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Project Ski Family: Park City, Utah

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Park City Ski Resort connects with The Canyons in a $50-million upgrade that makes it the largest ski resort in the United States. And it's the next stop on Project Ski Family.

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On the path to becoming a ski family, all roads lead to Park City, Utah. Quite literally, it's the most accessible resort destination in North America. For my Southern California family, it's only a two-hour flight from Los Angeles followed by a 30-minute drive from Salt Lake City International airport. In other words, you can board a 6am flight at LAX and hit the slopes of Park City by 11:30am. And with a new eight-passenger gondola that connects Park City to Canyons, you can access 300 trails and 7,300 skiable acres of terrain in one resort. This makes it the largest single resort in the United States while maintaining the same renowned snow that's made Utah a mandatory destination for powder skiers.

Destination: Choosing Park City as a Project Ski Family destination is no coincidence. In addition to its accessibility, the Canyons Village area of the resort is seemingly designed to serve young families. When you have two kids, five and eight years old, in their first year of skiing, you really need to optimize for proximity and convenience. Otherwise, it's possible they'll remember the inconvenience of getting to and from the skiing as opposed to the skiing itself. With the Canyons Village area of Park City, you can catch a shuttle from the airport and scarcely need any further transportation during your stay.

Accommodations: There are several hotels and condos in Canyons Village. Each is a short walk to the Red Pine Gondola and Orange Bubble Express lift. We stayed at the Sundial Lodge, which offers condos with full kitchens. The best units have balconies that face the "Ski Beach," as it's called, which hosts daily après-ski parties with live music. The resort features two hot tub options (always a big hit with kids). We found that the ground-level facility with a heated pool was best for families as opposed to the rooftop location. There is a complimentary ski valet just next to the lifts, so you just about eliminate the need to schlep ski gear--a huge benefit with kids in tow.

Ski School: Canyons Village is a hub for Park City's Ski School. Once the kids are dressed, it's as simple as grabbing their equipment from the ski valet and taking a few steps to the Ski Beach, where they meet with their instructor at 9am. The age groups are three-year-olds, 4-6, and 7-14. You can book group, small group, or private. The Red Pine Lodge at the top of the gondola tends to be the crossroads for lessons. We chose to pick up the kids here at the end of the lesson around 3pm, from where we'd ski for another 30 or 40 minutes as a family. My biggest critique of ski school, in general, is that you get feedback in the form of a paper report card. That's how you're expected to track progress and communicate it to the next instructor. There should clearly be a mobile app, in which case I'd add a screenshot here to show you how much they skied and how far they progressed in the three days we were there.

Dining: Park City is one of the more cosmopolitan ski destinations in the U.S., right up there with Aspen, Colorado, and Sun Valley, Idaho. As such, the culinary options rival that of big cities. The mountain offers a superb lunch spot known at Cloud Dine. The views are spectacular, and the Kobe Beef hotdog in a pretzel bun is legendary. The Canyons Village has a number of dinner options, but The Farm stands above them all. Indeed, it was ranked among the top 25 restaurants in Utah according to Salt Lake Magazine. The braised oxtail onion soup and beef tenderloin were highlights for us. Finally, it's well worth the trip to Zoom for dinner in downtown Park City.

News: The big news is the opening of the Quicksilver Gondola that connects the two resorts, along with the new Miner's Camp restaurant at its base, which opened on December 18th. With this much accessible terrain, you can spend an entire day traversing the resort and not repeat a single run. It's not unlike some of the European ski touring experiences in the Alps. What's more, Park City is off to a great start to the season, where more than 130 inches have already fallen.