If you think there is nothing to do in Park City during the slower autumn months, a.k.a shoulder season, you are sorely mistaken. Fall quietly hosts a plethora of activities, events, and recreation opportunities for all ages and stages. Check out these fun, family-friendly ways to make the most out of the secret season.
Have a doggone good time at the Soldier Hollow Classic
An event for anyone who loves dogs (that's everyone in Park City), the Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Championship & Festival (Aug. 31 - Sept. 3) brings together the world's finest sheepdogs for a competition like no other. Watching the dogs is an absolutely mesmerizing experience, but the event also features a number of other activities, including dog agility and splash events, a wild and exotic animal show by Utah rescue group Wild Wonders, close-up encounters with hawks, owls, and falcons courtesy of Earthwings, an arts and crafts market, and an international food court.
Snap a picture-perfect shot at Autumn Aloft
Park City officially welcomes fall with the annual Autumn Aloft Balloon Festival. It's worth waking up early and bringing the whole family (and camera) along to experience dozens of balloons taking off simultaneously and filling the sky. The balloons launch from the North 40 Fields (2530 Kearns Blvd) at 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, September 15 and 16. Tag your photos with #pictureline and #autumnaloft2018 for the chance to win prizes from Pictureline (there is no limit on entries).
Hike and bike before the snow flies
Fall is the best time for hitting the single track on foot or bike. The trails are generally less crowded than peak summertime, the temperatures are mild, and the changing leaves are absolutely breathtaking (see some of our favorite fall hikes here). Enhance your outdoor experience by learning more about the local flora and fauna with the Swaner Preserve's guided nature walks or if you happen to be around Deer Valley on Sept. 8, put your trekking towards a good cause by joining the Hike for Hunger.
Take flight with the Zip Tour at the Utah Olympic Park
The new Zip Tour at the UOP is a must on any thrill-seeker's list and there's no better time to fly 40 m.p.h. across the most scenic sections of the canyon floor than when the leaves are turning. During the fall, most of the UOP's activities are open only on the weekends (until Oct. 23), but Zip Tours are also available Monday through Friday by reservation (full schedule here). With a wide range of activities and a number of sports-themed and hands-on exhibits, the UOP is a great option for entertaining a wide variety of ages.
Cozy up with books (and more) at the libraryThe library is an excellent place to keep your kids occupied for days on end. Not only does the Park City Library offer a number of regularly scheduled reading activities, including weekly sessions with therapy dogs, there are also MineCraft and Lego Clubs, movies, virtual reality travel, and live music on the patio. A few of the special events planned for this fall include the annual used book sale (Sept. 1 -3) where you can take a bag full of books home for just $10; an art exhibit featuring the iconic watercolor and vibrant oil landscapes of local artist Patricia Smith (Sept. 1 - Nov. 30); an evening with author Erika L. Sánchez featuring her award-winning young adult novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter on September 20; and an author luncheon on October 17 with Peter Rock discussing the adaptation of his book, My Abandonment, into the 2018 Sundance film, Leave No Trace (screening Sept. 14-16 as part of the Park City Film Series).
Tap into the fall harvest
The growing season might be short at high altitude, but that makes the bounty all the more delicious. You can find farm fresh produce and plenty of other homemade treats and trinkets at local markets, like Park Silly Sunday Market (Sundays until Sept. 23) and the Park City Farmer's Market (Wednesdays through Oct. 23). If you want to get your hands dirty, you can even spend an afternoon picking apples at Wasatch Mountain State Park's Huber Grove (through Sept. 16).
Check out artsy-to-arachnid exhibits
The fall is a fantastic time to pop by an exhibit. For the artsy, head over to the Kimball Art Center to ponder the whimsical sculptures of Niki de Saint Phalle,on display through Sept. 16. One of the foremost female artist of the 20th century, her work was recently featured at the Guggenheim Bilbao and Paris’ Le Grand Palais. Or delve into the past by taking advantage of buy-one-get-one free admission at the Park City Museum on Sundays during Park Silly (until Sept. 23). And if you're brave, check out the creepy, crawly special exhibit Art & Science of Arachnids (Sept. 15 - Dec. 31) at the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter, where you can meet over 100 live arachnids!
Celebrate Halloween for a whole month
Christmas and 4th of July are Park City's hallmark holidays for out-of-towners, but locals know Halloween is where all the real fun happens. You can start getting in the spirit of Halloween early with pumpkin painting, games, cookies, and creating a scarecrow at the Scarecrow Festival at McPolin Barn on September 22. Halloween-themed activities abound during October, but on the night of All Hallows' Eve, the place to be is Main Street where ghouls, ghosts, and poop fairies show up for trick-or-treating and the Howl-O-Ween.