Beyond Sundance: Adventures for all seasons in Park City, Utah
Park City isn't just about the slopes! From mountain biking to extreme zip-lining, this Utah paradise has thrills to spare. Read on for our ultimate Park City bucket list.
Located a half-hour from Salt Lake City, Park City is probably best known as the home of the Sundance Film Festival. However, the area also has a rich Olympic history, world-class skiing and snowboarding, and a sophisticated dining scene. You might come for the slopes, but you’ll stay for the hiking, biking, kayaking, and bobsledding. It’s no surprise that Park City used to be called Treasure Mountain—read on, and you'll learn why.
1. Do stand-up paddleboard yoga
The warm waters of Homestead Crater are protected from the elements, making it possible to do stand-up paddleboard yoga any time of the year. This geothermal yoga experience is perfect for a winter day: the effervescent carbon dioxide bubbles in the water naturally exfoliate dry skin, and the warm mineral water soothes tired muscles after a big day of skiing. Book a tour with Park City Yoga Adventures, and an instructor will lead you on a hike or snowshoe trip to the crater for a relaxing hour of paddleboard yoga. Ahhhhh…
2. Explore the caves and waterfalls at Timpanogos
If you’re up for some hiking, head for the Timpanogos Wilderness Area of the Uinta National Forest for some of the best trails in the area. The 2-mile Timpanogos Falls Trail starts in a meadow and takes you deep into the woods. You’ll end up at a gorgeous waterfall situated on the east side of Mount Timpanogos. A short scramble down some rocks will get you to the base of the falls. More experienced hikers can tackle the 12.7-mile Timpanogos Trail that takes you around a lake and through some seriously steep terrain. Don’t miss a guided tour of the Timpanogos Caves, where you can check out helictites, spiral-shaped cave formations that look like they developed in zero gravity.
3. Paddle Mirror Lake
Located about 40 miles east of Park City, Mirror Lake lives up to its name—just check out the crystal-clear reflection of the Uinta Mountains on its surface. The calm, still water makes it a relaxing place to kayak or just chill out in a float tube. While you’re at the lake, be sure to cruise Highway 150. It’s one of the only roads that cuts through the Uinta Mountains, and a good chunk of it parallels the Provo River. You’re likely to spot elk, deer, and moose when you drive this scenic byway, which is open from late spring till fall. In the winter, it’s an awesome snowmobile route.
4. Bike the Mid-Mountain Trail
Up for a mountain biking challenge? Try the Mid-Mountain Trail, one of the most popular routes in the area. Mid-Mountain is mostly singletrack, with tons of ups and downs and ridge-tops to ride along; intermediate and experienced bikers will appreciate the thrills. Take in the spectacular scenery along the way: you’ll spot aspen groves in full color during the fall and wildflower meadows in the summer. Mid-Mountain is also known as the 8,000-Foot Trail, so allow some time to get used to the altitude before you set off on your bike.
5. Take a bobsled ride
Utah Olympic Park was the site of several Winter Olympics events in 2002. Today, the park offers year-round thrills, including freestyle ziplining, extreme snow tubing, and a Mountain Challenge obstacle course. Don’t leave the park without trying the Comet Bobsled ride. With a seasoned bobsled pilot at the helm, you’ll scream along the official Olympic bobsled track, feeling some crazy g-forces and hitting speeds of over 60 miles per hour. Visiting in the summer? You can still get your adrenaline fix—the summer bobsleds are modified to roll along the track on wheels.
6. Glide and slide
Ski season may be long over in the summer, but you can still go flying down a mountain. Try the Alpine slide at Park City Resort. At over 3,000 feet in length, it’s one of the longest slides in the world. You’ll zoom down the luge-like track as the scenic mountainside views whoosh past you. Try all four tracks for a different sliding experience each time. See you at the finish line!
7. Stay at the Washington School House
The type of relaxation you’ll experience at the Washington School House is far from the chaos of an elementary school classroom… This 1889 Park City landmark has been home to a sophisticated hotel experience since it was repurposed in 2011. Using the historic building’s limestone structure, and adding a few chic touches—like the heated pool terraced into the hillside amid aspens and blue spruce, the reclaimed oak barn wood floors, and the ski lounge with an outdoor fire blazing from the 2002 Winter Olympics torch—the Washington School House is a luxurious, comfortable, and effortless way to stay and ski in Park City. Book a night in one of their 12 rooms or suites to enjoy meals cooked by a private chef, in-room massages, European antiques, vintage-mod paintings, mountain ice-white marble baths, and cozy hooded robes, all in walking distance of Park City’s skiing, dining, and outdoor fun.
8. Hit the slopes at Park City Mountain Resort
Skiing and snowboarding are integral parts of the Park City experience. Go big and get snowy at the largest ski resort in North America. Park City Mountain Resort—which merged with Canyons Resort to reach its epic size—offers 7,300 acres of skiable terrain and 19 lifts. Beginners can head to the First Time lift for a variety of easy runs; intermediates can choose from a mind-boggling number of runs accessible from the King Con lift. Able to tackle some expert terrain? Check out the steep pitches and gladed runs of Jupiter Bowl and McConkey’s.
9. Ski into a saloon
Looking for a place to refuel after a day on the slopes? High West Distillery & Saloon offers the ultimate in convenience—you can ski right into the place! Take the distillery tour, where you’ll learn how they make their unique spirits and sample some of their creations. Don’t miss their homemade rye whiskey or the smoky-sweet Campfire Whiskey. If you’ve worked up an appetite from an afternoon of skiing, High West’s small plates and dinners will hit the spot. Their eclectic Western-inspired menu includes everything from hominy salad to braised lamb tagine.
10. Zip down a mountain in a snow tube
Shake up a day of skiing or snowboarding, and give snow tubing a try. Just 8 miles north of town, Gorgoza Park offers a mix of beginner-friendly and more advanced tubing lanes. After you fly down the mountain in your tube, lifts provide a hassle-free way to get back up to the top of the lanes. You can even go tubing after sundown, since most lanes are lighted.
11. Dog sled with Rancho Luna Lobos
You don’t have to go all the way to Alaska for dog sledding. Rancho Luna Lobos, a family-owned dog sledding operation in Park City, offers one-hour tours, half-day rides, and twilight tours. You’ll meet their adorable rescue dogs before you take off, and the proceeds from your tour will help care for the sporty pooches as they train for their journey to the famous Iditarod race. Could there be a more exciting way to see Utah’s beautiful trails, mountain views, and pastures? Probably not.
12. Go for a snowshoe stroll
Strap on a pair of snowshoes and explore the winter woods on the McLeod Creek Trail. This relatively flat trail is perfect for even a first-time snowshoer. You’ll cross a number of small streams on wooden bridges, and you’ll enjoy spectacular views along the way. The trail is surrounded by the Swaner Preserve, a wetlands and wildlife refuge. Keep your eyes out for elk, deer, foxes, prairie dogs, and animal tracks. Don’t own snowshoes? Rent a pair at the Swaner EcoCenter before you head out.