Most people who come to Park City in the winter have one thing on their minds – alpine skiing. And while Utah’s champagne powder is what dreams are made of, an abundance of the white stuff provides a bevy of other outdoor options as well.
Even hardcore alpine skiers can appreciate the aerobic benefits of cross country skiing. I’ll admit that before I moved here the notion of strapping skinny skis to my feet and shuffling across the snow seemed boring compared to the thrill of downhill skiing. But it turns out that Nordic skiing is pretty amazing exercise.
Park City offers a variety of groomed Nordic track for both classic and skate skiers. For a leisurely glide with the family, hop on the McLeod Creek Trail and head to Kimball Junction for lunch. Looking for something a little more substantial? Check out the Round Valley trail system which offers something for everyone, from long flat trails to serious uphill grunts. And if you’re looking to get a power workout, head over to the White Pine Touring Nordic Center and purchase a track pass for access to 20+ kilometers of Nordic skiing including the challenging McPolin Farm. The Nordic Center also rents classic and skate equipment and the folks there will be happy to hook you up with lessons or tours if you’re so inclined.
In the event that you are searching for an activity that is a bit more mellow and something that kids will love unconditionally, consider tubing at Gorgoza Park. Never tubed before? No worries, it’s just like good old fashioned sledding but on giant inner tubes. Located off I-80, Gorgoza offers seven tubing lanes along with rope tows and conveyor belts that whisk you up the hill. A word to the wise, tubing on powder days is not ideal. The fresh snow will make your inner tube sticky, so hold out for a bluebird day instead.
For a true winter wilderness experience, consider snowshoeing in the Uinta Mountains. While snowshoeing itself is as easy as walking, backcountry snowshoeing is a whole different animal that requires the knowledge of an expert guide to get you out and back safe and sound. Jans offers guided backcountry snowshoe tours where you won’t see another soul for miles allowing you to explore just a fraction of the 2.1 million acres of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Be prepared to get some decent exercise and pictures worthy of bragging rights.
If you want to check out the Park City landscape with a 360 degree view, consider taking a hot air balloon ride. Contrary to popular belief, hot air ballooning is not a “summer only” activity. In fact, if you dress in the same clothes that you would wear for alpine skiing, you’ll be nice and toasty thanks to the atmospheric pressure and the warmth coming off the balloon burner itself. Park City Balloon Adventures offers breathtaking views of all three ski resorts, the Snyderville Basin and the Uinta Mountains. The winter landscape and the fact that the balloons depart just after sunrise make this a truly magical experience.
And if all of these options sound like too much effort, there’s always plenty of après ski time around the fire.
Liz Yokubison, Senior Editor, Jans.com