The Four Seasons of Park City
Park City offers so much more than the Sundance Film Festival—all year long
Chase Sapphire Preferred® is a presenting sponsor of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, an independent film exhibition in the United States. Launched in 1981, the Festival showcases new movies, music events, panel discussions and more each January in Park City, Utah.
Anyone who knows of Park City, Utah likely associates it with the Sundance Film Festival, the 10-day event celebrating independent filmmaking from around the world. But the city itself has so much more to offer—all year round.
Scott House moved from Michigan to Park City because he loved the winters there. But he soon discovered endless activities stretching beyond that season. "I spend most of the spring, summer and fall on my mountain bike," says House who works with the outdoor retailer jans.com and with White Pine Touring. "I love the diversity of activity available to me. There is always something to do outside, which is really special."
Yes, Park City is very much a four-season town. Just look at all there is to enjoy throughout the year.
Located in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, Park City is home to two acclaimed ski resorts, Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort—both listed by Ski magazine as top ski resorts in North America. Of course, many people ski, but there are so many other things to do.
You can go on a guided snowshoe tour, trekking through the local mountains where you can take in the scenery. Or, you can just rent snowshoes and walk on your own. Up in the mountains, the majestic Lost Prospector trail is within walking distance to downtown Park City. "It's unique because it gives you a bird's eye view of Main Street and the Deer Valley and Park City Resorts," says House. "But you're up in a woodsy area amid scrub oak and Aspen trees with moose and elk." The Iron Canyon and Round Valley trails are also scenic.
Looking to move a little faster? Visit the Utah Olympic Park, which hosted several 2002 Olympic events. Ride the bobsleigh, luge and skeleton tracks or test out the official 2002 Olympic Sliding Track with a bobsled pilot. "Not many winter destinations have an Olympic class bobsled track and ski jumping facility that the public can train on and use," notes House.
Outside the Park, you have even more winter sport options. You can go ice-skating at the Park City Ice Arena or watch the Curling Club there work their brooms. If you're an adrenaline junkie, try snow biking—like mountain biking, but on snowy trails. And finally, snow tubing at Gorgoza Park, just outside Park City, "is an ideal snow-play environment and fun for everyone in the family," notes Meisha Lawson Ross, a resident of Historic Park City.
The season is different each year. "You never really know what you're going to get," says Lawson Ross. "Spring skiing is celebrated as we peel off layers and enjoy warmer temperatures and longer days. It's common to enjoy a multi-sport day with skiing in the morning followed by biking or hiking in the afternoon."
Spring is a great season for exploring on road bike. While the landscape may be snowy, many of the country roads are clear. "Picture a 55 degree sunny day," says House. "While the snow is melting, you can cruise around and see great views without walking in mud or slush." Another two-wheel option: Mountain bike through a mountain area called Round Valley. "The area is lower in elevation and receives more sun," says Lawson Ross. "Since the snow melts faster, you can bike there earlier in the year."
There's fun to be had indoors, too. Head to Jupiter Bowl, Park City's modern bowling alley with a video arcade and full service bar and restaurant. Or, play basketball or volleyball and try the indoor golf simulator at the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse. And if you're up for some indoor rock climbing, there's always The Mine Bouldering Gym.
Finally, with temperatures rising, you may just want to stroll along Main Street, which is filled with local galleries, boutiques and restaurants.
Ever heard the saying, I came for the winter but stayed for the summer? "Summer is considered a secret season," explains Lawson Ross. "People knew us for skiing but Park City is on the map now for summer."
One reason: With nearly 500 miles of trails, the International Mountain Bicycling Association has given Park City accolades for its top-notch mountain biking, which is accessible from downtown. Even the free city buses allow bikes. "There are bike parks and dirt jumps—every possible aspect of mountain biking is covered here," says House. "You could spend ten hours a day riding five days straight and not overlap." The diverse terrain includes everything from high desert to aspen groves and dense pine forests. It's not uncommon to see fox, moose, wild turkeys and grouse. Hiking trails also access those biking trails.
Feeling the need to chill? Free live music outdoor concerts, like the Wednesday night Deer Valley summer concert series, are held nearly every night of the week and perfect for picnicking.
And if you're longing for water, the Jordanelle Reservoir has a sandy beach and offers paddleboard rentals. Or go water skiing or wakeboarding there. "The view of Mount Timpanogos from the water is absolutely breathtaking," says House. "It looks as if it's straight out of Switzerland."
"What I really like is that we are a four-season town," says Lawson Ross. Fall is a time for viewing the incredible fall foliage on the Aspen and Cottonwoods trees and their vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds. "Because of the different tree types that change at different times, we typically have foliage for about a month," says Lawson Ross. "And the temperature, especially during the day, is perfect." (A good reason to enjoy dining on the restaurants' outdoor patios.)
Leaf-watching aside, there are other amazing sights to see. The Autumn Aloft hot air balloon festival is held in September. Arrive early and see the balloons take flight.
For the active types, fall offers another opportunity to take in the views while cycling. You can ride a mountain bike on the Wasatch Crest Trail, which traverses the crest of the Wasatch Mountain Range and passes the rugged Uinta mountain range, Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood Canyons.
Finally, you can hike up Iron Canyon and see the sunrise. Or watch the sunset from atop the Wasatch Crest, or from the top of Park City or Deer Valley Resorts. "You don't have to hike the entire Wasatch Crest Trail," House says. "Just go to the top. The beautiful sunset over the mountains just west of the Salt Lake valley with its many colors is such a special time of day."
The bottom line: Park City truly is an all-year destination now. "People knew us for skiing and they didn't come for the other seasons, like summer, as much because they pigeonholed Park City as a ski destination," says Lawson Ross. But now Park City is on the map for all seasons.
Read more about all that Festival has to offer on chase.com/SapphireOnLocation.
Jeryl Brunner is a journalist and author of "My City, My New York," and "My City, My Los Angeles." She is also a Parade.com columnist and has contributed to O, The Oprah Magazine, Travel + Leisure and In Style.