Deer Valley is expensive, perhaps the most expensive ski resort on the planet, but there are times when it is worth it, times when it will be the best ski trip you ever had. On the other hand, there are times when it is not worth the tariff, times to stay home or go elsewhere.
When Not to Come
1) The first two weeks of January, during the World Cup Ski races because the race set up screws up the entire resort’s operations by blocking off three of the most essential runs– Know You Don’t, Big Stick, and Solid Muldoon– at the place. These the best places to ski on the lower mountain, so for all practical purposes, it takes of 25% of Deer Valley skiing, including 66% of the runs that are just right for improving Intermediates. Even worse, it takes out 66% of all the decent end of the day runs. AT the end of the day, as many as 6,000 skiers have to return to the base area parking lot. There are four good runs for this– Last Chance, which nobody can find; Solid Muldoon which is closed,; Big Stick, which is closed; and Success, an easy Green run. Experts who can still cope with the steeps at the end of the day could go down Know You Don’t, the Olympic Slamon Race Course, but it is closed too. Consequently, everyone, all 6,000, are thrown onto one run– a flat, flat, beginner run. Chaos ensues. It is not pretty, and it not fun. Best to avoid.
That is just the major problems resulting from race week. Minor problems include screwing up Little Stick, the essential run for skiing anywhere on Deer Crest Mtn., and lengthening the flit lines. Longer lift lines ensue because the ski racers have no manners. Then tear down to the lift anh butt their way to the head of the line, a rude practice which for some inexplicable reason, Deer Valley allows, when they should be pulling their lift tickets for reckless skiing in a "Slow Skiing" zone.
2) Christmas Week. While Deer Valley is as good as it ever gets for Christmas Week skiing, it is insane to ski during Christmas Week if you the choice. Same for the MLK Birthday and President’s Day weekends.
3) December before Christmas. Global warming is the villain here, for it makes snow conditions problematic. Coverage is often skimpy at best. Yes, Deer Valley does lower lift ticket prices, but you pay 2/3 to ski 1/3 of the resort. Bad deal. Stay home or go somewhere with snow.
When To Come
1) Christmas week, the most crowded week of ski season, is one of the best times to ski at Deer Valley if you must or choose to ski Christmas Week because Deer Valley limits the number of tickets sold to 6,500 a day (2004-2007). With an uphill lift capacity of 49,000 per hour, this makes for minimal lift lines. Even at the most crowded times, with one big exception: Deer Valley has 21 lifts, but everyone starting from the main base lodge, Snow Park, has to start up the mountains on only two high speed quad lifts (Carpenter and Silver Lake). This usually results in 10-20 waits around opening time.
To minimize wait time, stay at one of the Silver Lake Hotels, located 1,000 ft. above Snow Park, with immediate access to 7 upper mountain lifts.
2) If you are not trapped into Christmas Week skiing, the best time to ski is during the Sundance Film Festival, the last two weeks of January, because Park City’s hotels fill up with people going to movies, not skiing. The drawback is that this is the busiest time of the year in Park City. Hotels are full, and restaurants overwhelmed unless you eat early because the Hollywood crom dines late. Traffic is also a mess.
To find a room and a place to eat when you want to eat, try nearby Heber Valley (see journal on). To beat the traffic, stay at Deer Valley or, if staying in nearby Heber Valley use this route. Because it is US 40 to the turn off to Park City. Entering Park City, turn left at Bonnaza Dr, the light with a light turn arrow. At the next right, Deer Valley Dr., turn left, go 3/4 way around the traffic circle, and continue on Deer Valley Dr. to Deer Valley. This is pretty safe in the early morning, as the movie crowd sleeps in.
To return to Heber Valley, backtrack until you come to the mall on the right on Bonanza Dr. Turn right at the far end of the Mall, left at the dead end, then right at the stop sign. Go as far you can, turn left. Turn right on Kerns Blvd (stop sign) to US 40 to Heber. Traffic may be bad until you reach the turn off of Bonanza, but there is no alternative. This route bypasses busy Kearns Blvd., but do not use it in the morning to get to Deer Valley since it requires a problematic left turn onto Bonanza Dr without a light.
3) The period between the Sundance Film Festival and President’s Day weekend. This marks the start of the busy, non-holiday season, but it is the least crowded part of the heart of ski season. Altogether, a great time to ski.