Out of Town
There’s so much to do in Park City, it’s almost more than you can do in one ski vacation. But there are some other options close by that are different, unique, and a bit less hectic. The Heber Valley is a picturesque day trip, with a historic railroad, Olympic ski venue, and hot spring resort. To the east, 15 miles away, the Kamas Valley is another rising star worth exploring. And, of course, the Salt Lake Valley is a hub of culture, sports and religion.
Nestled in the southwest corner of the Heber Valley, Midway is a gem with a number of unusual attractions. Settled by Swiss immigrants, the stately old homes still reflect this Alpine heritage. In town, there’s an outdoor ice rink. Or head over to Soldier Hollow, an official venue of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games where cross-country skiers competed. You can ski and tube underneath the massive stone battlements of Mt. Timpanogos under the lights.
Head to The Homestead, a quaint hot spring resort where you can swim in the pools or snorkel in the Crater, a 55-foot limestone mound with a deep geothermal spring inside. Better yet, stay and dine there as well.
Nearby, take a ride on the historic Heber Valley Railroad. The huffing and puffing of the old steam engine will set the scene for the After Christmas North Pole Express (December 26-29). Book a trip along the shores of Deer Creek Reservoir on the Monday Night Train, or the Lakeside Limited (Thursday through Saturdays at 11 a.m.).
In 1969, Robert Redford bought this land and created a special community of art and nature. Twelve years later he founded the Sundance Institute, attracting filmmakers from around the world to its annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City.
Just thirty-five miles away from town, the Sundance Resort is tucked under the massive bulk of Mt. Timpanogos. It’s an alpine wonderland of waterfalls, deep forests, wildflowers and snowfields. This winter ride a zipline, take a lift ride, ski the vast snow bowls, cross country ski or just unwind. Come for the day, or stay in the rustic but refined lodging, eat a fine meal at the Foundry Grill, or tip a few in an authentic log cowboy bar. It’s a world away. For more information visit kpcw.org SundanceResort.com, or call (801) 225-4107
Salt Lake City
One of the main attractions of Park City is its proximity to the Salt Lake International Airport, just a 35-minute drive away. But that also means that you can spend an evening at events like a Jazz game, the Utah Symphony and Opera, or even a small movie house, before visiting any number of great restaurants.
If you want to sightsee, then head to historic Temple Square, the heart of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On Sunday mornings you can attend a performance by the Tabernacle Choir, with the doors opening at 8:30 a.m.
Come early because seats fill up fast. You can then stroll through the visitor center and learn the distinctly American origins of the faith, and of the hardships and triumphs of creating a society in the desert.
Near the University of Utah, be prepared to be amazed at the Utah Museum of Natural History. This is truly a world-class facility, with exhibits including Native American artifacts and Utah dinosaur skeletons. The building itself will leave you in awe. Afterwards, if you’re looking for a vibrant and funky neighborhood, head to the 9th & 9th or Sugar House areas, though many neighborhoods are good options as Salt Lake is truly on the rise.
Kamas Valley and Uinta Mountains
A dozen miles east of Park City, the Kamas Valley and Uinta Mountains beckon. The Kamas Valley is a ranching community that is slowly changing, and the mountains are becoming a center for cross-country skiing, backcountry skiing and snowmobiling.
Just east of Kamas, along the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, the Beaver Creek ski trail is groomed by the U.S. Forest Service, and runs six miles between the Yellow Pine and North Fork trailheads, with other parking areas in between. Dogs are allowed only on odd- numbered days. Further up S.R. 150 the road is gated for the winter at the
Soapstone parking area, which is the base camp for snowmobile explorations of the high mountains.
Afterwards, stop in for lunch at the Road Island Diner in Oakley, an authentic railroad car diner with homemade ice cream, fresh cut french fries and great specials. Or try smoked meats at the State Road Tavern at the DeJoria Center, a luxury ranch and performing center that has hosted performing artists such as Sam Bush. On the way home keep your eyes out along the cottonwood-lined Provo and Weber rivers; you may be able to spot bald eagles as they fish for their dinner. It’s a great getaway from the bustle of a resort town.