When people think of mountain biking in Utah, the first place that comes to mind is usually Moab. However, 3-hours north is another gem called Park City.
Park City is a 40-minute drive from Salt Lake City, which makes it an easy flight from almost anywhere in North America and I was there within 3-hours of my plane leaving Victoria, British Columbia. I had plenty of time to catch the airport shuttle to my accommodation and relax before dinner.
My accommodations were provided by Park City Lodging for this trip and I was excited to discover I had a one-bedroom suite in a building close to Historic Downtown Park City. It meant that I didn’t need to rely on the free shuttle to explore and I had a comfortable place to call home for the four nights I would be there.
The next morning I picked up my rental bike from White Pine Touring and met the other four members of the tour, along with our guides Scott House, Shaun Raskin-Deutschlander, and Tim Moore aka T-Mo. We were buzzing with excitement as we set off towards Deer Valley Resort, although I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous about the elevation. Park City sits at 2,134 meters (7,000 feet) above sea level, which meant I was going to feel like a fish out of water, flopping around and gasping for air.
Scott knew the elevation would be hard on our group – most of us came from sea-level – and to make things easier on us, he chose to shuttle us to our drop-in point, which sat at the 2,674m (8,773 feet) mark. You could see for miles and with the leaves on the aspens starting to change colour in the autumn sun, it made for an absolutely stunning backdrop.
It was time to get our wheels rolling. The ride started with a downhill section, which was followed by a 300m (984 feet) climb, and then it was all downhill for the rest of the ride! The cross-country sections were smooth and flowy and everything on the downhill sections was rollable, perfect for the Juliana Joplin I was riding, and a nice break from the rooty and rocky trails I typically ride.
Our afternoon was spent playing in the Trailside Bike Park. With dirt jumps and North Shore-style ramps and wall rides, we were able to hone our skills in preparation for the Canyons Bike Park, our planned ride for the next day.
Canyons Bike Park isn’t a large bike park but it’s worth checking out if you’re looking for a fun way to break yourself in gently to the elevation. Most of the trails could easily be ridden on an all-mountain bike if you wanted to save yourself the expense of a rental.
However, the best riding was saved for last. It was the day with the most elevation gained, as well as the longest day in the saddle. We shuttled up to Empire Pass, elevation 3,051 meters (10,010 feet). This is also the entrance to the legendary Wasatch Crest Trail, but we had something else in mind. Our goal for the day was to ride from Empire Pass, over to Park City Resort – where we would take the chair to the top – and end up at White Pine Touring. The plan didn’t disappoint. Gorgeous vistas greeted us at every turn and the colourful autumn leaves just made the views that much more spectacular.
I left leaving Park City wishing I had a few more days to ride. We had barely scratched the surface of the approximately 650 kilometres (400 miles) of trails Park City has to offer.
Things to Do Off the Bike
While the mountain biking is phenomenal, all good things must come to an end, so what do you do with your time when you’re not in the saddle?
Park City Museum is worth a peek if you’re a history or mining buff. Give yourself a couple of hours to enjoy the interactive displays and don’t forget to pick up a copy of the treasure hunt map from the front desk. While it’s meant for kids, adults enjoy it, too.
Another stop that I enjoyed was the tour of the High West Distillery. We learned about the whiskey distilling process along with the history of the Utah liquor laws. Even the architecture of the building is fascinating, plus they have a fabulous menu! And I have to admit that a bottle of whiskey did find itself in my suitcase after indulging in their whiskey sampler.
If shopping is more your thing, there are several shops lining the streets of Historic Park City and every Sunday from June to September, Main Street hosts a farmers market. While it rained the day I checked it out, it didn’t deter the vendors or the crowds.
Places to Eat
It’s a good thing we spent several hours on the bike each day because the food was amazing! From large, hearty breakfasts at Squatters Roadhouse Grill to Southwestern dinners at Chimayo, I was in food heaven. While the dining can be a bit pricey, there are great 2-for-1 coupons in the Park City Restaurant Guide (also available online).
Breakfast: If you have a large appetite, the Squatters Roadhouse Grill is your best bet, and the prices are reasonable. I also recommend the Deer Valley Resort Cafe if you’re looking for something a bit lighter.
Lunch: Sammy’s Bistro had the best selection of burgers, salads, and wraps plus the service was quick if you’re itching to get back on the trails as soon as possible. If you’re looking to relax for a bit, the deck at the Red Tail Grill at Canyons Resort was well worth the stop for more traditional pub fare.
Dinner: Park City definitely has a fantastic array of places to go for fine dining. While my favourite was Chimayo (the fish and shrimp ceviche was to die for!), Cafe Terigo, Talisker, and High West Distillery are also high on my list for great meals.
Places to Stay
I stayed at Park Station, which was walking distance to Historic Main Street and my balcony overlooked the bike path below. It was a one-bedroom suite with a fully stocked kitchen, perfect if you don’t want to eat out all of the time. You can book a suite through Park City Lodging, who have a wide selection of accommodation available throughout Park City.
There are lots of campgrounds near Park City, as well, and Jordanelle State Park Campground came highly recommended.
Park City definitely isn’t lacking in the night life department! After the shops close, you’ll find Main Street teeming with life on Friday and Saturday night. One of my favourite pubs was the 501 on Main. It had the most eclectic decor which was entertaining in itself, from elk horn chandeliers to old outboard engines. Other pubs worth checking out include the No Name Saloon and the Wasatch Brew Pub. For live music and dancing, Flanagan’s was our pick.
Squatters Roadside Grill
Deer Valley Resort Cafe
Red Tail Grill
High West Distillery
Park City Lodging
Park City Peaks Hotel
Treasure Mountain Inn
Washington School House
Jordanelle State park Campground
501 on Main
High West Distillery
No Name Saloon
Wasatch Brew Pub