Way We Were: A brief history of Canyons Village | ParkRecord.com

Way We Were: A brief history of Canyons Village

Ski area has gone through changes since 1968 opening

Sally Elliott
Park City Museum researcher
A 1996-1997 ski season map and guide for what was then known as Wolf Mountain. The terrain is now the Canyons Village side of Park City Mountain Resort.
Park City Historical Society & Museum, Sandra Morrison Collection

People have been skiing in Park City since at least the 1890s. Skiing was a local affair for a while, but as mining on our mountains became less profitable, we used our mountains to build skiing into Park City’s business.

The first ski jumps were made on the Creole Mine dump on the hillside west of Old Town. In 1937 the Works Progress Administration (WPA) built three ski runs, a ski jump, a toboggan run and a warming shack in Deer Valley. After World War II, Otto Carpenter and Bob Burns installed creative homemade lifts to take advantage of these ski runs. They called it Snow Park. That tiny resort closed in 1969 and re-opened in 1981 as Deer Valley Resort. In 1963 United Park City Mines used its patented mining land to open Treasure Mountain Ski Resort, which is now Park City Mountain Resort.

In the summer of 1968, The Park Record reported that Ski Park City West would open in the fall on land that was once the David Loertscher farm. While the runs were being cleared on the mountain, the Riblet lifts were assembled in the parking lot. Miraculously, Ski Park City West opened on Dec. 20, 1968. The shiny new resort sported a Wild West cowboy theme with three chairlifts: Tomahawk, Iron Horse (now Condor Express) and Short Swing. There were four Mitey Mites: Boomerang, Pony Express, Tumbleweed and Pathfinder.

Ski runs were named Ambush, Wagon Trail, Ricochet, Sourdough, Slaughterhouse, Bronco, Sixshooter and Flap Jack. Later they added Massacre, Greenhorn, Apache Bowl, Geronimo Bowl, Bushwhacker and other cowboy and Indian culture names.

There was no lodging during the first season, but an ad in The Park Record promised free shuttle service from Park City with lodging in the next season. The lodging was slow to come and got caught in the 1974 real estate downturn when Jack Roberts and Harold Babcock bought the resort and condos out of bankruptcy.

In 1985 Jerry Gilomen managed the resort and operated it for a year or so before Kenny Griswold and Michael Baker bought it in 1994 and renamed it Wolf Mountain. That’s where all those endangered species animal names came from.

American Ski Company came in 1997, renaming it all The Canyons at the suggestion of Chip Carey, marketing director. As they expanded the skiing into The Colony and other new territory, Carey and Blaise Carrig bumped around the mountain in a pickup truck and came up with names for new runs. They had no particular theme in mind, so the newer parts of the mountain recall the feeling of skiing there. Talisker purchased The Canyons in 2008 and leased it to Vail Resorts in 2013.

The old ski resort buildings from earlier eras are all gone now, replaced by lifts, condos and the Grand Summit Lodge. There is little to remind us of the beginnings, except for a few of the names and lifts that existed then.

In 1981 the Condas family, the Boyer Company and Park City Ski Area announced that they would create White Pine Ski Area on land the Condas’ homesteaded in the 1920s and ’30s to make one very large ski resort adjacent to ParkWest … but that didn’t happen until Vail Resorts came to town, purchasing first The Canyons, then Park City Mountain Resort. Now it’s all one massive ski resort with many interesting names to recall themes past and times past. What once was ParkWest is now “Canyons Village at Park City.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Park City and Summit County make the Park Record's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.