The Greatest Snow on Earth – Just Like the License Plate Says
With fourteen great ski resorts within an hour’s drive of Salt Lake City and an enviable annual snowfall of 500 inches in some areas, its no mystery why Utah was chosen to host the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Powder hounds and black diamond skiers may head to Alta and neighboring Snowbird for challenging steeps and deeps and some of the lightest snow imaginable. But those who want an exquisite, pampering hotel experience along with well-groomed slopes prefer chic but unpretentious Deer Valley, one of three ski destinations (together with Park City Mountain and The Canyons) whose trails and bowls funnel into Park City, a century-old mining town.
The social beehive during Salt Lake City’s winter games, the town continues to be a lively aprfes- ski magnet in an otherwise sedate area. In Deer Valley, the Stein Eriksen Lodge was founded by its charismatic 1952 Olympic gold medalist namesake, who still plays host and ski director. Ranked as one of the world’s finest ski-in/ski- out lodges, its mid-mountain location, cozy public areas and guest rooms (most with fireplaces), luxurious Scandinavian decor, and impeccable service set the gold standard.
Just out of the Park City loop, the ski hideaway Sundance (named by founder Robert Redford for his character in 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) is both resort and, since 1981, home base of the famous film festival of the same name, North America’s premiere showcase for independent film.
Most of the festival’s events and screenings now take place in Park City, but a good number continue to be held in Sundance Village, Redford’s environmentally conscious picture- perfect community of rustic but stylish cottages, snuggled unobtrusively amid 6,000 acres of pines and aspens, blending nature with the arts. Screenings, classes, and events are held year-round, and in winter there’s cross-country and alpine skiing, the latter on 8,250-foot Airhead Summit, home to the only mountaintop lodge in all of Utah, with magnificent views from Bearclaw Cabin.