Locals say The Canyons has the best terrain of any Park City, Utah, resort and SKI readers agree. They awarded gold medals for both Terrain and Challenge to this eight-peaked ski area that has undergone $37.5 million in on-mountain improvements and $130 million in base-village development since it was purchased by the American Skiing Co. in 1997. It's not just the massive 3,300 acres of terrain but its diversity-acres upon acres of terrain parks, tree-lined steeps, off-piste bowls and glades. The resort even serves up a handful of narrow, winding trails, a throwback to New England skiing (the trails were cut by the resort's managing director Blaise Carrig, who previously oversaw Sugarbush, Vt.). Readers also praise The Canyon's lift arsenal, which includes five high-speed quads and an eight-passenger gondola that whisks skiers from the base village into the heart of the Wasatch Range. The work-in-progress village and the lack of parking are downsides. "I will not go back there," promises one reader, "until they pave the parking lot." "Base area is a horror," adds another. But those irritations have eased with last season's completion of the 364-room Grand Summit Hotel and the maturation of the resort's village core, which features shops, restaurants and an outdoor pavilion. And don't forget: Hundreds of eating, drinking and shopping options beckon five minutes away in Park City, while the Salt Lake Airport is a 35-minute drive once the Olympian road projects are finished. "An emerging giant," says one reader.
WHAT'S NEW The 325-acre Dreamscape, the resort's eighth peak; two restaurants: Doc's and The Cabin, and, perhaps, a Cabriolet people-mover from the parking lot to the base area.
A GOOD DEAL The Canyons links with Park City and Deer Valley on the Silver Passport, a lift ticket good at all three resorts, but not on the same day. Three nights' lodging is required.
MEDALS GOLD Terrain, Challenge, Accessibility; SILVER Lifts, Weather.
HIGH/LOW RANK Accessibility (5), Lifts (28), Weather (33); Value (56), Family Programs (61), Grooming (68).
DON'T MISS Intermediates and above can get their first taste of big Western skiing in the uncrowded, snow-clogged Pines area off the north side of the Saddleback Express Lift.
READER REMARKS (+) "This is going to be the next Vail." (-) "A work in progress-and boy does it need work."