January 3, 2016

Park City, Utah (Dec. 2015)

Slope with a jump

It's taken me a month to write this up, but luckily it's still all as fresh to me as when we landed back in Chicago. In early December of 2015, we took a lightning-fast trip to Park City, Utah for a friend's company holiday party. Long story short, we were excited for the prospect of our first real snow tromping of the year, but upon our arrival found only partial patches of white stuff on the hills.

Utah mountains from the road

This wasn't going to stop us from having a great time, though. We were up for the weekend at the Hyatt Escala Lodge in Canyons Resort, just a nudge to the northwest of downtown Park City. The weather was beautiful. We were going to live it up!

Hyatt Escala Ski Lodge

Aside from exploring the walkable (and adorable) downtown Park City area, my first quest was on finding some trails to hike on Saturday. While our appetite for snowshoeing would not be filled this weekend (only the downhill slopes were being artificially blown), us two wanted to find some pretty mountain trails at 7000ft. elevation.

All of the slopes required artificial maintenance to keep up with the skiiers demands. No snow wasn't going to stop all the slope-bound pilgrims!

Slope with a jump

It turned out that we would trade trail hiking for city hiking. At around 2pm on Saturday, I finally managed to find a beautiful trail map put out by the Mountain Trails Foundation, who work to preserve the trails around Park City and the surrounding the Unita-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. However, it was too late to even try the paved Rail Trail near downtown (red trail on the map). By that time, though, we had already put on at least 10 miles walking to and fro (with some small breaks to ride Park City's free bus system).

Park City trail map

By the time I found the trail map, it was already approaching dinnertime and we had reservations at Zoom (which was in an old Union Pacific train depot). Yes, I had the web at my disposal and I could have found a trail on a whim, but we were having fun dinking around town. As a result, we did get some significant time in the city and the small shops, which I'd like to share with you here.

Downtown Park City

Downtown (Old Park City) takes you straight back to the gold rush. You can easily visualize the horse drawn buggies and coal miners walking through the streets.

Main Street, Park City

Main Street, Park City

The streets are all pedestrian friendly, with many walkways linking the main streets.

Main Street, Park City

Old buildings have been repurposed for dual living and businesses. Most of the shops downtown are small businesses dealing mostly in art, western clothing, and outdoor equipment outfitting.

Main Street, Park City

Many of the residential streets are also visible from downtown, with their tops peeking over the next hill. The shape and variegated colors of the houses make you feel like you're on a real-life monopoly board.

Downtown Park City

Downtown Park City

A ski lift starts right in the downtown area with many slopes serving downtown itself. You can jump on a lift right after getting lunch, or find a tavern right after you're done with a stretch of slope.

Downtown ski lift

Everyone should take a moment to send a postcard from the olde-tymey post office. If you need a postcard, there are a couple local booksellers within a couple blocks, as well as the Park City Museum.

Park City Post Office

Another historic building of interest is the old Union Pacific train depot. It's too bad the train doesn't come right downtown anymore - I'd love to get to Park City by train and jump off downtown. The depot is now a restaurant called Zoom.

Old Union Pacific Depot, Park City

The High West Distillery is certainly worth a stop. I ended up picking up a bottle of double rye from their shop to take home. But go for the food: specifically the bodacious bison burger. I also ordered a cowboy coffee - coffee, bourbon, whipped cream, and a huge dark chocolate chunk. I don't beleieve cowboys made an effort to carry whipping cream and cacao chunks with them on the trails, but I liked it anyway.

High West Distillery and Saloon

Bison burger

The distillery is easy to find downtown, just look for the old garage storefront.

High West Distillery and Saloon

The Lodge: Hyatt Escala (Canyons)

The Hyatt Escala was our lodge for the weekend. The Hyatt was one of many lodges clustered together at the Canyons Resort, which is a bit away from the Park City area to the northwest. Canyons Village, which rests at the heart of the resort area, has a few restaurants, bars, and other attractions to make your stay more convenient.

Canyons shops

Canyons lodges

Canyons shops

Canyons Village also has many fireplaces and outdoor seating areas, making it a fun area for gathering. Live music was playing when we walked through it.

Canyons commons

Ski lifts like the Cabriolet take you up to Canyons' many slopes.

Cabriolet lift

Ski lifts

The Hyatt Escala itself was a palace. A great fireplace welcomed you as you entered.

The fire is inviting

The views from the hallways and individual rooms were also equally wonderful, even when there are only traces of snow on the ground. To me, this further supports the argument for coming during the off season for some alpine hiking with apartment-sized accomodations (as if we need an argument for going to the mountains at any time of the year... ha!).

Hyatt Escala Lodge


As it was Christmas-time, the lodge was also well decorated.

Christmas at the Hyatt

Christmas at Canyons

Christmas at Canyons

Other Fun Mentionables

Park City has a moose named Loosey. Apparently it's the last of the wooden moose in the city (there were many more?). It has a fence around it now, presumably from all the torture it has received from visiting children bored visiting the small shops.

Loosey the Moose

If you get a window seat flying out of Salt Lake City, definitely remember to keep your window up. We happened to be taking off at dusk, so the sun was saddled on the mountains' length around the lake. Its beams illuminated the serene lake, turning it into a vast pool of silver. I have flown out of SLC before, but never had it been this beautiful to me.

Great Salt Lake

- All photos shot with my OnePlus One phone. You can view the entire album on Flickr 

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