Canyons is not one of those ski areas that gives up its secrets easily. As concertina-ed as a a crumpled piece of cardboard, its dense array of ridges, peaks and valleys hides all kinds of surprises – and you’ll see none of ‘em when you stand at the bottom of the lifts, waiting to catch the Orange Bubble Express. At times even the locals can seem flummoxed by its intricacy. When Welove2ski was there last – on a Saturday, with a little fresh powder on the slopes – everyone seemed to be hugging the central belt of trails. The outer edges of the Canyons trail map were more or less deserted.
And that’s undoubtedly a good thing. After all, everyone loves an empty trail. Most of us welcome a bit of variety too – especially once we’ve mastered the parallel turn – and thanks to its intricate, multi-faceted shape, Canyons has that in spades.
So, along with steep, fall line trails…
You get tree skiing…
And the odd bit of powder, too.
(By the way, remember, that – in common with all North American resorts – the off-piste terrain within the Canyons Resort boundaries is protected avalanches and patrolled. You’re not on your own as you are in the Alps.)
Get stuck into this lot, and you’ll find your skiing is stretched in all kinds of new and exhilarating directions. Strong intermediates and advanced skiers in particular will love the sense of challenge.
Canyons Resort won’t suit everyone, though
Two groups of skiers will be less enthralled by Canyons skiing. First are wobbly intermediates. These are the kind of skiers who need lots of time on long, wide, gentle trails to build their confidence – and for whom the lower half of Breckenridge in Colorado is so well suited. There are gentler groomers in the Canyons, but generally you’ll find ‘em snaking about all over the place to avoid steeper sections of terrain. Knitting them all together into a coherent day out will take patient work with the trail map, too.
Check out the first half of our guide to the best ski resorts for intermediates for some alternatives: and bear in mind that both Park City, and Deer Valley, nearby, suit less confident skiers well.
The other group who might get frustrated are powder hounds. Yes, Canyons receives copious amounts of light, fluffy Utah snow each winter. Its official average is 9.01m – a lot more than most Alpine resorts (Val d’Isere’s average is 5.2m). But there are other Utah resorts which get more: notably Snowbird (12.7m) and Alta (14.2m), both of which are two valleys to the south in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Of course, there’s no guarantee your own trip will coincide with one of Utah’s famous winter storms. With that in mind there’s an argument for booking into Canyons so that you’ll have more to do if the weather isn’t super-snowy. But most proper off-piste addicts will probably want to take their chances with the Snow Gods and position themselves in Little Cottonwood Canyon, just in case…
Don’t forget the bobsleigh
Speed freaks, take note. The Olympic bobsleigh track from the 2002 Salt Lake City games is more or less next door to Canyons. Descents cost around $200 a head, and it’s not an experience you’ll easily forget (check out the video here if you can’t see it above).
What does it feel like? Two words will suffice: “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” and then “Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah”, as the sled grinds to a halt at the end of the run, and you realise you’re not going to die after all. That’s when the adrenaline catches up with you – and carries you all the way into the day after tomorrow.
Don’t forget the neighbours, either
By North American standards, Canyons Resort’s ski area is big – encompassing 4,000 acres of avalanche-protected terrain, and 182 trails (by way of comparison, the Three Valleys in France covers a whopping 98,800 acres, although only the pistes/trails there are protected against avalanches). Even for energetic, go-anywhere skiers there are a good three or four days of skiing to be enjoyed here before anyone gets bored. But if you do fancy a change of scene, remember that day-tripping to neighbouring ski areas is always an option.
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