Escape in Park City
CITY, Utah - My hands clutched the bars tightly with great trepidation
as I lifted up into the blue skies, my hair blowing freely against
the soothing wind, a relief on this hot summer day. I must have been
several hundred feet above the ground by now. The only comfort was
the cushioning of the greenery that appeared to wrap around me as
my chairlift reached the top of the mountain. This was nothing compared
to the task ahead, when I was positioned in a canvas seat attached
to a cable line with my knees bent and my feet flat against a door.
HOMES - Founded as a silver-mining town in 1869, Park City, Utah,
now boasts three world-class mountain resorts. CNS Photo courtesy
of the Park City Chamber/Visitors Bureau.
heart started to pound and a rush of excitement overcame me as the
door quickly opened. I sped 50 mph on one of the world's steepest
ziplines at Utah's Olympic Park. That was probably the longest minute
that I have ever experienced. I must say that my fears were somewhat
allayed when I saw several children and free-spirited seniors gleefully
zoom down the mountain before me.
Now that I earned my stripes, I decided to go for another run on the
zipline, but this time I lost my momentum and got stuck toward the
end of the run, suspended in midair. I waited patiently until I was
hooked in with a long pole, similar to the theater when they pull
in the performer who was just heckled by the audience.
This is just one of several exhilarating rides available for visitors
during the summer months at Olympic Park. Another thriller is the
Quick Silver Alpine Slide positioned on a steel track, the first of
its kind in North America. Unfortunately, I didn't get to experience
this one. For those a bit more daring, there is the bobsled ride that
goes up to 70 mph, the equivalent of a 40-story drop in just over
You don't have to zoom down a mountain to enjoy Park City, though
some of the best snowboarding and skiing can be experienced here in
the winter. There are also plenty of other activities for people who
want to stay on terra firma. Once an old mining town 100 years ago,
Park City is now posh and hip, and offers 365 miles of hiking and
biking trails to be enjoyed during the warmer months.
MA, NO HANDS - The Xtreme Zip goes 50 mph on one of the world's
steepest ziplines. The ride is available during the summer months
at the Olympic Park. CNS Photo courtesy of Mark Maziarz.
first day in Park City, after acclimating to the change of altitude,
I enjoyed a hike along the Historic Rail Trail passing purple Indian
paint brush and open fields with free-standing sculptures made from
scraps of metal and wood by local artist Kranny. The hike also consisted
of a treasure hunt using two GPS monitors to guide us to the hidden
box, which we found two hours later.
Potter, my consummate hike leader from the Mountain Trails Foundation,
a non-profit organization involved in building and preserving trails,
was passionate about her life and work in Park City. Carol's daughter,
who passed away two years ago, was very active in the community and
was a major influence in Carol coming here from Michigan. However,
Carol never left Park City because of the wealth of activities, her
job and the friendliness of the people who keep her tied to the town.
a real town, with a real sense of community," she said. "We have 167
non-profits with a population of 7,000 people within the city perimeter."
She further affirmed the environmental consciousness of the people.
"Any new development must have public trails for biking and hiking,"
Though a great place to visit during the summer, it can get quite
hot during midday. However, such activities as boating on the Jodancele
or Echo Reservoir can be a great way to combat the heat.
It's difficult to visit Park City without being active, but there
are diversions for the voyeur or those who prefer being an observer
versus a participant, from museums and gallery hopping to music and
film screenings. Yes, there is time to relax. One can also get some
R&R with many of the spas available throughout the town.
At Olympic Park, visitors can take in the weekly Saturday aerial freestyle
show, where skiers and snowboarders soar, spin and somersault 60 feet
into the air in a choreographed spectacular. These athletes held me
spellbound as they performed acrobatic feats before landing into a
750,000-gallon splash pool.
After viewing this memorable performance, I visited the adjacent ski
and Olympic Museums, where I saw a documentary on the travails of
one of the Olympic athletes who competed here in the Winter Olympics
of 2002. His saga of perseverance and fortitude was quite inspiring
and gave me an insider's view on what it takes to be a world-class
competitor. The winners' medals, trophies and photographs were also
on display upstairs.
For art lovers, Aug. 5 and 6 is the annual Kimball Arts Festival.
Main Street becomes strewn with local artisans showcasing their wares
from jewelry to pottery, paintings and sculptures. Also, the last
Friday of each month features gallery strolls amid some of the 23
local galleries, while sipping a glass of wine along the art route.
One of the activities that I most enjoyed was sitting stargazed outside
in the fresh mountain air listening to the Utah Symphony at Opera's
Deer Valley Music Festival, held on the scenic slopes of Deer Valley,
just a short ride from the town center in the Rocky Mountain's Wasatch
Range. The monthlong event showcases the classics to the pops, featuring
such talents as Natalie Cole, Etta James and George Benson.
The night I was there, I heard clarinetist Kenny G in concert accompanied
by a full orchestra under a sculptured, white, tentlike stage, creating
a dramatic, futuristic setting in the midst of nature's backdrop.
I also experienced one of the best gourmet picnic meals, created by
Deer Valley Resort. Note that these delectable dishes can be ordered
72 hours in advance. Lodging is also available in the area at hotels
and private homes throughout Deer Valley and its surroundings.
On my second night, I arrived just in time to see a free film sponsored
by the Sundance Film Festival, projected on a big screen at the gazebo
in the city park. Families with young children and couples were seated
on comfy blankets and lounge chairs enjoying the outdoor event.
Apart from all the cultural and physical activities available during
the summer in Park City, I savored exceptional cuisine at some world-class
restaurants, one of which was Wahso, the creation of mega-restaurateur
Bill White. With an artistically presented Asian fusion menu, Wahso
goes over the top in creativity and flavors that linger on the palate,
bringing the customer to pure ecstasy. The crispy Kurabuto pork with
Yuzu peaches, the Asian green salad and a melt-in-your-mouth ahi tuna
tartare were memorable selections. Wahso was recently selected as
one of Fodor's 10 best restaurants in the world. For Italian food,
Grappa's is a winner, as is Chenez for outstanding French cuisine.
Chenez's specialties include a braised rabbit with Dijon and thyme
and a roasted quail with black current, and port and red wine sauce.
Reservations are requested. This pricey establishment lives up to
Even dogs live in luxury and receive TLC in Park City, aka Bark City.
There is everything from canine massage to chiropractic and holistic
care for one's precious pooch. Cloud 10's Lorine Hoffer, a massage
therapist for both people and pets, recognizes a growing need here
for her canine services.
"This is without a doubt a dog-friendly town, and people love to pamper
their pets since they are an integral part of the family," Hoffer
Whether one is a four-legged or two-legged creature, Park City provides
a fun-filled and relaxing weekend or week's getaway during the summer
months, and then some.
IF YOU GO
Location: Park City is located 36 miles from Salt Lake International
Airport. Information: Visit www.parkcityinfo.com
Deer Valley Resort reservations and information: Call 435-649-1000.
Park City fine dining:
Wahso: 577 Main St., 435-615-0300.
Grappa: 151 Main St., 435-645-0626.
Chenez: 710 Lower Main St., 435-940-1909.
The Eating Establishment: 317 Main St., 435-649-8284.
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