Photo: The base at Deer Valley
Located 36 miles (58km) east of Salt Lake City, in Park City, Utah, Deer Valley is consistently rated as one of the best resorts in the USA, and is one of the best resorts to work a season in North America. It has one of the highest worker retention rates in the entirety of the USA, with around 65% - 70% of staff returning each season, a figure which speaks for itself.
Park City is the base for three major resorts in the area: Deer Valley; Park City Mountain Resort; and Canyons Resort, which places you in one of the best ski regions in the world (close to 10,000 skiable acres between the three resorts), as well as 7 ski resorts within one hour. The season opens early December each year and closes early April (2014/15 dates are 6 December – 12 April)
The base of Deer Valley is one mile from Main Street, Park City. To get from Park City you can drive, or take the free public bus system to one of the three base areas of Deer Valley (Jordanelle, Snow Park Lodge and Silver Lake Lodge at mid-mountain). There is also a bus service from Salt Lake City to Park City that makes stops at Deer Valley (Route 902). A one way fare is $4.50 and punch passes are available. Ride UTA has more information.
Deer Valley is one of only three in North America which are still ski-only - no snowboards are permitted (the others being Alta, Utah and Mad River Glen, Vermont). It is smaller than the other two resorts in the Park City area, but has a more up-market feel and focuses on a luxury experience, with services such as free ski valets, free parking shuttles, fine dining and boutique shopping. There are, for example, 11 restaurants at the resort area of Deer Valley and Mariposa at Silver Lake Lodge is one of the best restaurants in Utah.
Photo: At the top of Deer Valley
Down the road, Park City is an historic silver mining town with over 70 bars and restaurants along.There is easy access into town from Deer Valley via the free city bus system. There is incredible dining and a ton of nightlife every night of the week on Main Street. The best bars are located along on Main Street and include: No Name, O’shucks, Downstairs, Flanagans (they have trivia every Tuesday) and Ciseros.
Additionally, there are plenty of events during the season, including the famous Sundance Film Festival in January, one of the premier independent film festivals in the world (40,000+ visitors each year), the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup in January or February and the Celebrity Skifest on opening weekend.
Ski Magazine rated Deer Valley the best resort in the world between 2007 and 2011, and it was part host of the 2002 Winter Olympics, including the freestyle moguls, aerials and slalom events.
Staff usually come from California, Washington State, Florida, Idaho and Utah. In addition, there are usually around 200 international workers on J1 visas.
The ski-beach located at mid-mountain is quite a cool place to hang out on a work break. The best staff parties are the holiday party in early January and an end of season party the day after Deer Valley closes for the season.
Deer Valley is the only resort in Park City with staff housing. There are three properties for employee housing with around 400 beds available in dorm style living. However, it reaches capacity reasonably quickly and is limited on a first come first served basis. It is mostly occupied by out of state and international staff.
Two of the staff properties are located in Deer Valley. The third property is located at River's Edge and is for those with a car and is located 25 miles out of town. River's Edge is comprised of cabins and yurts.
There is a $350.00 deposit for staff housing and the rent is between $12-14.00 a day depending on the number of roommates you have. There are usually 2 - 4 people per room.
If you do not decide to live in staff housing, there are many rental options in Park City and the surrounding areas, however it can be difficult to find a place due to demand with three resorts in town. It is advisable to start looking early.
Places to look for rentals include:
Photo: Ski Patrol at Deer Valley
Deer Valley is best suited to beginners and intermediates and is a good place for a beginner skier to work. There are steeps up the back, especially near Empire and Bald Mountain, though the mountain is more limited in terms of expert terrain.
Deer Valley is spread over six mountains and two chute areas. It takes a while to move between the areas but traversing is minimized because the lifts are well set-up. There are 21 lifts at the resort, so the crowds disperse pretty quickly and the resort never seems busy. There are 2,026 acres of ski-able terrain (820 hectares).
The tree skiing at Deer Valley is probably the best in the region. The grooming at Deer Valley is among the finest in the world and Deer Valley has gained a world-wide reputation in that respect.
If you want a change of scenery, Park City (3,300 acres) and Canyons (4,000 acres) are just down the road and have better terrain for expert riders. As a local working at Deer Valley, you get to explore one of the best areas in the world over the season.
There is no terrain park at Deer Valley - park does not fit with the vibe at Deer Valley.
Being skier-only, people up on the hill will tell you how the runs seem less crowded and safer, the bumps are better rounded; and the lift queues move more quickly with everyone’s skis facing forwards. This is an on-going debate at the mountain which you might find yourself entering on more than one occasion!
The Park City area is on the lower end of average snowfall for Utah with just over 300 inches (762cm) per year. The snow in Utah is just about the best powder in the world, and is unbelievably light and fluffy.
Jobs are posted online at Deer Valley's employment page in June each year and recruitment goes on through the summer. People looking for winter work could also contact the Recruit Team at 800-4-skijob (800-475-45620). There are full-time, part-time on-call and temporary jobs.
Jobs Available at Mountain Resorts has more information on the types of jobs available at ski resorts.
Minimum wage in Utah is $7.25 an hour. For US citizens, interviews can be done face-to-face, on the phone or via Skype.
Deer Valley takes around 200 workers each year on a J-1 visa through the Summer Work and Travel Program, but only students on summer break in South America. Deer Valley partners with two international job sponsor agencies for this purpose; CCUSA and CIEE.org.
See Work a Snow Season in the USA for more information on these programs, and information on the J-1 visa program.
First time J-1 applicants to Deer Valley must go through a screening process to assure their English is suitable to work at the resort.
Deer Valley does not take Australians and New Zealanders on J-1 visas despite the work holiday program in place. Deer Valley does not sponsor applicants for an H2B visa or participate in any other visa program.
There are ski, restaurant, retail, lodging and local discounts to staff. Also, season workers get access to Park City Resort and Canyons Resort via the Triple Play program.
There are also discounts at Intermountain Ski Area Association Resorts, which includes a bunch of resorts throughout Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho. Discounts are discretionary at each resort.
Deer Valley provides training to all staff and has Ski Instructor Clinicians who can do certifications on site. This means you are able to apply for instructor jobs without already having your instructing certificate.