

Destination with small crowds in Utah: Snowbasin.
Snowbasin is an outstanding resort but not a destination. There is no lodging & as Grand as the lodges are the food is cafeteria basic.
Staying in Ogden would not be an option for this couple who likes to go out.

Solitude is a destination with small crowds but again the going out is limited to 1 bar & 2 resturants, better than Alta/bird for going out, but not by much

Utah has to be well past 49 by now's suggestion of stayin on or near MainStreet Park CIty and checking out different resorts via car or public transport is a great option by what you describe as your priorities.
The Bars & resturants in PC are second only to Aspen ( a distant second though) as to quality/diversity
enjoy.
post #18 of 29
Gezzze, Matt did ya have to bust me online? Some have said that the Canyons is flat and rather like a New England resort with narrow long winding trails. Thats true if you don't get out and explore the whole Mountain. Those statments tell me that , they have not really taken the time to discover all the treasures The Canyons hold. There is so much more there then meets the eye. 99 ninty has the rep for being The Canyons steeps and best skiing.Yet there is some awsome skiing all over The Canyons. I have seen long lines at the red pine area and nobody over in Snow Canyon. There is some great tree skiing Bowls and cliff bands that seem to only attract the locals. If Murrdock peak is open the hike up the ridge line is well worth the effort. In all fairness The Canyons isn't an easy mountain to get to know. Every time I ski there ,The more secrets I discover.
post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by K2rider
No crowds in Whistler? You've either been very lucky or hallucinating!! Every time I go to Whistler, I get stuck in crowds (and I never go anywhere during a holiday period). The only place consistently more crowded is the "Mid-Vail" area of Vail.

If Whistler had Utah or Colorado QUALITY of snow, it may be the best place on earth. However, it's snow quality is lacking, fog has screwed me over on at least 20% of my days there and I've NEVER been anywhere where it has RAINED in Janunary and February like it does in Whistler.
Well, the longest line I've had was maybe 5 minutes (outside a couple long waits at the Harmony chair because of mechanical problems with the chair).

Basically, when I've been there, its always seemed to have the worst crowds at the lower lifts which is why we only went all the way down to the base at the end of the day. Yeah, you hit some trails that have a good amount of people on em, but that still hasn't typically created huge lift lines.

Anyways, back to the the Utah stuff, the Cottonwood areas are great, and expensive if you stay at the base, but when I went, my brother and I stayed in SLC and drove to the areas each day. This was probably the cheapest we have found lodging in all our trips. Granted it wasn't the nicest place, nor slopeside, but it was at least affordable.
post #20 of 29
The Canyons resort is wonderful, if you take the time to discover the entire skiable terrain. 8 peaks...some very challenging, some not so. One thing is for sure, it is not an easy mountain resort to traverse, or get used to. There are many hidden treasures that are never crowded. I have skied some untracked bowls and steeps at the Canyons in the late mornings/early afternoons that you can't find at many other resorts. In fact, the steeps in and around 9990 rival those of Snowbird, and you can make your own tracks much "deeper" into the day. Skiable terrain beyond the gates is also phenomonal! Caution: Be careful. We seem to lose a few tourists every year!! While I may be bias, I enjoy skiing the Canyons more then any other Park City resort. Once you know where to go, it has it all, except the long lift lines. The major problem with this place is ending the day. There is only one, or maybe two ways to ski to the base. Most savvy skiers end the day by taking a ride on the gondola.
post #21 of 29
What do all the boomerang thingys on the Canyons trail map mean?
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manus
Well, the longest line I've had was maybe 5 minutes (outside a couple long waits at the Harmony chair because of mechanical problems with the chair).

Basically, when I've been there, its always seemed to have the worst crowds at the lower lifts which is why we only went all the way down to the base at the end of the day. Yeah, you hit some trails that have a good amount of people on em, but that still hasn't typically created huge lift lines.
When were you there, November or May? On a sunny midwinter Saturday, 45 minute lines at the Harmony and Peak chairs aren't uncommon. The Emerald quad is always a zoo late-morning and after lunch. The lower mountain lifts are a mess first thing in the morning but completely ignored afterwards. I stopped skiing Whistler peak season several years ago.
post #23 of 29
Completely off topic, but the section of Route 4 from Portsmouth to the interstate is so annoying. So glad the girlfriend no longer attends UNH.

Re: Park City area resorts.

The best part is that the tourists don't ski the really good stuff. All the 'core skiers are in LCC/BCC, so you can rip the gnar-gnar to your heart's content without encountering too many bark-eating hooligans.

You can find untracked GOOD stuff at say, Jupiter Peak at PCMR days after a dump.
-Garrett
post #24 of 29
Somewhere around here I have a video called something like "Ski Park City" by a pal of mine in SLC, Mark White.

I spent 2 weeks in Park City, driving around and skiing every area in LCC and BCC and PC. We ended up skiing Canyons 3 days- it was a good value for money, close, for some reason it had better snow than Park City or Deer Valley that week. Get off the beaten track, and you'll find some good runs. My recommendation: Stay in PC, and get a rental car, so you can explore all the areas. You can get to PC easily from anyplace in town, BTW.

Deer Valley is very posh, veyr groomed and has prices to match.

The weirdest thing about PC is the abundance of shops selling outrageously expensive high-end glass objects. I can't imagine being the UPS guy there- it has a main street/and sidewalks that could double as a luge track.

Also the Utah liquor laws are Byzantine in the extreme- I spent 20 minutes in Safeway looking for wine!
post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiingman
Completely off topic, but the section of Route 4 from Portsmouth to the interstate is so annoying. So glad the girlfriend no longer attends UNH.

Re: Park City area resorts.

The best part is that the tourists don't ski the really good stuff. All the 'core skiers are in LCC/BCC, so you can rip the gnar-gnar to your heart's content without encountering too many bark-eating hooligans.

You can find untracked GOOD stuff at say, Jupiter Peak at PCMR days after a dump.
-Garrett
Off-topic response: I think the latest plan is to replace the bridge to Dover in 2010 and pay for it with a toll booth. In a no income tax / no sales tax state, it takes them a while to deal with infrastructure projects.

I agree that DV/PCMR/Canyons are great spots to avoid the powder Nazis. The problem is that they only get half the snow of LCC. I was over at Snowbird skiing epic powder and dropped over to the Canyons for a day to ski with a former ASC VP buddy of mine. 9990 had good conditions but the rest of the place received 6" of fluff rather than the 3' I'd been floating on. Jupiter vs the rest of PCMR is the same way. Still, when there's good snow, I personally prefer the PC resorts to LCC since there's so much more elbow room on the terrain I ski.
post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffD
I agree that DV/PCMR/Canyons are great spots to avoid the powder Nazis. The problem is that they only get half the snow of LCC. I was over at Snowbird skiing epic powder and dropped over to the Canyons for a day to ski with a former ASC VP buddy of mine. 9990 had good conditions but the rest of the place received 6" of fluff rather than the 3' I'd been floating on. Jupiter vs the rest of PCMR is the same way. Still, when there's good snow, I personally prefer the PC resorts to LCC since there's so much more elbow room on the terrain I ski.
Yeah. Good point. Amazing how much difference in snow there can be among mountains no more than 15 miles apart as the crow flies.

Snowbasin is another oft-ignored option. With beautiful lodges, heh. Way too nice for a guy my age. I feel out of place in those buildings.
-Garrett
post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffD
...9990 had good conditions but the rest of the place received 6" of fluff rather than the 3' I'd been floating on. Jupiter vs the rest of PCMR is the same way.
DV, PCMR & The Canyons all have micro climates. Is well documented that the base areas (around 7,000') have much less snow/quality than deep into the back areas of each resort. The 9,000' line is a good predicator of the snow quality: anything above that is very similar to the LCC/BCC resorts. The problem is that most visitors do not spend that much time up in these areas because they are either unaware of them or it is too steep for them. They therefore come back with a feeling that the PC resorts do not have as good/much snow as the BCC/LCC resorts. What's funny is that if you cut off the bottom 1/2 of these resorts, they would resemble the BCC resorts in size and vertical, and you would never get these complaints. So in essence, the PC resorts are offering larger/taller moutains and get penalized for it.

BTW, if you get lucky at the PC resorts and find at least 1’ of new at the base, go like hell up to the top parts of the mountain, because it means that there is a LOT more up there.

Powdr
post #28 of 29
Thats a good point powdr.I have spent many a happy day on Jupiter Peak and in Thaynes Canyon with side trips into Blue Slip and Mc Conkeys. Ever notice that there isn't any crowds in Puma bowl or hiking up to the chutes above? Still for a powder day I can't think a of a better place to ski then Deer Valley.
post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiingman
Yeah. Good point. Amazing how much difference in snow there can be among mountains no more than 15 miles apart as the crow flies.
Mom used to have a house in the Summit Park a couple of exits before the Park City exit. In their microclimate, they routinely got 300" of snow when a mile away at the bottom of the hill by the freeway, it was often bare ground. Utah microclimates continue to astound me. I'm not aware of anywhere else where there is that much variance in precipitation over such a short distance.
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