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Deer Valley, Utah Ski Area Guide -- Very Complete

Please note that this website is not affiliated with Deer Valley Resort. If you are looking for the official Deer Valley Resort website, please click here. But first, check out the following first-timers tips on working Deer Valley...

Money Talks, Boarders Walk

Deer Valley is the top of the heap if you want to ski in style. The type of clientele Deer Valley caters to does not care to ski alongside "gangstas," or anyone with their trousers belted well below the waistline, or basically anyone who isn't well-mannered. Rather than discriminate and bar individuals like the gentleman at right, Deer Valley management simply eliminated snowboarding from its on-mountain product offering. Add in the fact that Deer Valley's facilities are luxurious and sparkly clean, and a very refined skiing experience awaits. Six mountains, limited number of skiers per acre, Utah powder, high style, and high prices. Liftlines are short or non-existent. As long as your wallet is fat enough, Deer Valley is among the best ski resorts in the country.

Day Tripper

If you're driving in for the day, we suggest you cough up the ten bucks to park at Silver Lake Lodge. This move will save a huge chunk of time. It's also sort of an acid test for your compatibility with Deer Valley: If the extra ten bothers you, go to Park City. DVR doesn't nickel-and-dime, they ten-and-twenty you.

We recommend Silver Lake as a base because the majority starts at Snow Park Lodge. Snow Park is fine if you've got flat-out beginners or dedicated novice skiers in the mix. Otherwise, the trip to Silver Lake will save you a lot of schlepping. And if you want to work some of the more desirable terrain, it will save you a lot of traversing on greens. At the end of the day, Snow Park is often jammed with traffic. Spend the extra ten. It'll seem like a drop in the bucket by the time you get the lunch bill. The alternative is to use the Jordanelle ticket office off Rt 40, but this means even more lift rides and green traversing if you want to reach the really good stuff.

On Mountain: The Skiing

Head straight for Empire Express and the newly opened Lady Morgan lift in Empire Canyon for first tracks. Nice blues and blacks. When you're ready for a change, move to Flagstaff for its legendary blue cruisers. What's that? You say you're too good for blue cruisers? Nice try. You're at Deer Valley, so we know that deep down, you positively love skiing on silky smooth groomers. Who doesn't? And nobody does them better than Deer Valley. Incidentally, four high speed lifts converge on the summit of Flagstaff from almost every point of the compass. Elsewhere this would be a recipe for overcrowding and collisions, but you won't even notice it here. Traffic simply flows at DVR.

A lot of Deer Valley fans will tell you Bald Mountain is their favorite -- great blacks, double blues, and very long and steep blues. Long runs, easy to reach chutes and bowls (no hiking necessary), and chairlifts that seem to pop up everywhere. If heaven has just one ski mountain, this is probably it.

Bald Eagle Mountain gets the most uphill traffic, but the blacks and blues seem relatively empty most of the time. Perhaps the higher level skiers that start at Snow Park choose to head elsewhere. Whatever the reason, the good stuff on Bald Eagle remains in good condition throughout the day.

Little Baldy Peak is the redheaded stepchild at DVR. It has some nice terrain, but long runouts on Deer Hollow and the dreadfully slow Deer Crest lift compromise the offering. As one of our reviewers says of Deer Crest: "The lift could be slower, but that would mean you are dead and time has stopped completely." Otherwise, Little Baldy is popular due to the convenient gondy from the Jordanelle base, not to mention the most stunning views of the Jordanelle Reservoir. Be advised that if you have novice or low level intermediates in your party, they won't be able to ski back down the double-blue Jordanelle trail. But you're at Deer Valley, so it's no problem. Your friends may download the gondy for a fine ride to the Jordy base.

The tendency at DVR is to groom every blue, most double blues and a few of the diamonds. Because Deer Valley is known for its blues, here's a rundown on the best at each section...

  • Empire -- both Orion (Double blue) and Supreme.
  • Lady Morgan -- no blues, but when Magnet is groomed, it's a freakout drop black that makes everything else seem easy.
  • Flagstaff -- Lost Boulder and Hidden Treasure are totally different: Hidden Treasure is a wide boulevard of blue, while Lost Boulder is narrower and has steeper pitches.
  • Bald Mountain -- Stein's Way is a blue with a stretch of black. Nabob is a good warm-up blue, while Keno and Legal Tender are LONG steep blues that ought to be double blues at least.
  • Bald Eagle -- Big Stick is a steep double blue that makes the run to Snow Park Lodge quite enjoyable. Solid Muldoon is another favorite.
  • Little Baldy -- Jordanelle.

A day of skiing at Deer Valley means "we're living large" no matter what language you speak. Double-click the start arrow for a typical summit view:

On Mountain: The Services

Lessons are one of the keys to Deer Valley's service, with countless types of group and individual programs for three year olds on up. In-season, Deer Valley employs a stable of about 500 instructors. Chances are at least one of them will be a good fit for you. Rental fleet is Rossignol as of this writing, with packages for youth, adults, and an adult performance rental. None of these can remotely be considered bargains, but like everything else at DVR the service is so silky smooth and thoroughly professional that the cost is irrelevant. Sort of.

These regular services are just the tip of the iceberg at Deer Valley. If you decide to skip our advice and motor in to Snow Park Lodge, a Guest Services Attendant will help you unload your gear at the curb. Should you choose to, complimentary daytime and overnight Ski Storage is available at Snow Park Lodge, Silver Lake Lodge, and the Jordanelle base, as well as daytime only storage at Empire Canyon.

Don't feel like hauling your gear on the airplane? Fedex it to the resort, and they'll have it waiting at whatever base area you specify. They'll ship it back home for a modest surcharge.

Eager to try the latest and greatest? The Rossignol demo center will let you test top shelf equipment at no charge.

Want to track your mileage and vertical on the mountain? SlopeTrackerô units use GPS to provide a complete record of your day at Deer Valley. Statistics include number of runs and vertical feet skied, speed, calories burned, distance traveled, time skied and terrain difficulty. You even get a map with a record of your route through the day.

Some of the services are complimentary, some (like Slopetracker) cost a few bucks. Be prepared to do some tipping, especially if you stay in one of the lodges and use the van service.

Speaking of lodging, most of the on-mountain lodging situations at DVR are condo units. These are generally very nice, but be advised that some are "lockout" situations where, in fact, you are in a guest suite with a separate entrance that is actually a room in somebody's condo. These have a reputation for having a lack of sound privacy. Otherwise, these are terrific. Pricey, but terrific.

The ultimate digs are found at the Stein Eriksen Lodge. Rooms in season start at $500. Be warned that some of the rooms do not have the views and charm you might expect for that price. Suites feature gourmet kitchens and average about $2,000 per night. At these prices you might be better off with a rental of a home or condo from a private party; decent condos in the upper reaches of the resort start at about $900 per night. A lot of properties are available in "lower" Deer Valley at substantially lower cost; some of these are actually quite removed from the resort. That's not a bad thing, as with any vacation rental it's just a good idea to have your expectations match what you actually get.

Weather at Deer Valley


Above: Deer Valley weather forecast. Please use scroll bars to view entire page.

Free Ski & Snowboard Stickers!

Show your passion for doing it up and keeping it real with a free "Old School" sticker for your helmet, or your board, or whatever. Just e-mail your mailing address to sticker -at- gondyline -dot- com and say "send me a snowboard sticker" or "send me a ski sticker" or "send me a ski sticker and a board sticker for my sister" or whatever. If you say "please" we'll send two. They look like this:

Some more Utah ski links...

Best all-around Skiing Guide for Women...

Mom has a pretty raw deal on the average ski trip. They're expected to make sure every child is geared up and ready to go...settle the arguments, feed the family, prepare the snacks, pack the chapstick, and so on...and then ski the black diamonds with dad after the second lesson.

Sound familiar?

The book, Skiing: A Woman's Guide by Maggie Loring and Molly Mulhern Gross ought to be mandatory reading for every ski mom. It not only provides the basics for managing the gang, it also gives a step-by-step instructional guide from a woman's point-of-view. This link is to amazon.com, where you can usually pick up a used copy for about two bucks. Mom, it's the best two bucks you'll spend all winter.

Trail to Improvement

Probably the most helpful book I've seen to help you make the jump from strong blue to expert or hotshot level, is All-Mountain Skier: The Way to Expert Skiing, by R. Mark Elling. If you've tried to follow the recommendations in magazines and books, and had trouble mimicking the photos, this book somehow makes it all work, makes it understandable and easier to apply on the slopes. This link goes to amazon.com, where you can generally snag a used copy for about six bucks, or buy a nice squeaky clean one for about 20% less than retail.

Use this to get Lift Tickets at Discount: There is a "clearinghouse" of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia . If you haven't used this service, it is usually best to know for certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long...so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets . I've used this service many times, usually when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. Some resorts offer "flex" tickets with which you can specify the date, and some have a few different tiers of pricing. In other words, you might be able to get a lift ticket that can be used on different days, but you'll pay a little more for that privilege. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I've knocked a third off -- even half off -- the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it's well worth checking before you head to the slopes.

A tiny portion of your Liftopia purchase helps fund this website, at no added cost.

-- Rick Bolger