There’s no question that I’m addicted to skiing. Happily, it’s been a healthy love affair. And, lucky for me, I’ve had the opportunity to ski far and wide, from heli-skiing at the infamous Bugaboos in British Columbia to skiing in Chamonix and Zermatt. But, without a doubt, the best skiing and snow in the world is right here at home. And, with a recent move, I’ve discovered the ski resort of my dreams in Canyons Resort in Utah.
I have been skiing since my parents sent me to a one-week ski camp when I was 12. Later, taking two winters off during college, I spent them at Heavenly Valley in Lake Tahoe, California, working in a casino-restaurant by night and skiing by day. The next big ski adventure for me was in my first career in showbiz, when I sold a TV-movie idea about skiing. Now, I was getting paid to advance my career and ultimately spend a month in Lake Louise and Banff with some of the world’s best skiers. This was heaven indeed.
I even cast myself in a small role – so embarrassing – in the memorable 1978 CBS television movie, Ski Lift to Death. It was right after the filming of that movie that I went on my first heli-skiing trip to the Bugaboos. It was incredible with the exception of day four when I got caught in a mini-avalanche in the trees. I was almost buried in a tree-well but thankfully was able to extricate myself and join the others for a great afternoon. The next morning, I woke up screaming, was airlifted out of there, and discovered I’d broken a few ribs.
Let’s fast-forward to today. My wife loves skiing almost as much as I do. We decided to buy a townhome in the Park City area after doing considerable research for a place that would potentially “have it all.”
There are three local ski areas to choose from, Canyons Resort, Park City, and Deer Valley. Frankly, all are terrific, but we chose Canyons Resort for our “home” for a variety of instinctual reasons and it’s turned out to be a brilliant decision.
Bought by Talisker in 2009 and completely renovated, improved, and expanded, it is today the 3rd largest ski resort – by acreage – in the U.S. It also has – in my experience – more varied terrain and ski options than I ever thought imaginable.
Canyons Resort has the Orange Bubble Express – a heated seat chair lift with a windscreen that goes over it (orange – hence the name). When my wife sat on it the first time, I hadn’t seen such a glow of happiness – as her bum was warming – in, frankly, way too long.
Another feature that is unique to Canyons Resort are the many natural half-pipes. I love doing the half-pipe as the picture below demonstrates, but Canyons has six natural ones, including the infamous Canis Lupus (Latin for “wolf”) that is literally a mile-long thrill ride undulating naturally in a ravine off the Super Condor Lift. It’s scary, wild, and truly beyond belief.
There’s another half-pipe in a secluded area of the mountain called Pinball Alley, which is very aptly named since you enter this tree-filled run and have to dodge both trees and bumps. You literally get knocked around just like you were in a pinball machine – especially if you’re not ON your skis. Halfway through it, there’s a drop into another incredible natural half-pipe, shorter, wider, and easier than the Canis Lupus, but as fun as the Matterhorn – the real one and the Disney ride.
Long gone are the days of cold burgers and beer as the only food options at a ski resort. Canyons Resort has 18 different places to eat, from the Yurt at Tombstone Grill to the fine-dining restaurant Lookout Cabin, which is only accessible by skis or snowboard. Cloud Dine is on the far South side of the mountain and has become my favorite food stop, since they make just about the best French fries anywhere and I love all the Argentines who work there.
Having endured the 5-6 hour drive each way to ski from Los Angeles, the ease of going to and from Park City, Utah is a pleasure. Door-to-door, it takes between 4-5 hours, but those hours are far more comfortable. The driving part is a small portion of the journey as Salt Lake International Airport is about 30 minutes from Canyons’ slopes. Many folks leave L.A. in the morning and ski that same afternoon.
Utah hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics and the area is completely upgraded. Many incredible venues were built, all of which are now open to the public. The signs, sculptures, and other evidence of those successful Games are evident everywhere. There’s a great view of the giant ski jumps as you enter Summit County. They have an Olympic Park where you can take luge, bobsled or skeleton lessons (or rides) on the same course they used in 2002.
There’s a corny saying about Canyons that you come for the winter, but stay for the summer. Summer activities include incredible mountain biking, innumerable outdoor concerts, golf, tennis, biking, hiking, plus you have those long summer days and nights. We haven’t experienced a summer here yet – but I promise to report back.
While I chose a funny title for this column – though I wish skiing can cure cancer – there is truth that a positive mind-set can do miracles. Perhaps skiing won’t cure cancer, but I wouldn’t dismiss that idea out-of-hand, because skiing and Canyons Resort will provide countless fun distractions from day-to-day life. Canyons is truly a place for the whole family with terrain for the most expert skier and several wonderful beginning areas for the kids. If you’re a parent who doesn’t ski, there is so much to see and do off the mountain, that I’m not sure who would be having more fun.
Note: Every video in this column was filmed, edited, and lovingly done by me.
Disclaimer: I’ve developed a working relationship with Canyons Resort. I’m not paid, but I’ve been given some “perks.” No amount of money or perks could induce me to write or say anything but My Truth. My truth is in the words above.
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