Park City

Whatever Your Religion, Park City Is Your Year-Round Cathedral

By Kelly Villasuso

Renowned Russian mountaineer Anatoli Boukreev once stated, “Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.” Thousands upon thousands of worshipers would tell you Boukreev surely must have been referring to the Wasatch Mountain Range that frames Park City, Utah, and I would agree. It is a year-round cathedral for adventure sports, wildlife watching — such as moose meandering just off your hotel room balcony — and centering sun salutations, alike.

Located 35-miles to the east of Salt Lake City and nearly 7,000 feet above sea level, this historic silver mining town is recognized for having the Greatest Snow on Earth® and, most recently, was named The “No. 1 Mountain Town” in Travel + Leisure’s annual America’s Favorite Places survey (January 2017). Park City’s divine landscape and traversable terrain have nature, wildlife, and sporting enthusiasts singing the city’s praises year-round. Deer Valley and Park City Mountain serve as shrines for devoted hikers, mountain bikers, fly fishing anglers, and zipliners looking to pay homage to their four-season outdoor passions, and I quickly joined the choir (albeit the “you-need-a-lot-of-training-before-you-do-this” choir).

Let The Handlebars Stir Your Soul
Park City’s Deer Valley Resort offers mountain biker neophytes (of which I am self-proclaimed) and seasoned devotees a seemingly endless variety of trails that stir the soul and may or may not have resulted in an out-of-body experience for me. After a lesson with the resort’s knowledgeable guide, we rode the lift to the heavens above where I then started the breathtaking, prayer-evoking journey back down on the “novice course.” The hair-raising twists and turns, along with the unexpected bumps that sent me — bike and all  —  two feet into the air called for Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel” to be on replay in my head. Other more experienced riders regularly reach nirvana with seemingly thousands of fellow adrenaline junkies on the resort’s other more challenging (as if that’s possible), internationally acclaimed trails.

Fly Fishing Is High Church
Famed journalist Tom Brokaw once said, “If fishing is a religion, then fly fishing is high church.” And if that is true, then the clear mountain waters of the Provo and Weber rivers are certainly two perfect places for anglers to worship. Step into waders (not my preferred fashion statement, but they do keep you dry) and grab a creel, a fly rod, and a guide (if you are a newbie like me), then start tapping your line to find piscatorial enlightenment.

The Zen Of Ziplining
In the interest of full transparency, ziplining was not the first thing to cross my mind when I envisioned my “moment of Park City Zen”  —  curly hair and helmets are not the best of friends, let alone a fear of heights. A strong warrior two and a sun salutation A (about 30 feet back from the mountain’s edge) was more in line with my thinking. However, I believe I saw the light as I was flying across the canyon between Lookout Peak and Red Pine Lodge, courtesy of Epic Zip Tour at Canyons Village on Park City Mountain. Their highly trained guides put my mind at ease (along with a comforting number of straps and “metal thingy’s” securing me to the line), allowing my spirits to soar as I floated across some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.

Bubbles And Baths To Exorcise Demons
If you tend to seek a blissful, less physically demanding experience like I tend to do, you can soothe your soul by making an off-season pilgrimage to one of Park City’s resorts  —  such as Montage Deer Valley Resort & Spa and its yurt that serves celestial bubbles in the form of Veuve Clicquot. Despite my willingness to enlighten myself on the fervors of others and don a helmet, knee pads, and a backpack with an assortment of hooks meant to keep me from plunging to the ground below, I rather prefer to exorcise my demons in a world-class spa, such as Spa Montage Deer Valley, satisfy my culinary cravings at one of Park City’s gourmet festivals and institutions, such as Silver Star Café and tupelo, or shop until I drop on Historic Main Street.

So, whatever your religion  —  nature, wildlife, sports, or self-indulgence  —  consider Park City your year-round cathedral. One visit and you will be a convert.

Park City