Sorry, snowboarders. This skiers-only resort offers families epic terrain and world-class service, all in a serene setting.
Tucked in an old mining town with more than 300 inches of snow a season, Deer Valley offers epic terrain, impeccable service, and an unmatched experience that will have you planning your next trip before you even leave!
Photo courtesy: Deer Valley
What to do on the slopes?
Sorry, snowboarders. Deer Valley is for skiers only. Since opening in 1981, Deer Valley has remained one of only three resorts in the USA that doesn’t allow boarders. It’s a draw for some and a drawback for others.
KidTripster Tip: In order to maintain an exceptional experience, Deer Valley limits the number of lift tickets sold each day, so it’s best to purchase tickets in advance, especially over holidays.
After you strap on those skis, you’ll be able to explore 101 runs over more than 2,000 acres. The mountain has something for every skill level; 27% of the trails are dedicated to beginners. For more advanced skiers, don’t miss skiing the exact runs skied by athletes during the 2002 Winter Olympics. You’ll actually be skiing on history! Lift ticket cost: Youth (1-5) $32; Youth $84; Adult $135.
KidTripster Tip: Check online for multi-day lift ticket savings. Also, ask your hotel’s concierge while booking. Some places offer lodging and lift ticket packages that can save you some cash.
Why not ski with an Olympic champion at an Olympic site? Deer Valley’s Ski With a Champion program allows you (maximum of 6 people) to ski with one of six former Olympians. This is not a lesson; experience is required. It’s super pricey, but what a cool way to hear Olympic stories and get some bragging rights! Cost: Half day $1200; Full day $2000.
Dreaming of becoming an Olympian? Deer Valley’s Ski School is top-notch. Kids (3 and up), teens, and adults can choose from private or group lessons for just one day or over multiple days to really improve their skills. It’s amazing how much they can learn in one day! I watched my 3-year-old daughter ski all by herself for the first time down the longest bunny hill, giggling all the way. Cost: Kid & teen lessons (including lift ticket, lunch & snack) $240; Adult lessons $192.
For little ones, the Children’s Center is filled with games, crafts, imaginative activities, books, and more. Kids can go as young as 2 months and as old as 12 years for half or full days. Cost: Full day $152.
Or you can choose to experience the mountain on foot. Grab a foot passenger ticket that’ll get you up the Jordanelle Express Gondola or Silver Lake Express chairlift. Cost: $17.
Photo courtesy: Deer Valley
What to do off the slopes?
Don’t be fooled! Deer Valley has way more to offer than skiing. All Seasons Adventures can take you out dog sledding, nordic skiing or on a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow. We donned snowshoes and took to the trails around the lower part of Deer Valley. The tour operator even had tiny snowshoes for my 3-year-old; she loved it! It was a great outdoor family activity. We did a simpler course because of my toddler, but you can tailor your snowshoe adventure to your family’s abilities.
One of the highlights for my daughter was a scenic, peaceful sleigh ride around the mid-mountain area. The horse-drawn sleigh leaves from the Stein Erickson Lodge and takes you up the slopes for a dramatic view of Park City, all while bundled up under blankets. My daughter fell in love with the horses, encouraging them by name throughout the ride.
For a leisurely afternoon, head over to Park City’s Main Street to shop and eat! It’s about a 15-minute walk from Deer Valley. Or hop on the free trolley that runs up and down the street all day; just look for the trolley stop signs.
While you're strolling on Main Street, pop into the Park City Museum (528 Main St.) to learn all about the town’s mining history. Climb inside an old ski train, walk into a jail cell, and practice blowing up rocks. This museum is both informative and interactive. Be sure to check out the gift shop on your way out. Cost: Youth (under 7) Free; Youth (7-17) $5; Adults $12.
While you’re exploring historic Park City, try out your skating skills at the Resort Center Ice Rink (1415 Lowell Ave.). You can skate as long as you want. You’ll find free ice skate walkers for kids (and adults like me who can’t skate!). Cost: $16, includes rental.
Explore Olympic history at Utah Olympic Park (3419 Olympic Pkwy.). It’s free to tour the ski museum and the 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museum. It’s perfect for children because it’s so interactive. You can sit in bobsleds, press buttons to create avalanches, and even practice your long ski jumps. For older kids (16 and up), ride in a real bobsled down the 2002 Olympic track. A professional pilot will take you on a once-in-a-lifetime trip! Cost: $175; make reservations in advance. Olympic Park also has three ropes courses - beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Cost: $15-$20.
Hop in the car, and you’ll be at White Pine Touring Nordic Center (1541 Thaynes Canyon Dr.) within minutes. There you can rent cross-country skis to explore more than 12 miles of groomed trails; lessons, tours, and rentals also are available. Cost: Lesson $50; Tours start at $175 plus $75 for each additional person.
From Deer Valley, you also have access to fly fishing, snow biking, snowmobiling, and tubing. Look for brochures at the information center at the base of the mountain or ask your hotel concierge.
Where to eat?
There are three main ski areas: Snow Park Village at the base, Silver Lake Village at mid-mountain, and Empire Canyon at upper-mountain. Each has lodging and dining options.
Seafood in the mountains?! Yes, it’s true. Don’t leave Deer Valley without experiencing the Seafood Buffet inside Snow Park Lodge at Snow Park Village. It has everything from crab legs to a poke bar to specialized entrées that change nighty. The lobster roll was divine; I may have had 4 or 5 of them! And the staff is attentive and fun. They taught my 3-year-old how to crack crab legs, and then she ate her weight in them! It may be hard, but be sure to save room for dessert. The signature Deer Valley snowball is a must!
During the day, Snow Park Restaurant inside Snow Park Lodge is a low-key place to grab a quick bite before heading back out on the slopes. The turkey chili is legendary, and there’s also a large salad bar, sandwich station, and hot food selections. The Snow Park Restaurant also serves up a hot breakfast before the lifts open.
A great spot for dinner is the Brass Tag inside the Lodges at Deer Valley. The fresh-baked pretzels to start are delicious. Main dishes include local meats and produce, as well as brick-oven pizza. The children’s menu is extensive. It comes on an iPad, which becomes a toy once the little ones order. Score! The Brass Tag also serves a pretty hearty breakfast buffet for guests of the Lodges of Deer Valley.
In the mid-mountain area, Silver Lake Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and grab-and-go dinner. Breakfast is continental style with homemade cheddar biscuits, fresh pastries, and espresso drinks. Lunch consists of grill items, salad bar, tacos, soup, and more. And after a full day on the mountain, let them take the guesswork out of dinner. Pre-order that famous turkey chili, salads, and soups for pickup and enjoy it all in the comfort of your own room.
Also at mid-mountain, the award-winning Goldener Hirsch Restaurant is your stop for après-ski fondue. Dinner draws on European influences with fresh fish, meats, and even Wiener schnitzel. Opt for a date night or bring the kids. They’ll love the grilled cheese and pasta on the kid’s menu. Be sure to make reservations.
Epic views await you at the Empire Canyon Grill in the upper mountain area. Located inside the Empire Canyon Lodge, this casual spot has a continental breakfast with fresh-baked pastries, plus homemade bratwurst, burgers, pork sandwiches, steak wraps, and salad bar for lunch. Similar to the Silver Lake Restaurant at mid-mountain, the Empire Canyon Grill also offers dinner options to go. Just pre-order and make sure to pick up by 4 p.m.
KidTripster Tip:Deer Valley Grocery-Cafe has staple grocery items like meats, cheeses, and pizzas that you can bring back to your condo. Or you can order fresh dishes to eat in-house. Pick up the Park City pancake mix - we hear it’s amazing!
Photo courtesy: Deer Valley
Where to stay?
Since there are three areas to this mountain, deciding on where to stay is dependent on where on the mountain you’d like to spend the majority of your time. If you want to be within walking distance of downtown Park City, then stay in Snow Park Village. If you want a ski-in/ski-out experience, you may want to focus your search on the Silver Lake or Empire Canyon areas.
Deer Vally manages rooms and homes in each area, ranging from traditional hotel rooms to 7-bedroom, private homes. All of them have access to free, in-town transportation or an on-call shuttle. Rates start at $250/night.
KidTripster Tip: The longer you stay, the more you save. During parts of the season, you can score free nights based on the length of your stay.
We stayed at the Lodges at Deer Valley. The staff greeted us with a welcome goodie bag for my daughter, filled with a coloring book, crayons, and a finger puppet. It had her feeling like a VIP! The room was spacious with a microwave, mini fridge, coffee maker, and a few dishes. The heated, outdoor pool and hot tubs were a big hit with the whole family. In the morning, we fueled up with the extensive buffet breakfast at the on-site restaurant Brass Tag. Think pastries, cereal, eggs, meats, and a toddler-approved waffle station - all included in your stay. In the afternoon, snag free cookies in the lobby. Another great feature is the book and game shelf in the lobby. We had fun picking out a special books to read at bedtime.
At mid-mountain, the Royal Plaza offers units with fully-equipped kitchens, which perfect for longer stays. All the units come with a fireplace and underground parking; some units also have laundry and private hot tubs. Rates start at $574/night.
With a dedicated game room and private ski lockers, the Arrowleaf in the upper-mountain area is a great option for families. These two- and three-bedroom condos are slopeside and feature kitchens, gas fireplaces, and easy access to the lifts. And with two outdoor hot tubs, lounge area, and outdoor fit pit, it’s easy to unwind after a memorable day on the mountain. Rates start at $580/night.
KidTripster Tip: A major benefit to staying at a Deer Valley-managed property is that you can take advantage of ski packages. The resort can help secure lift tickets and rentals with your lodging. And sometimes, you can even get a percentage off by bundling everything together.
Photo courtesy: Deer Valley
Deer Valley is about 35 miles from the Salt Lake International Airport. From there, you can either rent a car or take a shuttle to the resort. Canyon Transportation charges $45 per person for one-way fares.
Amy Sward is an award-winning journalist. She lives in Colorado with her family but takes to the road and sky as much as possible to explore every part of the world.