If you’re like me, Park City’s scenery and vibe never really get old. Yet one of the best aspects of Park City is its accessibility. In less than a two hour drive, you can be in a completely different place. It helps get rid of that travel bug many of us get after a long winter. Grab a friend, a full tank of gas, some good music or an audiobook, a few road trip snacks and head out on one of my favorite day trips from Park City.
Sundance Mountain Resort has it all. As a community it is a place for the arts, recreation, and a deep commitment to preserving natural spaces. Wintertime will find a quaint ski resort for both alpine and cross-country skiing, plus plenty of snowshoe trails for those who enjoy their winter activities at a slower pace.
Summertime might be even more action-packed than Winter. Mountain biking, fly fishing and hiking are just a few of the summer activities going on. There are outdoor concerts, a summer theatre, a visiting artists studio and an author series.
After recreating there is a spa to relax and unwind. The spa offers a variety of body treatments, massages, facials and even treatments for children. Besides recreating and relaxing, one of the most wonderful things about Sundance is the food. The Foundry Grill, the Tree Room and the Owl Bar are excellent places to dine. The Owl Bar features live music on Friday and Saturday nights and can get really lively as the night goes on.
2. Salt Flats
A visit to the Bonneville Salt Flats is like a trip to the moon. The Salt Flats can be found West of the Great Salt Lake, in western Utah. The region covers a large area and looks like a wide-open prairie covered in snow. In fact, the surface is potassium, magnesium lithium and sodium chloride (which is common table salt).
The best place to view the Salt Flats is along I-80. About 10 miles East of Wendover where there is a rest stop with facilities and water. At the rest stop you are able to walk out onto the salty soil and there is a cleaning station to clean shoes after a salty walk. Visitors should stay on established roads or trails. When wet, the area is easily damaged by cars. Plus, the soil can be corrosive to automobiles.
The Bonneville Speedway is located in the western portion of the flats. It is one of the most popular places for speed racing in the world. Racing has been held on the salt flats since 1912 and can be seen each August at Speed Week. This famous event has been canceled in two recent years due to the salt crust not forming correctly. Some are speculating how long it will last, so see it while you can! If you plan to attend Speed Week, don’t forget to take plenty of water, a sturdy hat and sunscreen. Binoculars are also helpful to watch speeding vehicles.
Ogden is located North and a little bit West of Park City, about an hour’s drive. Ogden is tricky to explain. The city can be described as rugged and rustic, yet cool and urban. Rich with pioneer and railroad history, this little city sits right at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains.
Ogden’s number one site would be the historic district that surrounds 25th street. From brew pubs to art galleries to harvest festivals and other events, there are literally 25 things to do on 25th street. If you’re short on time and just want a taste of O-town, a ride along the Ogden River Trail is a must.
The Ogden Nature Center is unique nature experience geared towards families. It is a 152-acre nature preserve and education center that has walking trails, picnic areas and tree houses. The center offers a wide variety of classes and workshops for all ages that include art, photography, birding, outdoor recreation, summer camps and more.
4. Diamond Fork Hot Springs
About an hour and a half south of Park City lies the steaming Diamond Fork Hot Springs (also known as 5th Water). Located outside of the town of Spanish Fork, it is a 2.5-mile moderate hike in to the hot springs. The first half of the trail follows along the 6th Water Creek, with red rocks rising behind. After about a mile you will cross a foot bridge and follow a smaller tributary called 5th Water Creek.
The water will begin to be cobalt blue and there will be the occasional smell of sulfur which means that the hot springs are near by. There are several large soaking pools and water falls so plan plenty of time to explore.
Note that in winter months the road can close due to conditions.
5. Guardsman’s Pass (Seasonal)
For a dramatic drive leading to an even more dramatic view, head to Guardsman’s pass. Open seasonally in the summer, the pass connects Park City to the new open space Bonanza Flats. From there, keep right at the fork for Big Cottonwood Canyon or left for Wasatch State Park and Midway. Keep a careful eye out for colorful wildflowers, wildlife and bikes on the road.
At the pass summit there is a short and steep hike to Bloods Lake. The trail is .6 miles to the lake with about 300 feet of elevation gain/loss. The trail is fairly flat in the beginning and becomes progressively steeper as you approach the lake. In the warmer months the lake is a popular swimming hole for people and their four-legged friends.
6. Antelope Island State Park
Antelope Island is a great way to see the Great Salt Lake and the surrounding mountain ranges. Once on the island there is a variety of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, as well as primitive campsites. The most famous residents are not the antelope, but the bison. The heard now numbers over 500 and is free range, so please drive with caution! Other wildlife includes prong horned antelope and mule deer. Though the island is surrounded by the salty Salt Lake there are over 40 fresh water springs that sustain the island’s animals.
Located on Antelope Island, the Fielding Garr Ranch House is an interesting stop. It is a window back in time to see how settlers lived and ranched the land. The island also contains the Island Buffalo Grill restaurant, the Gonzo boat rental shop and R & G Horse and Wagon guide serve. Check the website as these businesses are open seasonally.
7. Olympic Trio Tour
If you’ve got a day to spare and a keen interest in winter sports, then taking a tour of Olympic facilities is a must. Built for the 2002 Winter Games, there are three facilities to tour: Utah Olympic Park, Soldier Hollow Nordic Center and the Utah Olympic Oval. Though the games are long over, the growing enthusiasm for winter sports has kept these venues busier than ever.
The Utah Olympic Park (the UOP) has a wide range of activities that will please any visitor. Home to a 2002 Winter Games Museum, this is the perfect place to begin your tour. The UOP features a sliding track, 6 Nordic ski jumps, an alpine slide, bobsled track and lots more.
The Soldier Hollow Nordic Center is open year-round. Nestled into the Wasatch Mountain range it is a picturesque home to Nordic skiing and sledding in the winter. It is also a popular golf and events center in the summer.
The Utah Olympic Oval is located just West of Salt Lake City in Kearns, Utah. The five-acre venue contains a 400-meter speed skating oval as well as two ice “rinks” and a 442-meter running track. The facility is dedicated to developing growing participation in ice sports. There are many programs open to the public like ice skating, curling and hockey.
8. City Creek Center
A quick drive from Park City, City Creek is a great destination for shopping and browsing around. In the heart of it all is a fountain with sharply choreographed water shows at the top of every hour. There is also a stream that cuts through the lower level that is filled with Bonneville Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout. Visitors are invited to feed the fish every Saturday at 10:00 a.m. There are elegant restaurants, smoothie bars and chocolate shops to please every palate and the shopping is sensational.
Bonus: looking to add a little sweat to your shop? Check out City Creek Canyon. Just a hop, skip and a jump away from the shopping, you’ll wind up a shady road that is closed off to traffic. Great for dogs on leash, bikes and feet.
9. Thanksgiving Point
A quick hour ride away is the sprawling Thanksgiving Point. There is something for everyone here, but it’s good to know that all museums and attractions are family-friendly. The Museum of Natural Curiosity is a Children’s Museum that can keep you entertained for days.
A short walk from the museum is the Tower Deli with huge sandwiches made on homemade bread. Next to the deli is a bustling Ice Cream Shop with treats to please everyone.
These are just a few of the offerings of Thanksgiving Point, there are huge seasonal festivals, a golf course and much, much more.
10. Mirror Lake Highway
Mirror Lake Highway is a 42-mile scenic Stretch known as State Road 150. It begins in Kamas, Utah (Gateway to the Uintas) and ascends into the Uinta Mountain Range before heading down towards the Wyoming border. The road is dotted with trail heads, water falls, picnic areas, lakes and campgrounds.
Brunch is always a great idea, especially before a day trip through the Uintas. An easy stop in Kamas is the Mirror Lake Diner which offers a large breakfast menu as well as burgers and sandwiches. Other popular options are the Oakley Diner and Woodland Biscuit Company, though a little out of the way. Once sufficiently fueled up, head out into the wilderness. One of our favorite quick stops is Upper Provo Falls. It is well-signed with plenty of parking and facilities.
If you are feeling lucky, head to Wendover, Nevada. As a border town between Utah and Nevada, Wendover has developed into a gambling-friendly resort area that is much more laid back than larger cities like Las Vegas. There are all the amenities that one would expect from a resort town—golf, spas and large concert halls—but on a much smaller scale.
There are a number of concerts held though out the year as well as specialty festivals.
12. Lagoon Amusement Park
Now that my kids are off to college this is less on my mind, but for families there is no shortage of fun at Lagoon. The Lagoon Amusement Park is located about an hour North of Park City off of I-15. Starting in 1886, Lagoon was first known as Lake Park. Visitors could enjoy a dance pavilion, roller-skating, water sports and a bowling alley.
Lagoon has evolved into a full-fledged amusement park complete with roller coasters and water slides. There is an especially scary Frightmares haunted amusement park each year around Halloween that features over 700 spooky attractions.
If you have too much fun at Lagoon to drive home, there are hotels nearby and even camping. Lagoon is open seasonally from March through October.
13. Young Living Farm
Young Living Farm is an iconic lavender farm, located in Mona, Utah. Mona is located just off of I-15 about 90 minutes south of Park City. The farm is where rugged landscape contrasts with fragrant lavender fields to create a place of peace and relaxation. The Visitors Center is open year-round and there are a number of fun events throughout the year.
The annual Lavender Days Festival is held in July to take advantage of the lavender blooming season. There are family fun runs, wagon rides, distillery tours and a rodeo.
14. All of the Sports
Salt Lake isn’t the largest city in the world but we do have some sports teams to boast of. My favorite is Real Salt Lake—our MLS soccer team. Did you know that in 2017 we also got a National Women’s Soccer League team? Check out both teams at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy (a 45 minute drive).
Our other professional team is the Jazz. NBA basketball is exciting to watch, and it was great to see them advance to the Semifinals in the playoffs this year.
Outside of professional sports, a Utah Grizzlies hockey game can’t be beat. The Salt Lake Bees baseball scene is also fun. They have several special events and even a train for those with littles in tow.
About an hour North of Park City is the picturesque town of Huntsville. Huntsville is home to two ski resorts, Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. Both resorts offer expansive ski terrain and can be described as “off the beaten path.”
Snowbasin opens for the summer season June 9, and has events throughout the summer like outdoor concerts, outdoor dining, free movie nights and mid-week mountain bike races.
In the heart of Huntsville is the popular Shooting Star Saloon. The Saloon is a favorite amongst burger lovers. Full of old time charm and hospitality, this place is cash-only. Make sure to bring an extra dollar to write your name on as autographed dollar bills cover the walls and ceiling.
These 15 day trips from Park City show that there is so much to explore. With a little bit of planning you can have adventures for days.