Ski resorts aren’t just for skiing anymore
Park City’s ski resorts are good for a lot more than skiing. Summit Meadows, a snowmobiling park operated by Deer Valley, and Gorgoza Park, a sledding area operated by Park City Mountain Resort, are now open.
Park City Mountain Resort will also continue operating its new Alpine Coaster throughout the winter, as weather permits.
Summit Meadows, located roughly five miles from Main Street at Garff Ranch off S.R. 248, offers 7,000 acres of snowmobiling terrain. There are 47 Ski-Doo machines that make up the fleet for Summit Meadows.
Deer Valley Spokesperson Erin Grady said it provides locals and guests a place to snowmobile without having to travel more than a few minutes.
"It’s a great other offering for our guests here at Deer Valley," she said. "It’s a beautiful place to snowmobile. It’s close and the views are incredible. There is a lot of wildlife out there you can see."
The terrain at the park ranges from beginner to expert, and guests are taken on a brief tour to see what the resort has to offer. Whether someone wants to cruise in wide-open spaces or bob through the trees, it’s all there at Summit Meadows.
"The terrain is extremely varied," Grady said. "At the beginning of your tour they take you to a huge meadow to get comfortable with your machine. Then they take you on a tour of the trails to help you find what you like."
Summit Meadows has been open for three years, after Deer Valley executives thought it would be "a great addition for the guests at the resort and of Park City," Grady said.
Although they don’t keep an inch-count for the snow at Summit Meadows, Grady said there has been good cover since it opened at the start of December.
"We have Deer Valley groomers that go out and groom some of the trails to help get them ready," she continued. "Then they get tracked out and packed throughout the season so when we get the snow there’s a good base."
Drivers must be at least 16 years old, although younger children can ride as passengers for free if accompanied by a paying adult. There is a maximum of two persons per snowmobile and damage insurance is available.
Although eye protection is required, it is not available for rent, so goggles or sunglasses are recommended. Helmets are also mandatory and are included in the rental price.
Snowsuits, boots and gloves are available for rent for $5 a snowsuit, $3 for boots, $3 for gloves or a complete set of all three for $10.
"A lot of people don’t have specific items for snowmobiling or don’t know what to expect," Grady said about their rental items. "Plus, you’re sitting on a machine and a lot of people don’t want to wear their nice snow gear. It gives them an option to wear something else."
Prices for drivers range from $79 for one hour to $129 for three hours and lunch, with passenger prices going from $20 for an hour to $35 for three hours and lunch. Private sessions are also available.
One- and two-hour tours start at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.; with three-hour sessions starting at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling (435) 645-7669.
Gorgoza Park, operated by PCMR, is located off I-80 near the Jeremy Ranch exit and is open from 1-8 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the holidays (Dec. 22 Jan. 1).
Three lifts carry tubes and passengers to seven tubing lanes: three beginner lanes and four advanced.
"Length, which corresponds to speeds, is the biggest difference between the two levels," said manager Tom Butz. "Three to six year olds have to stay on the lower half of the hill, but everyone else can go all the way to the top, which has the four longer lanes."
The area has two yurts, the warming yurt and the café yurt. The café houses the ticket office as well as a snack shop, while the warming yurt does exactly what the name suggests gives people a place to thaw.
Rates range from $3 for a single-ride ticket for three to six year olds to $14 for four hours for the same age. Prices for those seven years old and older run from $8 to $27. Ticket prices include the tube.
"Only our tubes can be used here," Butz said. "People don’t need to bring their own. Just show up wearing warm clothes. We hook the tubes on the lift and you just sit in the tube and a rope tow pulls you up. Once you’re at the top we send you down once it’s all good and safe."
"The lift is a great benefit so people don’t have to walk, but just having the park itself it a great opportunity for non-skiers and others who want to have fun," he continued. "We have a huge amount of destination visitors and they may be here for a week’s vacation and they might want more than skiing."
Gorgoza, which opened for its eighth season Dec. 1, uses both natural and man-made snow.
"We’ve had a good start to the season," Butz said. "Weekends have been busier and the weather has been fairly good to us. It’s cold this time of year, which helps the lanes stay fast."
In addition to the sledding hill, Gorgoza also has mini-snowmobiles and a track for 6 to 12-year-olds. There is also a new area called Fort Frosty where those under six can play in an open area or on the tube carousel.
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Park City Mountain Resort owner Vail Resorts said the sales of season passes rose sharply through the middle of September as compared to the previous year.