Relaxation at Sundance Mountain Resort — Photo courtesy of Leigh Lewis
Sundance Film Festival starts January 21st, with filmmaker hopefuls, stars and parties galore - but only we have the inside scoop on what do in this magical area of Utah.
Insider tip: The film festival is not actually in Sundance (except for a few screenings). Still managed by the Redford family, Sundance is not just a ski area, either (although the skiing is incredible, and you won’t find any wait times to get on the slopes).
Sundance Mountain Resort is quaint - a digital detox heaven (no Wi-Fi in the on-property restaurants) set among pine trees and aspen groves with rustic yet elegant cabins and homes.
Founded in 1969 by Robert Redford, after filming Jeremiah Jones and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the resort is nestled at the base of 12,000-foot Mount Timpanogos. This is where Redford created it all - an internationally renowned film institute, film festival and television channel devoted to independent films.
The actual party atmosphere happens in Park City. If you’re not interested in the party scene and films, then these Sundance moments in Park City and at Sundance Mountain Resort are some local favorites we guarantee you will enjoy.
Adventure Ziptour — Photo courtesy of Sundance Mountain Resort
1. Adventure: Zip-tour
If you’re looking for an adventure, don’t miss Sundance’s ZipTour. Just opened in 2015, soar nearly 2 miles down with incredible views the entire way. It's the longest zip line in Utah, and the third-longest in the whole US.
Nervous? You won’t have to attempt it alone - multiple parallel lines let daredevils ride down side by side.
Skiing in Sundance — Photo courtesy of Leigh Lewis
Don’t worry about standing in any lines at Sundance Mountain Resorts; you won’t find any.
With the most snow of any ski areas in or around Park City, Sundance sits against the magnificent 12,000-foot Mount Timpanogos and has 42 runs of beginner to expert terrain spread across 450 acres.
If you’re in need of a ski lesson while you’re there, expect small groups (almost private) with some of the best and friendliest instructors you’ve ever met.
Pottery Class — Photo courtesy of Sundance Mountain Resort
3. Art Studio Classes
The Art Studio classes at Sundance appeal as much to locals as they do visitors. Choose from pottery, drawing, painting, print-making, jewelry-making and photography, or even kids’ beading, pottery and print-making classes.
Be sure to visit the glassblowing studio and check out the list of cool kids' classes there, too.
The General Story — Photo courtesy of Sundance Mountain Resort
Spend some time meandering around the General Store - you'll see where the Sundance catalog gets its inspiration. This country outpost is a favorite stop for lodging guests and locals.
Along with a collection of local crafts (there’s even homemade soap), the store also features handmade and fashionable clothes, Native American art, jewelry, amazing purses, toys and more.
Spa at Sundance Mountain Resort — Photo courtesy of Sundance Mountain Resort
Escape from it all and head to the Spa at Sundance.
Choose from nature-inspired treatments that blend ancient traditions and all-organic products to bring the mind and body into perfect balance. They offer a range of options, including massage, body treatments, facials, nail care, yoga and even meditation classes.
A kids' spa menu for children aged 5-12 is likewise filled with unique experiences.
The Owl Bar - a gathering spot for locals and guests at Sundance - houses the original 1890s rosewood bar favored by Butch Cassidy’s Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, transported here from its original home in Wyoming.
Catch live music here on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays - and experience a taste of Nashville in Sundance with the Bluebird Café songwriter series and winter concert.
Tree Room — Photo courtesy of Sundance Mountain Resort
7. Dining at Sundance
Dining in Sundance is honestly celebrated as an art form. Guests can choose from four remarkable restaurants: the Tree Room, the Foundry Grill, the Sundance Deli and the Owl Bar.
The Tree Room is Sundance’s signature fine dining restaurant, and its local menu reflects the town’s earth-to-table philosophy. The intimate interior honors the region and its history with Native American art and western memorabilia from Robert Redford’s personal collections.
Everything on the menu is incredible, but the pepper steak served with spinach, buttermilk mashed potatoes and mango chutney is the only menu item that hasn’t changed since its opening. Try it, and you'll understand why.
If you’re in Sundance on Sunday, brunch at the Foundry Grill is hands-down one of the best in Utah.
Pro tip: don't miss the tacos from the local taco truck, located right at the bottom of the ski run.
Deer Valley Resort — Photo courtesy of Deer Valley Resort
8. Snowshoeing or Fat Bikes Trails
In Park City, there’s always skiing. But for a more immersive experience, look to the picturesque and challenging snowshoeing and bike trails.
“For those looking for a non-credential moment to balance the excitement of the festival, I’d suggest exploring our extensive trail system,” says Lincoln Hoffman, Director of Marketing for Resorts West.
Whether you want a peaceful walk through a winter wonderland or a full-body workout on cross-country skis, you can find several trailheads just a mile or two from Main Street.
The blue trails are packed snow, groomed for a variety of trail uses like cross country and fat bikes. Pretend you’re a local and try one.
If you’re more advanced or adventuresome, try the Armstrong Trail behind Silver Star (used heavily by locals). It is great in both winter and summer, and goes directly from the property up into what is now the mid-point between Park City and Canyons Village.
“You will be immersed in beautiful tree-lined snowshoeing up to overlooks with amazing views of the resort and the town,” says Hoffman.
It’s a great place to experience early as the sun rises, or in the afternoon when you can come back to the Silver Star Café for a late lunch or early dinner.
A less strenuous option is Lost Prospector, also great in summer and winter. The trail is accessible from the Old Town/Main Street area and offers a great view over Main Street, looking toward Bald Mountain at Deer Valley and Town Lift/Park City resort on your right.
“This makes a wonderful afternoon outing as you could snowshoe back to Main Street for a hot toddy,” Hoffman suggests.
Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter — Photo courtesy of Jake Shane
9. Snowshoe Tours
Looking for something inexpensive and educational? Check out Swaner Eco Center for the ultimate experience in nature.
Take a guided snowshoe tour of the Swaner Preserve. Search for wildlife and animal tracks while learning about the area’s history. It’s all flat terrain, so it’s perfect for all ages and abilities. Come with your winter gear; you can rent snowshoes there.
The tour is $5 per non-member - members tour free. The tour is held each Saturday at 8:30 a.m.; RSVP to (435) 649-1767 or firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot.
10. Bowling (yes, bowling!)
It’s not only for Millennials and children.
Hang with the locals at Jupiter Bowl for boozy bowling. With 12 lanes, all with automatic scoring, enjoy cocktails, handcrafted beer, great burgers, quesadillas and pizza while you bowl.
There is also ping-pong, the latest arcade games and huge televisions. It’s promised success for an evening of recreational fun.