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Grander Canyons

Grander Canyons

As Utah’s Biggest resort comes of age, it’s still hard to characterize. But who cares? Because when it comes to ski terrain, multiple personality disorder isn’t a bad thing.
By Carrie Sheinberg, Contributor, SKI Magazine
posted: 11/04/2009
Hiking in The Canyons

The last day of my visit coincides with one of The Canyons’ most popular spring events. In addition to annual resort-sponsored community happenings like fireworks, farmers markets and free summer concerts, the Canyons holds a pond-skimming bash each spring. It draws a hundred or so contestants—skiers and snowboarders costumed in various stages of undignified. They slide down an in-run and try to skim across a snowmaking reservoir. About half make it. Some don’t even try. There’s music. There’s laughter. There’s disaster. My favorite contestant this year? Octomom.

It’s all part of Spring Grüv, a two-week music extravaganza. On my way back to the Escala, I can hear Bob Marley’s famed reggae band, the Wailers, doing their thing in front of 5,000 bouncing spring-fever revelers in the Forum. And even though the events signify the end of the season, they mean a lot to the resort, year-round. “That history of free music is something we’re going to continue to hold on to,” says Canyons marketing chief Todd Burnette. “The pond-skimming and other events—we’re trying to keep a fun atmosphere. Besides, for this place to really be a success, we need to be part of the community.”

I’ve always felt that the word “potential” is both a curse and a compliment. On the one hand, having potential suggests future success. On the other, it suggests existing shortcomings and the huge pressure of trying to achieve what’s possible. Burnette, Goar and others readily admit there’s still a healthy-sized to-do list. Topping that list: This giant ski area desperately needs another way to get up the hill. The gondola alone is simply not enough. In addition, more restaurants and facilities are needed east of Red Pine Lodge. And the snowmaking system hasn’t kept up with the explosive growth in skiable acres.

But The Canyons’ enormous potential is exactly what lured Goar away from his comfortable perch of 27 years at neighboring Solitude. “As big as the resort is already,” he says, “it’s still in
its infant stages, and that’s incredibly exciting. It’s one of the only new and developing major North American alpine resorts. It isn’t the only one, of course, but this one is established enough to be real.”

Potential, of course, is never enough. Instead, and luckily, it’s reality that draws people. And no matter which canyon or personality you’re attracted to, there’s one suited to your particular needs, hidden in the snowfields and valleys above Park City. “It’s the mountain that keeps people coming back,” Wahlquist says. “It’s big, and it’s just that good.” ●

SIGNPOST: The Canyons

3,700 skiable acres; 3,190 vertical feet; summit elevation 9,990 feet; 350 annual inches; 165 runs; 17 lifts, including one six-pack, four high-speed quads and an eight-person gondola. Lift tickets : $81; kids (7–12) and seniors (65–plus) $48; under 7 free.

GETTING THERE The Canyons boasts one of the shortest airport-to-slopes commutes in all of ski country—just 25 to 30 minutes, depending on traffic and weather. Shuttles are abundant, or take I-15 south, then I-80 east.

LODGING There’s been an explosion of high-end slopeside lodging. Clearly, the Canyons aims to rival its crosstown neighbor Deer Valley in that regard. In addition to the new Dakota Mountain Lodge (see sidebar, page 76) the Canyons’ new Escala Lodges offer luxury slopeside suites (1- to 4-bedroom). They’re family-friendly (up to 2,000 square feet), with all the amenities ($199–$3,750; 866-604-4171; The Grand Summit, also resort-owned, remains the closest to the gondola ($154–$2,911; 866-604-4171). In town, the Sky Lodge—a five-star boutique hotel—is sleek, metropolitan and right in the middle of all the action ($325–$5,200;

APRÈS & DINING No shortages in this department, either: There’s Adolph’s, a local institution, with rich Swiss ambience, fondue, raclette and walls adorned with ski racing memorabilia (435-649-7177). At the resort, The Cabin offers legit fine dining at reasonable prices in the Grand Summit (435-615-8060) and the Viking Yurt offers mountaintop dining—candlelit, wood stove–warmed and accessed by sleigh (435-615-9878). In town, Prime raises the preparation of steak to an art form (435-655-9739). Try Wahso (435-615-0300) or Shabu (435-645-7253) for different takes on Asian fusion. And even if you’re based at The Canyons, the amazing seafood buffet at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Lodge is worth the trip. The best après-pizza-and-beer dive has to be the Sidecar (435-645-7468). And check out Downstairs, the chill new Main Street lounge of actor Danny Masterson (That ’70s Show).

INFO 888-226-9667;

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