Park City, Utah: The Greatest Snow on Earth!
Winter sports lovers should definitely add this popular ski town to their family's list of travel destinations.
Diane Tritt Eaton
Always searching for new travel opportunities, my family took an unfamiliar path to the mountains last March. Instead of heading to the always loveable Colorado Rockies, we set our sights on Utah’s Wasatch mountain range. Park City, an old mining town turned ski town located outside of Salt Lake City, became base camp for a winter wonderland getaway.
This town is quickly growing in fame for many reasons beyond the Sundance Film Festival. There’s a laundry list of activities to enjoy among its incredibly soft blankets of fluffy snow, paving the way for the ultimate Nordic family playground. High elevations coupled with the nearby Great Salt Lake boosts snow accumulation to spectacular levels, with puffy powder amassing to upwards of 360 inches annually. It’s even been known to snow for 100 hours, dropping 100 inches during that time. We happily indulged in what many call “the greatest snow on earth.”
A Downhill Skier’s Delight
With the knowledge that snow conditions reign in Park City, the most obvious draw for visitors is downhill skiing at the Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR), which is the nation’s largest. In 2015, Vail Resort, Inc., a major player in ski resort management, merged the Park City and Canyons resorts by building a gondola and connecting the two under the new name. With 7,300 sprawling acres, PCMR is a mecca for skiers/snowboarders of all levels—novices to experts can access 348 trails, 41 lifts, eight terrain parks, 13 bowls, plus a super and a mini pipe. There’s a plentiful mix of runs, including groomers, steeps, moguls and trees. (To add to the draw, Park City’s original ski resort, Deer Valley, is just up the road, if you desire more.)
Snow Shoeing, Tubing and More
As they say in Park City, “There is just as much magic off the mountain.” So, when seeking alternatives to downhill skiing, leap in to the world of snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. You can go it alone or request to have an experienced guide give you pointers and take you to places where moose and other wildlife wander. Or, for great thrills and laughs, head to Gorgoza Park for an afternoon or evening of action-packed tubing. And, if you really want to splurge, check out a dogsled or horse-drawn carriage ride. Reservations can be made through outfitters such as All Seasons Adventures and the White Pine Nordic Center.
Olympic Park Offerings
Park City was in the world spotlight during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. To honor that legacy, make a point to spend time at the Olympic Park and the Olympic Park Games Museum. The park remains a training ground for athletes practicing Nordic Ski Jumping, Freestyle Skiing, Bobsled, Skeleton and Luge and, if your timing is right, you might catch some of their practices. While here, an intense adventure awaits those who dare to ride on the high-speed Winter Comet Bobsled, under the tutelage of a trained instructor. (Special arrangements and certain qualifications are required in advance.)
Main Street–Past and Present
On the National Register of Historic Places, Park City’s Main Street is a major attraction due to its century-old charm. Founded in 1864, the former silver mining town is now home to over 100 trendy boutiques and restaurants and serves as the gathering place for the world-famous Sundance Film Festival. The Park City Museum, in the heart of the village, is wonderful for kids to learn about the past and how early settlers mined for silver. Wherever you go, the locals are welcoming and the vibe is laid back.
Apres-Ski Appetite Pleasers
Both on and off the mountain, Park City offers great food and drink. Don’t miss an authentic hearty meal at the award-winning Silver Star Cafe, a snowball’s throw away from the Silver Star Lift at PCMR. A “hidden gem,” Silver Star was featured on The Food Network’s “Diner’s, Drive-ins and Dives” and is heralded as “best lunch and dinner in Park City” by Forbes. Also, whet your appetite at High West Distillery Saloon, located in a historic renovated Victorian house. The kids will love the chicken fingers and s’mores as you sip on a well-earned whiskey cocktail and enjoy a bison burger.
Resting Tired Legs
From condominiums and private homes to family-friendly hotels and luxury resorts, accommodations for getting a good night’s rest are vast. Several resorts are ski-in, ski-out and/or have ski rental facilities on property so renting equipment is a breeze. The cozy Park City Hyatt Place, five minutes from the Canyons lift, was excellent, offering complimentary breakfast and Wi-Fi, ski rentals, a fitness center and outdoor pool/hot tub plus free shuttles. Other area options include the lavish Waldorf Astoria and stately Grand Summit Hotel or the more budget-friendly Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn.
Easy Access, Tulsans!
An added bonus to all of the great stuff Park City provides is the ease and convenience of getting there. Park City is only 35 minutes from Salt Lake City Airport and, best of all, you can take a direct flight from Tulsa; thus, minimizing travel time, a particular advantage when traveling with children. A rental car is not required if you want to save money because there are shuttles and buses that run frequently to and from the airport, many hotels, the ski resorts and up and down Main Street.
For more extensive details, see www.visitparkcity.com.