Are you debating between visiting Park City or Deer Valley?
You’re not alone. These two mountains are next-door neighbors, which leaves tons of skiers wondering if it’s worth a side-trip to check out one or the other.
Thankfully, I can help with that.
Along with the other 26+ mountains I’ve skied, I take an extended trip to Park City/Deer Valley every season. Over the years, I’ve picked up tons of local info on these spots.
In this article, I’ll be sharing all that info with you! The goal: help you find your perfect mountain!
- General Thoughts: Park City vs. Deer Valley
- Mountain Stats Comparison: Park City vs. Deer Valley
- General Terrain Comparison
- Ski Towns: Park City, Utah vs. Deer Valley Resort
- Snow at Park City vs. Deer Valley
- Final Thoughts
General Thoughts: Park City vs. Deer Valley
Here’s a quick cheat sheet to help you decide, before we dive into further explanation:
- If you prefer long groomer skiing, then you’ll probably like Deer Valley better.
- If you’re looking for a wider variety of bowl skiing, you might prefer Park City’s upper terrain.
- If you’re looking for ritzy, glamorous pampering, you can find that in spades at Deer Valley.
- If you prefer to explore a historic ski town, then you’ll enjoy staying nearer Park City.
- If you’re snowboarder, then unfortunately this decision is already made for you. Deer Valley does not allow snowboarding.
P.S. – If you’re planning your trip around a pass, Park City is on the Epic Pass and Deer Valley is on the Ikon Pass.
Here are my ratings for Park City and Deer Valley, pulled from my rankings page of all the 26+ ski resorts I’ve ever visited.
|wdt_ID||Ski Resort||Ovr. Rating||Beg.||Int.||Adv.||Expert||Trees||Bowls||Crowds||Snow||Ski Town|
If you’re adding up those numbers and scratching your head at the overall rating, know that the number is admittedly biased towards my intermediate/advanced skiing preference. (About the SlopeLab Rating System) Which is exactly why reading the rest of this article will help you decide which ski resort is best for YOU. 🙂
Mountain Stats Comparison: Park City vs. Deer Valley
|wdt_ID||Category||Park City||Deer Valley|
|1||Size||7,300 acres||2,026 acres|
|2||Vertical||3,226 ft.||3,000 ft.|
|4||Average Snowfall||290 inches||300 inches|
|5||Summit Elevation||10,026 ft.||9,570 ft.|
|6||Base Elevation||6,800 ft.||6,570 ft.|
Obviously, the first big difference between these two mountains is the size.
Park City is much, much larger than Deer Valley. (And most ski resorts, since it’s the largest in the United States!) So, Park City has nearly double the chairlifts and nearly three times as many ski runs as Deer Valley.
That said, I find Park City skis just a little bit smaller than it’s official stats, only because a not-insignificant amount of its acreage is hike-to, expert terrain which the majority of visitors won’t touch. Deer Valley, on the other hand, is covered almost entirely in obviously cut groomed runs, so they’ve really maximize every square inch of their skiable terrain.
General Terrain Comparison
In general, Deer Valley has the better groomers while Park City has a little better variety of bowls, trees, and exploration.
I’ll give the edge to Deer Valley simply because their beginner terrain covers such a larger amount of the mountain.
At Park City, beginner terrain covers just a tiny fraction of the mountain’s insane acreage. Of the resort’s 40+ chairlifts, only about three of them serve beginners, and several of those beginner runs are plagued by huge discrepancies in skill level. Send a beginner down Home Run in the afternoon (one of basically the only two beginner runs on the Park City side) and they’ll be shaking in their boots as more advanced skiers buzz the tower on them, repeatedly.
Deer Valley is a lot better in this regard, with nearly every one of the resort’s five peaks offering easy ways down.
Both Park City and Deer Valley are among the best intermediate mountains in the country, but I think Deer Valley pulls ahead based on the fun factor of their groomers.
Deer Valley offers some of the best, consistently pitched groomers anywhere on earth. If you’re looking for long, fast groomers, almost nobody does them better.
Park City has a staggering amount of intermediate terrain, but compared to Deer Valley, most of the blue runs are shorter, and I find that a lot of them are plagued by boring, slow run outs back to the chairlift.
Deer Valley might have a slight edge against Park City when it comes to black diamond skiing, although it may depend on how “advanced” we are talking.
Deer Valley has tons of awesome black terrain, including some steep black groomers off Sultan Express, big challenging moguls off Mayflower, and even some bowl skiing off Empire Express.
Park City also has a ton of black terrain, but the resort seems to have a larger jump from blue runs to double black runs, with most of the best parts of the mountain (McConkey’s Bowl, Jupiter Bowl, and Ninety-Nine 90 Express) focusing on double black terrain. (That said, confident advanced skiers should be able to tackle most of those areas.)
Park City has a wider variety of expert terrain than Deer Valley.
Park City has double black diamonds galore off several chairlifts. Both the Jupiter and Ninety Nine 90 lifts serve double black terrain exclusively, which makes for a fun expert’s resort within a resort. Park City also has a wider variety of challenging hike-to terrain than almost anywhere… Murdoch Bowl, Scott’s Bowl / Pinecone Ridge, and Jupiter Peak collectively serve over 1,000 acres of expert skiing.
By comparison, Deer Valley’s expert terrain is limited to just the Daly Bowl and Daly Chutes, although this small section of the resort is legitimate expert stuff, and it’s both steeper and more technical most of Park City’s bowls.
Park City and Deer Valley are next-door neighbors.
You can actually see the other mountain’s chairlifts from the edges of either resort, and if it weren’t for different ownerships, they could drop the rope between the two and you could actually ski between them. (Park City’s Georgeanna run and Deer Valley’s Empire Express Chairlift are less than 100 feet apart from each other.)
Ease of Access
Both ski resorts are located in Park City, Utah, about 45 minutes from the Salt Lake City airport.
In other words, both spots are among the easiest ski resorts to reach in the country. You can grab a morning flight and be skiing these world class resorts by the afternoon. Can’t beat that!
More info: How to Get to Park City
Ski Towns: Park City, Utah vs. Deer Valley Resort
While both ski resorts are technically located in the same city, Park City Mountain Resort is located closer to town, while Deer Valley is more of its own resort.
At Park City Mountain Resort, the Town Chairlift spills right onto Main Street, which means visitors can easily apres ski right in the heart of town. It really feels like the whole town resolves around the Park City Mountain.
By comparison, Deer Valley is much more isolated. Deer Valley visitors usually hunker down in their luxury hotels inside the resort boundaries, and then catch a shuttle if they want to venture into the town of Park City, about 1.5 miles away.
Mountain Vibe & Atmosphere
Deer Valley has a more high-end, luxurious vibe than Park City.
Someone once told me, half-jokingly, “Deer Valley is the nicest country club I’ve ever skied at!” That about sums it up…
Park City, by comparison, is more down-to-earth. The town itself is an old mining town, and the resort even hangs onto this character with several abandoned mine structures still standing to this day. Can you imagine the horror if these ruins were inside Deer Valley!?
Again, a very similar category given the location of these two spots, but I will give the edge to Deer Valley.
While the views are very similar, being further south, Deer Valley has a front-row seat into the more remote peaks and troughs of the distant Wasatch Mountains. I find this makes for slightly more dramatic mountain views than the rolling hills and towns nearer to Park City.
Snow at Park City vs. Deer Valley
Since these two mountains are mere feet apart, the snowfall amount and quality is almost identical, with one exception.
Park City’s Jupiter Bowl is closer to Utah’s ultra-snowy Big Cottonwood Canyon than it is to either Park City or Deer Valley’s base area, meaning it receives significantly more snowfall than both spots. (Jupiter Peak gets 350+ inches of snow per year, compared to about 275″ for Park City and Deer Valley.)
Athough neither mountain is undiscovered anymore, Deer Valley is usually less crowded than Park City.
In the past, Deer Valley has been famous for limiting its lift ticket sales each day, in order to ensure the slopes stay uncrowded However, in recent years, crowds have increased quite a bit, leaving fans wondering whether that limit is still being enforced.
Either way, the fact Deer Valley even considers this is an encouraging sign compared to Park City, which allows unlimited skiing at the resort for nearly all Epic Pass holders. The result is, generally, a more crowded at experience at Park City than Deer Valley.
|wdt_ID||Ski Resort||Ovr. Rating||Beg.||Int.||Adv.||Expert||Trees||Bowls||Crowds||Snow||Ski Town|
Both of these are among the best mountains in the world.
If you’re staying at either spot and wondering whether it’s worth heading 5 minutes down the road for a day or two at the other, in my opinion, it is!
On the other hand, if you really want to limit yourself to lift tickets or passes at just one mountain, then which place you’ll like better will probably depend on your personal skiing style and what you look for in a vacation.
Personally, as an intermediate to advanced skier myself, I’m a sucker for Deer Valley’s long groomers and consistent fall lines, although the sheer size of Park City is impressive.
Outside of skiing, I personally prefer the town of Park City’s more down to earth, historic charm compared to Deer Valley’s pampered, luxury country club vibe. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)
I’m sure you’ll have a great time, no matter which place you choose!