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Story and photos by Yvette Cardozo   February 1, 2012


So you need a break from skiing. Or something for the non-skier in the family.

Sleep in late? Read a good book? Soak in the hot tub?

In Park City, Utah?

Never ... not with all the active off-slope stuff to do.

  alpine coaster at Park City   sled dog   whiskey_tasting  

Riding the Alpine Coaster at Park City Mountain Resort. This is an actual rollercoaster set into the side of a mountain. People sit on contoured open seat with seat belts. The cars (two people to a car) are pulled up the mountain via cable, then come down via gravity along a twisting track. Braking is controlled by the riders.


Closeup of sled dog getting ready for a run in a rural area outside Park City, Utah. The dogs are mostly an Alaskan husky mix. They are bred to run, enjoy it immensely and, in fact, become depressed if they can't run. These dogs are part of All Seasons Adventures, a Park City company that specializes in soft adventure travel.


Highwest bar Whiskey tasting at High West. Photo by High West.



Yes, most of it involves snow and getting outdoors. But that's what you came to the mountains for, isn't it? And, honestly, an amazing number of people who go to ski resorts never even ski.


The dogs in harness know what's coming. They howl and jump with excitement. And when Racer Gibson yells, "Go," they erupt in a blur of pounding paws and wagging tails.

We're 15 miles from Park City's Main Street, out in a wilderness of thin brush, going up and down gentle hills, emerging finally onto an open frozen reservoir.

  sled dogs licking musher   dog team pulling sled   huskies  

Sled dog guide prepares his dogs for a run in a rural area outside Park City, Utah

  Dogs pull sled on a run in a rural area outside Park City  

Dogteam in the woods. Photo by All Seasons Adventures


The hour ride is a great intro to doggie transport. The dogs are Alaskan huskies, meaning long, lean, mutt-looking pups who have running in their genes. More than half of All Seasons Adventures' dogs were rescued, "death row dogs from the shelter," Racer explains.

For him, the pack is family. They sleep in his house ... sometimes all 15 at once. He is careful not to overweight the sleds ... he's got a max sled load so the dogs won't be stressed.

And at the end, best of all, you get to feed each dog a puppy treat. A great trip for families with kids.

All Seasons Adventures -

Prices vary according to number of people.

  Bobsled   Visitors have fun pretending they are on a bobsled ride at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. This is the only bobsled track open to the public where you can ride from the very top of the actual Olympic Run. There are four people to a sled with a professional pilot controlling the sled, which reaches 80 mph (130 kph) with up to 5 Gs of force.  

"This will be the longest 50 seconds of your life," said Bill Lesar during the orientation class for the bobsled run.

I've done a bobsled run. I know he speaks the truth.

This, however, is bobsled on steroids. The bobsled run in Park City is the one they used for the Olympics. And this is the only place in North America where you can do the entire Olympic track from the very top ... 8/10th of a mile at 90 mph with 5 Gs pressing you down.

"Like five of your friends sitting on your shoulders," Lesar added cheefully.

The clinic teaches you how to sit and how to hold yourself so you won't get a stiff neck. There's a pro controlling the thing, so you're simply along for the ride. And what a ride ... you bounce up and down and sideways all at once, you sit with your head against someone's back. About all you see is a whir of white ice in your peripheral vision. But in the end, what bragging rights! And you get a special medal. The public program here also offers skeleton ... the one where you're face down on a cafeteria tray, your chin inches from the ice ... though this is at a relatively sane 40 mph. In 12 years and 10,000 people, including an 84-year-old woman, they've had only a few injuries. But if you are prone to motion sickness .... Well, I know all about that. Bobsled is $200, skeleton is $50. Utah Olympic Park -

  Riding the Alpine Coaster at Park City Mountain Resort. This is an actual rollercoaster set into the side of a mountain. People sit on contoured open seat with seat belts. The cars (two people to a car) are pulled up the mountain via cable, then come down via gravity along a twisting track. Braking is controlled by the riders.   Alpine coaster  

If the bobsled is all about body bashing and G forces and whizzing white, the Alpine Coaster at Park City Mountain Resort is a real roller coaster set on a hill, twisting through the trees.

You sit on what looks like a contoured tray with a seat belt, max two people to a car. The car is ratcheted up the mountain, just like the run up of a coaster. Then, at the top, you release the brake (you get to control your speed with a set of handles at your hips) and start your one mile curving journey through the trees and mounds of snow. There are 17 curves that drop 1,200 feet, banking and twisting all the way. The whole thing is over in less than 10 minutes. Sadly.

But they give you the second ride for half price.

Park City Mountain Resort Alpine Coaster, $20.


  Tubing   Tubing  

Children enjoy tubing at Gorgoza Park, Park City. Photo by Dan Campbell and Park City Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

Tubing at Gorgoza Park outside Park City, Utah. People ride giant truck innertubes down snow chutes on a hill. To make it more exciting, some families link their tubes together by holding onto each other and sliding down in a mad, twirling jumble.  

Tubing is so retro. So non tech. So fun.

Of course, today you don't have to drag the tube up the hill by yourself. Gorgoza Park has a conveyor belt and a rope tow to get you up. And a bunch of lanes to get you down. The kiddie slope is below ... a good way to get started. And THE place for family videos of you, the kids, the friends in a whirling blur. The upper, 'expert' lanes are of course, way more fun. A lot steeper. A lot faster.

You can go one at a time, sitting in a gigantic truck inner tube. Or like most of the folk here, linked up. One family managed to hold six tubes together, which you do by grabbing the next tube's leash (yeah, they've each got leashes).

The video was beyond giggles.

Gorgoza Park -


  High West Distillery, Park City Utah   View out window of High West Distillery & Saloon, the world's only ski in/ski out distillery. High West makes whiskey and vodka. It is located in downtown Park City. A skier's chairlift can be seen outside the window.  



So, is a saloon really 'winter mountain adventure?"

It is when it's the world's only ski in/ski out bar that makes vodka and whiskey on the side. Yes, you can ski and ride to the place. Both Quit 'N Time and Creole trails at Park City Mountain Resort funnel you into town where you come over a bridge (still on skis or board), then click out and cross a narrow street which dumps you at the distillery's front door.

There's food. There's booze. There are tours at 2 pm, 3 pm and 4 pm daily. You go backstage, so to speak, and get to see the copper pot still and learn just how whiskey and vodka are made. If you're hungry, there are, among other tasties, bourbon and black coffee glazed cod or whiskey cider braised short ribs. And for $20, there's a whiskey tasting which gets you a sampling of High West's unique blends. Some spicy. Some smooth. All intriguing.

High West Distillery -


  Park City Museum display   Park City Museum, mine cars  
  Park City Museum. The actual mine cars that served as the 'skier subway' taking skiers up the mountain during the first years of Park City's ski resort. Then called Treasure Mountain Resort, the 'subway' was used from 1963-1966. Skiers rode the mining car three miles (nearly 5 km) into the mountain, then rode a hoist (miner's elevator) 1,800 feet (550 metres) up to the entrance of the Thaynes shaft, where they could access ski runs. Photos by Park City Museum/ Park City Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau  



While you are threading your merry way through the 100-plus locally owned bars, restaurants, shops and galleries in downtown Park City, don't miss the newly renovated Park City Museum.

Unlike so many man-made ski towns, Park City has real history. Prospectors found silver in 1868 and some mine owners (including the Hearsts) made fortunes. But when silver prices fell and the town faded, it reinvented itself as a ski destination.

The museum covers three floors including a two story cutaway of a miniature working mine. You can "ride" a train into town. You can browse the canned peas and spices lining shelves of the general store. You can see the actual telephone switchboard used in town until, hard to believe, 1964. They've got one of the original ski gondolas hanging from the ceiling.

But best of all is the basement, where you can sit in the actual "skier subway." For three years after the hill opened in 1963, skiers got up the hill by first riding 2.5 miles into the mountain on an actual mine car, then up 1,750 feet via hoist (think small elevator), finally emerging at the entrance to Thaynes shaft.

Nearby is what's left of the actual territorial jail, where you can peek into cells and learn about labor union battles with the mines. Do NOT miss the video "mugshots," on a table. Each page has a video of a different criminal, explaining his history and his fate. It's so realistic, you feel like you could shake his hand.



Park City -

Utah Outdoor Adventures -

Airport Shuttle -


What Utah does best in the skiing world is variety. Less than an hour's drive from Salt Lake City, there are seven resorts, three of them in Park City alone. And each of the Park City areas has its own personality.

Deer Valley is, of course, still tops at ski deluxe. The cruising runs are groomed to perfection. And while it has the most beginner terrain, the days when it had only hero snow for CEOs who ski a week a year are long gone. There are now six mountains, 21 lifts, 100 runs and a couple of expert bowls that will curl the hair on your chest, (if you have such). Deer Valley doesn't allow snowboarders.

Park City Mountain Resort is the original, with the most wide open intermediate terrain, but also a bit of everything for everybody in seven "mountain zones," each with its own feel. Sixteen lifts and 114 trails serve 3,300 acres. But what makes this place stand out is the history. Old mining equipment, huge ore bins and mine shaft entries still dot the runs and you can take a history tour that explains it all. Then, at the end of the day, you can ski right into the heart of Park City's old town.

Canyons has grown the most, from barely more than a local hill to Utah's largest ski resort with 4,000 acres, 19 lifts, 182 trails and some of the widest variety of expert terrain in the area. When the rest of Park City teems with bodies, the new Iron Mountain area is practically deserted and has a variety from intermediate to bouncing bump runs through the trees.

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