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 Resort||Best Resort|
|For Beginners||Park City|
|For Intermediates||Park City|
|Best Terrain Parks||Park City|
|Highest Snow Quality||Vail|
|Easiest to Travel To||Park City|
|Cheapest Lift Ticket Prices||Park City|
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.
|Skiable Terrain||7,300 acres||5,289 acres|
|Vertical Drop||3,200 ft||3,450 ft|
|Base Elevation||6,900 ft||8,120 ft|
|Summit Elevation||10,026 ft||11,570 ft|
|Green Circle Trails (Beginner)||7%||18%|
|Blue Square Trails (Intermediate)||49%||29%|
|Black/ Double Black Diamond Trails (Expert)||44%||53%|
|Longest Run||5.6 km||6.4 km|
|Lift Operating Hours||9:00 – 4:00||9:00-3:30|
|Night Skiing Available||Yes||No|
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.
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.
|Month||Snowfall in Park City||Snowfall in Vail||Base Depth in Park City||Base Depth in Vail|
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 Season||Park City Open||Vail Open||Park City Close||Vail Close|
|2022/23||18th Nov||11th Nov||13th Apr||24th Apr|
|2021/22||17th Nov||12th Nov||17th Apr||1st May|
|2020/21||20th Nov||20th Nov||11th Apr||18th Apr|
|2019/20||22nd Nov||15th Nov||14th Mar||14th Mar|
|2018/29||21st Nov||14th Nov||7th Apr||21st Apr|
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)
Lionshead Village (Vail)
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 Type||Park City||Vail|
|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|
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.
|Location||Drive Time to Park City||Drive Time to Vail|
|Salt Lake City||40 mins||6.5 hours|
|Provo||1 hour||6 hours|
|Wyoming||5.5 hours||6.5 hours|
|Denver||7.5 hours||1.5 hours|
|Colorado Springs||8.5 hours||2.5 hours|
|Boulder||7.5 hours||2 hours|
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
Considering other ski resorts in Utah and Colorado? Check out my complete comparison between the skiing experience in these two states for more information.
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 Type||Park City Price||Vail Price|
|Child Group Half Day||$255||$210|
|Child Group Full Day||$299-$339||$315-$408|
|Adult Group Half Day||$195||$185|
|Adult Group Full Day||N/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)|
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.
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 Lift||Park City||Vail|
|Child (5-12) Weekday||$116||$144|
|Senior (65+) Weekday||$126||$198|
|Child (5-12) Weekend||$149||$170|
|Senior (65+) Weekend||$161||$237|
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 City||Vail|
|Ski Package Demo||$51||$66|
|Ski Package Performance||$40||$58|
|Ski Package Sport||$29||$50|
|Ski Package Junior||$25||$37|
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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