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Story and Photos by Larry Turner

Skiing Like a Local was the marquee of the press trip. I would soon find out that whether a blue or white collar worker or retiree, being a local in the Utah Wasatch Ski Range could be habit forming…and a very good habit indeed!

Several ski journalists throughout America —and one from Germany—earlier this year experienced what the locals of the Greater Salt Lake City region have known for some time: Utah snow is second to none in America. We specifically received hefty snow helpings from the resorts of Park City, Solitude and Snowbird. Our ecstatic ski delirium could only be appeased through our departure to our separate regions of the country. Otherwise we realized that we were vulnerable toward becoming permanent “locals” in Utah ski heaven. Not to say that this would be a bad thing, but convincing our immediate families to join us in this nirvana might not bode well for all parties. Darn! We might not add to the permanent population of Utah but we’ll certainly come back for the continuing “local” experience.

Drinking Like Locals
No Name Saloon

Park City Evening
Ski Dancing


The snow gods traveled with us. The day and evening we arrived, the Wasatch Range received their largest snowfall of the season. After checking into the affordable Yarrow Hotel—nothing extra fancy here but utilitarian for the budget traveler--we gathered for an evening out on the town, starting with one of Park City’s famous watering holes: the No Name Saloon. I couldn’t resist having one of the local brews: Polygamy Porter. Actually, I had two to give credence to their label saying: “Why Just Have One?” Another one that intrigued me was the Provo Girl Pilsner since I hail from a Czech settled town in Oregon. Another time for the Pils, though.

The saloon—located in the heart of Old Town Park City—was lively with après ski life. During Park City’s mining boom, such saloons were equally lively with patrons after a hard days work. Surely, skiing can be considered a hard days work, don’t you think? The No Name is known for their large stein beers. I tried one unsuccessfully, knowing that fresh pow pow awaited tomorrow and I wanted to be on my skis with a measure of balance…plus, we were soon to depart for dinner and wine at nearby Shabu, known for their freestyle Asian cuisine.

Affable, hip Park City Mayor—and local rock star—Dana Williams joined us for dinner. Wine and stories flowed freely like the snowstorm outside. The long table we occupied in the center of Shabu was filled with old friends and new. After a succulent sea bass dinner—preceded by a lovely scallop appetizer—I traded in my pinot noir glass for a rare Osmosis martini, a blend of sake, vodka, Malibu rum, pineapple juice and a splash of sour. A dessert sampling was passed around. Double fork dipping was not adhered to at our freestyle table. “More water please,” I asked the waiter, knowing such would be the best hangover preventative. I had forgotten to take my charcoal tablets on the trip-- the best hangover preventative known by few.

Jet lag was taking its toll on everyone. Vans took everyone in our party back to the Hotel. Eugene Magazine (eugenemagazine.com) editor John Anderson and I elected to walk back to the Hotel, sampling some more of Park City’s evening life.

Snowboarding Park City
Park City Mine Remnants

Park City Aspens
Park City Powder
Park City,Utah

First and foremost, Park City in the winter is a ski town, though it started as a silver mining town 142 years ago. When not skiing though, it offers a rich plate of eateries (from the simple to the fancy), art galleries, shopping, nightclubs and saloons, along with a variety of other winter sport offerings, including the exhilarating 4000 foot alpine coaster, sleigh rides, inner tubing park, snowmobiling, ice skating, dog sledding, winter fly fishing and snow shoeing.

Park City’s old building and narrow streets have a winter ambience reminiscent of scenes out of the Polar Express book and movie and the Christmas story. Nights are energetic in the heart of Park City, especially among the young crowd—including many internationals, especially the French, Spanish and Germans—who come out after 10pm.

The impact of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002 are still being felt in Park City where most of the alpine and snowboard events transpired along with the bobsled, luge, skeleton and ski jumping events at Park City’s Utah Olympic Park. The legacy of the Olympics is preserved in the 2002 Eccles Olympic Winter Games Museum at the Park. On the flip side of the Games, Park City went through a robust growing phase that forever has changed the small town flavor of the town. Open spaces are less.

“We’re doing the best we can to buy some of the open spaces around Park City to preserve for the public,” says Mayor Williams. “We want to keep and preserve the mining structures for current and future generations. The old homes that many of the locals live in, we want to preserve, too.” Williams—as do most locals—see a struggle as newcomers arrive in Park City, purchasing second, third and fourth homes for seasonal living. “We’re working on it. In the meantime, let’s go skiing,” laughs Williams in a serious yet cavalier way.

Skiing Park City

Two feet of fresh snow had fallen overnight when we hit the slopes the next morning, giddy with anticipation as we booted up and slipped into our fat ski bindings. “Let’s roll and have some fun today,” belts out local Harvey LaPointe who has skied Park City for over 30 years. With 3300 acres, Park City offers terrain and potential for all ski and snowboard levels. Complimenting the day skiing is night skiing, riding and a terrain park (4pm to 7:30pm). Park City has 104 trails, nine bowls and seven peaks, rising to the highest at 10000 feet. The longest run—Homerun—is 3.5 miles. Among my favorites are the aspen glades off of Homerun and King Con Ridge. We had the pleasure of drawing fresh powder lines wherever we went this day.

Park City—in fact, all of Utah—is known for its dry powder. This storm was laden with more moisture. Nonetheless, the beguiling powder was challenging and thrilling. LaPointe took some of us to his “secret” stashes. We thanked him and promised him that our amnesia was intact.

A late lunch was taken in the Park City Ski Village’s Legends Bar and Grill. It felt good to loosen the ski boots, order a refreshing drink and belly up to the roaring fireplace. After a hearty lunch, a few of us hit the slopes again for a few more turns, and then we all rendezvoused for a drive to Snowbird Ski Resort.

Snowbird View
Fresh Tracks Snowbird
Atrium Café

America’s First Ski Tunnel
Snowbird View (black and white)
Cliff Lodge Lower Pool

Snowbird Upper Pool


Snowbird is a place where the locals with an attitude like to go. A good attitude, though, based on challenging terrain—the most challenging in all of Utah with 3240 feet of vertical drop. Locals ski hard here. On fresh powder days, it is ski heaven for the intrepid and damn good skiing for the less intrepid also.

Snowbird—located in Little Cottonwood Canyon outside Salt Lake City—is the home of North America’s first ski tunnel, now in its second year of operation. The 600 foot tunnel has a rubber conveyor belt that transports skiers from Snowbird’s main front Peruvian Basin to its outback Mineral Basin, a four- minute surreal ride that makes intermediate terrain more accessible to riders and skiers, eliminating a series of switchbacks and the high pitch of Chip’s Face Run. “That was really cool,” gushed east coast resident rider Lauren Traub Teton. “It was strange getting on that belt, but what a view when it spilled to the other side!”

Fresh Powder Day Snowbird
Snowbird PowPow

It was an epic day of skiing for us, the views of 11000 foot plus Mount Baldy, American Fork Twin Peaks and Hidden Peak mesmerizing, along blue bird conditions after a fresh powder dump of three feet. Living a hundred plus miles from the nearest ski area in Oregon, days like this one at Snowbird make me want to become a Utah local and bona fide powder hound.

The bunker-like (built so because of avalanches) Cliff Lodge accommodations were deluxe. The Cliff Spa luxurious. Dining that evening at the Steak Pit was perfect for a carnivore like myself, and lunch the following day at the Frank Lloyd Wright like Atrium Café was just what the snow doctor ordered.

Solitude Resort Pool
Jay Burke
Solitude Powder

Solitude Resort
Days End
Solitude Ski Resort

Evening Cheers
Solitude Ski Resort


The following day we drove to Solitude Ski Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon, as the crow flies, just north of Snowbird. The drive is nothing less than splendor through the narrow canyon along the banks of a mountain creek—a scene that Currier and Ives would have been proud to paint.

Solitude lives up to its name. With over 500 inches of snow a year on its 1200-acre terrain, there is no overcrowding and long lines like some ski areas have. A great family ski area, it is also host to locals and others who pine for less complicated ski resorts. Nightlife here is more subdued, reflective, less complicated. Their ski prices from $32 to $53 all-day lift rates aren’t bad considering the more inflated areas. Food is excellent at several of their restaurants in the charming European ski village. Down the road, too, is the rustic and down-home feel Silver Fork Restaurant, with barbecue ribs worth skiing off the mountain for.

Jay Burke was our ski guide, taking us to Solitude ski morsel runs such as Honeycomb Canyon, Here Be Dragons, Voltaire, Hal Shallow and Rhapsody. We wet our whistle at the end of the ski day at Thirsty Squirrel, played fools ball and pool. Later we soaked in the heated swimming pool of Club Solitude.

Skiing like a local in Utah will make you happy, tired, fulfilled and hungry for more. I forgot the part about talking to a rental agent about becoming a “local” for one ski season in the Wasatch. Or did I?


Contacts: www.skiutah.com; www.skisolitude.com; www.skiparkcity.com; www.snowbird.com.


Prints may be purchased by contacting Larry at Skiturn789@yahoo.com.

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