Ski enthusiasts have been eagerly anticipating the reopening of ski resorts for the 2020-21 ski season. It's no surprise to anyone that this ski season will be different from anything we've ever experienced, but the good news is that resorts are planning to open back up.
In Park City, Park City Mountain, Deer Valley Resort, and Woodward Park City are planning on opening. As families are starting to plan their winter vacations, what everyone wants to know is, "what can I expect when I ski in Park City this Winter". While no one knows precisely what this season will look like, we do have a pretty good idea of what to expect from skiing during 2020-2021.
If you're a family thinking about planning a ski trip to Park City this winter, it's definitely possible, but just like the rest of this year has taught us, you'll need to plan ahead more and also come up with some backup plans.
What we Know About Skiing in Park City this Winter
Face coverings are required.
Per the Summit County Health Order, face coverings must be worn in all public places indoors. Single-layer face masks or masks that are see-through are prohibited, so if you're planning on wearing a buff or a neck gaiter, you must double it up to be compliant with local health regulations. If you're worried that your face mask may not be compliant for the resorts, it's always a good idea to keep an extra one in your pocket (especially if you're skiing with kids who are prone to losing things). All resorts require face masks to be worn in areas where people congregate, such as getting on and off the chairlift and waiting in lines outside.
Expect to spread out.
Six to ten feet of social distancing has become the norm, and you can absolutely anticipate that continuing on the ski hill. Expect some changes as you load and unload the chairlift and as you wait for food. Lines will likely appear longer but move faster because of this social distancing expectation. If you're skiing with kids or beginners, it will be especially important to remind them to respect others' space in the lift lines and to make sure that they are good at stopping before you take them into a crowd with skis on (the magic carpet lifts are great for this).
Resorts will limit chairlift and gondola occupancy to people from the same family or party. It is a great opportunity for families to connect with their kids on the chairlift. We enacted a "no technology/music on the chairlift" rule with our kids a few years ago, and it's made those chairlift times great times to connect with each other.
Advance Reservations are Required
If you're planning on skiing this season, you're going to need to plan ahead. Numerous services will be limited and only available via advance purchase. Here's what we know so far:
No ticket window sales are being offered this year at Park City Mountain. And all tickets must be purchased online, with no half-day ticket options. Season pass holders are also required to reserve their time on the mountain online, with seven priority reservation days throughout the season as well as many week-of reservations as you would like (subject to availability). Families with passes will be able to reserve all together to simplify the process. For the vast majority of days during the season, the resort anticipates that everyone who wants to get on the mountain will be able to, but limits are being set on the number of guests, and tickets may not be available last minute. Lift ticket reservations go on sale to the public on December 8.
Read more about Park City Mountain's Winter Operations this year.
Deer Valley Resort will continue to limit daily winter guest capacity to provide a quality ski experience and to provide space for guests to physically distance. Daily lift tickets will not be sold same-day, on-site at Deer Valley. All tickets must be purchased in advance online this year.
View Deer Valley's Winter Current Operations Plan.
All visitors to Woodward, whether members or not are required to reserve their tickets online in advance. View the complete Modified Operations Guide.
Limited On-Mountain Dining
Resort dining facilities will be operating at a reduced capacity to comply with social distancing guidelines and most likely require reservations. Grab-and-Go options will likely be limited. Deer Valley resort announced that reservations will be required for all dining both during the day in the lodges for lunch and in the evening for dining reservations. No walk-ins or non-dining guests will be allowed in the restaurants at any time.
This is probably a great year to get in the habit of packing snacks to eat on the chairlift. I always recommend keeping a thermos of hot chocolate in the car for those extra cold days.
Limited Ski School
If you were hoping this was the year to get your kids into ski school, you'll need to sign them up as soon as possible. Ski school numbers at both Park City Mountain and Deer Valley will be limited this year, so reserve them as soon as possible. Park City Mountain will also be cutting back on the availability of ski school for kids ages six and under, so keep that in mind when planning a trip. Deer Valley is only offering private lessons this year. For private lessons of skiers ages 3- 6, a qualified adult is required to be present during to ride the chairlift with them.
No Childcare at Resorts
Childcare will not be available at Park City Mountain and Deer Valley this year. If you're bringing young kids with you on your ski trip, your best option may be to work with a local babysitting service and have them come to where you are staying. If you're looking for childcare options, Park City Sitters has a great reputation in town, as does Guardian Angel Childcare (they also rent baby gear and will even do your grocery shopping).
Off Mountain Family Activities
While skiing is the main draw that gets many visitors to visit Park City in the winter, there are plenty of other amazing activities to do that the whole family will enjoy. Here are some of our family's personal favorites.
Dog sledding is truly a bucket list experience, and the team at Luna Lobos is incredible. My daughter and I went last winter, and she said it was the coolest thing she did all year (it far surpassed the 20+ days she spent on skis). Dog sledding with Luna Lobos will give you a behind the scenes look at how dog sledding works and offers participants a chance to be hands-on with both the dogs and the sled driving.
Tubing at Woodward Park City
While Woodward Park City has a variety of indoor action sports and its own ski area, my kids really love to go there for the tubing hill. The giant lanes and huge inflatable tubes make racing down the hill at top speed, something that the whole family will love. Insider tip: Make your reservation online early to ensure you get the time slot you want.
If you want to be right on the ski hill, but take a break from the slopes, I highly recommend skiing at the Resort Center Ice Rink at the base of Park City Mountain. The rink is small, making it a perfect place to skate for beginners or families with kids. If you're looking for a more serious skating experience, check out the Park City Ice Arena and join their open skating or one of the drop-in hockey times.
If the cold weathers got you down, consider heading indoors for a while. The Utah Olympic Park has a free museum that talks all about the history of skiing in the area as well as the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Our kids' favorite indoor venue in Park City is the Park City Escape Room, which is great for a day off the slopes or a family-friendly apres-ski activity.
Although this winter's future may be a bit uncertain, what we do know is that nature is always open, and there are so many fantastic ways to enjoy the mountains in Park City this winter. So whether you're looking for an adrenaline-filled escape or a family getaway, there's no shortage of things to do in Park City this winter.