Real talk: Elevation Utah is the ultimate gay winter paradise

Real talk: Is there a ski town in America that’s cuter than Park City?  It’s picture-perfect, a historic mining town turned into a high-end resort destination with luxury shops, art galleries, chalet-like hotels, and a density of bars and restaurants that befits its beginnings as a raucous silver town filled with saloons.  And the food scene… from brewpubs and bistros to fine dining from Michelin-starred chefs, it’s a discerning snowbird’s dream destination. 

And size matters.  When Canyons was connected to Park City Mountain by gondola, it created the US’s largest ski resort, with an eye-popping 7300 skiable acres for even the most diehard powder hound to conquer. If you’re a fancy-pants skier, Deer Valley is one of the most lux ski resorts in the world.  If you’re up for a drive, you can also ski Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, and Solitude resorts.

Real talk, part two: 

Is there anything hotter than a scruffy, square-jawed homo in snowboarding pants and a tight T-shirt under his jacket, slightly sweaty from the day on the hill, beer in hand, and a twinkle in his eye?  The answer is no, and Elevation Utah is rife with hundreds of them.

Those are a few of the reasons that ELEVATION Utah, the state’s only gay ski week, has become such a runaway success. The brainchild of LA promoter Tom Whitman, ELEVATION Utah lands every year on Top 10 lists, not just for gay ski weeks in America, but for gay ski weeks in the world. This year, Whitman is expecting upwards of 1500 ski queens and board bunnies to descend on Park City, transforming the artsy enclave into a gay paradise for five sparkling days. 

Whitman says it’s Elevation’s reputation for “Altitude without Attitude” that makes these events bigger and better every year. “We encourage everyone to be friendly, to introduce yourself to new people. Every year people return because of the friends they’ve made and the connections they’ve forged.”

And then there is his lineup of the D’s:  DJs, dancers, and drag queens.  (And maybe one other D.)  This year, international superstar DJ Dan Slater is spinning the Saturday night GEAR party.  Other DJs who are firmly members of the Elevation family return to pack the other 8 events on the schedule, including LA icons Dawna Montell and Casey Alva alongside Dallas’ muscle daddy DJ Drew G.

The schedule goes like this:

Hit the slopes in the morning and ski (or board) until your legs get shaky.  Come off the mountain and go straight (gaily forward) to the iconic apres-ski events like the Onesie Party.  Meet way too many handsome guys and sexy girls.  Walk along Main Street to a world-class restaurant.  Get dolled up for one of the classic themed parties, like Friday’s neon Glow Ho party or Saturday’s sexy and leather-positive GEAR party.  Rinse and repeat.

Start with moguls and music, add a little bit of party and a lot of Pride, toss in handsome bromos from across the continent with more than a sprinkle of hard-bodied Utah boys…that’s the recipe for a good ski week.

And that recipe is why people return year after year.  “From apres-ski afternoons to evening dance parties, Elevation gay ski weeks are hands-down my favorite boarding trips every season,” says attendee Jordan Brusso, “We have met so many life-long friends at these events.”

Elevation Utah is the easiest of the major ski weeks to get to, with a 30-minute drive from the SLC airport to Park City.  Don’t think we haven’t flown on a morning flight and been on the slopes before noon.

This brings me to my final (just the) tip:

As much fun as it is to shred the mountain before shredding the dance floor, you can have a helluva time at Elevation even if you aren’t a skier or a boarder. Take a lesson with other gay beginner snow bunnies – can you imagine a better start to a gay romantic comedy than tumbling down the hill only to land in the arms of a mountain top? And if you’re taking the day off, browse the galleries and shops on Main Street, check in to one of many high-end spas, explore the snowshoeing trails, take a sleigh ride, go tubing…the possibilities are endless.  And then you meet up with all the sporty shorties at apres-ski with a unique story to tell.

Info and tickets for Elevation Utah and other Elevation events are at www.elevationgayski.com. Follow @elevationgayski on Instagram for real-time updates.

RELATED: Hit the slopes with pride at these 10 gay ski weeks across America

All photos courtesy of Elevation Utah