Park City has a legacy of protecting open space. Some of the first parcels of land protected were the Osguthorpe Farm, which the iconic White Barn sits on, and Round Valley, a haven for trail users of all types. One of the most recent land acquisitions and preservation projects is Bonanza Flats, located southwest of town and nestled between Deer Valley and Brighton ski areas. Over 1500 acres of high-elevation land was purchased for $38 million by way of a $25 million bond and a multitude of donations to fill in the remaining gap. This slice of the Wasatch is a true gem.
Bonanza Flats seemed unregulated for a long time. Numerous pirate trails crisscrossed the area, and Guardsman Pass Road, which connects Park City to Brighton, could be an absolute mess of cars during busy summer weekends. With the land acquisition, Park City Municipal standardized parking lots and built new trails and facilities for hikers and bikers. And, as of January 9th, 2020, Park City Council has adopted a Conservation Easement and Management Plan for the area that strictly limits any motorized vehicles to jeep roads and will likely close the area to all users for animal migration come spring. But with summer upgrades aside, what exactly can you do at Bonanza Flats in the winter? Turns out, there’s a whole lot of winter recreation opportunities in the area.
Now that we’ve covered what you can’t do at Bonanza Flats, let’s talk about about what you CAN do in the area. With motorized travel restricted, this opens up incredible, unspoiled backcountry skiing, Nordic touring, and snowshoeing terrain just minutes from Park City, Brighton, and Midway. The large bowl below Clayton and 10420 peaks, and the rolling terrain below that, are prime spots for Nordic touring. Not to mention, the gentle glades and jeep roads in the area make for incredible snowshoeing. The Mountain Trails Foundation has even begun to groom a 3.8-kilometer loop with access from Marsac. Allowed recreation and access to the area will be an ongoing process as the city fine-tunes the policies governing Bonanza Flats.
In the winter the area is difficult to reach. The only road from Park City to access Bonanza Flats is Marsac, which is closed to public traffic above the Montage Hotel. We recommend taking the Purple bus from the Old Town Transit Center to the Montage Hotel and continuing up the road on foot and skis to reach Bonanza Flats. Those living in the Brighton Estates neighborhood, east of the area, are granted snowmobile access. And other users can access the area via snowmobile via Pine Canyon Road starting in Midway, UT, or they can come up over Guardsmans Pass from the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon. You can also tour or snowshoe into the area via Marsac above the Montage Hotel.
By Paul Boyle, Production Manager, jans.com