It is hot outside! When the sticky, smoggy summer days start to feel old, it's time to escape to the mountains for some cool summer fun. For that, there is nowhere better than the Park City Mountain Resort.
Summer fun at a winter resort? You betcha. Many top ski resorts are summer resorts too. Cooler temperatures and clean mountain air make these places an ideal warm weather getaway. We recently spent a day at the Park City Mountain Resort in Utah. Here's what you'll find there:
There are few alpine coasters in the world, so don't miss a chance to ride this one. At 30 mph, the coaster isn't as big or fast as some amusement park thrill rides, but screaming around a metal track on a sled with a lap belt was terrifying in a good way. The ride operators assured me that I couldn't derail so I resisted the urge to use the brake on the three times we rode the coaster.
The ride starts at the bottom of the hill, so being pulled to the top is part of the fun. It's a good chance to enjoy the scenery and get a brief look at some of the wildflowers and even wildlife on the mountain. Then gravity takes over and the wildflowers aren't so interesting anymore.
ZipRider zip line
Free falls terrify me (in a bad way), so I will probably never go sky diving or bungee jumping or cliff diving. For that reason, I had no intention of riding ZipRider when we arrived at the resort. My husband is not plagued by such fears, and he tried ZipRider early in the day. He assured me it was not that bad, so after lunch I picked up a pass at the ticket window.
I loved ZipRider. Flying through the air was exhilerating, not scary. Though I didn't have much control of my speed, I felt secure and the ride was smooth. I would gladly ride ZipRider again.
Flying Eagle zip line
This two-passenger zip line looks more exciting than it is. I rode with my 8-year-old daughter and both of us were a little let down at the end of the ride because it wasn't very thrilling. She isn't heavy enough yet to ride ZipRider.
The Flying Eagle was perfect for my 5-year-old son. It took us all day to convince him to try it, but it was his favorite ride when he finally did.
Park City's alpine slide is one of the longest in the world, so if you're going to try one alpine slide during a visit to Utah (there are more), it should be this one. The nice thing about the alpine slide was that after waiting in line for the chair lift and lugging our sleds a short distance to the slide, there was almost no line at all.
The really exciting thing about the alpine slide is that you can crash if you go too fast around the turns. The alpine slide is the ride for real thrill seekers, as long as you don't get stuck behind a slow poke like me.
Scenic chair lift
We used the chair lift to reach the ZipRider and Alpine Slide. We did not ride it all the way to the top, and we didn't see many who did. The waits at the chair lift, ZipRider and coaster were so long that we preferred to use our time for an extra ride on the alpine coaster instead.
Babies are not allowed on the chair lift or alpine coaster. Find a sitter for children under two years old if everyone wants to ride the coaster, slide or chair lift.
My daughter has been longing to try a bungee trampoline since she first saw one at Snowbird a couple of years ago. The Legacy Launcher was all she hoped and dreamed it would be. My kids did this one twice, and on the second try, my daughter mastered the double flip. Each turn is only a few minutes, but the trampoline is more exhausting than it looks, so that's enough.
This play area includes a climbing wall, climbing web, boulder zone and inflatable slide. My kids liked the climbing wall and my daughter was elated when she finally reached the top.
Usually, an inflatable slide is irresistible to my children, but the stiff webbing through which my skinny kids had to climb to get to the top of the slide kept pulling down their pants. I saw other school-age children have the same problem, so it wasn't an attraction they wanted to try over and over again.
The other climbing areas were fun, but not much more exciting than the average public playground. Skip the Adventure Zone unless you are purchasing an Alpine Pass.
Little Miners Park and Mini Golf
These are the least expensive a la carte attractions at the resort, but that's because they are the least impressive. My children preferred the Adventure Zone to Little Miners Park. The three rides look like they were once part of a traveling carnival. We skipped the mini golf course and used our time to enjoy the activities we can't find better versions of in our own neighborhood.
Ways to save
An all-day Alpine Pass for riders over 54 inches tall costs $70 during the regular summer season, and the zip lines cost extra. Riders under 54 inches pay $35. For comparison, the cost of a full day at Utah's Lagoon amusement park is $45. However, you do have other options.
Here are my recommendations for getting the biggest bang for your buck at Park City Mountain Resort:
Choose one activity or a combo pass
There is a lot to do and see in Park City without spending an entire day at the resort. Choose one of these options and then try a hiking trail or head to Park City's Historic Main Street, Utah Olympic Park or the outlet malls.
- A single ride on the alpine slide is $11, and includes a ride on the chair lift. Young children who ride as passengers cost only $3.
- The Double Play Combo pass includes one ride each on the alpine coaster and alpine slide for $25.
- The Triple Play Combo includes one ride each on the ZipRider, alpine coaster and alpine slide for $41.
Alpine Passes cost 10% less when purchased online at least one day in advance. Beware of purchasing too far in advance because passes are not transferrable and refunds will not be given for bad weather.
Visit during the off season
Save $10 on Alpine Passes during the late spring and fall, when Utah's weather is usually pleasant. Avoid the weeks of Independence Day (July 4), Pioneer Day (July 24) and Labor Day (early September) when prices go up. We visited during the holiday period at the end of July and the resort was crowded on a weekday.
Visit with a group
Call all your friends because this is the way to do it. Save up to 50% on an adult Alpine Pass when you visit Park City with a group of 25 or more. The off-season group Alpine Pass is only $35. During our visit, we shared the resort with a family reunion and several out-of-state baseball teams.
Park City is just 30 minutes from Salt Lake City, so it's easy to escape to the mountains for a day or a weekend. I'm already looking forward to our next visit.
Disclosure: Park City Mountain Resort provided us with complimentary passes, which included all of the rides and zip lines, but the opinions expressed in this article are my own.