Vail vs Park City: Ultimate Ski Resort Comparison


Vail Ski Resort and Park City Mountain Resort are both run by Vail resorts but offer different experiences both on and off the slopes and are in very different locations.

I’ll be comparing the terrain, snow quality, villages, value for money, accommodation, accessibility and more in this in-depth guide so you can choose the best resort for your next ski season.

Park City vs Vail Ski Resort Overview

Park City ski resort has more skiable terrain compared to Vail and is better for beginner skiers and snowboarders. Park City is also cheaper and easier to get to. However, Vail has the best terrain for experts, the least crowds, and a larger village with more to do compared to Park City.

Aspect of the ResortBest Resort
For BeginnersPark City
For IntermediatesPark City
For ExpertsVail
Best Terrain ParksPark City
Shortest QueuesVail
Highest Snow QualityVail
Best VillageVail
Best AccommodationVail
Easiest to Travel ToPark City
Cheapest Lift Ticket PricesPark City
Park City vs Vail ski resorts

Ski Map and Terrain

Park City mountain is larger compared to Vail mountain. Park City has 7300 acres of skiable terrain and 324 runs, whereas Vail has 5289 acres and 195 runs. However, the vertical drop is 250 ft larger on Vail compared to Park City and it also has a higher elevation at both the base and summit.

For beginners, Vail and Park City both have plenty of terrain, however there are more beginner-friendly runs on Vail compared to Park City. The beginner terrain on Park City mountain is also closer to the bottom, making it easier to get down without using a lift.

For intermediate skiers, you’ll be spoilt for choice at both locations, however the edge goes to Park City where blue square runs hold a 49% share, compared to just 29% at Vail.

Advanced and expert level skiers and snowboarders are likely to find the terrain better at Vail as it is a steeper mountain and has a higher percentage of black diamond and double black diamond runs compared to Park City. However, both resorts are great for experienced riders.

If you’re heading to the park then you’ll probably prefer Park City as it has a whopping 7 terrain parks compared to Vail’s 2 parks.

Please see the table below for a full comparison of the Vail and Park City mountain statistics.

StatisticsPark CityVail
Skiable Terrain7,300 acres5,289 acres
Vertical Drop3,200 ft3,450 ft
Base Elevation6,900 ft8,120 ft
Summit Elevation10,026 ft11,570 ft
Total Runs324195
Green Circle Trails (Beginner)7%18%
Blue Square Trails (Intermediate)49%29%
Black/ Double Black Diamond Trails (Expert)44%53%
Longest Run5.6 km6.4 km
Terrain Parks72
Lifts4131
Lift Operating Hours9:00 – 4:009:00-3:30
Night Skiing AvailableYesNo
Park City vs Vail mountain statistics
Park City Mountain Resort

Experience on the Slopes

Park City is a huge mountain which means it can take multiple lifts to get around the slopes because it consists of two resorts (Park City and Canyons) that were merged several years ago. Vail is a little easier to get around since it is all located on a single mountain.

The lift system also seems more thought out on Vail and the lifts themselves are usually quicker. To get from the bottom to the top usually takes about half the time at Vail compared to Park City.

Both resorts are very popular so get really busy on the weekends and during peak season, however Vail does a better job at controlling these crowds with shorter lines for most lifts. Vail can handle 53,000 skiers per hour, whereas Park City can handle only 31,000 skiers per hour.

However, if you’re looking for expert terrain, you’ll be pleased to know that Park City has some expert-only chairlifts which don’t get busy at all.

Snow Quality

Park City and Vail are both blessed with brilliant snow. There is very little to separate the snow quality except for the fact that Vail has the slightest of edges since it has a higher elevation which usually preserves the snow a little better into spring.

MonthSnowfall in Park CitySnowfall in VailBase Depth in Park CityBase Depth in Vail
November16″24″21″21″
December62″56″27″30″
January57″50″40″44″
February55″49″54″55″
March44″45″60″61″
April11″24″50″49″
Data refers to averages. Data from onthesnow.com
Vail ski resort

Ski Season Length

Park City and Vail usually have fairly similar ski season lengths spanning from mid-late November through to mid-April. However, Vail usually opens a few days earlier and closest around a week later in comparison to Park City.

Check out the table below for information on the ski season dates for both resorts.

Ski SeasonPark City OpenVail OpenPark City CloseVail Close
2022/2318th Nov11th Nov13th Apr24th Apr
2021/2217th Nov12th Nov17th Apr1st May
2020/2120th Nov20th Nov11th Apr18th Apr
2019/2022nd Nov15th Nov14th Mar14th Mar
2018/2921st Nov14th Nov7th Apr21st Apr
Park City vs Vail ski season lengths and dates. *22/23 dates are predicted

Village, Restaurants and Other Activities

Park City consists of two main villages: Park City Mountain Village and Canyons Village which each have 4 dining locations. Both villages also have a variety of shops and you can also visit the Historic Main Street for some more options. The spa is located in the Grand Summit Hotel in Canyons Village.

Vail also consists of two villages: Vail Village and Lionshead Village. The resort is much larger compared to Park City but still has 4 dining locations in each village.

Park City is also just a 5 minute drive away from Deer Valley resort village. Vail’s closest resort is Beaver Creek which is 20 minutes away.

In both resorts there are plenty of other activities available such as dog sled tours, snowshoeing, helicopter skiing and snowmobile tours.

Here are some YouTube video tours of each resort so you can get a feel for them.

Park City Mountain Village

Canyons Village (Park City)

Vail Village

Lionshead Village (Vail)

Accommodation

Park City and Vail both have 2 villages where you can stay at. The accommodation options are similar at each resort with hotels, condos and lodges to suit different budgets and party sizes. The accommodation tends to be slightly cheaper in Vail compared to Park City, but you may be able to find deals which negate this.

Here’s a summary of the average accommodation prices in January.

Accommodation TypePark CityVail
1 Bedroom Condo$300/ night$275/ night
2 Person Hotel Room$400/ night$400/ night
2 Bedroom Lodge$600/ night$550/ night
3 Bedroom Lodge$1000/ night$900/ night
Park City vs Vail accommodation costs
Vail ski resort

Location and Traveling

This section is split into three categories to simplify things:

  • Travelling by plane
  • Driving and parking
  • Proximity to other ski resorts

Travelling By Plane

Both Park City and Vail are easy resort to access with international airports located fairly closely. The transfer time to Park City is just 45 minutes, whereas Vail is a bit further away and takes a couple of hours by shuttle.

  • The closest major airport to Park City is Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) which is approximately 45 minutes away by shuttle bus.
  • The closest airport to Vail is Eagle Regional Airport which is a 40 minute drive away. The closest major airport to Vail is Denver International Airport which is a 2 hour drive away.

Parking and Driving

Parking at Park City needs to be reserved which costs $25 per day in the ski season. After 1:00pm parking is free. Parking in Vail costs at least $30 per day however it is more abundant and doesn’t need to be reserved. You can also find some free parking in Vail, however you’ll need to get a shuttle to the base.

 LocationDrive Time to Park CityDrive Time to Vail
 Salt Lake City40 mins 6.5 hours
Provo1 hour 6 hours
Wyoming5.5 hours  6.5 hours
Denver7.5 hours1.5 hours
 Colorado Springs8.5 hours2.5 hours 
Boulder7.5 hours2 hours
Drive times from popular locations to Park City and Vail resort

Proximity to Other Skiing Resorts

Here is a list of other popular ski resorts near Vail and Park City and the approximate drive time:

Other Resorts Near Vail:

  • Beaver Creek: 20 mins
  • Copper Mountain: 25 mins
  • Breckenridge: 45 mins
  • Keystone: 45 mins
  • Steamboat: 1 hour 45 mins
  • Aspen Snowmass: 2 hours

Other Resorts Near Park City

  • Deer Valley: 5 mins
  • Solitude: 25 mins
  • Snowbird: 1 hour
  • Alta: 1 hour
  • Snowbasin: 1 hour 10 mins
  • Powder Mountain: 1 hour 30 mins

Ski School Comparison

The ski school in Vail and Park City offers group and private lessons for all ages and ability levels.

The half-day group sessions are cheaper at Vail compared to Park City. However, the full-day child lesson is more expensive at Vail. At the time of writing, only Vail offers full day adult group lessons. The private lessons are pretty comparable for both resorts, with Park City being the slightly cheaper one of the two.

Please see the table below for more information.

Lesson TypePark City PriceVail Price
Child Group Half Day$255$210
Child Group Full Day$299-$339$315-$408
Adult Group Half Day$195$185
Adult Group Full DayN/A$248
Private Half Day$809 (for 1-6 people)$855 (1-6 people)
Private Full Day$1099 (for 1-6 people)$1180 (1-6 people)
Park City vs Vail ski school lesson price comparison

Costs are based on the most recent ski season at the time of writing and are subject to change. Please check the resort websites for up to date prices. Prices are in US dollars and based on off-peak season prices.

Park City Mountain Resort

Tickets and Rentals

Ski lift tickets are cheaper at Park City compared to Vail. For most tickets you can expect to save around $20-$30 by visiting Vail rather than Park City per day.

Example cost for 2 adults and 2 children (weekend)
Park City = (2 x $223) + (2 x $149) = $744
Vail = (2 x $247) + (2 x $170) = $834
Saving at Park City = $90

Please see the tables below for more information.

Ticket Price Day LiftPark CityVail
Adult Weekday$182$208
Child (5-12) Weekday$116$144
Senior (65+) Weekday$126$198
Adult Weekend$223$247
Child (5-12) Weekend$149$170
Senior (65+) Weekend$161$237
Park City vs Vail day lift ticket prices

Equipment rental prices are cheaper at Park City compared to Vail. You can expect to pay around $10-$15 less for a skiing/ snowboarding package at Park City. Please see the table below for details.

Equipment Rental (Daily)Park CityVail
Ski Package Demo$51$66
Ski Package Performance$40$58
Ski Package Sport$29$50
Ski Package Junior$25$37
Helmet$12.50$10
Park City vs Vail ski equipment rental prices

Prices quoted above are based on the most recent ski season at the time of writing and are subject to change. Based on daily rates when buying in-advance online for tickets and on the day for rentals (better value for money offers are available when booking for multiple days). Prices are in US dollars. Please check the resort websites for up to date prices.

Which Resort is Best?

Both Vail and Park City are incredible resorts and you’ll be hard to find a “top 10 ski resorts list” which doesn’t feature them both so they can be hard to separate.

If you’re looking for the largest mountain and want more beginner and intermediate-level terrain then you’ll probably prefer Park City, whereas advanced riders will be happier at Vail. However, both resorts are great for all abilities so I wouldn’t make this a primary consideration to be honest.

The main advantages of Park City are that it is closer to the nearest international airport and has cheaper ticket prices. The main pluses of Vail are that it has shorter queues during busy periods and the most vibrant village.

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Rosie

I have been a keen skier for a number of years, skiing in different locations around the world, and have a real passion for snow sports. My favourite ski resorts are Lake Louise in Canada and Obergurgl-Hochgurgl in Austria.

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