Park City, Utah: Deer Valley Summer Fun

Deer Valley is stunning any time of year.
Deer Valley is stunning any time of year.

Park City is synonymous with winter sports: skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ski jumping. Pretty much anything you can do on skis happens in Park City.  Historically, FKGuy and I have visited our friends in Park City mainly in the winter. Although FKGuy has skied other mountains, I have only careened downhill at Deer Valley, usually under heavy supervision. But I can talk about skiing more another day. Today, I’m all about the glory of Deer Valley in the summer.  

Our home away from home, if only for a few days.
Our home away from home, if only for a few days.

It had been eleven long years since visiting Park City in the summer, and I was glad to be back. An easy, thirty-minute drive from Salt Lake City airport is all it takes to start enjoying the warm, humidity-free days and cool evenings. We made our way to the Lodges at Deer Valley, which would be our home for a short, two-night stay. Our one bedroom, two bathroom condo was fully outfitted, and I would have been happy to stay for a month. Between the full kitchen, daily maid service, and shuttle into town, it is hard to want any more. It is a very comfortable place to call home for a few days of summer fun, or a week of winter skiing.

The next morning we were ready for more outdoorsy-ness. Our morning started at the Utah Olympic Park, watching a nine-year-old ski jump. It’s summer, so the jumps were onto a grassy mat, but flying children are still cool. From there we drove back up to Deer Valley, picked up our tickets for the scenic chair lift ride and headed up the mountain.

At the top of the mountain.
At the top of the mountain.

The first twenty or so times I rode a chairlift, either my friends,  my husband or an instructor coached me off the lift. “Keep your tips up! Just slide forward! Don’t stop when you get off!” Eventually I got the hang of it. But getting on and off a chair lift in regular shoes is a very different sensation (and dare I say, much easier for the novice). In the summer, some of the chairs are replaced with bike carriers that can hold up to four mountain bikes. Once again I was pleased that none of them belonged to me.

Most of the trails at Deer Valley in the summer are meant for mountain bikers. Alas, I am not a particularly good flat-road biker, so hurtling down a mountain on two wheels is clearly not for me. Fortunately, there are also a few hiking trails. Here is the best part: atop Bald Mountain, there is a choice of the 2-mile Silver Lake Trail or the 2.5-mile Ontario trail. Either way, you end up at Silver Lake Lodge and Royal Street Cafe. Lunch is my favorite part of the ski day, but it is also quite appealing after hiking.

It looked a bit ominous when we started. Fortunately, the weather cleared.
It looked a bit ominous when we started. Fortunately, the weather cleared.

We opted for the longer hike. It turned out to be a good choice, as the beginning of the hike was quite crowded, but once most people peeled off toward the shorter trail, we had the hike pretty much to ourselves. I’ve often said that Deer Valley is like Disney World, and I mean that in the best way possible. There are always people around to assist, and really, you could not want for anything. At the top of the lift, there was a guide sending people down different trails. He gently encouraged us to take the longer Ontario trail, and we heeded his advice.

Trails are well-marked and user friendly!
Trails are well-marked and user-friendly!

Halfway down, the trail crossed several bike trails, and we spotted the same guide, waving furiously at us. “Glad to see you went this way! You’re about halfway there!” The well-marked trails are easy to follow, and the hiking is easy. It was a welcome change from scrambling up rocks in Arches earlier in the week.

At the end of the trail, we headed straight for Royal Street Cafe. More on that, and dining at The Brass Tag, on Friday.

*Disclaimer: The lovely folks at Deer Valley gave us free lift tickets. (See? I told you they were nice.) We paid for everything else! All opinions are, of course, my own. 

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