Debating whether you should visit Park City or Breckenridge?
For Epic Pass holders (and other vacationing skiers), this is a common predicament.
Don’t worry though. I’ve got all the info you need to make the perfect choice!
Why should you trust me? Well, I used to live in Denver and skied Breckenridge almost every weekend. And these days, one of my best buddies has a timeshare in Park City, which means I visit for at least a week of skiing every year.
Safe to say, I know all about the subtle differences between these mountains. (The stuff the marketing materials won’t tell you!)
Let’s get comparing!
- General Thoughts – Park City or Breckenridge?
- Mountain Stats Comparison: Park City vs. Breckenridge
- Snow at Park City vs. Breckenridge
- Terrain Comparison
- Final Thoughts
General Thoughts – Park City or Breckenridge?
Park City and Breckenridge are two extremely similar mountains. After skiing tons of ski resorts all over the country, I’ve written up tons of these ski resort comparisons, but these two are probably one of the closest comparisons I’ve ever come across!
In fact, on my 100 point scale, I’ve rated both of them an equal 84/100:
|wdt_ID||Ski Resort||Ovr. Rating||Beg.||Int.||Adv.||Expert||Trees||Bowls||Crowds||Snow||Ski Town|
This rarely happens!
I’ll say upfront, for most people, the main tie-breaker between which mountain they should visit would probably be whichever one that offers better flights or lodging. Because we are really splitting hairs between the experience.
That said, here are my general guidelines:
- If you prefer a huge mountain to explore, I’d go with Park City. (Although Breckenridge skis bigger than it looks, Park City is significantly larger than Breckenridge.)
- If you prefer long groomers, Breckenridge’s are a little better. (They have more consistent fall lines, with less slow run outs back to the lift.)
- If you prefer double black terrain, Park City has more of this. (Breckenridge has a lot too, but it’s mostly hike to terrain, whereas Park City has more lift-service.)
Mountain Stats Comparison: Park City vs. Breckenridge
|1||Size||2,908 acres||7,300 acres|
|2||Vertical||3,398 ft.||3,226 ft.|
|3||Avg. Snowfall||300+ inches||290 inches|
|4||Summit Elevation||12,998 ft.||10,026 ft.|
|5||Base Elevation||9,600 ft.||6,800 ft.|
That said, let’s take a closer look beyond the stats.
Breckenridge is located in Colorado, about 1.5 hours west of Denver.
Park City is located in Utah, about 45 minutes east of Salt Lake City.
Ease of Access: Breckenridge vs. Park City
In general, Park City edges out this category.
Neither mountain is difficult to get to, but Park City has the advantage of being just 45 minutes from the SLC airport, whereas Breckenridge is at least 2 hours from the DEN airport. To get to Breck, you’ll also have to head down Colorado’s increasingly more crowded and traffic-jammed I-70, which frequently adds an hour+ delay to your driving time
By comparison, Park City is just a short shuttle or even cheap Uber/Lyft ride away. Read more about this in my article about how to get to Park City.
Ski Towns: Park City , UT vs. Breckenridge, CO
This is where the similarities begin.
Both Breckenridge and Park City are historic mining towns turned ski towns. Each one has an authentic history that you can’t really fake, and unlike a lot of ski resorts, both are real towns with real residents. They’re even laid out similarly, with each town having a long, main street filled with western-facaded buildings.
Whichever ski town you’re in, rest assured, you can find endless shopping, dining, and entertainment.
In fact, I rated both a rare 10 out of 10 on my ski town scale. These towns are world-class!
Park City does get bonus points, if it’s possible, for it’s unique and super cool “Town Lift” which spills right onto Main Street. Talk about a vibe!
Mountain Vibe and Atmosphere
Similarities abound here, too.
Both resorts are owned by Vail and housed under their Epic Pass brand. So, you’ll find similar experiences at both places.
I’d say the make up of both resorts is a mix of families on vacation, younger adults hoping to shred, and local skiing enthusiasts.
Not surprisingly, Park City gets lots of locals from the nearby Salt Lake City metro, and Breckenridge gets plenty of the same from Denver. However, with the popularity of these destinations, the locals are definitely outnumbered by the folks visiting from out of state.
Both mountains have some of the most impressive lift systems in the country, and Vail continues to pour significant investments into their infrastructure to ensure that high-speed chairs are everywhere!
Maybe the most notable difference is that Park City actually used to be two separate resorts. (Park City on the left side of the trail map and Canyons on the right.) Today, they’re connected by the massive Quicksilver Gondola – part of a $50 million dollar project which runs over 1.5 miles long! Not surprisingly, getting from one side to the other is quite the exploration! And each side still feels a little disjointed from the other.
By comparison, Breckenridge, and its smaller footprint, feels much more homogeneous.
You’re in the mountains, so both spots are beautiful! But I prefer Breckenridge’s scenery a little more.
Thanks to Breckenridge’s extremely high elevation, you’ll be surrounded by many of Colorado’s legendary snow-capped peaks. The above-the-treeline views are absolutely magical.
By comparison, Park City’s scenery may be a little less dramatic, but you’ll still see plenty of beautiful, rolling mountains dotted with scrub oak, aspens, and maple trees.
Park City and Breckenridge are two of the flagship resorts in the Vail portfolio. So, it comes with the territory that each mountain is quite famous, and you’ll be sharing them with some crowds.
In my experience, both resorts have equal lift lines.
Snow at Park City vs. Breckenridge
Snowfall at these two resorts is pretty similar. (Noticing a trend yet?) Each mountain receives an average of about 290 inches of snowfall a year, according to the internet’s most detailed snow trackers like Tony Crocker at Bestsnow.net.
However, Park City is so big that where you measure the snowfall matters. Certain sections of the mountain, like the legendary Jupiter Bowl, often receive 350+ inches per year.
This is balanced out by the fact that Park City also has a lot more lower elevation terrain than Breckenridge. (Park City’s base elevation is 6,800 feet vs. 9,600 feet at Breck.) This means snow at Park City’s lower runs can melt and get slushy a little faster than Breckenridge, which tends to preserve snow better than Park City.
At both mountains, you’ll find plenty of terrain across all ability levels, but one difference between these two resorts is obvious…
Park City is a lot bigger than Breckenridge.
Officially, Breckenridge has 2,908 acres of skiable terrain and Park City has 7,300 acres of skiable terrain. This means that while Breckenridge is a pretty large ski resort, Park City is an absolutely enormous ski resort!
(Fun fact: Park City is actually the largest ski resort in America. Yes, Powder Mountain claims they’re bigger, but they stretch the numbers by including lots of backcountry stuff the average visitor won’t ever see.)
Not surprisingly, this means that Park City has more, and a larger variety, of most runs.
Park City vs. Breckenridge for Beginners
The one caveat to my previous statement? Beginner green runs.
Breckenridge actually has a slightly larger variety of green terrain than Park City. I also like that a lot of Breck’s beginner terrain is completely isolated from the rest of the mountain. At Breck, lifts such as Quicksilver Superchair and Rip’s Ride service only green runs, which means learners are free to learn, in peace.
By comparison, many of the green runs at Park City are mixed among blue and black terrain, which means it’s not uncommon for advanced skiers to blow right past beginners on their way to other parts on the mountain, which can be a little unsettling for the newbies.
Park City vs. Breckenridge for Intermediates
For skiers who prefer blue runs, both Breck and Park City are fantastic mountains.
This is a close category, but I rate Breck a 9/10 for intermediate terrain and Park City an 8/10.
For me, the big difference is two-fold:
- Breckenridge’s above the tree-line, blue-bowl skiing off the Kensho Superchair is an incredible experience for intermediate skiers.
- I prefer Breck’s more straightforward blue and black groomers. (I’ve included black groomers here because Breckenridge’s blacks are relatively easy compared to most mountains) Breck’s groomers feel faster and with more consistent fall-lines than Park City, which has a lot of groomers with long, slow runouts back to the lift.
That said, Park City has an almost endless selection of blue terrain, and I know plenty of skiers who prefer its quantity to what’s offered at Breckenridge.
Park City vs. Breckenridge for Black Diamond Skiing
Another category that’s almost too close to call.
Both mountains have a lot to offer advanced skiers, but Park City’s endless amount of black diamond runs makes it the winner here.
Nearly every lift at Park City has a black diamond trail that will be a fun challenge to get down, whereas Breckenridge has several lifts that are designated beginner or intermediate only.
One thing that’s worth noting is that many double blacks are Breckenridge would probably be single blacks at other resorts. (I remember successfully skiing Imperial Bowl when I would still classify myself firmly as an intermediate skier.)
Park City vs. Breckenridge for Experts
Park City has a lot more legitimate double black terrain than Breckenridge, although Breck has some serious expert stuff through the trees and at its hike-to peaks. (At 12,000+ feet, no less. Hope you brought your lungs!)
Neither mountain seems to be a truly terrifying expert’s playground, but both do offer some fun options.
You can’t go wrong with a ski trip to either of these legendary mountains. More so than almost any other resorts I’ve reviewed, Park City and Breckenridge are really neck and neck in so many categories!
|wdt_ID||Ski Resort||Ovr. Rating||Beg.||Int.||Adv.||Expert||Trees||Bowls||Crowds||Snow||Ski Town|