Hyatt Centric Logo

Meet the man behind most of the ski maps in America

Posted: Wed, 09 Jan 2019 01:41:30 PST

The ski trail map at your local mountain was probably painted by James Niehues. Now you can see his life's work in one beautiful book.

There’s good chance that any time you slide off the top of a chairlift, you’ll be faced with James Niehues’s work. The 72-year-old Coloradan has hand-painted the maps used by more than 200 ski resorts. But skiing’s most prolific artist says he stumbled into it by luck. In 1987, Niehues had just moved to Denver from Grand Junction, Colorado. He had a couple of kids, and he was looking for work as a graphic designer after his work at an auto-parts manufacturer dried up. He reached out to local artist Bill Brown, who gave him a one-off job working on the trail map for Winter Park’s Mary Jane Mountain. Brown, who was the only resort-map artist at the time, was looking to retire, and he passed the ski-map mantle on to Niehues.

Aside from ideal timing, Niehues says he thinks he has an innate ability to see a whole mountain in one shot. We’d have to agree—his maps are incredibly accurate, down to the parking lots, but with a nostalgic wash of pastel color that’s instantly recognizable.

Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that runs until January 3 (and has far exceeded its goal), he plans to release a book this summer showcasing three decades’ worth of work. Niehues told us about his book project, the mountains he’s always wanted to draw, why you can’t beat a hand-painted trail map, and how technology has changed his job for the better.

On His Process: “I always fly over the mountain and photograph it. Today I can go in deep on Google, but aerial photography gives me an idea of what it looks like that I can quote from. Then the first step is to go into a small pencil sketch. If it’s a complicated mountain, and I see different ways to illustrate it, I’ll send different thumbnails to clients. Then I’ll go into a comprehensive sketch that will be as big as the map. Once it’s approved, I’ll project the image onto my painting surface, trace every detail, and then airbrush. I start with the sky and work from the top down filling in details.”

On the Details: “It’s a puzzle to put together. I struggled early on getting the back sides of mountains right. I’m constantly trying to get all the flow lines correct and running down the page. Resorts know what they want and need, but sometimes they want to show their mountain bigger than it is. My job is to bring it back to reality. My favorite mountains are the ones where I can paint cliffs or rugged peaks and the mountains beyond. But I really like to do the mountains in New Zealand, because there are no trees there.”

On Skiing: “I learned in ski in Europe when I was in the Army. A couple of us guys took leave and went to down to Switzerland. Mine was the fastest time down, so I thought I was pretty good. When I tried to ski again at Powderhorn, outside Grand Junction, after I came back in 1969, I walked off the mountain because I couldn’t turn. On the job, I became an intermediate skier. It’s important, because I understand what other skiers go through in navigating the mountain.”

On the History of Ski Maps: “There are artists that have drawn a few maps, but there are really only two others who have done what I do. In the 1970s, Hal Shelton pioneered it here in the States. He was the first to paint trail maps, and he did it with an airbrush, because you can create subtle surfaces and lots of backlight. Bill Brown did it in the eighties, and then I took over for him. In the late nineties, everyone was looking at new technology because they thought computers could do a better job of mapping, but a lot of them have come back to my style. Now with the internet, it’s so important to have a good image. You’ve got a mountain that’s beautiful and challenging, and you’ve got to show that, and the computer images just aren’t as beautiful. This is one thing that is better done the way it was done 50 years ago.”

On Anthologizing: “Way back in the mid-nineties I started thinking that maybe I’d have enough illustrations for a book, so I started working book rights into my contract. Didn’t pursue it heavily, but then I started realizing, I’m 72 now, so it’s time to get it going.”

On Retirement: “I’ve tried to retire, but then someone will call me and I’ve always wanted to do their mountain, so I end up jumping back in. I’m doing a sketch of Mount Bachelor right now; they have 180 degrees of skiing, and I’ve always wanted to do that. An artist named Rad Smith, who is in Bozeman, Montana, is working as a protégé. He used to make maps with computers but realized he couldn’t do it as well, so he went back to painting. There don’t seem to be any others who are jumping into it. It’s a small market. It was a small market for me.”

On Art: “I think of the paintings as art instead of trail maps. In the early days, it was really about the map, but the values have shifted. Hal and Bill realized it was important to get the beauty and to give people something they could look at and dream about. I think a computer-generated map is a reflection of the office—it’s rigid. A hand-painted map reflects the outdoors. You ski to get into that environment.”

The Midway Ice Castles are officially open for the season

Posted: Mon, 07 Jan 2019 12:52:19 PST

JAN 3, 2019

Since 2011, Utahns have visited a winter wonderland in Midway. This Saturday, Ice Castles opens for the season. KPCW’s Emily Means has this report.

Icy fortresses, slippery slides and frozen waterfalls decorate an acre of land at Ice Castles at the Homestead Resort in Midway.

Visitors are drawn in by interactive light and music displays. The design of the castles changes year to year, with 20 to 40 ice artisans tasked with creating structures formed from thousands of icicles. Construction on the castles began in November, and Ice Castles typically opens between Christmas and early January, depending on how many warm days there are during the building process.

With six locations—five throughout the U.S. and one in Canada—Ice Castles CEO Ryan Davis explains how the structures, comprised of more than 20 million pounds of ice, come to life each year.

“All of our ingredients come out of a fire hydrant. We make about five to ten thousand icicles in a day," Davis said. "Then we place them, we fuse them to ice and we spray them with water, and when they’re sprayed with water they thicken and they grow in mass. So, it’s basically we just hand place the framework that we freeze the ice on, and everything’s made out of ice.”

After a good snow, snowmen and forts can often be seen decorating front yards in Utah. Ice Castles similarly sprung up from the ground, when Davis says his business partner, Brent Christensen, got creative one cold day in Utah.

“He’d moved from California to Utah, so the cold weather was a novelty for [Christensen]. He just started freezing things in his front yard and figured out that he could use icicles and build—fairly quickly—really tall ice formations," Davis said. "The first place he did it was in 2010 in Zermatt Resort up in Midway at a larger scale, and then I teamed up with him about then, and we just keep growing bigger and bigger.”

If last year’s warm, dry winter is any indication of what to expect in years to come, though, Ice Castles’ cold-reliant operations might require some adjustment. Davis says he’s not sure what has led to the number of warm days, but the more mild weather is something Ice Castles is particularly sensitive to.

“The weather’s always unpredictable, and we noticed that the Midwest seems to be warmer than it has been in the past," Davis said. "You imagine Minneapolis being really cold, and sometimes it is, but a lot of times it’s been pretty warm in the winter there. Every now and then you’ll have a week with three or four days in the 40s, and then the next week it’s five degrees. The average is still pretty cold, but it seems like there’s more warm days than there has been in the past.”

Ice Castles remains open until the weather warms up, usually around late February or early March. Guests are advised to dress appropriately—wear boots to keep your feet dry during the warmer times of day. You can visit for hours of operation and ticketing information.

Don’t miss Park City’s Snowfest!

Posted: Sun, 23 Dec 2018 01:52:31 PST

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, unless you’re stuck in a dreadful airport in Denver or Newark, or course. The moral is to skip the year-end airfare surcharge and enjoy the holiday season in Park City where the eponymous mountain resort brings two weeks of festivities during Snowfest.

Every day from December 22, 2018 to January 6, 2019 Park City Mountain will host Après music and entertainment at both Park City base area and Canyons Village along with special events including an avalanche dog meet and greet, live ice sculpting, pub trivia and more. Get the party started daily without even changing out of your ski boots while listening live music at Umbrella Bar and Legends featuring a variety of performers from One Man Funk Band Simply B to bluegrass duo The Proper Way to local rock ensemble Snyderville Electric BandFor full article and calendar:

Deciding where to eat for the holidays in Park City, check out these amazing feasts

Posted: Sat, 22 Dec 2018 02:45:47 PST

Five Feasts Worthy of Holiday Indulgence

Eat, drink, and be merry with these truly sumptuous Christmas and New Year’s spreads.

By Michaela Wagner 12/14/2018 at 3:37pm

Whipping up a feast—a must during the holidays—may not be at the top of your list this season. After all, Park City’s snow-capped mountains and hoppin’ town tend to draw us away from the kitchen as we time spent on the slopes... or the trails...or at the theater... or the local après shindig or... Thankfully, Park City restaurants have it covered.  Following is just a sampling of the smorgasbord of options for festive dining specials from Christmas to New Year’s Day. (For a complete rundown of dining options in and around Park City, visit our Restaurant Guide here.)


Escala Provisions Restaurant at Hyatt Centric Park City

Christmas Eve: Buffet, $55 per person, $27.50 for children ages 6-12 New Year’s Eve: Buffet, $65 per person, $32.50 for children

A great option for families staying in Canyons Village, Escala brings classic fare to diners on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. The dinners will feature selections such as mustard-crusted prime rib, cranberry glazed ham, Mary’s chicken with a sour cherry reduction, and herb-crusted salmon, plus an array of sides and starters such as bacon mac and cheese, corn pudding, celery root and pear soup, salads, breads, and a host of pies and cakes for dessert. New Year’s Eve features special desserts including chocolate fondue and fig-bread pudding with eggnog sauce.

Powder at Waldorf Astoria Park City

Christmas Eve: Family-style prix fixe; $69 per person, $34 for children ages 4-12 Christmas Day: Three-course prix fixe; $55 per person, $35 for children New Year’s Eve: Five-course prix fixe, $95 per person

Also set in Canyons Village, Waldorf Astoria’s Powder is offering three special family prix fixe experiences.  Christmas Eve features a modern mountain menu driven by the holiday season and the finest ingredients, including lobster-tuna salad, Niman Ranch roasted lamb loin, and five spiced-roasted butternut squash soup, followed by seared diver scallops, duck two ways (breast and confit), wagyu bavette, and dessert of Vienna-style cheese cake.

Tuck into a Christmas Day lunch full of inspired selections, starting with a choice of lobster lemon grass soup or roasted brussels sprout salad, followed by a choice of rack of lamb, salmon filet, roasted organic chicken breast or mushroom ragu. For dessert, choose between praline white chocolate mouse, raspberry mascarpone or flourless chocolate terrine.

Powder’s famed New Year’s Eve celebration opens with caviar blini and oyster, followed by a choice of yellowfin tuna and scallop tartare or beets and goat cheese. Enjoy porcini mushroom consommé and a champagne intermezzo, then an entrée of either venison and veal loin or Chilean sea bass, followed by New Year’s Surprise for dessert featuring Tahitian vanilla, fromage blanc and raspberries.

For article and more dining options: Five Feasts worthy of Holiday Indulgence

Here’s everything you need to know about spending the holidays skiing in Utah

Posted: Fri, 21 Dec 2018 14:45:40 PST


Utah ski resorts and towns don’t hold back when it comes to festivities! In fact, Park City Mountainhas been named one of the top ski areas to spend Christmas by and Curbed.

If snow conditions are your priority, Alta Ski Area is considered one of the most reliable destinations for holiday turns (,, “On Christmas day, an average of 96% of Alta's terrain is open for business,” explains Christopher Steiner on

Spending the holidays skiing in Utah will deliver lots of powder, cheer, and fun, for the whole family, but a pinch of planning can make your stay even more enjoyable.

Snow Play Off the Slopes

Don’t limit your snow play to skiing and riding. Try something new or different! Sneak out with the kids to build a snowman or ride a sled. Snowshoeing is super fun, especially early or late in the day when the light is low and wildlife is browsing about. Many ski reposts offer guided snowshoe tours and rentals so you don’t even need to travel.

As odd as it may sound, another fantastic activity is riding fat-bikes. Their huge tires float across the snowy trails, a perfect mix of exercise and adventure. The first time I rode one I couldn’t stop smiling. They are available to rent at Jans Mountain Outfitters, White Pine Touring, and several other locations across the state.

While all of these ideas sound fun, one of my favorite things to do on a snowy day is curl up by the fire with hot tea and good book. Now there’s a tradition I’ll keep!

Food is a central theme throughout holidays across the world. Luckily, Utah has some of the most progressive food scenes in the country. During the holidays, local chefs unleash their creativity.

For my first Thanksgiving in Utah, I made reservations for the Lodge Bistro at Snowbird. The menu was a perfect balance between creative and warmly familiar…nostalgic flavors of warm squash and tart cranberry, without grandma’s fruitcake and green Jell-O mold.

Holiday meal reservations book up early, so make yours as soon as possible.

Traditions and Faith on Snow

Holiday travel doesn’t mean giving up fun traditions or observation of faith, but it does provide a new setting. From Santa to Christmas Eve Service, Carols to Shabbat, there’s no need to forsake either.

For example, Deer Valley Resort offers ski-in/ski-out Shabbat services on Fridays and Non-Denominational church services on Sundays. Snowbird offers Hanukkah Candle Lighting December 2nd to 9th, a Christmas Eve Parade and Candlelight Service, plus Mr. and Mrs. Clause “Ride the Bird” on Christmas Day.

At Park City Mountain you can see Santa ride down the town lift on December 15 and a Christmas eve torchlight parade on December 24.

The key is planning ahead so you are in the right place at the right time. Visit our events calendar or holiday events post for more information.

Gifting on the Go

Traveling may complicate gift-giving depending on the size. A great way to gift large items without complicating travel is to wrap a picture of the surprise waiting at home. Our family did this and it’s still super exciting.

Naturally, this strategy works best with older children and adults. For the younger set, you may want to pack a few small gifts and save the rest for a “mini-Christmas” after returning home.

Celebrating with Family and Friends

Okay, I saved the toughest one for last. What about family and friends who can’t travel with you? I’m going to answer with a brief story.

I was a firefighter before moving to Utah. My 24/48 shifts lined up such that I worked nearly every major holiday. But we didn’t let that dampen the celebration; we simply looked forward to a different date than most. Our whole family still shared big meals, opened gifts, and made beautiful memories.

You can do the same thing. Plan an early or late celebration with family and friends on a date that works for you.

And Don’t Forget…

If you’re staying near Salt Lake City, take a break from the slopes to see the lights at Temple Square. With easily a million lights, the display is spectacular beyond words. Dress warm and plan to grab a bite while downtown. Some of our best restaurants are in the area.

Salt Lake City gets the greenlight for Winter Olympics bid

Posted: Mon, 17 Dec 2018 14:32:55 PST

[caption id="attachment_2708" align="alignleft" width="300"] PARK CITY, UNITED STATES: This 14 January, 1999, photo shows a boy training with the Rocky Mountain Luge Club making a run down the luge track at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah, where the luge and bob sleigh skeleton runs for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City will be held. The Olympics are scheduled for February 2002. AFP PHOTO GEORGE FREY (Photo credit should read GEORGE FREY/AFP/Getty Images)[/caption]


December 15, 2018

Salt Lake City got the green light to bid for the Winter Olympics — most likely for 2030 — in an attempt to bring the Games back to the city that hosted in 2002 and provided the backdrop for the U.S. winter team’s ascendance into an international powerhouse.

The U.S. Olympic Committee said Friday it was selecting Utah’s capital, which stood out as a predictable, slam-dunk pick in a process that also included Denver and Reno, Nevada.

With venues still in place — some of them upgraded — from the 2002 Games, Salt Lake claims it can host again at a lower cost than other candidates, which aligns with the International Olympic Committee’s new blueprint for the Games.

It’s almost a certain bet the bid will be for 2030, though the USOC left open the possibility of other dates. There are only two bidders for 2026: from Sweden and Italy, after voters in Calgary, Alberta, rejected a proposed bid.

Read full article:

"Canyons Village Connect" On-Demand Ride Service has started

Posted: Mon, 26 Nov 2018 03:04:46 PST

"Canyons Village Connect" On-Demand Ride Service to Debut on November 21

Canyons Village Connect The Canyons Village Connect is a new, complimentary on-demand ride service that will begin on Wednesday, November 21, the opening day at Park City Mountain. From November 21 through closing day on April 7, 2019, this app-based pilot program will be available to guests daily within Canyons Village at Park City Mountain.

The on-demand service will be available daily from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. This service will include stops at Canyons Village Transit Hub and the existing bus stop between the Grand Summit hotel and Westgate Park City hotel, coupled with on-demand, door-to-door service throughout the Frostwood area (Waldorf Astoria, Miners Club, Wyndham Park City, Juniper Landing, Fairway Springs and Frostwood Ski & Golf Villas). Park City / Summit County Bus Transit Info There have been some bus route changes to the free transit system this year, including the Pink and Lime lines that are so important to our Canyons Village guests and employees; Pink is the only line that now services the Grand Summit / Westgate stop and Canyons Resort Drive above Canyons Village Transit Hub.

  • Guests looking to go to Historic Main Street: Pink to Electric Xpress
  • Guests looking to get to Park City Mountain Village: Pink to Lime
  • Guests looking to get to Kimball Junction: Pink, Lime or Electric Xpress
Please visit Park City Municipal’s transit page or see attached for details and messaging from Park City and Summit County


Gorgoza Park is transforming to Woodward Park City

Posted: Fri, 23 Nov 2018 02:02:54 PST

Gorgoza Park is transforming to Woodward Park City Woodward Park City recently broke ground at the former Gorgoza Park location. Woodward Park City will bring a world class facility that connects sport, community, and culture with youth inspired programming in one of the greatest outdoor regions in the world.

Woodward Park City will offer a playground for progressive sports experiences for residents of the Wasatch and destination visitors. Programming will provide sports and recreation opportunities including year round daily sessions, seasonal options, and multi-day camps.

The 125-acre campus will include day and night lift serviced snowboarding and skiing, terrain and skate parks, biking trails, tubing, and an indoor training facility for a dozen plus sports, including skateboarding, BMX, mountain biking, cheer, snowboard, and ski. The indoor training facility will be roughly 52,000 sq. ft. and built with a dedication to protecting where we love to play through sustainable investments in solar energy, a green roof, and the use of recycled materials.

Sourced from Ski Utah

Opening Day at Park City Mountain

Posted: Wed, 21 Nov 2018 17:11:47 PST

Park City Mountain is officially open for the season! Get out there for the first turns, hopefully we’ll get some more SNOW this weekend!

Winter Fireworks // Canyons Village at Park City Mountain

Posted: Wed, 21 Nov 2018 17:02:49 PST

Winter Fireworks // Canyons Village at Park City Mountain

Park City Mountain and Canyons Village have exciting new firework shows for the upcoming season. Beginning with the Holiday Tree Lighting and Fireworks event this Friday, November 23, there will be nine free fireworks displays this winter. There will be a new series entitled “First Friday Fireworks” that will take place on the first Friday of each month; additionally, there will be fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve, Presidents’ Weekend and two during the 2019 FIS World Championships. All fireworks will take place on Willow Draw Road as they have in the past.

Friday, November 23: Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

  • Live holiday music, crafts, hot cocoa, photos with Santa, lighting of Christmas tree
  • Fireworks: 5:55pm, approximately 5 minutes long
Friday, December 7: First Friday Fireworks
  • Fireworks: 5:00pm, approximately 5 minutes long
Monday, December 31: New Year’s Eve Celebration
  • Annual party with live music on Village Stage
  • Fireworks: 7:30pm, approximately 10 minutes long
Friday, January 4: First Friday Fireworks
  • Fireworks: 5:30pm, approximately 5 minutes long
Friday, February 1: First Friday Fireworks
  • Fireworks: 6:00pm, approximately 5 minutes long
Saturday, February 2: 2019 FIS World Championships // Opening Ceremonies + Big Air Skiing
  • Parade of Nations, live music, activities, Big Air Skiing (night)
  • Fireworks: 9:45pm, approximately 6-8 minutes long
Tuesday, February 5: 2019 FIS World Championships // Big Air Snowboarding
  • Live music, activities, Big Air Snowboarding (night)
  • Fireworks: 9:00pm, approximately 6-8 minutes long
Saturday, February 16: Presidents’ Weekend
  • Fireworks: 6:00pm, approximately 5 minutes long
Friday, March 1: First Friday Fireworks
  • Fireworks: 6:30pm, approximately 5 minutes long