Park City Snow Ghosts Holiday Guests

park city snow

It’s the suckiest news in all the land. No significant snow storms in Park City, Utah, till February?! Those are the rumors anyway. We might get a smattering of that Park City snow here and there but let’s face it; Utah had the driest holiday period in, like, forever. I can’t remember teaching on such limited terrain. There are runs that shouldn’t even be open right now because there are more rocks on them than snow. Unfortunately, people are so desperate, they’ll ski anything.  I spoke with a local rental shop manager I spoke with a local rental shop manager and he said that they are so busy repairing people’s skis they can’t even tune their own rentals. They just check them in thrashed and send them back out with the next guest.

Park City has a meager 21” base and, if we are to believe some forecasters, we’re at least a week… or four!.. before that base climbs. It’s the lowest snowpack in 30 years. The thinned out crowds still arrived for Christmas break and, golly gee, that was so much fun to put them all on a handful of runs instead of spreading them out across the mountain.

Park City Snow

Photo by Steve Mayer

There’s just not enough snow to keep up with the terrain demand. Oh, but how we love the local mountain reports that claim we have “packed powder” to try to entice gullible travelers. After the groomers (on manmade snow) are skied off by lunch or sooner, we have HARD PACK, hacked up moguls with rocks in between, hard pack, thousands of riders slipping and sliding into each other, and hard pack. Don’t get me wrong, a trip to the mountains is still 100 times better than Christmas week at Disneyland or a day at the office but if you are an advanced or expert skier keep your lift ticket money in your pocket (hooray for the Epic Pass, right?).

Appreciate Manmade Park City Snow

It’s a whole different story if you are a beginning skier and only need the same two bunny hills for five days. You don’t need anything more than some space, a patient instructor and comfortable ski boots. Plus, with this gorgeously warm weather it’s an ideal time to learn to ride. Just know that the “greatest snow on earth” is anything but right now despite what the local PR hype machine is spinning out- “2 FEET of Snow Fell this Holiday Weekend”? Um, that was 24 inches period…in nearly a month; on a 20” base, in Little and Big Cottonwood canyons; not Park City.


Perhaps all of the Sundance Film Festival folks will rejoice. Our temps have been hovering around a balmy 40 degrees. Filmmakers can strut their high-heeled stuff on Main Street without freezing their buttcheeks and wear flimsy designer neck scarves. According to local meteorologist Brian McInerney, it probably won’t be snowing those last two weeks of January.

Where Does The Snow Stand

We’re at about 62 percent of snowpack. Last year, more than 40 storms brought us up to 200 percent snow pack. Not so much this season. High pressure has set up camp over us, California and Colorado, while storms roll north around the Cascades, Montana, Wyoming and British Columbia. Which begs the question- do I roadtrip to Jackson Hole and ski freshies or head south to Vegas and rock climb? The earth shifts its orientation to the sun in February so that could mean snow. February?! Apparently, it looked this dismal in 1976 and then they had a banner February. Ok, I can hold out. A girl can only dream.

The bigger picture, however, is the scarier one. Our winters are getting shorter. They are starting later and ending earlier. “When you do get a storm, they will be more intense followed by long periods of high pressure,” said McInerney on KPCW radio. This dipole pattern means there’s a big-ass high pressure over the western U.S. while the central and eastern part of the country is getting hammered with snow and record low temps. “It’s because the jet stream is becoming more elongated, like a big, sine wave. Before, it used to have little wiggles. Each little wiggle would bring a storm maybe every four days,” explained McInerney. “Now the pattern has set up where the high is positioned over the west and the low is over the east. And then if you keep following the teleconnections out over the Pacific, there’s a warm pool of water in the Western Pacific that they think is causing the stagnant pattern.” Well, then, can someone please get the hell out there and stir things up?

“Not only are we warmer, but when you look at the trends, we’re going to see more of these in future weather events throughout the years,” said McInerney. “We used to have 250 parts per million when we look at CO2 levels in the atmosphere. CO2 is a greenhouse gas that doesn’t allow heat to escape in the nighttime hours. It reradiates back into the earth’s atmosphere. It was 250 and now we’re at 400 parts per million and it’s going up. It’s the most CO2 we’ve had in the atmosphere for roughly 800 thousand years.”

Local municipalities are doing a decent job trying to get carbon neutral but that’s small potatoes overall when you have countries like China spewing emissions. “The whole world has to act in unison to kind of clean this up and figure this out. I think the last thing we’ll be worried about at this point is why aren’t we skiing powder? We’re going to be trying to figure out how to get water.”

So, do your snowdances, wash your cars, pray for snow and stay positive. It’s going to be here eventually. Otherwise, what’s the alternative? Year-round mountain biking and rock climbing I suppose.

What To Do While You Wait For New Snow


Enjoy The Scenery-

Pack up your camera in the Tenba DNA 13 and head out for a brilliant photo day. The gorgeous bag fits a mirrorless or DSLR body with 2–5 lenses plus accessories. Designed for year-round use, the oversized front flap and sewn hinge weatherproofs your delicate gear. It also comes with a removable and reversible WeatherWrap cover, tons of pockets, an adjustable security strap to keep it from sliding while you bike or hike and a ton of other features. 

It’s easy to find a local photog to hire as a guide and mentor for the day. Just start asking around.


Go Tubing-

Photo courtesy Visit Salt Lake

A sure way to kill an hour or two- and you only need water and ice- is to hit the tubing track for high speed hijinks. Most resorts have at least one tubing hill.


Get Cozy

lazy one

It’s still cold at night at a ski resort. Slip into your favorite jammies like these from Lazy One . These brushed cotton and Lycra pants and tops are durable, whimsical and oh-so soft.

Acorn Slouch Boots with berber fleece cuffs, cushion insole and rubber outsole will keep your feet and ankles warm whether you snuggle up to the fire or traipse outside for the wood.



Play Games-

It’s not practical to pack a bunch of board games unless those games are from Outside/Inside. Make a big pot of spaghetti, turn the TV off then challenge your family to a showdown of Magnetic Darts or mini Backpack Cornhole . The Campground Dartboard set comes with roll-up board for two games in one. 



Whether you want to drown your weather sorrows or celebrate the  buds and family reunion, seek out some smooth souvenirs from local brewers and distillers. Maybe it’s a six-pack of Wasatch Brewery’s Polygamy Porter or bottle of Jackson Hole’s Wyoming Whiskey. It’s all about cultural immersion, right?








  • First of all thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful information. Actually, I’m planning to go on a ski holiday next year with my family and I must say this is really great as well as helpful info for me. Thanks for sharing.

    • I love that I was able to help! Thanks for reading and I know you will have an amazing ski trip here.

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