By Wendy & Dave Naimaister
Ski enthusiasts know Park City, Utah as arguably the best skiing on the North American continent. The area has produced Olympic champions and offered incomparable fun for youngsters and families who are simply out for a great skication.
But the old mining town truly comes alive before the snow comes and after it melts. Young, old and somewhere in the middle, there’s something for everyone. And that is an understatement.
Each January since 1978 the town is host to Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival and is overrun by celebrities and moviegoers alike.
Until not that many years ago Main Street was a boardwalk raised above the roadway. That has given way to a citified sidewalk that leads from the base of the town up what some have referred to as “Cardiac Hill.” But that’s a bit of a stretch.
While the street does angle upward it is easily walked. But that walk can take an extended period of time as visitors stop and peek into the galleries, cute restaurants and bars, boutiques, and a plethora of shops.
Legends Bar & Grill offers either indoor or outdoor dining on a patio with an amazing view of the mountains. The fare here is easy on the pocketbook, offering Kobe burgers, soups, salads and a wide range of entrées. You always expect that resort areas pile on the cost, but here the items are quite reasonably priced. Legends has a full bar with adult beverages and a coffee shop.
Much of the resort area is geared to kids and they’ll have a blast. Get them up the mountain to speed down on an Alpine Slide with four different tracks. This also keeps the line moving fairly quickly.
Mountain bikers find Park City to be Nirvana. There are ski trails and bike runs that offer excitement to the extreme biker or mom, dad and the kids just looking for a bit of a thrill ride. No need to worry about hauling the bike up the mountain; the ski lift converted for summer fun has a hook on which you can place the bike for the very scenic ride to the summit.
Not into such sports? No problem. Visitors can take a chair life to the top where you are high enough to see tomorrow: Well, actually you see all of Park City and the adjacent Deer Valley, the sister resort.
Deer Valley has its own chair lift, but don’t think that if you’ve done it at Park City, you’ve seen it all. ‘Taint so. This is a totally different experience. Two lifts will haul you to the summit while you enjoy the ride and look down on the multi-million dollar homes of the wealthy and celebrities who call Park City/Deer Valley home for at least parts of each year.
The 9,000-foot elevation often brings you above the clouds and the thinning air might make you breathe heavier, you’ll never notice because you will be too busy checking out the valley and the majestic views.
Talking about the celebrities and expensive homes…don’t think for a minute that because you aren’t in the same economic you’ll be treated differently. To the people at Park City/Deer Valley every guest is a celebrity.
Getting hungry? Check out the Deer Valley Grocery Café. The café is located just outside the entrance to the ski area on a small lake. Order your food at the counter and then sit on the exterior deck to relax and eat. They offer gourmet salads, sandwiches, Panini’s, Tex-Mex, soup, chili and pizza. And again, there is the option for adult beverages while the younger set is sipping cola.
Add to the relaxation there by watching people paddle boarding on the lake.
Every four years there is a flurry of winter excitement as the Olympics kick off somewhere in the world. In 2002 they came to Utah and while they were called the Salt Lake City Olympics, Park City/Deer Valley were the heart and soul of the games.
With a note of historic importance, snowboarding came into its own at these games. Park City had prohibited snowboards on its slopes but the International Olympic Committee was adamant that if they wanted the games, boarders came along with it. They capitulated.
Today, 14 years later warm weather visitors can watch Olympic hopefuls practicing on snowless runs, jumps and courses. The Utah Olympic Park where the 2002 bobsled, skeleton luge, Nordic ski jumping and Nordic combined events were held, today is one of the major training sites in the world.
Located right off Interstate 80 the park is easily accessible from virtually any point in the area. One of the more exciting views is watching ski jumpers come flying down a ramp of plastic fingers that simulate snow, soaring into the air and coming to a landing in a pool of bubbling water. The pool is calm until the jumper begins his thrill ride and then the air jets are put to work. They buoy the jumper as he/she hits the water.
Park City/Deer Valley is not simply a spectator destination. There is more to do and enjoy than can be accomplished in a single visit.
Next issue: Park City Market and Fair, great places for Western grub and more activities.