Insider Tips to Skiing Deer Valley Resort
Deer Valley Resort is consistently ranked among the top skiing destinations in North America and many will ask why? Well, they are ranked #1 because they tell everyone they are #1! They truly believe it and you can come see for yourself if you like the Kool-Aid they are drinking.
In all seriousness, it’s a great resort, and here are some of the things that Deer Valley is known for:
- Luxury (the Country Club of ski resorts)
- Turkey Chili
- NO Snowboarders
- Well-manicured & groomed trails
- Tons of blue runs
- Great for beginners and intermediate skiers
- Excellent customer service (they don’t let customers handle their own skis!)
- And last but not least it’s amazing for people watching and skiing with the stars
So, if that gets you excited enough to make the trip, here are some of the best Deer Valley trips this ol’ local can share to make your visit the best it can be.
Tip #1 – Use the Jordanelle Gondola
On a busy day, Deer Valley will have 10,000 skiers using the Snow Park Lodge area. This is the main parking lot at the base of Deer Valley. There are also two other access points to the mountain, Silver Lake and Empire Pass. (NOTE: There is no general parking and they only allow access to those that are lodging there.)
At the Jordanelle Gondola, parking is free but limited. On a busy day, only about 10% of the general public use the Gondola. It’s far less crowded, easy to park, and a very enjoyable experience. With a 6 minute ride and an easy green run, you can be at the bottom of Snow Park Lodge enjoying breakfast while others are just arriving at Snow Park and looking for a place to park. But here’s the real issue with Snow Park: there is one road in and one road out and you can only access it through Deer Valley Drive which is a small two-lane road. It was never built to accommodate the capacity and demand that Deer Valley now has. If you have first time skiers or kids who need to be in ski school at 8:45 AM then the gondola is NOT an option. The ticket office opens at 8 AM and the gondola starts running at 9 AM.
The “Deer Hollow” run can be a little steep and challenging for 1st-time skiers but for kids or novices who have skied before it won’t be a problem. At the end of the day, there is just one run, Jordanelle, down to the parking lot that is a double blue. It’s challenging and steep, narrow and sometimes icy later in the day. If you’re not up to skiing down you can always take the gondola as many beginner and intermediate skiers do. It’s a great option and frankly the way to do it if you are nervous. The gondola is easy to access and easy to find just off Exit 8 on HWY 40 but there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Arrive early to ensure a place to park
- There are really no services there. No ski rental, no shops, no food options, and no ski school.
- There is a ticket window, lockers, and bathrooms as well as free overnight ski storage. If you are coming back to ski the next day this is a great option. I recommend taking your boots with you so you can dry them and keep them warm for the next day.
In short, if you are coming to Deer Valley from the Salt Lake area or Utah Valley and Heber/Midway, the Jordanelle Gondola is a great option. You will save time and it’s certainly more convenient. If you are staying right in Park City then you are better using the Snow Park Lodge base area.
Tip #2 – Plan Your Lunch Ahead of Time
Deer Valley is less about skiing and more about the experience. There are several dining options on the mountain and great for Après Skiing as well. There are the Deer Valley owned and operated dining options which are fantastic. They are more like the cafeteria-style lunches you have grown accustomed to in the ski industry. Deer Valley operates Snow Park Lodge, Silver Lake Lodge, and Empire Canyon Lodge. They all have similar menus with great food and moderate prices (less expensive than their neighbor’s at Park City which is Vail owned and operated).
Here’s the Inside Tip to great food and elaborate lodge experience: Plan a lunch at one of the three 5-Diamond Luxury Hotels that are ski-in/ski-out properties. It’s something your kids and friends will talk about forever! Stein Eriksen’s, Montage and St. Regis offer unbelievable dining options for mid-day skiing. Take off your boots and slide into some slippers and truly be wined and dined by some of the most prestigious names in the hospitality industry. They know how to do it. Don’t forget your wallet because it’s not cheap but you will experience something in skiing that is reserved only for the elite.
Tip #3 – Ski While Others Are Eating
Timing is everything. It’s no secret that many people come to Deer Valley for the lunch experience. There are locals who will start skiing at 11 AM, have lunch at noon, then ski to the car by 2 PM. That’s not too far from average. Businessmen will make deals on the chair lift. If that isn’t why you are skiing Deer Valley then you can do this simple trick: Start early with breakfast before you arrive. This means you can ski until after 2 PM and avoid all the lift lines and bottlenecks associated with lunchtime. You’ll be able to eat while no one else is eating and ski from 3-4 PM when the mountain is quiet. Everyone will have gone home and you’ll have the place to yourself. Don’t worry, you can still enjoy an Après snack at the St. Regis on your way to the car. If you left your car at the Jordanelle they will provide a shuttle to the parking lot after the lifts have closed for the day.
While this might not be the best-kept secret, when you understand the “why” behind skiing at Deer Valley this tip will become more valuable or even priceless.
One of my favorite runs at Deer Valley is Stein’s Way, named after Stein Eriksen. It’s a steep black run that is groomed with a winch cat. Find a day when it’s been freshly rolled and enjoy. I also love getting on the Crown Point lift at the end of the day and skiing the Kimberly run toward the Jordanelle Gondola. I call this the “home show” because of all the $10 million dollar homes you get to ski around.
So, there you have it. Ultimately, Deer Valley can be a GREAT Ski Experience for skiers of all levels and I highly recommend it. Check out HWY 40 Ski Delivery for an amazing rental and delivery experience to make your Deer Valley Resort ski trip even better.
Now get to the mountain already.
Jonathan loves pushing the limits and has been skiing since age 2. He’s a father of four, an entrepreneur, and owns and operates HWY 40 Ski Delivery with his wife Jessica. Jonathan has a passion for creating outdoor experiences for others, boating, adventure travel and he only sleeps when the wind blows.