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Family Fun, Outdoor Activities, Park City, Skiing, Utah

Back to (Ski) School— Hitting the Slopes at Deer Valley

December 31, 2016

It had been more than 25 years since I last slid my feet into skis but when the chance came to join some friends on their annual ski trip to Park City, Utah last March, I took it. This would be my first time to visit Utah. A short Delta flight from San Diego and then an Uber had us in Park City in no time.

There is lodging ranging from hotel rooms to home rentals at all price points in and around Park City. We stayed at a friend’s home in this beautiful area close to both Park City Mountain and Deer Valley.

We set off to get provisions for the house and made a quick trip to Christy Sports Ski and Snowboard Rentals where my friends had reserved their equipment. Book your gear in advance online and you’ll save about 15 percent. There are numerous rental outlets to choose from in Park City and the ski resorts have their own shops and rental facilities, too. Check around for best prices.

Downtown Park City has plenty of stores, boutiques, galleries and restaurants for every taste and budget. You’ll get the best value in ski gear rentals with an advance booking online at places like Christy’s, which is outside of town.

We had a delicious dinner at the Blind Dog on our first night. It’s a casual restaurant popular with locals and visitors with an expansive menu sure to please most. There are salads, seafood and steak dishes to choose from, as well as both gluten free and vegetarian options. There is also a sushi menu available, which several in our group chose.

The Blind Dog has lots of menu options including gluten free and vegetarian selections.

Everything was fresh and tasty and the service attentive.The Blind Dog’s “Whine List” has a very good selection with plenty of by- the- glass options, beers, cocktails and sakes. The restaurant also has a gift shop with all manner of Blind Dog merchandise.

Indulge in some after dinner shopping at Blind Dog in Park City, UT.

The next morning we were off to Deer Valley Resort. There wasn’t as much snow as in years past, but the mountains were beautiful and I was excited to start my ski adventure.

Deer Valley is a full- service ski resort with lodging, restaurants, shops, gear rentals and a terrific ski school.

The others were planning to ski both Deer Valley and Park City during our time there, but I was advised to start at Deer Valley. Their ski school is highly regarded and after my lengthy hiatus from the mountains, lessons were definitely in order. Note: Deer Valley is for skiers only–snowboarders are welcome at Park City Mountain.

Park City Mountain welcomes snowboarders and skiers. Free buses shuttle visitors between the mountain and downtown Park City.

The Deer Valley ski school staff suggested I purchase a beginner’s day pass, which allows access up to Silver Lake –about mid-mountain and high enough for me. A beginner’s pass was only $35 while a full day pass was $120 for adults. There are discounts available for seniors, children and military. You must have a pass to take lessons.

You must have a ski pass to take lessons at Deer Valley. The beginner’s ticket is perfect if you’re only planning to go mid-mountain.

I also opted to rent my equipment at Deer Valley. You can purchase your lift ticket, equipment rental and pay for lessons at the rental shop—one stop shopping. Since I chose the three-hour afternoon ski lesson, I was also counseled to wait until noon to get my rentals—great advice since the price is reduced at that time. I found out later that my rental also included a complimentary subscription to Ski Magazine.

Deer Valley has a highly regarded ski school and lived up to its reputation with patient, knowledgeable instructors.

By 12:40 p.m. I was fully outfitted and making my way to join the others in my “Max 4” lesson, so-called because there is a maximum of three other students plus an instructor. Students are matched as much as possible based on level of skill, age, etc. I was with three other women and all had been back on the slopes far more recently than I. Mike Wirt, from upstate New York, was our excellent and patient instructor. He critiqued with kindness, gave practical pointers and instilled confidence in all of us.

Being back on skis after a 25- year hiatus was fun and exhilarating. Yes, I fell a few times but that was no surprise!

I was a little nervous when our instructor took my poles away but it actually helped me improve—immediately. Before long, I was skiing with a new found confidence and while I fell a few times (including a pretty spectacular wipeout that involved a fence), I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I had a wonderful and exhilarating afternoon, and thanks to Mike’s excellent instruction, I’m looking forward to my next adventure on the slopes.

In addition to skiing, you can book snowshoeing and sleigh ride excursions at Deer Valley or rent skates at Park City and take a few turns on their on-site ice rink.

Deer Valley Resort has numerous options for dining and refreshments. I enjoyed a restorative hot cocoa at Deer Valley, Etc., the coffee shop on the plaza level, and a casual lunch at the cafeteria there. My friends dined at Silver Lake Restaurant, which they raved about, but my lesson time precluded meeting up with them mid-mountain.

There are also shops to explore and a handy locker room to stow your stuff while you’re on the slopes at Deer Valley. Lockers are $3 for one- time access. The attended bins are $5 for all day access and can be shared.  This is the way to go if you want to ditch outer layers as the day warms up. You may also store your skis overnight with the attendants. Park City Mountain also offers a variety of dining and shopping opportunities as well, and an on-site outdoor ice rink.

Complimentary buses take visitors from Deer Valley and Park City Mountain to downtown Park City where a free trolley is available.

Local transportation is convenient and complimentary— free shuttle buses take visitors into town, up to Silver Lake, to Park City Mountain and all around the area.  There’s also a free trolley that traverses Park City’s Main Street.

The helpful people at Deer Valley’s information booth are happy to assist with transportation, excursions and dining recommendations. In addition to skiing, shopping and dining, it is also possible to book sleigh rides and snowshoeing outings at Deer Valley. The lack of snow precluded us from those activities last time, but the 2017 season looks promising!