Park City, UTAH: More than Just a Winter Destination
by: Kent Jensen
Park City surprised us with its authentic roots. The Park City Museum pulled us into the story of a mining town that flourished, boomed and busted multiple times. The gritty work hard / play hard culture of the mining society clashed against the majority religious conservative culture of the state of Utah early on. The prosperity of the mineral wealth that flowed from silver mines in the 1800s dwindled through the years as prices sagged. In the 1950s, Silver King mine watched as the city atrophied steadily toward ghost town status. In a last ditch effort to keep the company and city afloat, the miners-turned-lumberjacks took to the forests to clear ski runs. The gamble paid off and resulted in what's today a beautiful mountain gem— Park City Resort. The city swapped their cable ore buckets for gondolas. At one point, they even used an old mining tunnel and "skier subway" cars to transport skiers miles into the mountain before hoisting them straight up vertical shafts to the tops of the peaks for access to the slopes. The town honors its roots with the Victorian architectural style of its resort buildings and boasts over 60 buildings on the historic register.
It has a distinct atmosphere and community that’s home to the US Olympic Ski Team. It hosted many of the 2002 Winter Olympic events, and every year it showcases the final leg of the Tour of Utah bicycle race. We got to see the culmination of the Tour of Utah bicycle series as competitors raced to the finish line located in the heart of old town.
As a tourist, plenty of fun awaits— summer or winter. We visited in August and the military-discount Adventure Park Pass gives you full access to the Alpine Slide and Alpine Rollercoasters (my kids’ favorite). The little kids get ropes courses and zip lines, too. The adult zip lines (minimum 52” tall) and the Flying Eagle (minimum 42” tall) cost extra a la carte as does the lift served mountain biking. If you got the Epic Military Season Ski Pass (only $100), you can use it for scenic lift access to ride the lifts for hiking access, but we have to jump in line with everyone else to buy a bike haul pass for downhill biking. Outside the Adventure Park, you find mountain biking and hiking trails for everyone, but my favorite, which everyone should try, is the above the resort— the Wasatch Crest Trail. It traverses the divide between the Park City and Salt Lake City sides of the mountains. Catching this trail at sunset provides stunning views of the sun reflecting off the Great Salt Lake and countless rows of mountain ridges below the horizon. Even if those don’t interest you, Park City boasts access to Jordanelle reservoir, a beautiful mountain reservoir that warms up enough to enjoy swimming, playing on stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, waterskiing and wakeboarding, too. The marina offers discounted rentals for whichever activity floats your boat ;)
In between the activities we got hungry and our favorite family restaurant was Davanza’s, a great local pizza venue steeped with character and fun for the kids. Our favorite place to beat the heat was Java Cow Coffee & Ice Cream. Both offered generous military discounts that made it easy to enjoy!
Notable Military Discounts:
Park City Mountain Adventure Park https://www.parkcitymountain.com/
Park City Museum http://parkcityhistory.org/
Jordanelle Marina https://www.jordanellerentals.com/marina/
$100 Military Epic Season Passes https://www.epicpass.com/info/military.aspx