If you find yourself asking "The Where?" you're hardly alone. Since 1997, The Canyons has expanded so aggressively that it is now the largest ski area in Utah -- and among the five largest in the U.S. -- but for many skiers, the resort is still off the radar screen. That suits fans of The Canyons' 3,500 acres just fine. "No liftlines!" crows a reader. "Utah's best-kept secret!" says another. Located 35 minutes from Salt Lake, The Canyons sprawls across eight peaks. "Takes awhile to get around," cautions one reader. Daytrippers start by riding the Cabriolet, an open-air gondola that runs from the day lot to the center of the new base "village." From there, a gondola rises to the Red Pine midmountain staging area, where trails and lifts fan out to more trails and lifts. To the far south lie the aspen glades and rolling meadows of Dreamscape and Day Break, a haven for intermediates. Peak 5, Tombstone and Supercondor each offer dozens of long, spacious boulevards down wooded mountainsides-plus gates where experts can dive off into steeps and trees. Troubled resort parent American Skiing Co. is putting further improvements on hold, but expect a continued emphasis on the sale of real estate-and a continued push for renown. -Susan Reifer
WHAT'S NEW Terrain park expanded to 18 acres, with five runs, a SuperPipe, kids pipe, lights, sound system, 25 new rails and boxes.
A GOOD DEAL The Holiday Week Ski Free Package includes two lift tickets per night of lodging at the slopeside Sundial Lodge, from $277 per night for two people (888-226-9667).
MEDALS GOLD Challenge, Weather, Access; Silver Snow, Grooming, Terrain, Lifts, Service, On-Mountain Food, Lodging, Dining, Après, Off-Hill Activities, Family Programs, Scenery, Terrain Parks.
HIGH/LOW RANK Access (4), On-Mountain Food (16), Weather (17); Scenery (31), Family Programs (34), Value (37).
DON'T MISS The views of Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood canyons and the Great Salt Lake Basin from the summit of 9990. On the way back, be sure to stop for lunch or après at Lookout Cabin.
READER REMARKS (+) "A new star in the universe!" "Great views." "Awesome tree-skiing." (-) "Very promotion- and sales-minded. Too pushy for me." "It's more of a housing development than a ski area."
Great Lodging Deals here.