Park City Access

The Best Town in America: Park City, Utah

park-city-utah-best-towns_fe“Know how I can tell that’s a local?” asks Dana Williams, the 58-year-old mayor of Park City, Utah, nodding toward a fit thirty-something guy in a flat-brimmed baseball hat. “The bandaged wrist.”

Park City feels like a Colorado ski town dropped into Utah’s 12,000-foot Wasatch Range, with one significant difference. Unlike Telluride or Aspen, it has a major city, Salt Lake, and an international airport 30 minutes away. Local love for Park City can feel a little over the top—it got two-thirds as many votes in our contest (5,179) as it has residents. To see if that affection was justified, I parachuted in for a 72-hour, Chamber of Commerce–led recon tour. What I found was a town that breeds the active lifestyle.

In winter, Parkites can access three world-class ski areas from town: Deer Valley, Park City, and the Canyons. Then there’s climbing, hiking, and camping in 500,000 acres of wilderness in the nearby Uinta Mountains, 370-plus miles of trails, a blue-ribbon trout stream (the Provo River), and an Olympic training center built for the 2002 Salt Lake Games. More than 100 Olympians still live here. There are also lax(er) liquor laws than elsewhere in the Beehive State—and Utah’s first distillery since Prohibition, High West.

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SkiLink Solution, Or Just Another Idea

Skiers and snowboarders board a gondola on a crisp Saturday afternoon eager to reach new runs.  As they glide over the mountain, surrounded by the fresh powder, they laugh at the thought of the long drive they normally would have taken to go from Park City to Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Talisker Inc., owner of Canyons Ski Resort, and other proponents of the SkiLink gondola hope to make such a scene a reality, by connecting Canyons Ski Resort in Park City and Solitude in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Before they can move forward they must receive Congressional approval. However, opponents are trying to push alternatives to the gondola.

Tom Richardson, founder of Ski Our Canyons Responsibly, a group that has given support to the project, said this provides a whole new experience for skiers and snowboarders in Utah.

[/media-credit] A comparison of the proposed SkiLink gondola to the drive on Utah highways.

“This is world class stuff we’re talking about,” Richardson said. “It puts us in the league of many of the large resorts in Europe.”

Richardson said snow sport enthusiasts will have 5,200 acres of runs, making it the second largest ski complex in North America.

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Walkable Communities Planned Near Park City

The town of Snyderville, located near the Park City ski resorts, hopes to include smart growth directives in its updated General Plan and Development Code. Snyderville Planning Commission Chair Colin DeFord said residents want communities that are walkable and serviceable by public transportation. “Planning is not a speedy process,” DeFord said. “But we need to create the tools for clustering so we can preserve as much open space as possible. We are not opposed to development. We’re just trying to do it smart.”