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Park City may be an excellent ski resort, but it’s also a terrific summer destination. When all the snow melts, and the spring rains have passed, the mountains become green, wildflowers bloom and bears come out of hibernation.
Park City summer activities are just as impressive as those offered in the winter. That is especially true for anyone looking for an active vacation that might include hiking and biking. And to reward you for your hard work during the day, this town is well known for good food and drink.
We spent three days this summer at Park City’s Deer Valley Resort and fell in love. While we opted to keep active most of the time, that isn’t required. What to do in Park City can include pure relaxation. Whatever your speed, this mountain town is worth the trip.
Let me begin by pointing out that the elevation of Park City is 7,000 feet. If you’re like us and live at sea level, it’s important to take some time to time to adjust to the altitude which should include staying hydrated.
Last summer when we went hiking in the Eastern Sierras, we wisely chose a hike on the first day that was relatively flat. In subsequent days we tackled more challenging trails. This year we awoke eager to explore Deer Valley and unwisely hiked a challenging trail on the first day. Don’t do what we did! Start easy on day one.
Deer Valley has many options for hiking, but beware that most are steep. Since this is a ski resort, many of the runs double as hiking trails in the summer. It’s popular for hikers here to hike up these steep trails and then take the chairlifts down (tickets must be purchased for the ride up, but not the ride down).
A scenic and moderate option in Deer Valley is the Mid Mountain Trail that cuts across the mountains. We opted for the Sultan Out and Back Trail since it is also moderate, but is one of the few that doesn’t allow bikes. As a result, we had this trail almost to ourselves. The first half of the trail was downhill, so logically, the return half was uphill. On the return we were happy to have our hiking poles. Jason and I certainly had a great workout! At one point along the trail we saw several sets of animal tracks including deer, coyote and bobcat.
The next day we needed an easier trail and decided to research Park City hikes. We selected the McLeod Creek Trail which eventually becomes the Farm Trail. Not only did we appreciate how flat this hike was, but also the amount of shade provided as we walked through the woods next to the creek. This is a popular trail for bikes as well, so proceed cautiously.
Visiting in the winter? Read about Park City Snowshoeing!
Explore the Park Silly Sunday Market
After our McLeod Creek hike we headed to the Park Silly Sunday Market for lunch. This free outdoor event takes place most Sundays along Main Street from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and features crafts, food, and live music. We appreciated that the market also sells cold beer and icy cocktails which went down quickly after our hike.
The market occupies lower Main Street and can be entered at several locations. There is some free parking available as well as paid lots on Deer Valley Ave. or Park Ave.
Discover Park City’s History
Founded in 1884, Park City was originally known as a silver mining town. The amount of silver discovered here made it successful from the start. By the early twentieth century, downhill skiing was growing in popularity and eventually in 1946 Park City installed its first ski lift. Fast forward a few decades and in 2002 Park City was home to several of the XIX Winter Olympic events. If you have time to explore more of Utah, be sure to relive the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and Park City.
Park City has a fascinating and at times glamorous past. One of the best places to learn all about this town is at the Park City Museum on Main Street. This small museum packs in many interesting exhibits including a working model of a silver mine. It’s location makes it easy to shop, eat and then pop-in for a brief history lesson.
It’s also possible to combine a hike and history lesson with a visit to the McPolin Farmstead along the 224 Highway. You can choose to start on the Farm Trail or the McLeod Trail, but eventually the path passes this grouping of buildings which provides a nice respite.
With the growth of silver mining, fresh food was needed to feed the miners. The McLane family and then the McPolin family ran this farm and sold the produce and dairy products to the local residents. Today visitors can stroll the grounds and view the restored buildings including the main barn, family home and sheds.
Shop on Main Street
The Historic Main Street in Park City is a shopper’s and art lover’s dream come true. Like the restaurants in this town, the shops cater to a well-off clientele, resulting in dozens of lovely boutiques and art galleries. You’ll find beautiful homegoods stores, clothing boutiques, a well stocked independent bookstore and several galleries.
Park City shopping could take an entire day. During my first visit here in the winter, I did indeed spend several hours strolling Main Street and didn’t even make it to the end. We parked at the top, walked along one side for a while, found a place for lunch, and then returned to our car along the other side of the street.
Enjoy The Views
There are endless opportunities for beautiful views all around Park City and Deer Valley, but for the absolute best ones, take a chair lift up to the top of a mountain. The chair lift operations are limited in the summer, but a few are kept open year round at Park City, Canyons Village and Deer Valley.
Since we were staying in Deer Valley we opted to take the Sterling Express to the top of Bald Mountain. I was a bit shocked at the price of $22 a person, but I’ll admit the views were worth it. (I also understand why many hikers hike up, avoid the fee, and take the lift down for no charge.) I even liked the ride up and down which gave me the chance to watch dozens of bikers speeding down the trails.
Most of the chair lift riders are mountain bikers who immediately ride back down. While we were at the top there were just a few other families enjoying the view with us, so it was a very peaceful experience.
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Eat Great Food
Park City restaurants could compete with any larger city and win. This town attracts a wealthy clientele, and local chefs have responded with top-notch cuisine. Of particular note is Bill White who owns eight dining establishments here and supplies much of their produce from his farm nearby. I’ve eaten at three of his places; Grappa, Wahso and Chimayo, and all are excellent.
Deer Valley restaurants are also excellent and often include a mountain view. However, not all the restaurants here are open during the summer, so be sure to check online for availability.
We especially enjoyed dinner on the deck at Glitretind in the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley. Both the views and the food were perfect. Since this lodge is named for the famous Nordic skier, the menu includes Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes, gravy and lingonberries. With my Swedish and Norwegian heritage I had to order this dish, and it was both delicious and authentic.
Deer Valley Hotels
Deer Valley offers dozens of high-end options for accommodations. We selected the Chateaux at Deer Valley and could not have been happier. This elegant hotel offers a warm and inviting decor, friendly staff and many amenities. After hiking in the heat, we cooled off in the pool each afternoon. Our room included a full breakfast buffet in their restaurant which was delicious. And anytime we wanted to explore Park City without moving our own car, we took their shuttle.