Deer Valley Resort’s President and General Manager Bob Wheaton, reviews the 2014 – 2015 ski season

Deer Valley Resort’s President and General Manager Bob Wheaton, gives a review of the 2014 – 2015 ski season and invites you to come #SkiTheDifference in the 2015 – 2016 season. Presented by The Ski Channel.

Chicks on Sticks 2015

Okay, I’m just going to go ahead and say it—whoever came up with the phrase “No Friends on a Powder Day,” never met my friends. I don’t want to brag, but I have hands down, the best friends, because they all agree that the best way to enjoy powder is with each other. Last year, our annual Chicks on Sticks outing occurred on an epic powder day, and it’s safe to say that the powder would have been less enjoyable without each other’s company.

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As it turns out, you don’t need tons and tons of powder to have an epic day—as long as you have great company. I met up with Miriam, Stacey, Mir and Kellie in Snow Park Lodge at Deer Valley Resort. We lingered, just a bit over coffee, and then suited up. Stacey had been out most recently, and told us where the best skiing was. So, off we went to find it.

Let me say this, too. I had made sure to advertise the day as a mellow one—“Guys, remember, it’s all about lunch,” I wrote in one email. “So I don’t want to hear, ‘my knee hurts, so I can’t come,’ or ‘I can’t keep up with you!’”

Well, on the one hand, I meant every word of it. On the other hand—our definition of “mellow day,” may, in fact, contradict the term, “mellow.”

I could not wait to to try out my new boots. Mir was the first to notice: “Hey, you’re in the perfect position,” she said, as we skied down Star Gazer. “You’re skiing great.”

With my ego duly stoked, I set about ripping up the mountain.

In truth, our group skied quite companionably, and pressure-free, at our own paces. I think this is the secret to a good, social skiing day—coming down the mountain safely, comfortably, and at your own pace. The fact that I was trying to rip up the mountain, was, in fact, my own internal pressure meter pushed up to “high.” By the next day, this would prove to be a boneheaded strategy, but while I was skiing, I couldn’t have had more fun.

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The only thing better than the skiing that day was the chairlift rides. We mixed it up, and talked about everything from business to writing, kids and spouses, skiing and travel. And while some years we plan an elaborate sit-down lunch, this year, we decided that we felt like keeping it casual. We ate at the Snow Park Restaurant, where the awesome conversation continued.

Sadly, I had to cut out early to take care of a sick kiddo at home. I had planned to go home and then return to the mountain to pick up my healthy child at ski school, but my friends offered, generously, to ski until pickup time and bring him home for me. See? Told you, I have the best friends.

Don’t be Afraid of the Cold

Brrr, It’s Cold Outside!

I am right there with you.  When it is cold outside, all I want to do is curl up in front of the fire with a warm blanket, someone to snuggle with, a good movie and some popcorn.  Sounds perfect, huh?!  Well, perfect is rare and quite frankly a bit boring.  Besides, there is always time to come back in and enjoy that warm toasty moment.

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As parents we have to lead the charge on this one. If we don’t urge our kids to get outside on winter days, they won’t know what they are missing. Honestly, every time we bring it up, at least one of our two kids will whine for a second about how cold it will be. But we keep pushing forward and work to get the family suited up for the elements. Being prepared can help you achieve a victory.

  1. Be prepared: Make sure you have all of the necessary accessories to keep everyone warm: hat, gloves, snow pants, goggles, hand warmers.
  2. Get outside before making a concrete plan: Sometimes just showing the kids that it’s not really that cold can help motivate them.
  3. Always go to the bathroom before stepping outside: This will allow you to go straight to the slopes when you get to the resort. (Hopefully)
  4. Anything is possible: There are very few “no’s” when embarking on a winter cold outside adventure. Take off your mommy hat and let the kids have fun.

Now, we move onto the plethora of possible activities, which I have stated should be discussed outside.  When kids are in the elements, they see the fun. Standing in the warm house, it is tough for them to cast an educated vote.

  1. Snowy sandcastle anyone?!: This is such a fun and easy activity that quickly turns into exercise.  You will be surprised how much the kids like to mold the snow.
  2. They don’t have to know it is a chore. Some of my best workouts have involved shoveling the walk. In fact, I almost went into labor with Skye because of it.  You can make it fun by creating a contest out of it. Who can collect the “Biggest Pile” of snow?! It’s more fun!
  3. Snow tag or hide and seek. A snow ball fight never ends well, but a snow tag battle can last a bit longer with more room for strategy and fun. Just moving around in snow is harder and therefore burns off more energy.5
  4. Snowman: Building a snowman is such a great family activity. I just learned the proper way this year. You have to start with a small snowball and roll it around in the snow, packing down the new particles of snow that the snowball picks up as you go.  It creates the perfect ball!!! So much fun!
  5. Skiing: If you have the means and the access, skiing is a super fun family adventure that I highly recommend.3

Parents, always pack snacks when heading away from home for snow activities.  The cold weather makes kids SUPER hungry. A few M&Ms can go a long way!

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Have fun and don’t be afraid of the cold!!

JF’s Mid-Season Review

As February begins, I feel that we have now stepped into the second half of winter with longer days, deeper snow, great light and an urgent need for generous layers of sunscreen. Before we turn the page on the earlier portion of winter and look to its brighter second half, I wanted to share with you my on-snow experiences so far so we can compare notes or make you feel just a tiny bit jealous if you haven’t skied yet!

With me, winter always begins with great expectations of bottomless powder, but I publicly refrain to verbalize these thoughts as I actively manage my expectations. In fact, when I speak to other skiers, I loudly claim that I expect nothing in terms of snowfall, so Mother Nature will constantly surprise me!

While most of my skiing took place at Deer Valley Resort, I began skiing late November at nearby ski areas. The snow received through November bode very well for another great season. Still, I kept my exuberance in check and prudently, adjusted my expectations. In spite of that, I watched the weather like a hawk. It’s not something I just do daily, but several times in the course of a single day. Over the years, I have become partial to the Weather Underground website and app, that I find most accurate.

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While other weather stations give me a week preview of the weather to come, this one predicts up to ten days into the future. So if there’s something I don’t like today, I generally can find what I want to see in one of the nine remaining days. If a ten-day time span sounds like overkill, there’s the more granular hour-by-hour detail that enables you to poke your nose out when the snow stops and the sun starts filtering through the clouds.

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But enough said about weather and snow, let’s go back to my early season skiing. The very early weeks are often a progressive process. It always takes time to get a big resort like Deer Valley 100% open. That’s good, because a finite run work-in-step with early season physical conditioning and the time needed to reawaken skiing skills.

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I have had a wonderful ski season so far. I’ve skied just over 50 days and just shy of one million vertical feet. I hope to reach the century mark in ski-days before the season is over. I was lucky enough to avoid an imprudent white ermine that was crossing the bottom portion of Perseverance ski run and startled a large jack rabbit at the top of Centennial Trees ski run.

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So where did all of my skiing take place? It began on groomers; Deer Valley Resort grooms its runs better than most and the experience is always good whether we receive a foot of fresh snow a day or not. My favorite groomed runs remain both Nabob and Jordanelle ski runs and many of my days at Deer Valley are marked by one of these two runs.

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Most of my skiing takes place around my three favorite chairlifts: Sultan, Wasatch and Lady Morgan. While they’re spread at the opposite ends of the resort, with so much challenging terrain and fast chairlifts, I’m able to accomplish one full day of skiing within just a few hours. The snow cover has been especially good on Ruin of Pompeii and Grizzly ski runs, two of my favorites. These runs are wonderful; not only are they longer and more challenging than most, but they both end as a groomed segment just in time to relieve some very tired legs.

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I also like Wasatch Express chairlift for the large array of ski runs it serves. My favorite one is definitely Rattler ski run that sends an invitation as one rides up the chairlift. The early season has had great snow cover on this run.

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From the Lady Morgan Express chairlift, I’m partial to Argus, Hillside and Centennial Trees. I find the two first trails extremely technical and they never fail to provide me with a good challenge. Centennial Trees ski run remains the forest wonderland where some regular and well-thought out glade skiing keeps making the ski experience better, season after season for me. The bonus with skiing Lady Morgan is it always provides me with an excellent excuse to ski Ontario Bowl on my way back, with more trees and steeps to round off the experience of the day.

Here’s to 50 more days on the mountain this season!

Deer Valley Resort’s Summit Meadows Adventures 2014-2015 Winter Season

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Deer Valley owned and operated Summit Meadows Adventures guided snowmobile tours take place on the Garff Ranch, located a short five-mile, 10-minute drive from Park City’s Main Street, on Brown’s Canyon Road (off Highway 248). Summit Meadows Adventures has access to 7,000 acres of pristine open lands on which to snowmobile. Beautiful scenic views of the Wasatch Mountains make this an adventure you won’t want to miss. Complimentary transportation from Park City is available. For more information or reservations please call 888-896-7669 or 435-645-7669. Guided tours use single or double capacity machines.

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One or two hour guided tours are available daily between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., conditions permitting. Private tours are also available with a two-hour minimum.

A one-hour guided tour costs $109 per person, with a passenger rate of $20. A two-hour guided tour costs $149 per person, with a passenger rate of $30. Private tours are $125 per person/per hour with a two hour and two-person minimum.

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For more information, please visit http://www.deervalley.com/WhatToDo/Winter/Snowmobiling

Jam-packed Summer

Dear Reader,

I owe you an apology. I was too busy living the Park City lifestyle to write about it this summer. I didn’t have the heart to part with my kids for many full-day camps. As I write, the boys are in their first full week of school after a two-day opening “week,” and I am missing all the adventures we shared over the summer. I jokingly referred to the school-free months as “Our Summer of Academic Rigor,” because I was convinced that if I didn’t stimulate their minds in nearly equal measure to their bodies, all the things they’d learned in school would, quite simply, fall out of their heads. So, there were academic camps, sports camps, even a sleep-away camp for Lance one week. But I wanted to squeeze in as much time with these dudes as possible, so after every morning camp, we’d hit the pool together, or a trail, or, yes, the movie theater.

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We enjoyed lazy mornings too and we thrilled at the fact that when the day ended, there was no homework. We took our RV on a few trips and got rained out of a few others. Yes, the RV means rain isn’t a tragedy, but being cooped up in the RV because of the weather isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of fun. One of our trips took us to Bear Lake. It’s close enough for a day trip, so if you’re visiting Park City in autumn, a drive north to this turquoise-blue lake on the Utah/Idaho border is something to consider.

Bear Lake is known for its raspberries and its raspberry shakes. Garden City, Utah features a seemingly endless strip of “shake shacks,” whose shakes my family is more than happy to sample. There are ATV trails and tons of rentals available, a marina, beaches suitable for sunbathing or launching kayaks and paddleboards, yet you’re surround by lush trees and rugged mountains. Garden City boasts a multi-use path for biking and walking, that makes it a very biker/pedestrian-friendly location. Oh, yes, and there are also go-karts. My family loved racing around the track and then getting a shake to celebrate our “victory.”

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Like any vacation house, our RV is stocked with games. Our favorite, and one which I recommend to all travelers, is Story Cubes. Because it’s pocket-sized, you can take it with you on the plane, in a car or wherever. You simply roll the dice, which bear symbols instead of numbers, and players have to tell stories using the symbols they have rolled. This was the winner of the picnic table game night.

IMG_7472That’s just one highlight. I’ll be reminiscing about many more as the gorgeous fall descends into mud season and we have nothing but the memories of a sweet summer and the anticipation of a snowy winter (please!!) to get us through.

How was your summer? Did you jam-pack it as well? Tell me in the comments below or on Twitter  or @Deer_Valley.

Our Night with Dierks Bentley and the rest of Park City

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I asked my friend if she wanted to be my date for the Dierks Bentley concert at the Deer Valley Resort Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater. She immediately text me back, “Would love to! I’m getting drunk on a plane…it’s Mardi Gras up in the clouds. Buying drinks for everybody but the pilot, it’s a party.”

I thought, wow, she’s having a fun summer! I told her to have fun on her trip, but to save some fun for our night out. Funny right? She wasn’t actually on a plane getting drunk (I am sure you knew that), she was quoting one of Dierks Bentley’s new songs. I obviously had a lot to learn. And I did, fast.

I walked into a sea of Dierks Bentley fans, “The Congress,” and it was awesome! The venue itself is one of a kind. The Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater at Deer Valley Resort is absolutely majestic. Every concert I have ever been to at this venue has resulted in the entertainer commenting about the fact that they have the perfect seat to take in the amazing view, which is a rare gift from the stage.

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We had general admission seating tickets, which means you can bring blankets and/or small lawn chairs with you. We pre-ordered a Deer Valley Resort Gourmet Picnic Basket for the full experience. It didn’t take long and we all became one big Dierks Bentley family. The night was gorgeous. The crowd was perfectly clad in cowboy hats and boots. It seemed like everyone knew every word and if they were like me and didn’t, they were still on their feet because Dierks Bentley was THAT GOOD!

Here is our night in pictures.

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The awesome volunteers were ready for a little country! Good vibes from the very beginning.

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My friend Julie and I heading up to find a spot in “The Congress!” And also, a glimpse of the amazing view from the stage.

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Thinking ahead, we ordered a Deer Valley Resort Gourmet Picnic Basket. Order them 24 hours before your concert. They have a few options; vegetarian, beef and salmon. We went with salmon and steak with baguettes, wine, brownies on a stick and more!! Pure awesomeness. It was beyond yummy. You can bring your own food into the venue but it probably won’t be this good. I highly recommend enjoying your concert with a Gourmet Picnic Basket.

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(Brownie on a stick) YES PLEASE! My favorite part of the Gourmet Picnic Basket had to be the salted caramel chocolate brownie pop.

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A little boy let me borrow his cowboy hat. Next time, I’m dressing the part.

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It was such a big event with a HUGE star but it is always local when you are in Park City. I ran into many friends in the crowd.

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I really enjoyed the views of the crowd with a beautiful setting sun. Honestly, it couldn’t have been a more perfect night with regards to weather. I think everyone fed off of that and knew it was going to be special.

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Here is our view before the concert started and everyone got on their feet.

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Fans of every age rocked out all night. Everyone was standing up dancing after the first couple of songs. There was no need for sitting and no reason to! The crowd was rocking the entire time.

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Rock On!

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It didn’t take long before the front was filled with a bunch of beautiful women! And Dierks loved every second of it! It was awesome.

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These girls on the side of the stage knew every word to every one of his songs. I watched the crowd almost as much as I watched the stage!

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He told stories about his guitar and even commented that Park City brought something special out in his comedy…”I’m killing it tonight” he said to his band and he was. He said, “We are Southwest fliers. We like to think we are all preferred!” And then he went straight into “Drunk On A Plane”. The crowd went wild!

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It was such a fun concert that we didn’t want it to end. However, walking to the car we got to see this amazing sunset. This capped the night off perfectly. Have you been to a concert at the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater? Share your experience with me in the comments below or on Twitter  and @Deer_Valley.

A Week’s Worth of Mountain Bike Trails at Deer Valley Resort

dvr-1wkBike1 Just as we proposed a selection of hiking trails to fill a week’s vacation at Deer Valley Resort, Ski Patrol/Mountain Bike Manager Steve Graff suggested we do the same for mountain biking. Steve wanted to contribute his intimate knowledge of and experience with the local terrain, in an effort to build a fun-filled, week-long, mountain biking itinerary. If you’re looking for some great rides next time you visit Deer Valley Resort, read on.Day 1Whatever the vacation, the first day is often best spent getting acquainted with the destination, its environment and everything it has to offer. If your mountain bike skills aren’t that great or if you never had any opportunities to ride single track on a mountain bike before, a wonderful idea is to come up to Deer Valley Resort and let one of the mountain bike guides familiarize you with the equipment and give you some useful pointers on how to make your whole week a fun and life-changing experience. If you are already very fit or have some serious riding skills and are comfortable negotiating single track trails, a good introductory ride might be “Lost Prospector” in Park City, one of Steve Graff’s little secrets:

“A great entry-level trail, with nice views, shaded tree sections and some exciting switch backs. The trail is moderate in terms of difficulty level and a wonderful way to refresh your riding skills. “

If you are renting a bike, make certain it fits you properly and will work with the kind of riding you plan to do; either cross-country, downhill or something in between. If you own your bike, make sure it has recently been serviced, is well adjusted, the gears and brakes are functioning perfectly and tires are in good condition and adequately inflated. Be sure to wear a good pair of gloves so you can get a good grip on your handlebars. Of course, you must wear a helmet and bring sunscreen, wrap-around sunglasses, food and water. If you forget any of these items, you can find them at the shops around Deer Valley Resort. Having some tools or replacement parts, like an extra inner tube and some basic bike tools is also a good idea, especially if you ride alone. Even if you are not a seasoned bike mechanic, make a point to pack some tools and some essential replacement parts as you may find a good samaritan on the trail who may stop to help you out. When riding Deer Valley’s lift-served trails, you can call Bike Patrol for assistance at 435-615-6208. dvr-1wkBike3 After reacquainting or familiarizing yourself with basic riding skills, your second day should be filled with lift-served mountain biking. Using chairlifts will provide you with a full day experience that would be near impossible to accomplish if you were to climb on your own, unless you are a fitness machine or an endurance athlete. Using the chairlifts enables you to fill your day with mountain biking activities and practice all the skills that have either been dormant or that you’ve learned the day before. A lift-served day should be on any weekly mountain biking itinerary. It’s best to stay on the Sterling Express chairlift and find a trail you like, such as Naildriver, the least difficult route down Bald Mountain, or Sunset, another easy trail, and ride those down as many times as you possibly can. Familiarity with a trail breeds confidence, develops quick responses and yields much more enjoyment since you’re not worried by what’s coming up next. Steve Graff is partial to Deer Camp Trail:

“This is another fun trail I like to recommend for its variety of terrain, its scenic views, its aspen groves and its frequent wildlife sightings.”

While Deer Valley’s weather is great most of the time, what should you do if the weather suddenly turns on you? “If you are on the trails and a thunderstorm happens and if you’re in the middle of a meadow, you don’t want to be the largest object around,” said Steve. “Likewise, in the trees you don’t want to be under the largest pine tree; seek shelter in places that aren’t too exposed.” To preserve the trail, do not ride when conditions are rainy or muddy. Rain storms are generally short-lived, so be patient. Any trail on the valley floor that is either asphalt or gravel is where you should be. If rain persists, take the rest of the day off, visit Park City’s historic Main Street, or do some shopping until everything dries up and the sun returns! dvr-1wkBike4 Now that you’ve spent time on these trails and practiced your skills, taken advantage of the energy-saving chairlifts and become comfortable riding single track on easy trails, you might want to increase the technical difficulty. On the third day, if “downhill” appeals to you, you can seek out more challenging trails. The Aspen Slalom trail which follows the Sterling Express chairlift down, is a good candidate to begin that process. Another one that Steve recommends is Twist and Shout, a steep, single track with tight curves and lots of trees. He also suggests that you hit Payroll trail in the Empire Canyon area, “This is a wonderful course that really flows well, with a number of rollers, drops and bermed-out turns.” dvr-1wkBike5 On the lower mountain, there’s Devo, another trail with steep sections and numerous turns that will test your technical abilities. Keep in mind that lift-served mountain biking runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week at Deer Valley Resort through Labor day. Also, know that the trails aren’t patrolled or swept at the end of the day like ski runs are in winter; there are 60 miles of trails on the resort, with multiple entry and exit points along a given trail, making any attempt to sweep them totally unpractical. This said, if you need any assistance during the hours the chairlifts are open, Deer Valley Patrol Staff are available to help patch an injury or solve mechanical problems. Just call 435-615-6208 or speak to a lift operator for assistance.Day 4To ramp our itinerary up, the fourth day is a great time to venture out to the Mid Mountain Trail. This stunning, single track trail traverses Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort at elevation of 8,000 feet, offering scenic vistas and lush pine forests interspersed with aspen groves. Before leaving, make sure to obtain Mountain Trails Foundation’s map at any Deer Valley Mountain Bike Office for the sections of the trails that are beyond Deer Valley Resort’s boundaries. The best plan is to leave from Silver Lake Village in the morning and head towards Park City Mountain and Canyons resorts. This itinerary can take two forms; either you ride between Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort or you continue on all the way to Canyons Resort. The decision time occurs 15 miles along the way, when you are in sight of the Spiro Trail sign; either you choose to descend via Spiro Trail into Park City and cover the remaining three and a half miles to the base of Park City Mountain Resort, or you carry on for another nine miles, all the way to Red Pine Lodge at Canyons Resort, where you can either download the gondola at no charge or drop down to the base of the resort via Holly’s Trail (expert) or Ambush Trail (Intermediate). In terms of time, count on two hours to ride Silver Lake to Park City and three to four hours to ride to Canyons Resort. From either base areas, there is always the possibility to catch the free city bus back to your place. dvr-1wkBike8Having proven your mettle on the fourth day, the end of the week deserves another great ride with one of two adventure-filled options. The first choice is mostly uphill and begins in Park City at the Spiro Trail. To access the trailhead, park in the Silver Star lot or use the nearby bus stop. From the trailhead, keep to the right and merge onto Armstrong Trail. Climb four miles to Mid Mountain Trail, turn left and continue until you see the new Pinecone Trail. This combination is not for the faint of heart as it grinds its way from Park City, at 6,900 feet all the way to the top of the Wasatch Ridge at 9,500 feet! An alternative is to begin at Silver Lake Village and ride the Mid Mountain Trail to the Pinecone Trail. dvr-1wkBike7 Another option is to ride the Wasatch Crest Trail that straddles the Park City valley and Big Cottonwood and Millcreek Canyons. The Wasatch Crest Trail can be taken from Guardsman Pass, using the Scott Bypass Trail or the Wasatch Connect trailhead, located just down the road on the Big Cottonwood side of the valley. It can also be accessed from the top of Pinecone trail. This trail eventually continues towards Millcreek Canyon which comes out in the Salt Lake Valley. This route is smooth and fast with awesome views of the Wasatch Back and Big Cottonwood Canyon, fields of wildflowers, meadows and trees. Upper Millcreek Trail opens July 1. Bikes are only allowed on this trail on even-numbered days and this classic ride leads you all the way down to the mouth of Millcreek Canyon. Of course, you will need to organize a shuttle to pick you up at the bottom, upon completing your ride for your return back to Deer Valley Resort. Pack your lunch, for those both make for big, long days filled with lots of adventure!

Once more, we have suggested a week’s worth of mountain biking filled with miles of excitement, memorable views, athletic ascents and thrilling downhills. I asked Steve Graff if he had anything to add to this impressive Itinerary. He just said; “Make sure to have fun every mile of the way. If you find some trails too hard, simply return to some easier ones. Again, the name of the game is to recreate and have fun!”