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AARP’s City Guide to Park City, Utah

Plan a trip to this year-round escape for phenomenal fly-fishing, whiskey and wine tasting, and — of course — amazing winter activities

spinner image two striking images of Park City UT as Polaroids
DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images; Kruck20/Getty Images

Utah trademarked the phrase “The Greatest Snow on Earth,” so it’s no surprise that Park City is best known for winter sports, specifically skiing. And yes, the winter months offer limitless adventures, from downhill skiing at two of the country’s top ski-only resorts to snowmobiling, dogsledding and snowshoeing. But there are three more seasons when the destination shines with other activities, such as mountain biking the trails of one of the few International Mountain Bike Association Gold-Level Ride Centers in North America, fly fishing blue-ribbon rivers within 30 minutes of town and hiking picturesque trails. And this is the rare mountain town where culture abounds. The historic Main Street district has 47 buildings that date to the town’s founding in 1884 and are now filled with independent boutiques, bars, art galleries and restaurants. 

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How to Prepare for Your Trip to Park City

When to go 

December through February are peak ski months. Spring is shoulder season but can still deliver great snow with lower rates on hotels. Tourists return for summer. Fall is unicorn season: a golden backdrop plus idyllic weather for nearly every imaginable activity and few crowds. 

spinner image sunset over park city utah in the fall
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Before you go 

Park City sits at around 7,000 feet above sea level, so plan to acclimate to the altitude by drinking lots of water and easing into activities. Layers are always advised in the mountains, no matter the season. Advance reservations for lift tickets can save you money, and restaurant reservations are recommended during busier months. If you’re staying downtown, you might not need a rental car since public transportation is easy, efficient and free. (All Park City Transit buses are ADA accessible.)

Getting there 

The newly expanded Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) makes it easier than ever to get to Park City, and an additional 22 gates are on schedule to open this year. It’s a 35-minute straight shot from the airport to town via Uber, Lyft or shared shuttle services such as Canyon Transportation. If you plan to stick to the slopes and downtown area, there’s no reason to rent a car, thanks to the city’s fantastic public transit system. 

Where to Stay

Treasure Mountain Inn

Downtown Park City puts visitors in the heart of the action and provides easy access to the ski mountain. Set at the top of historic Main Street, the moderate to expensive Treasure Mountain Inn is a short walk or complimentary shuttle ride to the slopes (shuttle offered through April 7, 2023). All 56 suites and condos have full kitchens, and cafés and restaurants are just steps away. Note: Junior suites do not offer elevator access. The two-bed condos are great for families and can accommodate four adults and two kids. The property is carbon neutral and charges a 1 percent fee to help preserve Utah’s wilderness. ​

Washington School House Hotel ​

Splurge at this renovated 19th-century schoolhouse overlooking the middle of town. The hotel has the feel of a high-end B&B — 12 luxurious rooms are furnished with European antiques and feature marble baths. An antler chandelier decorated with crystals hangs in the lounge area, where après-ski snacks are served fireside in winter. Breakfast is a serious affair with French press coffee and made-from-scratch specialties sourced by local purveyors. After a day on the trails or slopes, enjoy a soak in the hillside hot tub.​

Stein Eriksen Lodge 

Utah’s finest five-star hotel and spa, Stein Eriksen Lodge transports guests to Europe with its refined, chalet-style accommodations. Located mid-mountain at skiers-only Deer Valley Resort, this iconic property can curate exclusive experiences for guests, such as the opportunity to ski with an Olympic athlete for the day. Relax and unwind in the two heated pools or the hot tubs or at the award-winning spa. Try the Fireside Toast, an exfoliating whiskey scrub, and arrive early to use the sauna, steam rooms, and hot and cold plunge baths. Movie lovers will enjoy the new accessible 42-seat cinema, which screens recent hits and classics.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Park City – The Yarrow 

Less than a mile from the ski resort and five minutes from Main Street, The Yarrow is a more affordable option downtown. Some of the rooms have fireplaces and kitchenettes. The restaurant, 1800 Park, and outdoor heated pool both offer views of the Wasatch Mountain Range. Vertical Lounge, a sports bar with craft beer on tap and a menu of mountain-style pub food, is popular with both visitors and locals. The free Park City Transit System stops right outside the hotel and makes it easy to get around.

The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Collections Resort 

This property caters to a well-heeled crowd that values privacy and nature above the buzz and convenience of downtown. Located less than 30 minutes from the slopes and historic Main Street, the 3,500-acre property feels like a destination within a destination, boasting its own stables, a whiskey distillery and a fantastic spa. The 46 rooms and suites are within three minutes of the heart of the resort, which is home to a yoga studio, an infinity pool and a stellar restaurant, Yuta. Hike, snowshoe, fat bike and Nordic ski on property. Access to the slopes is easy, thanks to a private shuttle and exclusive Blue Sky Ski Lounge at the base of Park City Mountain Resort. 

What to Do

Everyone knows about the amazing skiing, but once the snow melts, there’s plenty more fun to be had. 

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Hit the trails

spinner image mcpolin farmhouse at dawn from mcpolin farmhouse trail in park city utah
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There are hundreds of miles of trails around Park City suited to all fitness levels. The McPolin Farm Nature Trail is a gentle 1.75-mile paved loop that passes the McPolin Barn, a Park City landmark, and winds through aspen groves. Prefer the knowledge of a guide? All Seasons Adventures is a popular option for customized hikes. Save your knees by opting for a lift-served route where you can ride the chairlift down, or double-dip and request a bird-watching-focused hike (from $150).

Explore on two wheels​

Park City’s cycling community embraces all types of bikes: road, mountain, gravel, fat tire and even e-bikes. Mountain bikers will find 450-plus miles of public trails ranging from beginner-friendly Round Valley Loop to the Wasatch Crest Bike Trail. In winter, fat tire bikes can hit the snowy 10.5-loop at the Spring Creek trailhead off Glenwild Drive and designated sections of trail in Round Valley. Road cyclists looking for a nonmotorized route should tackle the Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail, a 28-mile path from Park City to Echo Reservoir. It’s worth stopping to read the historic plaques along the trail that highlight everything from the excavation of Ice Age mammoths to the life of early Mormon settlers. Dozens of sports shops in town offer rentals, including Pedego Park City and Jans. 

Make a splash

The mountains steal the spotlight, but the Park City area is also home to lakes, rivers and reservoirs perfect for paddling and rafting. Take an exhilarating rafting, kayaking or tubing ride on the white waters of the Weber and Provo rivers. Outfitters like Utah Outdoor Adventures, Park City Rafting and Destination Sports and Adventures offer guided kayak and rafting tours. For a mellow float, rent river tubes from Barefoot Tubing and hit the Weber River. 

spinner image autumn at provo river park city utah
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Go fish

Two Blue Ribbon fly-fishing rivers — the Provo and the Weber — are located within 15 minutes of downtown, and you can fish both year-round. In spring, ski in the morning, then cast for rainbow and brown trout on the Lower Provo in the afternoon. The summer Green Drake hatch on the middle section of the Provo River is legendary. Trout are still biting through fall, and the cold months offer some of Utah’s best dry fly-fishing on the tailwater sections of the Provo and Weber. Get geared up at Trout Bum 2 fly shop or family-run Park City Outfitters. If you’ve never fished these waters, local guides know everything about the hatches and fish habits. Book a guided trip with Park City Fly Fishing (half-day wade trip, $315 for one person; half-day float trip from $550 per boat) or Provo River Guides (half-day wade trip, $275). 

Get a bird’s-eye view of town

There’s no better way to take in the majesty of the mountains than with a hot-air balloon ride. Each season offers its own magical views, such as snowcapped peaks and wildflower-covered meadows. Bigfoot Balloons offers hourlong sunrise flights that ascend about 1,500 feet. Private trips end with a champagne toast, making them a great option for special occasions; prices start at $400 for a shared flight. 

Take a scenic drive 

Numerous byways around Park City offer gorgeous views of the mountains, meadows and forest. For impressive views of majestic Mount Timpanogos, try the Wolf Creek Highway Pass east of town. The paved highway has several pullouts where you can stop, stretch and enjoy the expansive views of meadows teeming with wildflowers in the summer. Note: Many of the roads within the state forests are closed during the winter months.

Where to Eat in Park City

Park City’s dining scene has truly come into its own in recent years with an eclectic mix of eateries serving everything from casual alpine bistro classics to high-end French-inspired fare. 

Glitretind at Stein Eriksen Lodge dazzles with seasonal menus featuring dishes such as Utah lamb chop with mint jelly and beef tenderloin with heirloom carrots from the chef’s garden. 

After shuttering in 2020, local downtown favorite Tupelo recently reopened in a larger space on Kearns Boulevard featuring an open kitchen and a chef’s counter. The menu remains rooted in the principles of slow food and farm-to-table cooking, but now puts an emphasis on comfort food with new dishes like elk Bolognese with local mushrooms and roasted trout with duck-fat potatoes. Loyalists will be thrilled to see the return of hits like the buttermilk biscuits. Tupelo also has one of the best cellars in the state, stocked with cult California cabs and grand cru Burgundies. 

French wine aficionados should be sure to score a reservation at Courchevel Bistro, a Talisker Club eatery set within the historic Coal and Lumber building on Main Street. The wine program has been honored for three consecutive years with awards from Wine Spectator, and the creative cocktails, like the Nordic negroni (Brennivín aquavit, Campari, Dolin Rouge, lemon twist), are equally impressive. Chef Clement Gelas hails from France’s Rhône valley and puts an American twist on classic French dishes with creations such as tartiflette spiked with Niman Ranch pork belly and his take on steak frites (bison rib eye and duck-fat fries). 

No trip to Park City is complete without a drink at High West Distillery. The saloon is uniquely situated at the bottom of Park City Resort’s Quittin’ Time ski run and next to the Town Lift, making it a prime spot for après-ski. And the food is just as spectacular as the whiskey cocktails. At the walk-ins-only Saloon, appetizers like smoked chicken wings are great for sharing, and the mains, like a burger with bacon onion jam and bison tacos, are made for soaking up boozy drinks. The owners renovated the historic Nelson Cottage, two doors away, and now offer a prix fixe dinner menu ($95) with optional whiskey pairings (from $50) Wednesday through Sunday. 

During the winter months, Empire Canyon Lodge in Deer Valley offers Fireside Dining ($110). A true culinary experience rooted in European alpine tradition, the four-course meal includes raclette cheese and roasted leg of lamb served straight from stone fireplaces. Tip: Wednesday through Saturday, predinner horse-drawn sleigh rides can be booked by reservation.

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Tee off

When the snow melts, Park City becomes a haven for golfers. Fourteen courses lie within 30 minutes of downtown, all with unbeatable scenery and challenging fairways. The par-70 Canyons public course features over 550 feet of elevation gain across its 18 holes, and players age 65 and older pay a discounted green fee ($85). The fairways of the public par-72 Park City course are located just off Main Street, and fees are discounted for Utah residents (nonresidents, $76 with cart and $60 walking). The Mountain and Lake courses at Wasatch Mountain State Park are an incredible value, especially considering the scenery (the golden hues of fall should not be missed). The Lake Course is flat and wide open, while the narrow Mountain Course challenges players with loads of elevation change (Monday through Thursday, $55 with cart, $50 for age 65 and older; Friday through Sunday, $60 with cart).

Ways to save: The free Park City Transit System stops at the Park City and Canyons golf courses.

Feel the Olympic spirit

Brush up on your Olympic history with a guided tour of Utah Olympic Park. The nearly 400-acre venue was built for the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games and hosted the bobsled, skeleton, luge and Nordic combined events. With Utah bidding to host the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games, it could soon be full of fans again. For now, you can visit crowd-free. It’s well worth booking a one-hour guided tour ($15; $12 for age 65 and older), which includes a shuttle ride to the top of the world’s highest Nordic ski jump.

Ways to save: Admission to the Alf Engen Ski Museum and the Eccles 2002 Winter Olympic Games Museum, both inside the Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center, is free and both venues are wheelchair accessible. 

​Art appreciation

Park City’s historic Main Street is lined with art galleries. Among them are the Meyer Gallery, which showcases a broad range of styles in a historic former bank, and Park City Fine Art, which specializes in regional-inspired paintings and sculptures. The Kimball Art Center, one of Park City’s oldest nonprofits, displays the work of both local and internationally renowned artists in its four gallery spaces at the YARD; entry is free. The center also hosts art classes and workshops as well as complimentary art talks.

Ways to save: The Last Friday Gallery Stroll at the end of every month is a free event where 15 galleries open their doors from 6 to 9 p.m. and offer light refreshments and often special exhibits.

Get a history lesson

Learn about the area’s rich mining history at the Park City Museum, housed partly in the historic City Hall. Highlights of the permanent exhibition include climbing into an original car from the world’s only “skier subway” to watch a film on Park City’s transition from mining to a ski town and visiting the original territorial jail in the basement. All three floors can be accessed by elevator, and wheelchairs are available on a first-come basis. Admission is $15; $11 for seniors. 

Ways to save: City buses are free, and the Park City Museum is just across the street from the Public Transit Center. If you drive, parking on Swede Alley is free with a four-hour limit until 5 p.m. The museum offers free entry on select days throughout the year (check the website events calendar). 

spinner image skiers picking out gear at deer valley resort in park city utah
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Play in the snow

For both novice and expert winter sports enthusiasts, Park City Mountain spans 7,300 acres, offers more than 330 trails and is the largest ski resort in the United States. Ritzy Deer Valley Resort features immaculately groomed slopes and offers fancy touches like overnight ski storage and a valet to escort you to the base. Downhill gets all the attention, but Park City is a mecca for Nordic ski and snowshoe enthusiasts. White Pine Nordic Center has more than 12 miles of groomed trails for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and fat biking (day passes are $24, $12 for seniors and free for “super” seniors 75 or older). 

Ways to save: A one-day ticket purchased at the Park City Mountain can cost more than $200. For the best deals, purchase tickets online and in advance through the Park City or Deer Valley websites; both offer senior discounts. 

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