Go West, All of You
By Jana Seitz
Sometimes a young woman has to go West, way West, where the air is dry as a bone and rain is but a memory. I grew a set of gills this summer to survive our Rye weather but re-adapted them to lungs on a trip to Utah in August. It’s amazing how quickly the body remembers, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution unfolding before your eyes.
My West was Deer Valley, where my parents wisely purchased a place 25 years ago to escape the oppressive heat and humidity of Louisiana summers. I’ve skied there many times, but I hadn’t done the summer thing since they bought it.
In the early ‘90s, our family spent a couple of weeks driving around The West on a Griswold Family Vacation in search of our cool dry spot in the world. My parent’s specs included access by commercial airline from Dallas, a destination airport within a beer’s distance to the house and a good medical facility nearby. My cousin had been thrown in the back of a borrowed station wagon for transport when she broke her leg skiing Taos, and Mom chose never to repeat that experience. That was in the Seventies, when skiing was still a bit rustic. Much has changed and improved in a quarter century, but the best bits, developed by Mother Nature millions of years ago, remain unchanged.
You can research your fingers off about where to stay and what to do in the Deer Valley/Park City area, but I’d like to get you started with some “Things to Do” my family has collected over the years.
* Summer concerts at Deer Valley are pure joy. The freebies are on Wednesday at 5 p.m. and can get crowded, but big-name acts and the Utah Symphony play all summer too and begin at 7 p.m. Go early to place your blanket by the stage, then take the funicular up to the St. Regis for a cocktail or early dinner on the patio. Walk the gentle slope behind the hotel back down to your spot just before the show starts. (www.deervalley.com)
* Hiking and biking trails abound. I don’t bike mountains, but I do love a good hike. Our tried-and-true is from Silver Lake Village at Deer Valley to the top of Bald Mountain. When you think you’ve topped out, keep going a few hundred yards past the thing that looks like a drive-in movie screen to the highest point for the 360-degree view. Take the lift down for lunch on the patio of the Royal Street Café or Stein Eriksen Lodge. (www.deervalley.com)
* The Alpine Coaster in Park City is super fun with kids, better than the Alpine Slide but you can do both in a morning. Arrive at the base of the mountain just before the ticket office opens at 10 to avoid lines and the heat of the afternoon.
* Sundance is only 35 miles south of Park City and well worth the trip. Do the Stewart Falls hike and lunch at the Foundry Grill (make reservations). Add on a zipline experience (top choice: the last Bear Claw Tour of the day) and have fun till last light. Stay for the excellent summer theater if you have the energy.
* Rent a boat on the Jordanelle Reservoir (10 miles east of Park City) to water ski or wakeboard with mountains in the background. Way too crowded on weekends.
* Raft the Weber River (35 miles north). Drive to the put-in rather than go in the outfitter’s van. Super gentle “white water,” an easy float through gorgeous land. Fine for all ages and stages. (www.allseasonsadventures.com)
* Head to the Homestead Resort for hot springs on a cool evening (18 miles south). Make reservations in advance. The Crater is a geothermal spring hidden in a 55-foot tall, beehive-shaped limestone rock. A hole at the top of the dome lets in sunlight and fresh air while the interior stays at a constant range of 90-96 degrees. (www.homesteadresort.com)
* Fourth of July Fun: watch the parade on Main Street in downtown Park City and visit the rodeo in Oakley (17 miles east) the first week of July. (www.oakleycity.com
* For iconic Utah scenery, drive to Moab (240 miles south with 80 mph zones) to see Arches National Park. Hit a bit of Dead Horse Point State Park en route to get your bearings, check into the Gonzo Inn in Moab to cool off in the pool, then drive through Arches in the afternoon, hiking to the Delicate Arch just before sunset, giving yourself an hour and a half to walk in. You can drive the whole park to its circular drive end before, stopping wherever you want for short walks to the sites. Hike out of Delicate Arch just after sunset and watch the stars take center stage.
Paddling the Weber River
Cooling off on the Sundance hike
Arches National Park in Moab
Fun in the Jordanelle
Atop Bald Mountain at Deer Valley
Mountain meadow delights
Ziplining at Sundance