SoCal colleague’s question: My wife and I are taking our kids (two teens, one tween) to Deer Valley for a weekend. It’s the first time we’ll be there outside of ski season. What do you recommend?
This would make for a really nice (and really dense, which in my book means really nice) weekend:
- Get an early start and drive west down I-80, through Salt Lake City to I-15 southbound. After 20 or so miles take the Alpine/Highland exit (284) and head east up American Fork Canyon.
- Optional stop at Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Earliest entry is 7:30 and the visit takes 3-3.5 hours. Advance reservations recommended.
- Continue up the canyon on the scenic Alpine Loop to the back of Mount Timpanogos, imagine what all of this looks like in the fall when the aspen and scrub oak are ablaze in color, and plan your autumn return trip.
- Stop at Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort. If you didn’t go to Timp Cave (and if all the kids meet age/weight requirements) consider the zipline tour, which boasts the biggest vertical drop and some of the longest spans in the country. If you did Timp Cave and pass on the zipline, at least ride up Ray’s Chairlift for one of the region’s best views. Lunch at the Foundry Grill, or grab some deli sandwiches and scrumptious cookies for the lift.
- At the base of Sundance Canyon you enter Provo Canyon. Go right/west a couple of miles to see Bridal Veil Falls, then u-turn back up Provo Canyon to Deer Creek Reservoir.
- If your kids are interested in water skiing / wake boarding — and especially if they’ve never tried — I suggest arranging for Wasatch Watersports to meet you at Deer Creek for an unforgettable afternoon of turnkey, first-class boating and instruction. They provide absolutely everything from snacks to top-of-the-line gear — including plenty of 3mm neoprene, because the water will be chilly this time of year. Just bring your swimsuits and your enthusiasm, and you won’t be disappointed.
- You can get from Deer Creek to Deer Valley on Highway 189 through Heber, but the fun shortcut is up Pine Canyon Road (northwesternmost corner of Midway, by the golf course) and over Empire Pass. Time, energy and sunlight permitting, you can even make the short side trip over to lovely Cascade Springs, by turning left/west just north of Deer Creek as you head toward Midway. If you’re ready for dinner, Tarahumara in Midway has the most raidable fresh salsa bar I’ve ever raided. Or eat dinner later when you…
- Hang out on Park City’s Main Street.
- Take it easy in Deer Valley / Park City: Maybe bike some of the lift-accessed trails (there are routes for all abilities up there and plenty of options for rentals) or hike one of the area’s many trails (my kids like the Freemason Loop), and then catch the Stein Eriksen Lodge’s Sunday Brunch – which is truly epic, a word that gets thrown around a lot, especially at the resorts, so I don’t use it lightly.
- Take a drive up Mirror Lake Highway. Gorgeousness to spare up there: Provo River Falls, many roadside trail heads, numerous lakes, etc. If you’re interested in paddling around a bit, a Park City outfitter can set you up with a canoe and life jackets, but keep in mind that these lakes are at 10,000+ feet, so lingering winter ice may make some unnavigable. Call the Kamas Ranger Station for conditions. In any case, these aren’t swimming holes this early in the season; they’re hypothermia guarantees, so be cautious.
Afternoon / Evening
Several thrillier options in the immediate Park City vicinity can help end your visit with a bang:
- At the Utah Olympic Park you can ride the summer bobsled (with a professional driver) on the actual Olympic track, tube down the landing slopes of the actual Olympic ski jumps, and more.
- The base of the Park City resort has a locals-favorite alpine slide, a mountain coaster, a zipline, and other activities.
- Swim, snorkel or even scuba at the thermal spring-fed Midway Crater.