Discover the Best Skiing in Park City, Utah Without the Crowds

Skiing Park City without the crowds is easy if you go during the Sundance Film Festival.

skiing in Park City UT

Last Updated on 02/28/24 by Rose Palmer

Though we travel quite a bit, my husband’s favorite holiday each year is his annual winter ski trip. Over the years he has skied most of the major resorts out west, however, in the last few years, the one he keeps going back to in is Park City, Utah.

The first year we went to Park City, we ended up going during the Sundance Film Festival. Sundance was started in 1978 to showcase independent American film producers in the US. In the intervening years it has grown to become the premier film festival in the US. For a couple of weeks every January, tens of thousands of buffs descend on the small town of Park City to watch movies.

My initial instinct was that skiing during Sundance was not a good idea as I expected it to be very crowded. After all, over 100,000 people descend on Park City, UT over the course of the two week film festival. I figured that they would also want to go skiing.

It turned out my assumptions were wrong, and we learned that skiing Park City during the Sundance Film Festival was actually one of the best times to go because everyone was in town watching movies and not many were on the slopes.

Empty runs in Park City
Typical empty runs in Park City (photo by my husband)

Skiing Park City

One of the nicest things about skiing in Park City is its easy accessibility from a major airport. It’s a very easy 40 minute drive from the Salt Lake City International Airport. This is much quicker than any of the major resorts in Colorado which always required a few hours drive from the Denver airport.

The years that we have gone to Park City during the Sundance film festival, the mountain was surprisingly uncrowded.  During his four days of skiing across all the mountains covered by the Park City lift pass, my husband said it was remarkably empty, even on Sunday or in the afternoons when it is a little warmer and usually gets busier. He never had to wait in line for a lift; in fact, the lifts I saw at the base seemed quite empty.

I go on these trips with my husband, but I no longer ski – my husband does the skiing, and I do après skiing. I think I have the better end of the deal – no painful boots, no cold bum sitting on the chair lifts and no falling and trying to get up on slippery slopes. But I still get to enjoy the hot chocolate or the hot buttered rums at the end of the day in front of a hot fire.

Empt lifts at Park City during Sundance
Empty lifts at Park City during Sundance (photo by my husband)
view from the top at Deer Park
A beautiful mountain view from the top at Park City (photo by my husband)

The Park City lift pass covers three large mountain areas all of which are interconnected by lifts or gondolas. Note that you need a different lift pass for the Deer Valley Resort next door, which appears to be connected to Park City but is not. Also, there is a fee to just use the lift for sightseeing, so unfortunately, no free joy rides to the top to take in the views or meet up for lunch.

Travel Tip: To save some money on what are quite expensive lift tickets, we purchased them ahead of time on line.

Perfect skiing conditions at Park City
Perfect skiing conditions at Park City (photo by my husband)

This year went to Park City the first week of February, so missed the Sundance Film Festival by a few days. We arrived on a Sunday and left the following Saturday. My husband said that the slopes and lifts were definitely busier, but still not that bad because he was skiing midweek. By Friday though, he said the lift lines were definitely getting longer (the fresh snowfall also brought out more skiers).

Where To Stay in Park City

Over the years, we’ve stayed at a few different spots, all within an easy walk to the lifts at the base of the mountain. I always look for a condo with at least one bedroom and kitchen facilities so we can prep nice breakfasts and occasional lunches.

Shadow Ridge

Our first time at Park City we  settled on the Shadow Ridge Resort Hotel which was across the street from the Park City Mountain Resort. While the condo was not ski in-ski out, it was the next best thing – it was only about a five minute (uphill} walk to access five different lifts.

Park City Mountain village
Park City Mountain Resort – also empty even though it was lunch time

Our one bedroom condo was more than adequate for the two of us. While not luxurious, it appeared to have been updated recently. The kitchen had all that we needed for the short time we were there. One nice feature was the two full bathrooms. Of course we did not each need our own bathroom, but it was a pleasant little extra.

The only disappointment was the wood burning fireplace. We like having a wood burning fireplace at home, but at the condo it was a hassle having to buy and carry wood, kindling and matches in order to have a fire. In this case, a gas fireplace would have been much more convenient.

Where to Eat in Park City

One of the recent disappointments about Park City is the lack of good restaurants for dinner at the base of the mountain. When we first skied there, there were quite a few choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. On our most recent trip, most of the eateries closed by 5 or 6 PM and there was not much open for breakfast.

After a day of skiing, we don’t necessarily want to get into a car and drive to a restaurant.  It’s much more convenient to be able to walk to an eatery in the Park City Mountain Resort area, especially during Sundance. We did walk into the center of town one night and quickly decided we would not do that again. The town was extremely crowded with all the Sundance Film Festival goers.


  • Legends Bar and Grill

We’ve eaten dinner here before, but now they close at 6 PM, so it’s really only good for lunch or some after ski snacks and drinks. Legends describes itself as a gastro-pub. The servings were huge, the food was good and my husband enjoyed the micro-brew selections,

  • Butcher’s Chop House

We walked into the center of town one night for dinner but had not made any reservations. With the town full of Sundance Film Festival goers, the restaurants and bars were packed. We were fortunate to be able to get a table in the lower level bar area of Butcher’s Chop House. This steak house offered the expected variety of meat cuts and seafood. Considering how packed the place was, the service was quite efficient and the steak and chicken dishes we got were tasty.

We indulged with dinner at the Viking Yurt one year to celebrate my birthday. This was not just a dinner, but a four hour evening experience. A sled pulled by a snow cat took us 1800 feet up the mountain to a real yurt. There, we enjoyed a six course Norwegian inspired dinner. The most interesting course was the sorbet palate cleanser that was served in a hollowed out rock brought over from Norway. The food was delicious, the service was extremely attentive, and the evening was one of the most unique and memorable dining experiences I have ever had.

Each evening’s dinner on only seats 40 guests, so we were very fortunate to be able to get last minute reservations. I suggest booking way in advance if you want to do this experience.

What We Liked about skiing in Park City

  • One of the things that we really liked about going to Park City was its proximity to the Salt Lake City airport. We reached our condo from the airport in less than 45 minutes, even during rush hour.
  • My husband appreciated being able to easily walk to the ski lifts from the condos in his ski boots, especially at the end of the day when he was tired.
The Park City Mountain Village cross the street from the condo
The Park City Mountain Village across the street from the condo
  • As the one skiing, my husband really enjoys skiing Park City. He felt he had a lot of options and variety because the mountain ski terrain was so large. He also really liked how uncrowded the trails were and that he did not have to wait in any lift lines (during Sundance that is).
Skiing with amazing views in Park City
Skiing with amazing views in Park City (photo by my husband)
More Park City Mountain top views
More Park City Mountain top views (photo by my husband)

Travel tips for the best skiing in Park City Utah

  • Purchase lift tickets online before you got there  – they are less expensive.
  • Pick up groceries at one of the grocery stores in town. The few things we bought (eggs, milk, cheese, butter and bread) were obscenely expensive at the little market in the Park City Mountain Village.
  • Make dinner reservations in town before you leave home, especially during the Sundance Film Festival.  The restaurants were packed with all the Sundance film goers and getting a walk-in table was a challenge.
  • Book accommodations before October so that you have a better selection for the (slightly) less expensive options near the mountain.
  • We usually rent a car, but you could probably get away without renting a car and just getting a shuttle to and from the airport. It was an easy walk into the center of town from our condo. I would not recommend driving into town-the streets were clogged with traffic and film festival goers.
Sunset over Park City UT
Sunset over Park City, UT

We both enjoy our trips to Park City very much. For my husband, it’s became one of his top three favorite skiing destinations in North America (along with Whistler and Beaver Creek). For me, I enjoyed the down time with views of the snow covered mountains.


Thanks for visiting.



Pin this!


Best time to ski in Park City Utah to have the slopes to yourself

All the information you need for the best skiing experience in Park City UtahSharing our expereince on the best time to ski at Park City Utah without the crowds