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Park City Mountain Resort

This treasure has been improving for 40 years

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History: It was in the winter of 1963 that Treasure Mountain Ski Area — Park City Mountain Resort's precursor — opened, boasting America's longest gondola, a double chairlift and two J-bar tows. The lifts served 18 miles of skiing terrain and transformed Park City from a silver mining town gone bust to the beginning of the premiere resort it is today. The local newspaper proclaimed the event a "new rich lode — one of recreation — to the storied community of Park City which was the West's mining capital some 65 years ago."

Over the past 40 years, the resort has been building and improving, and today offers 3,300 skiable acres that are accessed by 14 lifts. The resort is also home to the most extensive snowboard facilities within the state. Park City, in fact, hosted the giant slalom and halfpipe events for the 2002 Winter Olympics. The resort was also one of the first in Utah to introduce the new high-speed lifts and was the first to have a six-passenger high-speed lift.

What you probably know: The most popular run for beginners is Homerun, a 3.5-mile trail that leads skiers and riders down to the base from the summit. Assessment is a favorite of many of the resort's guests because of its gentle pitch, perfect for long wide turns. When skiers are looking for a fast, steep-pitched run, they head to Silver Queen. This wide-open slope is perfect for practicing GS turns.

The resort has four six-passenger chairlifts, the most of any resort in the Rocky Mountain region, which has made it possible for visitors to enjoy more slope time.

On beautiful bluebird days, skiers and riders alike follow the sun around the mountain, beginning their day on Bonanza and Pioneer lifts and ending on King Con lift.

PCMR is also the only one of the three resorts in the Park City area offering night skiing.

The resort also has made it possible for skiers to stop and snack almost anywhere on the mountain. Pick up breakfast or enjoy delicious fresh fish for lunch at the base of the Payday lift in the Legacy Cafe. Or enjoy a made-to-order slice of pizza on the deck of the Summit House restaurant at the top of Bonanza lift. For a quick coffee break or excellent sandwich, stop off at Cafe Amante, a beautiful Yurt located on Homerun, which is off of the Bonanza lift.

What you may not know: The resort has nine bowl areas for intermediate and expert skiers looking for short lift lines and incredible terrain. Fresh powder can usually be found on Jupiter peak the day after a storm clears and on Pinecone Ridge for up to two days after a storm. McConkey's Bowl is a favorite for tree skiing and powder seekers after a storm.

When the resort gets busy, skiers can bypass the Payday lift and instead take the Eagle Lift or Town Lift, located on Park City's historic Main Street. Once on top, locals usually ski Pioneer and McConkey's lifts.

The pattern for many locals is to arrive early, by 9 a.m., ski and then eat an early lunch at 11:30 a.m. This way while others are eating, they can be out skiing. Typically, by 3 p.m., the legs are tired and it's time to head home. Or, for the really fit, time to take advantage of fewer skiers.

This season the resort started grooming nine of its steepest black diamond runs on a rotating basis. These runs have quickly become a favorite among the locals for their exclusivity and limited availability.

The Sundance Film Festival, which runs from Jan 20-30, is a perfect time to enjoy a little solitude on the mountain. Most of the people in town are there to view and not ski.

PCMR was named Terrain Park of the Year 2005 by "Transworld Snowboarding" magazine. The resort is home to four terrain parks and the Eagle Superpipe. The Pick 'N Shovel park can be accessed from the Three King lift near the bottom of the First Time parking lot. The chairlift runs above the park making it the perfect place to see what others are doing on the ride up the mountain.

Ski School: The resort started its "Learn to Ski and Ride" program this season for Utah locals. The program is designed to introduce adults and children, those 6 and older, to skiing or snowboarding. It includes a three-hour, first-time afternoon lesson, equipment rental and lower-mountain lift ticket for only $25. The program is valid seven days a week through Feb. 13.

The resort's Kids Mountain School offers several different programs for skiers ages 3 1/2 to 13. The youngest skiers learn in the Little Groomers program, which is an all-day, six-hour program designed for the 3- to 5-year-olds. The lesson includes two on-snow sessions of ski instruction combined with indoor child oriented activities, lunch, equipment and lift privileges. The Bombardier and Super Bombs programs are an all-day, six-hour group lesson for skiers 6 to 13 years of age. These group sessions are for first-time skiers and include lunch, instruction and lift privileges. For the skier who wants to experience the terrain parks, PCMR's New School lesson is an all-day lesson taught in a terrain park.

For the snowboarders, the FreeRiders and SuperRiders programs are a great way to develop riding skills. These all-day, six-hour group lessons are for riders 7 to 13 years of age, and include lunch, instruction and lift privileges. For the rider who is ready to take his or her skills to the park, the resort's All Star Training is suggested. It focuses on safe and fun riding in terrain parks and halfpipe.

The All-Mountain workshop is perfect for those looking to become a better all-mountain skier. Instructors help develop the most effective movements to deal with whatever the mountain has in store and show participants secret places on the mountain.

For snowboarders looking to drop into the terrain parks and Superpipe, the park and pipe session offer the opportunity to hone skills.

Review: One thing skiers like about Park City is that it offers a wide choice of areas to skiing and terrain to challenge. It also offers variety in the type of sliding an individual chooses to do, which includes up to 50 runs groomed daily, four terrain parks, nine bowls, 100 runs and 14 lifts.