Family ski holidays

Deer Valley Utah is a skiing great, and about to get better

Last updated 13th May 2024

If you haven’t discovered Utah for family ski holidays yet, Andrew Dent thinks the joys of Deer Valley and the great value Ikon Pass might make a convert of you.


Deer Valley Resort, Utah

Why Deer Valley Utah edges out in front of other US ski greats?

If you’re going to venture all the way to the USA for a ski holiday you want to ensure it’s worth your while, and I am here to help.

The resort of Deer Valley, Utah was already one of my favourite ski resorts in the world, but it is about to get even better due to a terrain expansion that will more than double its size. Utah might not have been on your radar, as most Brits look to Colorado for their first US ski experience. There are of course many fine resorts in Colorado including Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge, Telluride and Winter Park. However, many of these come with an arduous transfer from Denver airport: as much as six hours in the case of Telluride. That’s why I prefer the resorts of Utah. The flight time from London to Salt Lake City is almost the same as it is to Denver, but it’s less than an hour from Salt Lake City to Park City, the town which serves the exclusive Deer Valley resort.


Silver Lake area, Deer Valley, Utah

Those in the Deer Valley know wouldn’t ski anywhere else

To ski Deer Valley is the equivalent of wrapping yourself in the finest dressing gown in the finest hotel room in the world. You feel exclusive, expensive, safe, luxurious, unique. Everything here is done perfectly and for those that know, they wouldn’t go anywhere else.

Deer Valley is known for its genteel and immaculately groomed pistes. This is not a place where you see unruly youths bombing around in baggy ski pants. Indeed, the main protagonists of such behaviour, snow boarders, are banned from Deer Valley. This is a place where well behaved families rub shoulders with celebrities (yes, this is where Gwyneth had her accident) and captains of industry. As such, the conditions and infrastructure are world class, giving it the feeling of an elite country club, on snow.  So confident are these guys that you will have a good time they went ahead and trademarked the phrase The Greatest Snow on Earth™. If that’s not punchy, I don’t what is.

Silver Baron Lodge is a perfect set up for families

Our accommodation was at Silver Baron Lodge. Whilst not ski-in-ski-out like some of the fancier hotels in Deer valley, there is a regular transfer bus that will drop you at the base station in less than 5 minutes, and the hotel front desk will call you a bus and it will be there in moments. Although, you could of course upgrade and take one of the Deer Valley branded Range Rovers.

The Lodge rooms are American in size: large. The beds are huge and hard to pull yourself out of in the morning. Naturally there is an enormous fridge, kitchen and dining area. So it really is a perfect set up for a family, with multiple bedrooms all feeding off the central living space. And before you ask, yes, there is a private hot tub on the balcony. Mine had all the bells and whistles with multiple lights and jets: lots of fun for the kids after a day on the slopes. Silver Baron Lodge doesn’t have its own bar (this is Utah after all), but there is a great restaurant and bar next door called, Brass Tag, which is a family friendly Italian joint serving pizza, pasta and local craft beers.


Bald Mountain, Deer Valley, Utah

Coming soon! 1000s more reasons for a family ski holiday at Deer Valley in Utah

The terrain expansion at Deer Valley is significant. In total there will be additional 3,700 acres with a whopping 135 extra ski runs, along with 16 new chairlifts, and a new 10-person gondola, all collectively serving four new peaks. Four new peaks? Yes indeed, as there’s a whole new side of the mountain being opened up in various phases over the next three years. Like most things in Deer Valley, the skiing won’t be extreme. However, there will be one of the longest green runs in North America by the time the entire project is finished.

We were fortunate to ski a part of the expansion and the terrain is already stunning with great pitches, wide open views for miles and a good balance of trees and piste. All this expansion will not change the density (or lack of it) of skiers on the pistes. The Director of Ski Operations assured me they will continue to run the capacity at around 65% of potential to ensure everyone gets that, ‘Deer Valley experience’. Plus, there will be a whole new base station created called, Deer Valley East Village. And at the time of my visit there was a huge Hyatt Hotel nearing completion, which will no doubt be a wonderful property with an enviable position at the new base. Undoubtedly, there will be more luxury hotel brands to follow, but these have yet to be announced.


Glade skiing, Deer Valley, Utah

Book a private guide for mountain secrets and great ski stories

Deer Valley is all about the friendly and welcoming vibe. Hosts welcome you as you arrive at the base. Volunteers are at the lift lines to ensure orderly onboarding – no chaotic French-style queuing here. Everyone will wish you ‘an awesome day’, and the folks on the chair will enquire as to how your day is going and where you’re from.

There are daily hosted ski tours of the resort by experienced Mountain Guides and you just turn up at 10am and they’ll whizz you around in groups to familiarise you with the runs that correlate with your ability.

These group tours are great, but the next level up is to book a private one courtesy of the ‘Ski with a Champion’ program. I was allocated the wildly named, Fuzz Federson, a former Olympic freestyle skier and coach of the US team. As you can imagine, just from his name, we had a wild half-day together, with Fuzz taking me to parts of the mountain I would never have found on my own, and regaling me with stories of the birth of freestyle skiing. You want to know why he’s called Fuzz? You will just have to book him yourself to find out.


Traditional fireside dining, Deer Valley, Utah

Drop by Stein Eriksson Lodge for lunch

One of the common gripes about skiing in America versus Europe is the quality of the food on the mountain. Generally speaking, this is still a factor at Deer Valley. However, one exception is Stein Eriksson lodge. The famous hotel property has a daily buffet which is high class in every sense, albeit not that expensive, at $50 per head. The food is eye popping, with fantastic seafood, local Elk, salads and desserts. There’s also an impressive wine list and everything is managed by brilliant staff, so it’s well worth taking an hour or two out of your day to stop by this ski-in-ski-out lodge.


Park City Utah during the Sundance Film Festival

Spend an evening in the home of the Sundance Film Festival

There is not much to do in Deer Valley itself in the evenings, especially for kids. So, I’d recommend taking the easy 10-minute drive into Park City. Best to go early evening and take a promenade up and down the old mining town’s high street. There’s a healthy mix of traditional western shops, luxury boutiques and buzzy restaurants and bars here and it’s all pretty kid friendly and fun. There is a cinema, of course, this being the home of the Sundance Film Festival. And there are also lots of dining options but, as in most of America, reservations are necessary. Try High West Distillery which does good steaks and burgers.


Skiing, Deer Valley, Utah

Get an Ikon Pass for access to over 50 exclusive ski resorts worldwide, and counting

Skiing in Deer valley is not cheap; a daily lift pass will cost you nearly $300. However, the best way around that is to consider the Ikon Pass. This is little known (at least in the UK) annual pass gives you access to some 50 ski resorts around the world, and at only $1,200 for the full year’s pass, you’ll earn your money back over five days in Deer Valley alone.

Also using the Ikon Pass, you could drive from Deer Valley and experience a few days in the nearby resorts of Snowbird, Alta or Brighton, thus capping off an incredible week skiing in Utah.  But the Ikon fun doesn’t need to end there. There are now five resorts in Europe covered by the pass, including the big hitters of Zermatt, Kitzbuhl and Chamonix, and St. Moritz is a new addition for 2024-25.

So now that you have experienced the best of what the USA has to offer at Deer Valley, you can go experience the best of Europe in St Moritz. I’m quite sure there will be a fluffy dressing gown waiting for you there too.

How to plan a ski break at Deer Valley Resort, Utah

How to get there

Direct UK flights to Salt Lake City, from 10 hours, 30 minutes

Salt Lake City to Deer Valley Resort transfer, from 1 hour, 25 minutes

Where to stay

Silver Baron Lodge, Two Bedroom Apartment (2 adults, 2 children) from £770 per night

Find out more and book Silver Baron Lodge


Ikon Pass Information

For avid skiers, Ikon Pass provides both value and flexibility at some of the world’s most sought-after ski resorts. The pass provides lift access at over 50 different destinations worldwide. Take a bucket-list ski trip to a far-flung destination like the beautiful Deer Valley Resort in Utah, USA, as well as multiple other trips throughout the year, with the ease of Ikon Pass. Closer to home, skiers can head to one of the five different European resorts on the pass, which covers up to 7 days each at top resorts including Chamonix and Zermatt. Ikon Pass goes on sale every spring, offering the chance to purchase the pass at the lowest price point. Alternative options available to purchase include the Ikon Base Pass, Ikon Base Plus Pass and Ikon Sessions Pass, which offer limited restriction and blackout dates.

Find out more about the Ikon Pass

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