My 8-year-old daughter and I went to The Canyons, April 4-8 -- our first exposure to skiing west of the Mississippi. It was great! My overall impression: huge mountains (to my East Coast eyes), massive and beautiful place, great skiing with lots of variety, not crowded, friendly (not particularly in a "we're all in this together" sense), but not a place to go to for haute cuisine -- although Park City is nearby!
We went with some neighbors who have a daughter in my daughter's third grade class. So, my daughter had a natural skiing buddy (in addition to me) and I had some adult company. With afternoon temperatures in the mid-40's a couple days, our main problem was not freezing, but overheating with too many layers on. Also, with bright sun at higher altitudes, no base tan, and only spf 30 sunscreen, we both came home with "goggle face" -- sunburned on the bottom half of the face.
Many of the groomed slopes at The Canyons are blue or double blue -- which is my daughter's level, so we were fine. If I had had more beginner skiers in my group, the relative lack of greens might have been an issue. For me, I would have liked having a few more groomed 1BDs to choose from, although I liked having the opportunity to try ungroomed blacks. On Sunday afternoon, my daughter and her friend had a three-hour ski lesson together, so I went skiing with the friend's dad. This guy has been skiing for 30 years and had been on his college ski team. The first slope he took me on was called "Paradise". Very soon after we started down this ungroomed, semi-wooded, steep, black diamond slope, I figured out the name was intended to be ironic. For me it was exhilerating, if not exhausting, to ski at this level. [Digression: over a year ago, during a lesson at Smuggs, I told a ski instructor that as a three-decade runner, I didn't think skiing was an aerobic sport. He chuckled and said "just wait". I could hear him having the last laugh while I was skiing that afternoon at The Canyons.]
The Canyons gets a bad rap for being hard to get around the mountains. Sure, if you're "map challenged", or can't remember connections between lifts from one day to the next, or prefer precise urban grids, you might be put off by the relative lack of lateral cut-throughs between lifts. But my daughter and I found this activity -- figuring out how to get from point A to point D without having to ski uphill -- to be part of The Canyons' charm.
Non-skiing aspects: We stayed at the Sundial Lodge, which is maybe a 100-yard walk to the main lift. The room was very nice and the Spring rates were not expensive. I understand the Summit Hotel (30-foot walk to the main lift) is more expensive. Two of the four nights there, we went into Park City (15 minutes or so by shuttle bus) for dinner and had great food.
Non-skiing high point of the trip: the first morning, going up a lift on a quiet section of the mountains, my daughter and I saw a prairie dog stand up and look around to see if it was warm enough to come out for Spring.
When we next Go West to ski, you Colorado folks are going to have a hard sell with my daughter. She loves Utah, and The Canyons.
Edited by Jimski - 4/13/2009 at 03:56 pm GMT
Edited by Jimski - 4/13/2009 at 03:45 pm GMT