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First time ski trip to Utah. Nervous about Sundance mania.

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Asheville, North...
posts: 8
reviews: 3
First time ski trip to Utah. Nervous about Sundance mania.

We're two young professionals, kind of on a budget (esp. b/c Sundance drives up lodging costs), who have to travel over the MLK weekend, January 18-21, 2014. We are skiing at Canyons. Though it would be fun to catch a film one evening, skiing and enjoying some apres ski and worthwhile supper spots are the priorities. I've already made a note to reserve Fireside Dining at Deer Valley for one night, but do we have to reserve most meals in advance? How about lunch on the slopes? We like to play it by ear sometimes. Any advice on this or general advice on how to make the most of our 3-night/4-day trip during this busy time would be appreciated! Thanks!

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
posts: 2,090
reviews: 19
1. Re: First time ski trip to Utah. Nervous about Sundance mania.

Greetings salil. Welcome to the forum and the Wasatch Mountains.

Might want to look into this...


Many out of town skiers avoid Park City during Sundance, so the slopes will actually be fairly bare. MLK weekend may spike it again through. You won't need to make reservations for lunch at Red Pine or any of the other lodges at The Canyons.

You may want to make reservations for dinners though. It can get crazy, especially opening weekend. Definitely check out a film or two. This is one of THE premiere festivals in the entire world.


Park City has 3 major ski areas within seven linear miles. I might try to visit each of them. Might be fun to compare the differences and see the terrain in each resort. There is a free town shuttle that goes between each resort and the Historic District of Main Street.

Might want to also catch a ride on the Olympic bobsled track at Utah Olympic Park, which in and of itself is a worthwhile visit, especially if the athletes are practicing. The track will throw you around curves at 80 MPH. Or there is the Alpine Coaster at PCMR.

There will be a lot going on during Sundance and there are typically some headline musical acts at PC Live and other venues. Keep checking the events calendar closer to the dates you'll be in town.


Park City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah, Winter Sports
posts: 12,254
reviews: 241
2. Re: First time ski trip to Utah. Nervous about Sundance mania.

Welcome to the forum. Have no fear, great time to be here skiing - very light time on the slopes. Assuming you have lodging (toughest part), you'll be fine. You're here on opening weekend, which is the busiest. For sure, people watching on Main Street is a real treat. Main Street restaurants are busiest. Places like Fireside Dining aren't nearly as impacted, nor will things at Canyons. Have lunch at Lookout Cabin and dinner at The Farm.

Absolutely take in some films. There's a standby process for any film. It's a great experience.

Where are you staying? Free bus will get you around town, with expanded service during Sundance.

It will be a great experience.

Have fun.

Newport Beach, CA
posts: 322
reviews: 47
3. Re: First time ski trip to Utah. Nervous about Sundance mania.

I agree that you're going to have a great time skiing while others are in the theaters. Do make dinner reservations, although you may find that some restaurants won't start taking reservations for Sundance week yet, as they're waiting to see about groups, etc. Call them and don't be surprised if they tell you a later date to call back. Also, many restaurants will want you to confirm with a credit card for that weekend.

I think Sundance weeks can be the most fun time to take the bus, as you hear a lot about the films while you're on the bus.

Have a great trip!

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
posts: 2,090
reviews: 19
4. Re: First time ski trip to Utah. Nervous about Sundance mania.

Also forgot to mention, check back in a few weeks, but in the past PC has a program called Quick Start, that gives skiers a free pass on the same day as they arrive. Fill out a form online, print it and then show up at the ticket window with the pass, ID, and airline ticket, and you get a free lift ticket for that day only./ It's worth it, even if you you arrive at 2:00 in the afternoon and get to warm up for the upcoming days. There may be blackouts because of the holiday though. There are also several discount tickets at snowboard shops like Salty Peaks or rental places like Ski N See. https://www.skinsee.com/discount-lift-tickets

Another option would be the KSL.com classifieds, which is like a local version of craigslist. I've bought 20-40$ lift tickets several times and haven't been burned yet. Last year, it was from a guy that blew out an knee and had a bunch of lift tickets and was just trying to get rid of them.

Asheville, North...
posts: 8
reviews: 3
5. Re: First time ski trip to Utah. Nervous about Sundance mania.

Great advice that I've taken note of. Thanks, everyone! We have yet to reserve lodging, but found one decently priced condo at Red Pine. All the Red Pine listings on VRBO advertise that it's an easy walk from the condo to the cabriolet. We'll see about that...nothing's really easy in ski boots with skis in tow, lol. I'll keep checking this and other TripAdvisor fora on Park City/Canyons.

Asheville, North...
posts: 8
reviews: 3
6. Re: First time ski trip to Utah. Nervous about Sundance mania.

Also FYI to other travelers and those of you who volunteer your time to help them here, no more Quick START program:

A rep from visitparkcity.com said: "The decision to end Quick START was jointly made by all three resorts and the Chamber/Bureau; the offer was intended to create awareness of our ease of accessibility and after ten years the thinking was that the message had gotten out. So, no tie-in with Vail taking over Canyons."

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
posts: 2,090
reviews: 19
7. Re: First time ski trip to Utah. Nervous about Sundance mania.

Thanks for the update about quick start. And I would check just how easy the walk is, when you find a rental. The area below the base of The Canyons is a reasonable size and sprawled if you don't have a car. Some areas might be a pain, but I suppose the trade off is more affordable accommodations. Good luck.

Plantation Florida
posts: 485
reviews: 117
8. Re: First time ski trip to Utah. Nervous about Sundance mania.

I've been to Park City during SunDance to go skiing, and it wasn't that packed. I've been in December, January (SunDance) and now I go February-March. Why? In December there are limited runs open unless they get dumped on. January has colder temps and windy conditions. February/March is the peak. In March temps are in the 50s and people can ski in t-shirts. I wouldn't worry about the crowds, but rather the deal you can get on lodging.

Hotels in Park City cost more. I've gone 3 years in a row and plan to go back this season. I have trip reports of each visit.

2009 Marriot (December, got a free night from Marriott)


2011 Best Western (next to the highway, Sundance Festival was happening)


2012 (Hilton Garden Downtown SLC)


Where will I stay this season? The Hilton Garden Inn. Why? Because there's a bus that goes to Alta/Snowbird and if it's snowing, you need to ride the bus or have an SUV on those roads. The drive from SCL to Park City is only about 40 minutes, it's not that far. The Quick Start program was nice, but I usually ended up arriving at night by the time I flew in, got the rental car, ski gear, and drove out to Park City. I ended up skiing under the lights on the Payday trail. It was cool, but not a big deal. It's not Vail they need to worry about, but Alta/Snowbird and people staying in SLC like me to save money on lodging.

Regarding being close to the resorts, that's not a problem. In fact, at Park City, you can park your car at the bottom of the first time run, and the lift is right there. Take that to the top, and ski down the side to the PayDay or Cresant lift. When you're done, you end up skiing to the very bottom and your car is steps away.

So lodging next to a resort or being close to one is not needed. You can stay in downtown SLC at the Hilton Garden Inn, which is next to a ski rental shop, and there's many food places to pick from.

If you've got the money and want to stay in the Park City Village, great, it's an experience, but not necessary.

posts: 91
reviews: 228
9. Re: First time ski trip to Utah. Nervous about Sundance mania.

get your reservations booked and have a great time - park City is so much time during that time of year - and as others have said: the runs are not crazy busy, it's more downtown. Red pine is close to Canyons lift, next time check vrbo.com 185527 - you might be lucky and end up getting a ski-in/ski-out condo at the Grand Summit

Too bad that quick Start was discontinued :-(

Asheville, North...
posts: 8
reviews: 3
10. Re: First time ski trip to Utah. Nervous about Sundance mania.

I appreciate the continued advice!

We just got, for lack of a better word, screwed on our lodging. I've rented from VRBO 20+ times and this has never happened: The owner of a Westgate 1 BR offered $670 total for Jan 18-21 (3 nights). We immediately accepted her offer and, per her instructions, sent our names and info for the reservation. She then didn't respond and yesterday said her "partner" rented the condo to another person while she was out of town and that it's not available. Said she'd check with her "friend" to see if her Westgate condo was available. Didn't hear back for a while. Emailed again. And then late last night: "Oh darn. Hers isn't available either." We lost out on another condo in between her antics. Sounds like detrimental reliance to me. She could not provide a listing of her "friend's" condo. We are all but convinced that after we had finalized our agreement, she found a renter for more money or more days. Very worried we won't find a Canyons condo (esp. a comparable one) for $670 or below, which is on the max side of our budget. First world problems, I know, but still very frustrating after the 10+ hours I've put into the lodging hunt.

Are there remedies for VRBO renters in this situation? Has anyone ever had this problem before?