It’s a dream matchup of two top-ranked skiing heavyweights: Park City VS Vail. If this pair of resort giants stood face to face, who would win? Park City Mountain Resort is the relative new kid on the block that ushered in the modern era skiing at the 2002 Winter Olympics – and has continued to develop and prosper ever since. Vail Ski Resort is the salty veteran, a mammoth of reputation that still possesses legendary power, grace and confidence. Which is better? And why? Below, we break down the specifics and let you know who’d win in a head-to-head battle of these two skiing powerhouses.
Winner: Park City. Vail and Park City are two of the most convenient ski resorts to visit. Park City is only 35 miles from Salt Lake City International Airport. The airport offers numerous direct flights from U.S. and international destinations daily during ski season. The airport is less than an hour away from 10 different ski resorts, so it’s a popular hub during the winter.
Vail is only a two-hour drive from Denver International Airport. The Eagle County Regional Airport is only 36 miles from the ski area, so it’s a viable option as well. But since Salt Lake City offers more flights and is a larger airport that Eagle County, we’ll go with Park City on this one. Also – on average there are fewer flights delayed in Salt Lake City than Denver.
Winner: Vail. While both are impressive, Vail takes this one. The Vail Village sits at 8,120 feet – a higher elevation than Park City’s base at 6,800 feet. Both world-class ski resorts have a breathtaking vertical rise of more than 3,000 feet to the summit: Vail’s summit is 11,570 feet while Park City’s is at 10,026 feet.
Winner: Vail. While you can argue the case for both sides, there’s no definitive winner when it comes to annual snowfall – but Vail has the edge based on its slightly higher elevation. Vail and Park City both receive more than 350 inches of snow per year on average, so neither resort disappoints when it comes to powder days. Snow totals fluctuate year over year, so it’s difficult to determine a consistent winner. Whichever you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
When snow doesn’t come, both resorts incorporate massive snowmaking efforts – but that’s rarely the case, especially at the summits. Both Vail and Park City routinely have snow depths in the 40- to 50-inch range at the top. During favorable seasons, the snow depth at the base at both ski areas can reach 40-plus inches as well.
Winner: Park City. Park City and Vail are two of the top three single-mountain ski resorts when it comes to total skiable acres. Head to head, Park City beats Vail in total skiable terrain. Park City offers more than 7,300 acres of skiable terrain with 348 named trails. Vail checks in at 5,317 total skiable acres with 195 named trails.
While Park City takes the win on this one, it’s important to point out that both resorts are near other great ski areas that provide additional terrain. At Park City, skiers have easy access to nearby Deer Valley. Guests who visit Vail can easily head to Beaver Creek for more acres. So, there’s no shortage of runs no matter where you go.
Winner: Park City. You’ll save a few bucks at the lift ticket window by choosing Park City VS Vail. Park City is about 10% cheaper than Vail on average when it comes to single-day adult lift tickets. Vail checks in with one of the heftiest price tags on the market at $209 for a single-day adult lift ticket purchased at the ticket window. Park City is not far behind at $179 for a single-day adult ticket bought at the ticket window.
Tip: Try to avoid paying full price at the ticket window the day you ski. If you purchase online and in advance of your visit, you can save considerably. Both Vail and Park City offer discounts based on advance purchase, so get your lift tickets early and save huge.
Winner: Tie. Both Vail and Park City are part of the Epic Pass. For years, the Epic Pass through Vail Resorts has been the season pass of choice for budget-conscious skiers. The pass provides unrestricted, unlimited access to some of the world’s best ski resorts.
Winner: Park City. Park City presents a whopping 13 bowls, according to the resort’s website. If you crave expert terrain, you’ll have a full buffet to dive into head-first. Jupiter Bowl, Scott’s Bowl, Puma Bowl and McConkey’s Bowl are just a few of the awesome black and double-black runs that will test your mettle.
Don’t get us wrong: You’ll love bowl skiing at Vail, too. Vail has seven challenging bowls along with gladed intermediate terrain at Blue Sky Basin. All told, there’s more than 3,000 acres to explore in the bowls at Vail.
Winner: Park City. Park City Mountain has eight progressive terrain parks along with two halfpipes for skiers and riders of all abilities. From beginner parks like Little Kings and Pinedraw to solid intermediate parks like Pick Axe Park and Transitions at Canyons Village, there’s lots of options to help you get better. Once you’ve mastered your craft, hit up 3 Kings or the imposing 22-foot Eagle Superpipe that was featured in the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Vail serves up two satisfying terrain parks with pro-style features like boxes and rails. Golden Peak terrain parks has a superpipe, a mini-pipe with a 22-foot transition, 13-foot opposing quarter pipe sections, 15 rails, 12 boxes, several jumps and more than 25 total snow features.
Winner: Vail. Both resorts have several long, winding runs that stretch for miles through the mountains. Park City’s longest trail – called Homerun – is 3.5 miles long (5.6 km). Vail longest run – Riva Ridge – is slightly longer at 4 miles (6.5 km).
Winner: Vail. Both Vail and Park City have an intricate and well-developed lift system to transport skiers and snowboarders around the mountain. Park City has the advantage with 41 total lifts, including four gondolas and a total of 32 chairlifts. Lift capacity is 31,000 skiers per hour, so there’s very little waiting – if any at all.
Not to be outdone, Vail’s lift system is no slouch. With 31 total lifts and a pair on gondolas, the resort can transport guests around the ski area at a mind-boggling rate of 53,000-plus skiers per hour. In the end, Park City has more lifts, but Vail can transport more way skiers per hour – so this one’s almost a toss-up. But we’ll give the nod to Vail based on sheer number of skiers it can accommodate.
Winner: Vail. The iconic Vail Village is hard to beat when it comes to a classic alpine skiing experience. It’s the Swiss Alps of Colorado. The European-inspired pedestrian village’s cobblestone streets are sprinkled with world-class dining, après-ski, shopping and late-night hot spots. The village is the original base at the ski area, but the resort has added two more access points over the years: one at Lionshead and another at Golden Peak.
Park City also has three separate gateways to its mountains: Old Town, Mountain Village and Canyons Village. Old Town and Mountain Village are in Park City while Canyons Village is just outside of the city. All three provide excellent lodging options, wonderful restaurants, great shopping and exciting nightlife.
Winner: Tie. Both resorts do an excellent job of providing deals, specials and coupons for guests at SkiCoupons.com. You can save on almost every aspect of your Park City or Vail ski vacation with deals found right here. The original ski deals website features several opportunities for savings on the slopes for everything from ski rentals, tune-ups, delivery and lift tickets to lodging deals and complete ski vacation packages. You can even save on ski gear purchases and rentals as well as off-the-mountain adventures like massages and spa treatments.
Regardless of which resort you choose in Park City VS Vail, you’re destined for some epic skiing. Of course it’s difficult to compare two world-class ski resorts that are unique in their own way. Did we get it right or miss the mark? Which resort do you prefer Park City VS Vail and why? Let us know in the comments below.