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Park City is the gateway to the mountains
The resort city of Park City, Utah lies less than an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City and is a renowned year-round destination. Known for its three impressive ski resorts, Park City’s popularity increased with the 2002 Olympic Winter Games but its history dates back as a small mining town in the mid nineteenth century. It is now a well-developed, modern resort with a distinct cultural feel, enjoyed by the hundreds of thousands each year who come to explore the stunning surrounding nature, in snow or sunshine.
A contemporary city with old Western roots
The city’s centre was built during the mining boom and indeed the Main Street looks like a classic Western strip with attractive nineteenth century architecture. Much of the compact downtown is contained around Main Street and this is where the core of the commercial activity can be found. As with any resort city there are an abundance of restaurants and bars catering to the mass of visitors, whilst several of the hotels in Park City, Utah are also close to this main strip. There are ample American diners and traditional taverns to choose from, plus a variety of more specialist restaurants offering Japanese, Brazilian and Thai cuisine, amongst others. Shopping wise, much of the focus is on the outdoor equipment; reflecting the surrounding terrain and activities. Ski and snowboard equipment, hiking and climbing gear, plus mountain bikes are all well-catered for, with many shops offering daily or weekly hire also. Park City’s mining past is visible in the city centre with several related souvenir shops present, plus the Park City Museum which provides an insightful overview of the city’s history.
Three ski resorts within minutes of the city
Winter is the busiest time in Park City due to its world-renowned skiing opportunities located minutes from the city centre. Park City sits below the Wasatch Mountains, still at a considerable altitude yet within a close drive of Salt Lake City International Airport. As a result, hundreds of thousands of tourists head to Park City each year and the majority end up at one or more of the three big ski resorts: Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort and the Canyons Village at Park City. Park City Mountain Resort begins literally in the city centre with a range of lifts and gondolas transporting guests up the mountains, plus several ski runs ending at the city’s edge. This convenience ensures guests of many Park City, Utah hotels can ski almost directly to their front door. Deer Valley Resort lies a few kilometres to the southeast of the city centre, however it is easily accessible via the year-round free bus network provided by the city. Finally, Canyons Village is at the opposite end of the valley, but is linked to Park City Resort via an interconnecting gondola. All three resorts feature varied terrain which widens their appeal, there are family-friendly runs and areas, an assortment of backcountry runs, plus a series of halfpipes, bowls and terrain parks.
More than just a ski resort
Despite the obvious focus on winter sports, Park City is also a very well-visited destination during the summer months. Once the snow has melted, the mountains open up for a variety of summer-focused outdoor activities, such as mountain-biking, rock-climbing and hiking. Summer is a stark contrast to winter, with endless alfresco dining options, outdoor events and plenty of sunshine to be enjoyed. Summer also opens up access to more remote spots in the surrounding nature, allowing visitors to explore the close by lakes and forests. For instance, the Guardsman Pass, links Park City to villages of Brighton and Solitude during the summer months and the nearby Silver Lake is one of the most popular hangouts through the warmer months. Closer to Park City, there are several smaller lakes which are often frequented by hikers or folks enjoying a picnic in the relaxing atmosphere and pleasant climate. Indeed, many visitors come to stay in the hotels Park City offers as a chance to escape the hotter temperatures in Salt Lake City and the lower parts of Utah, which are typically ten degrees warmer.
Festivals and events on and off the slopes
Aside from the obvious peak tourist times during the holiday seasons and school breaks, Park City also becomes very busy during the time many festivals and events are held in the area. The Sundance Film Festival is the pinnacle of these; America’s largest independent film festival held each January, with some 45,000 attendees coming from across the States and beyond. Another sizeable annual festival is the Kimball Arts Festival held each August, featuring an array of different art forms including a programme of live performances and musicians. The ski resorts are also home to several competitions and events throughout the winter, thanks in part due to the infrastructure created by the Olympic Games. The Olympic Park is home to a range of facilities which hold competitions for events such as ski jumping and bobsleigh. In addition, the Alf Engen Ski Museum is also located in the Olympic Park and offers an extensive look at past events around Park City, including a particular focus on the legacy of the games.