In life – as in skiing – some of my fanciest friends are also some of the funniest.
With that in mind, meet my longtime friend Deer Valley. We have skied together many times over the years. And while I absolutely and unhesitatingly embrace the chic of the place (what could be better than ski valets, five-star slopeside restaurants, super modern and well-functioning ski lifts and possibly the best grooming and grooming, I ask you?), I also love Deer Valley, for what many don’t realize: deep down, she’s as passionate about skiing as I am.
It’s in their bones, after all: When Deer Valley opened in the 1930s, they built the first elevator out of lodgepole pine logs. It wasn’t until a new owner in the 1980s had the vision that DV was heading upmarket. And all the while, DV has never given up on that true skier vibe.
As my guide, Todd, said as the sun beat down on our faces on a recent perfect day of skiing: “People who don’t know think we’re just the ‘Betty Bunny’ mountain. We are so much more.
I returned to Deer Valley this winter after being away for several years (thanks, pandemic). I’ve spent great days and weeks there before (you still have a warm place in your heart, of course, because the place where you learned to crack a bottle of champagne the same day you crushed a foot and a half of thick powder with a few former Olympian friends, after all).
I am happy to say: the love story continues.
Deer Valley is in the Wasatch Mountain Range, just over half an hour southeast of Salt Lake City International Airport (where you’ll find a brand new airport), and just five minutes by Park City climb (it’s so close to the Park City Resort that the two are separated by a simple rope (we hope that one day this rope will fall).
There are plenty of accommodations by the slopes; much of it upscale, like the Montage, the St. Regis, and the famous Stein Erickson Lodge. There are plenty of condos and houses for rent, and you can stay in Park City proper (where you’ll find free daily buses to and from the main base area), or nearby Heber Valley, where you can save cash while still being about a 10 minute drive to the Deer Valley Jordanelle Express Gondola, a local favorite for avoiding the crowds and getting to the mountain in a snap.
In other words: Ski in/ski out or not, you will easily find access to the place.
In the mountains, DV skis well for all levels.
Beginners will find their happiness around the Snow Park and the “Lodges” of Silver Lake (name of the station for the sections). With 27% of the slopes in the resort green, learners can start easily and progress, while finding slopes that are perfectly laid out for their level.
On the other side, experts have a lot of fun finding. Accessible by elevator, they can find steep inclines, bumps, and challenge Empire, Sultan, and Mayflower chairs. There are almost always deep snow lines to be found at Empire Bowl and the hike to Daly Chutes. With 32% of the field marked expert (and they really mean it), there’s plenty to challenge you in the limits.
Want to amp it up even more? Invest in a guide and let them show you the really crazy stuff. It’s here.
DV is, however, a high intermediate paradise. If you love cruising – and I love it – you’ll find what looks like countless lines and trails to take.
On my day there, the lack of fresh snow (2022 history for most ski resorts) meant sticking to cut trails. The day was no less brilliant. I threw fun, fast, carving turns race after race that made the 28-degree sunny, windless day even more perfect.
The 3,000 foot drop also means you can carve until your thighs are screaming, if you want. Me? I stop constantly, not because I’m tired, but rather because I find – time and time again – incredible views that I just had to stop and savor.
I don’t usually stop for lunch on a perfect ski day, but at DV (as in Europe) it’s part of the overall vibe. Although I often opt for some of their legendary DV turkey chilies (seriously, you have to try it), that day I headed over to Rime at the St. Regis as a friend suggested.
In the sunny dining room at the edge of the slope, I savored seafood instead and declared it perfect. Delicious and satisfying, but light enough not to give me that “heavy after lunch” feeling. It’s a victory.
Back on the slopes, I saw that the snowpack after lunch had not suffered at all from the morning of the skiers.
Confession: While I’ve long been a “duct tape doesn’t matter” girl on the snow, I recently invested in a very chic ski jacket, with DV in mind. I wore it that day and felt glorious; shiny and new; classy and pretty. But deep down inside me, my carves, my whoops on the runs and the insistence that we keep taking another run and another, survived.
DV and I are the same in that way. I’m all about the turns, the carve, the snow. But just like the smiling ski valets who carried my skis to the car at the end of the day don’t make DV a less skiable slope, my fancy coat doesn’t change who I am in my heart.
I will be back, my friend. Prepare the saber knife. I am the one who wears a chic coat and has the soul of a real skier.