Car Free Journey: Park City, Utah
What would you like to do this holiday season? How about a ski vacation? But, what do you do if you love to ski, but don’t want to drive and or lug your own ski equipment everywhere.
Fortunately, we found a ski area that is easy to reach by public transportation. Park City, Utah is 32 miles (51 kilometers) southeast of downtown Salt Lake City. Once you arrive, the town’s free bus system and a compact downtown make it easy to get to the slopes, shopping, or anywhere else you want without needing to drive.
For that reason, this month’s Car Free Journey will spotlight Park City, Utah.
Corner of Main St and Heber Ave at night
Courtesy of Park City Convention and Visitors Bureau
A Brief History of Park City
Park City began as a mining town in the nineteenth century. The finding of silver, gold and lead in the 1860s led to the first silver mine there. By 1892 the Silver King Mine and its owners Thomas Kearns and David Keith took the spotlight as one of the most famous silver mines in the world. Silver mining made the town’s Main Street a hot spot for entertainment. 47 buildings from that era area are currently on the National Register of Historic Places, making for a truly charming downtown. However, the city nearly became a ghost town by the end of the 1950s because of a drop in the price of silver.
Unfortunately, the town was nearly destroyed by fire in 1898. Tragedy struck again in 1902 when 34 miners were killed in an explosion in the Day West Mine. The silver industry was suffering greatly, and the Park City mining community looked for another source of revenue.
The miners presented a proposal for a ski resort, called Treasure Mountain, to Utahn Inc. This ski resort opened in 1963, and ended up saving the town. This is when tourists first began to visit Park City.
Since 1963, Park City has become famous as the home of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. The town has several ski resorts, and is now the home of the Sundance Film Festival (held in January every year). It is unusual because it is a popular ski destination that is easy to reach without a car.
Salt Lake City International Airport is a hub for Delta Airline, and is an important stop for Southwest, United, American, Alaska, Frontier and Jet Blue. There are more than 600 daily departures and arrivals from 80 domestic destinations, and another 120 arrivals and departures from 11 international destinations served by Delta, Air Canada, and KLM.
From the Salt Lake City International Airport, take the Utah Transit Authority’s (UTA) Green Line west to Arena Station. From Arena Station, take UTA’s Blue Line North to Salt Lake Central Station. The Amtrak train station and Greyhound bus terminal are also located at Salt Lake Central Station.
From Central Station, UTA’s bus route 902 travels to Park City 4 times every weekday. Beginning December 18, buses leave Central Station at 5:34 a.m., 7:21 a.m., 4:09 p.m., and 6:13 p.m. Return buses leave the Park City Old Town Transit Center at 6:01 a.m., 7:36 p.m., 4:50 p.m., and 5:57. The one way fare is $4.50. For more details, go to https://www.rideuta.com/Rider-Tools/Schedules-and-Maps/902-PC-SLC-Connect?changes=1. (For the regular schedule for the 902, go to http://www.rideuta.com/Rider-Tools/Schedules-and-Maps/902-PC-SLC-Connect.)
On weekends, the 902 makes two trips to Park City in the morning, and two return trips in the afternoon.
A more expensive alternative (especially good for weekends and off peak weekday hours) is All Resort Express’ shared ride service ($39 for one person or $68 for 2 people) from the airport to Park City. If you are staying in Salt Lake City, you can also use the shared ride service from one of the following 3 hotels: Marriott City Creek, Marriott City Center, and Marriott Courtyard.
For reservations and more information visit www.allresort.com, or call toll-free (800) 457-9457.
Shawn Stinson is a Park City resident who loves skiing and also enjoys walking. We will be using some of Shawn’s suggestions in today’s column. (Shawn’s answers will be in bold.)
Here are Shawn’s thoughts if you want to visit Park City without needing to drive. “DO NOT RENT A CAR! Take a shuttle (taxi, shared ride, Uber, etc.) to Park City and use the FREE transit/bus system. It’s timely, you don’t have to deal with driving or finding one of the somewhat limited parking spaces in/around town, no need to deal with driving in the snow, and it’s FREE! Works like clockwork with scheduled buses every 20 minutes or so anywhere you want to go in/around town.”
Where to Stay
The Park City Transit Center is located one block from Main Street. Two hotels within walking distance
are Main & Sky http://www.skyparkcity.com/ (located at the corner of Main Street and Heber Avenues)
and Washington School House http://www.washingtonschoolhouse.com/ (located on Park Avenue).
If you want more choices, Park City Transit (the city’s free bus system) connects Main Street with many other places to stay. These include:
Stein Eriksen Lodge (http://www.steinlodge.com/),
Montage Deer Valley (https://www.montagehotels.com/deervalley/ ),
Hotel Park City (http://www.hotelparkcity.com/) ,
Waldorf Astoria (http://www.waldorfastoriaparkcity.com/),
Hyatt Centric (https://parkcity.centric.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html) ,
Newpark Resort (http://www.newparkresort.com/).
Shawn Stinson has this advice: “Anywhere in Old Town Park City (or City limits) is a convenient place to stay, though a bit pricier than the outlying areas 4-8 miles away. The free bus system operates from all areas of Park City, but the Old Town area is the most convenient to the ski resorts, historic Main Street and the majority of restaurants in the town. There are hotels and condominiums throughout Park City, of varying price levels – but again, there’s no need to rent a car. If the bus system is not convenient to your hotel/condo, Uber rides are very reasonable as no drive is more than 5-10 minutes once in Park City. I’d say your best bet for finding the right lodging/accommodations for your stay, including your preferences, is www.visitparkcity.com”
Where to Eat
Park City’s historic Main Street is a great place for shopping, dining and other entertainment.
Other good areas for restaurants and entertainment are the Canyons Village area and Kimball Junction. Both of these areas are easy to reach on the city’s free bus system.
What are some of Shawn’s favorite eating places? “I prefer restaurants off of Main Street, which tend to be more high end and expensive. I like Squatters Brew Pub (diverse and good menu, and a great beer selection), the Boneyard on Kearns or something out in the Kimball Junction area of town (closer to where I live), such as Sushi Blue or Shabu Shabu. To splurge, I love Deer Valley Resort’s Seafood Buffet (open winter months only), or the Skier’s Buffet at Stein Eriksen Lodge for lunch (just don’t plan on skiing after – it’s fantastic!). “
Park City Transit can get you nearly any place you want to go. For more information, visit http://www.parkcity.org/departments/transit-bus or (435) 615-5301 Monday-Friday: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The city also operates a free trolley along Main Street. Every transit route stops at Park City Mountain, Deer Valley and Main St. You can find a list of what transit route(s) serves what destination by going to http://www.parkcity.org/home/showdocument?id=8399 and looking for Park City Destinations on the upper left side of the map.
What to do
During winter, Park City has three main types of recreation: Skiing, walking and shopping, and films. (But don’t forget to visit the 2002 Olympic Park while you are here.)
Park City is fortunate to have two ski mountains in its city limits – and (according to the local
Convention and Visitors Bureau), “they aren’t just any two ski mountains, they are the BIGGEST and the BEST in America.”
Park City Mountain has the distinction of the largest lift-serviced terrain in the USA and is ideal for both skiers and snowboarders. It has two ‘villages’ at its base – one is called Canyons Village and one is called Park City. The resort also operates a ‘town lift’ that delivers skiers directly to the historic Main Street of Park City.
The free bus system takes visitors to Silver Lake, Snow Park and Empire Pass where Deer Valley lifts are located to access Deer Valley ski resort’s mountains.
Deer Valley Resort is consistently rated at the very top of the rankings for grooming, on-mountain dining and service levels and it is one of a handful of resorts in America that does not allow snowboarding (a ski-only resort). It has three ‘villages’ – Empire Canyon is located adjacent to Montage Deer Valley, Silver Lake is located adjacent to Stein Eriksen Lodge, the Chateaux and Goldner Hirsh lodges and Snow Park is located adjacent to St. Regis.
Ski rental equipment is available through all major Park City hotels. Ski Butlers can deliver skis to any area hotel https://www.skibutlers.com/park-city-ski-rentals ; Direct Line: 435-658-0458; Email: email@example.com
Trolley on Historic Main Street
Courtesy of Park City Convention and Visitors Bureau
Walking and Shopping
City buses connect visitors to the Tanger Outlets for premium designer shopping. Historic Main Street is the best choice for walking and exploring the area. There are hundreds of shops, galleries and a fantastic museum (Park City was originally a silver mining town, where the Hearst family fortune was made). And despite the snowy winter, walking around town is the norm – the sidewalks and paths are kept clear of snow. If you are interested in walking tours (self-guided or with a tour guide), visit the Park City Museum on Main St. The folks at the museum can point you in the right direction. Shawn offers this additional advice: “Old Town Park City, where most visitors will spend their time, is really a very compact and walkable community, even in winter. If the altitude (7,000 ft) is a bit much, get on the bus and explore – again, it’s FREE!”
Each year in late January, the Sundance Institute hosts the annual Sundance Film Festival, a 10-day event held in Park City, that is considered to be one of the top three film festival’s in the world. Sundance Institute also hosts free community programs throughout the year. For details and the 2017 schedule, visit http://www.sundance.org/festivals/sundance-film-festival/ .
You can enjoy last year’s Sundance Film Festival favorites every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings at the Park City Film Series, held in the local public library.
Come back Next Summer
Summer is the best time to experience a wide variety of festivals here. It is also a great place for bicycling. Shawn Stinson tells us, “Park City, in the summer/fall months, is a cyclists’ dream. Whether you’re a road cyclist, mountain biker or casual commuter, there are hundreds of miles of trails, both dirt and paved (last count was 450+ miles of trails, in town and across the mountains, for all ability levels). Park City was the first ever Gold-Level Ride Center of IMBA (Int’l Mountain Bicycling Association).”
If You Are Here During the Week, Visit Salt Lake City
Even if you are a diehard ski enthusiast, you may want a break. One idea is to take the Utah Transit Authority’s (UTA) bus 902 to Salt Lake City, and then take some time to explore the city and its many attractions. An affordable way to enjoy the city’s 13 most popular attractions is to purchase the Connect Pass. The cost for the Connect Pass ranges from $32 for a single day to $90 for a full year. For more information, go to http://www.visitsaltlake.com/things-to-do/connect-pass/. To get to each attraction, you can either take UTA buses or light rail, or (from April-October) buy a daily pass on US Bus Utah. US bus Utah offers daily hop-on, hop-off service to 10 of the venues (Snowbird, Thanksgiving Point, and the Utah Olympic Park are excluded). Service can be included with the Connect Pass as an optional add-on for an additional price (seasonal – April-October). Stops occur at each location every 45 minutes. The US Bus is a fun, flexible way to get around the city and put your Connect Pass to use. For more information about the US Bus, visit http://www.visitsaltlake.com/listings/US-Bus-Utah-LLC/59561/. For more information about these and other attractions in Salt Lake City, visit http://www.visitsaltlake.com.
For More Information
For activities and accommodations in Park City, go to: www.visitparkcity.com, or call (435( 649-6100 or (toll-free) (800) 453-1360.
For information about Park City transit routes and schedules, visit http://www.parkcity.org/departments/transit-bus or call (435) 615-5301 Monday-Friday: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
For information about buses from Salt Lake City to Park City, go to www.rideuta.com, or call (801) 743-3882 (RIDE UTA) or toll-free (888) 743-3882 (RIDE UTA).
Steve Atlas welcomes your comments, and suggestions for cities or vacation destinations to feature in future Car Free Journey columns. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and in the subject line, put “Car Free Journey.”