SALT LAKE CITY (May 21, 2019) – Utah ski resorts saw their best season ever in terms of skier days in 2018-19 with a total of 5,125,441 visits. The state also saw one of its best snow years on record, with every ski resort recording above normal amounts of The Greatest Snow on Earth.
“It was a great season to ski and ride in Utah, and our visitor numbers reflect that,” said Ski Utah President & CEO Nathan Rafferty. “Snow is a big business driver and snowfall numbers across the state were some of the best we’ve seen in recent years. Our resorts invested in programming and capital improvements to elevate experiences on and off the mountain. We also gained new visitors through expanded season pass options. This record season speaks to the strength of Utah’s ski industry and its role in winter tourism for our state.”
Utah’s skier days for 2018-19 were 12% higher than the state’s previous record of 4.58 million in 2016-17 and up 24% from the 2017-18 season. The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) released preliminary numbers at the end of April putting the 2018-19 season as the fourth best ever on record with over 59 million skier visits nationally. All regions saw an increase in visitation, with the Rocky Mountain region setting a record of 24 million visitors.
Locals and visitors alike undoubtedly took advantage of the copious amounts of snowfall that fell throughout the season, allowing resorts to open plenty of terrain and maintain top-tier conditions. From November 15 to April 15, at least one Utah resort saw measurable snowfall on 111 days.
“One of the key factors that made this season so memorable was the consistency of snowfall,” said Evan Thayer, local forecaster for Open Snow. “Since the resorts opened, we went no more than seven days without snowfall. We also avoided long stretches of high pressure and warm temperatures, which meant that the snow quality remained high for the duration of the season.”
Utah’s ski industry is a major contributor to the state’s economy. The 2017-18 season was the state’s second best season from an economic standpoint with $1.322 billion in total visitor spending. Out-of-state skier and snowboarder spending ($1.068 billion) resulted in the creation of more than 21,000 total jobs and $226.4 million in state and local tax revenue. Updated economic impact numbers for the 2018-19 season will be available later this summer.
Total Utah statewide skier days for the past 10 years are as follows:
*The National Ski Areas Association defines ‘skier days’ as one person visiting a ski area for all or any part of a day or night for the purpose of skiing/snowboarding.
Park City Lodging talks with owner Alejandra Lara
Park City is deservedly renowned for its many and varied events and activities. To the long list of more familiar options, Park City Horse Experience adds a unique and often profound experience. Owner Alejandra Lara shares her vision with us.
Park City Lodging: What is Park City Horse Experience?
Alejandra Lara: I’ve been working at National Ability Center for 11 years, conducting Equine Assisted Learning programs. The NAC serves individuals with cognitive, behavioral or physical disabilities. Most of the 5,000 participants I have worked with so far were military, and drawing on the success and enjoyment I witnessed, three years ago I decided to expand and create an opportunity for everyone to engage with horses. I started Park City Horse Experience at High Star Ranch in Kamas, a beautiful, natural location with both indoor and outdoor facilities for interacting with the horses.
PCL: Understanding that it isn’t a typical trail ride or a horse show, what happens during a horse experience?
AL: It’s a way of learning more about ourselves, in order to grow and maybe work through some challenging life situations. Horses mirror our internal state. They help us get aligned and congruent what we’re feeling in our bodies; they reflect that in how they relate to us.
For example, a person may come to one of our programs with the persona of “Things are great!” but really they’re feeling sad or angry. They come into the corral with the horse, and the horse reacts by not wanting to connect. Because of their prey nature, horses have developed survival skills, to be very attuned to their environment, including us. They change their breathing pattern to us. If we’re holding our breath, they think we’re anticipating the predator, and they mirror that. We breathe deep and the horse does, too. Our facilitators guide the connection, with awareness of the breath or body sensations, to recognize the internal state as it is. When that happens, the horse connects.
PCL: That’s really fascinating! What programs would you recommend for first time experience?
AL: Our Family Horse Adventure is great for families, for example moms and daughters or dads and sons, or everyone all together. It’s great for all ages and abilities, and the program would be exclusive for just your family. It’s two hours of fun activities where everyone learns to communicate and work together with the horses towards a goal. We can add riding to the experience, too.
Corporate groups also benefit from working with the horses to reach alignment as a team, to work through effective communication skills and in having a unique unparalleled team building experience. Park City Horse Experience can serve small and large groups from a couple of hours to multi day retreats.
The Horse Experience is great for an individual, a couple or a small group that doesn’t want to do a typical spa day, for example. It’s an open-hearted experience, life coaching, if you will. We learn about ourselves from the non-judgmental horse. It’s 90 minutes where you can come with a goal, or we can assess how you’re reacting to the horse and vice versa and customize the experience. Recently we had a client who came with a goal to overcome a fear of horses. Through the experience we discovered she was actually carrying fear from other events in her life. Working with the horse she was able to overcome not only her fear of horses, but also to release and get beyond other fears she was experiencing.
The mountains surrounding Park City can spark intense feelings of awe and strong desires to explore. Shaun Raskin, owner of Inspired Summit Adventures, is very familiar with these powerful reactions; she’s experienced them herself and she’s embraced and shared them with others through her unique outfitting and guide service. Park City Lodging sits down with Shaun to find out more.
Park City Lodging – Some basics – how long have you owned and operated Inspired Summit Adventures? How would you describe the process you went through in deciding to start and grow the business?
Shaun Raskin – I have owned and operated Inspired Summit for five years. I am a pretty free-spirited person, so I guess I started the company with a dream and a vision to provide something more personal than what I saw other outfitters providing. I had a few incredible clients who gave me the nudge and confidence that what I was offering was truly a product that others would gravitate towards. So with their encouragement and my own stubborn determination I started Inspired Summit. The desire to see how big we could take it and my passion for coming up with creative programs has allowed us to grow at an exponential rate each season.
PCL – The commercial ski experience here in Park City has changed recently, with Vail and its Epic passes and Deer Valley and its Ikon passes, etc. Likely you’ve seen changes in your business, as well – What kinds of changes have you experienced?
SR – For us, it’s been fun. We see more people looking to get into the backcountry for the first time. We also get the clients who have passes and want to learn some backcountry skills and avalanche awareness so they feel more comfortable to step out of the resort boundaries via the access gates and into the backcountry. So for us we are able to cater to those looking to not just be guided, but who want to learn and up their skill set, which is truly what Inspired Summit is about – facilitating people in reaching their personal goals.
PCL – The name of your company and the descriptions of your adventures makes it clear that there is “something more” involved in your guiding. How would you explain that difference?
SR – We are a high touch experience. All of our trips are privately booked and are completely customized to fit our clients’ desires, objectives and skill sets. We work with the industry’s best guides who excel at not just the hard skills, but also can read and relate tou our clients, allowing our participants to feel connected to their activity, surroundings, and ultimately a deeper connection to themselves.
PCL – Who is your typical client? What type of person would you encourage to try one of your adventures? What kinds of concerns do first-time adventurers express and how do you address those?
SR – Our clients vary. I think because we offer such a wide range of activities and because of the customization it allows first timers, families, advanced recreationalists and people training for a bigger goal, to all find our services appropriate. I encourage anyone who has ever wanted to explore nature, feel what being in nature offers, or anyone looking to get more out of their time in the backcountry to try one of our trips. Be it summer or winter, we are getting our clients out in the backcountry and helping them achieve their goals and go further.
PCL – Do you have stories of clients who try different kinds of adventures with you, for example, they did lift access ski touring, then did a hut trip, then came back in the summer to do some backpacking?
SR – We definitely have the four season clients. No particular story comes to mind, just a collection of really incredible people who choose to use us for their adventuring and allow us to share our expertise with them and in return we get to be part of their memories of exceptional days spent exceeding their own expectations. These clients feel more like family.
PCL – What’s your personal favorite adventure, one that you love to guide, and why?
SR – That’s a hard one. I am a skier first and foremost. I love guiding our sled-accessed backcountry ski tours. It’s really where we get to get away from it all. We spend the day deep in the Uinta mountains with no one around. Endless fresh powder to ski, ancient forests and jagged peaks. It definitely is an inspiring setting to say the least. That is probably why I also love our backpacking/ camping adventures so much too, it’s an opportunity to let clients immerse themselves in the backcountry setting and really gain perspective and connect to nature and themselves.
PCL – What are your plans for sustaining and growing your business in the future?
SR – We are constantly working on implementing the industry’s best practices, whether for safety, administrative practices, hiring, or client care. This is something we actively invest in. We take courses and we are involved in industry workshops. The idea is to get those good habits started in the beginning, set a solid foundation even if it means slowing growth. That way we can ensure that every step of the way is intentional and truly creating the experiences and value that we set out to create from the beginning.
PCL – What is your approach to climate change?
SR – Climate change is a reality that our industry is actively discussing, facing. We will have to remain flexible and imaginative in our response to changes, but we also want to be proactive as stewards of the environment. There is always more we can do, but we try to work with mindful companies such as Patagonia and Goal Zero to minimize our impacts on the land and wildlife that inspire a sense of self and place. We have goals to join different environmental nonprofits in 2020. The trick is picking the ones that are doing the most good and figuring out what that looks like within the scope of a small business.
PCL – Finally, what do you do for fun, or for your own vacations?
SR – We do some mountains – winter and spring we definitely go to huts or interesting areas and ski. Late spring and fall we surf – well… Weston surfs and I just try. But now with our little one some of that is changing and we are looking at doing family vacations that are a little mellower – same activities, just kid friendly.
For more motivation to push your own boundaries go to Inspired Summit Adventures.
For more information about exclusive deals for Park City Lodging guests go to Inspired Adventure Package.
Remember and honor our country’s leaders, and have fun doing it with these seven ideas
This Presidents Day in Park City you can have M.A.G.A in your life – More Alpine Games and Activities. Remember and honor our country’s leaders, and have fun doing it with these seven ideas:
President Dwight David Eisenhower – “Ike” – served as the 34th president from 1953 to 1961. He was a five-star general and enjoyed skeet shooting, so much so that he installed a skeet shooting range at Camp David to practice his marksmanship. While we don’t know if he ever tried the sport of biathlon himself, we’re pretty certain he would enjoy the 2019 BMW Biathlon World Cup at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center, and so would you. Held February 14 – 17, this exciting international event features over 180 athletes from 28 nations. Arguably the most popular winter sport in Europe, biathlon combines cross country skiing and shooting skills. Spectator crowds are typically animated, sometimes costumed, sometimes raucous. Soldier Hollow, the 2002 Olympic Winter Games Nordic venue, is rising to the occasion, hosting the Legacy Winter Fest – Free admission (and hot chocolate!) to enjoy activities such as tubing, live ice sculpting, a mechanical bull and a petting zoo, food trucks, beer garden, vendor and sponsor village and live music. Come on out and party like Ike!
Gerald R. Ford is the only person to have served as both vice president and president without being elected to either office. Known for his athleticism, having been a standout center, linebacker and long snapper for the University of Michigan, he was also an avid skier, spending a lot of time with his family in Vail, Colorado. We know he really would have appreciated the Ski Utah Interconnect Tour. Designed for expert to advanced skiers, the tour “is not designed for the timid”. Two professional guides go with every tour and groups are limited to 12 or fewer people, so you can be confident and safe as you experience Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, Solitude, Brighton, Alta, Snowbird and the backcountry terrain between these resorts. This tour covers an average of 25 miles, requires good physical condition and the ability to ski variable conditions.
Presidents have to eat, and everyone has their favorite foods. Park City offers a wide variety of options where you can “eat like a president”. While we can’t point you in the direction of restaurants serving Martin Van Buren’s favorite boar’s head, or James Garfield’s beloved squirrel soup, William McKinley just might be able to find his special hot lobster salad at Deer Valley’s Seafood Buffet. William Howard Taft reportedly favored steak, and more steak – he’d be a happy camper at Grub Steak. Bill Clinton and Harry Truman could split and share variations of their fave chicken enchiladas and fried chicken at Chimayo. George W. Bush also had a fondness for Mexican food, specifically huevos rancheros – if that sounds good to you, too, head on over to Squatters. Known for “carousing”, our seventh president, Andrew Jackson a.k.a. Old Hickory, would enjoy the spirits and the food at High West Distillery. Somebody get that man a drink!
Some presidents are very artistic – drawing, writing poetry, painting. President Jimmy Carter, a painter, established the Carter Center at Emory University, which regularly hosts auctions to benefit the foundation advancing human rights. One of Mr. Carter’s paintings brought in $250,000. We’re certain he would enjoy the film Leaning into the Wind – Andy Goldsworthy showing at Park City Film Series. Creating community through film, Park City Film Series is “art house cinema”, screening thought-provoking and engaging films that you might not find at your local Cineplex. Leaning into the Wind profiles artist Andy Goldsworthy’s distinctive life and medium.
Theodore Roosevelt was well known for his appreciation for animals, and his vast collection of pets including lizards, ponies, dogs, rabbits, an owl and a one-legged rooster. Surely he’d be fascinated with the Nature’s Ninjas exhibit at Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter. The exhibit includes live animal shows with some of nature’s most misunderstood animals including geckos, porcupines and others known for their wild defensive adaptations. The exhibit runs from February 1 – April 28, 2019.
Speaking of animals, it’s a well-known fact that Ronald Reagan really loved horses and enjoyed spending time on his ranch in California. Those who knew him well disclosed that he always rode English until he (or his campaign manager…) decided that his image needed to be more “rugged cowboy”, so he switched to western. Regardless, his famous quote, “I’ve often said there’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse” leads us to believe he’d really love Park City Horse Experience. Park City Horse Experience guides you through partnering with a horse to explore self-awareness and gain new perspectives on life.
Presidents don’t really shop, since they have other people to do their shopping for them. Did you know the White House operates like a luxury hotel in this regard? They get the bills sent to them at the end of each month for their food and incidental expenses, like clothing. But if they did shop like the rest of us, chances are they’d really love Tanger Outlets at Park City. While winter isn’t nearly over, the shops at Tanger Outlets will be clearing the racks for spring and summer merchandise, so you can take advantage of fantastic sales.
The Perfect Itinerary – From a Local’s Perspective
I’ve been in Park City for over 20 years and I enthusiastically welcome visits from friends and family (most of them, anyway…) Each time someone visits, especially for the first time, I get to weigh in on the best things to do, eat and see. I am very careful to suggest itineraries that I would really enjoy, because hopefully I’ll get to go along and, once again, vacation in my hometown.
My brother-in-law, Ed, and his wife, Catherine, make a perfect example. Being a lapsed avid skier, Ed, who lives in the eastern US, comes out every few years in the winter to dust off the boards and enjoy a few reset runs with his brother. But Catherine has never been to Utah. Not even once! So, here’s an itinerary I would put together for Ed and Catherine, to make sure Ed has fun again, and Catherine has a blast (and so do I!):
Since they’re flying in from the east they’ll catch an early morning flight and they’ll get here in time to ski in the afternoon. Ed appreciates and likes to ski on top-of-the-line equipment, and since he skis infrequently he demos every time he comes out. We take him straight away to Park City Sport, either at Town Lift on Main Street or the base of Park City Mountain; either location will have him on Park City Mountain’s slopes in minutes. Catherine doesn’t ski much, like, at all, so she and I will get them checked into their Park City Lodging condo (they’d stay with us at our house, but dog hair). Because she’s fit and health conscious (and because I want to impress her right out of the chutes) I’d take her to Park City Provisions for lunch. I know she’d love their selection of bowls and salads, and I may just twist her arm to share some of my Provisions fries. From there we’d walk around Main Street and I’d show her the Banksy and tell her amusing stories about celebrity sightings and craziness during Sundance and help her shop for cute boots. When the guys are done skiing we’ll meet up with them at Old Town Cellars for a few glasses of wine and some fancy and delicious charcuterie and chocolate. As usual Ed will claim he didn’t have too much trouble keeping up with his brother on the slopes, even after so much time off; my husband will just shake his head and sip his wine.
Since yesterday was a travel day, and they’ll be dealing with the time change and Ed’s sore muscles, they’ll be moving kind of slow. We’ll meet up at Deer Valley Grocery Café for a hearty breakfast – having guests in town in a great excuse to indulge in a Dutch Baby, am I right? The guys are going to ski Deer Valley today, and while Catherine will be thinking about it, she still won’t be quite ready to give it a shot. No problem, lots of other fun stuff to check out. I bet she’ll be ready for a work out and I’m pretty sure she’ll be game for trying out Fat Biking. No, it’s not biking while fat (although after that Dutch Baby…) it’s bikes with big fat tires on which you can ride miles of snow covered trails. I’ve never done it before and it looks like fun, so off we’ll go to White Pine Touring. Local guides are included in Fat Bike rentals there, so I won’t even have to pretend I know what I’m doing. After the ride, we’ll grab a quick healthy lunch at Fairweather Natural Foods, then over to Align Spa for some pampering, maybe a soothing massage for her and hydrating facial for me – the air is really dry here! Meanwhile, the guys will have been cruising the award-winning groomers at Deer Valley, with a break for Turkey Chili and beer. For dinner we’ll treat them (and ourselves) to some local flavor, at the quintessential locals hang out, the No Name Saloon. Catherine might be a little reluctant, it’s pretty casual for her taste, but we’ve taken Ed there before and he loves the buffalo burgers and vibe as much as we do. I’m certain Catherine will come around. After dinner, we’ll go to Paint Mixer. Ed and Catherine aren’t particularly artistic, but they don’t have to be to have a blast with us, having a few bevs and creating a unique souvenir. My husband and I have done it a few times and we want to add to our collection of, ahem, fine art.
Catherine will be ready to ski. After breakfast at Bridge Café & Grill we’ll take her back to Park City Sport and get her geared up. While Catherine brushes up with a lesson, Ed, my husband and I will ski a few runs and we’ll meet up for lunch at one of Park City Mountain’s on-mountain restaurants, probably the renovated Mid-Mountain Lodge – tuna poke and crispy brussels sprouts? Yes please. In the afternoon we’ll make our way over to the Canyons side of the mountain. When we’re done skiing we’ll apres on the deck at the Umbrella Bar which usually has live music and always a fun scene. For dinner, I really want to have them over to the house, but I really don’t want to cook-to-impress. So, since I’m on vacation too here, I’m going to ring up my friends at Epicurean Chefs and let them do the cooking for me. They do these terrific sous-vide entrees that will amaze Ed and Catherine, AND we’ll have a clean kitchen and leftovers.
Ed and Catherine’s last full day, and a lot to pack in. We’ll get up pretty early, grab coffee from Atticus Coffee & Teahouse and head over to Daniels Summit for snowmobiling. My husband and I don’t do a lot of snowmobiling, but we have so much fun every time we do we wonder why we don’t do it more. We’ll have a great morning careening around the trails and then by golly, for more adrenaline rush we’ll head to the Utah Olympic Park and do Comet bobsled rides. We feel so justifiably proud of our town’s – our – Olympic legacy, and we love sharing it. You can still feel the excitement of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games at the UOP, and now, the electric anticipation of possibly hosting another Games here in 2030 – fingers crossed! Ed typically hosts us for his last night in town, so they’ll ask us about doing something special that we usually don’t get to do – score! Sleigh ride, here we come. Rocky Mountain Outfitters over in Midway has romantic, horse-y, sleigh-bells-jingling sleigh rides that are just plain great fun. After that we’ll go to one of our favorites for dinner – Sammy’s Bistro. Sammy’s was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, even though it is neither a diner, nor a drive-in, and certainly not a dive. Normally I’d share my mahi mahi tacos, but after the day we’ve had, hey, get your own.
Ed and Catherine’s flight isn’t until later in the day, so there will be time for a few final runs. We’ll get them out on the mountain again, or maybe Ed will want to go fly fishing – Ed really, really likes to fish. My husband likes to fish with him, especially when he catches bigger fish. My husband doesn’t have gear so we’d grab a guide with gear from All Seasons Adventures to take them out to some blue ribbon waters. Catherine and I can get ready to cook the fish they catch for lunch. Kidding. We’ll go out for sushi lunch at Flying Sumo. We’ll all be sad when they have to leave later on in the afternoon. But Ed will have had another great experience, Catherine will have been impressed to the point that she’ll come back again, and again. And my husband and I will be happily exhausted. Thanks Ed and Catherine, come back soon!
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