The Best of Summer in Park City
For a bustling mountain town like Park City, perpetually the congenial host to legions of visitors seeking “The Greatest Snow on Earth,” or movie buffs and star gazers who descend during the Sundance Film Festival, the warmer months are a time for locals to exhale. Park City Magazine takes a look at the best-loved summer picks of three local personalities who came for the winter, stayed for the summer, and chose to make Park City their year-round homes.
Our Nevada-born Olympic freestyle skier, who won a silver medal at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Park City and bronze at Vancouver’s 2010 Games, laid down roots in Utah and turned entrepreneurial when she opened Salt Lake City–based Silver Bean Coffee in 2008. Despite her successful skiing career and the fact that she moonlights as the Deer Valley ski ambassador at the St. Regis Deer Valley, Bahrke says she actually lives for summer. “Everyone thinks that because I’m a winter athlete I love the winter and snow. But I hate to be cold,” she admits.
Small-Town Girl “Summertime in Park City has the best temperature to do whatever you want. You can hike, bike, and shop, and it’s the most perfect weather—not too humid, not too dry, and not too hot. Where we live is ideal. Everyone is out and about. It’s a really great community, and it really comes together in the summer. The vibe is so friendly. Of all the places I’ve traveled, Park City is by far my favorite.”
Work Hard, Play Harder “I don’t know more than five people in Park City who are originally from here. We all came from other places and were drawn here for a reason. We all work hard to remain. There are people who work their whole lives to take two weeks of vacation here. The people who choose to live here enjoy their lives.”
Flying High On Saturday afternoons, Bahrke recommends family-friendly adventures at Utah Olympic Park’s thrilling alpine slide, summer bobsled, and zip line, followed by a demonstration by the “Flying Aces” freestyle aerialists (she’s a member) as they entertain the crowd with daredevil twists and flips. “It’s so much fun because you can go up there with a picnic, sit in the sun, and watch the best freestyle skiers jump into the splash pool.” Bahrke recently opened a Silver Bean location at UOP, with a full menu offering healthy meals and Silver Bean’s classic ski-themed “athletic” coffee blends, such as Night Train, named after the US bobsled team.
Free Chill Bahrke’s favorite store in Park City is the Lululemon showroom, not just for the athletic gear but for the complimentary clinics and classes offered on evenings and weekends. “In the summertime, I love to take part in yoga in the park in the fresh air. Often we hang out afterward and play volleyball.”
Fave Sip “The ginger margarita at St. Regis.”
Hangin’ “One of my favorite things to do in summer is go to the free Wednesday concerts at Deer Valley. I stop at a local market on the way and load up on fresh bread and cheese and some good wine.”
Wish List “Every time I drive up the canyon and see the balloons in the air, I think, ‘I would just love to see the world from high above.’”
The reputation of Park City Mayor Dana Williams precedes him. His Motherlode Canyon Band has rocked local watering holes for nearly two decades. His major mode of transportation is his own two legs—he walks almost everywhere to remain connected to the spirit of Park City and its people. The effervescent, California-born half-hippie, half-politician first came to Park City with his family in the 1960s and personifies the community’s eclectic evolution from sleepy mining town to ski resort hub and the veritable four-season mountain mecca it has become today.
Trip down Memory Lane The town Williams and his four siblings spent summers exploring was like something from a Mark Twain novel. “I spent summers in Park City starting when I was 8 years old; we didn’t want to spend winters here because we were surfer guys, and we wanted to be in the ocean in California. Eighty percent of Park City was boarded up back then. There’d be a fire in Old Town, and they’d just let it burn to the ground. A lot of the mines were still open, so we’d go up into the hills and find old core samples. There were maybe 700 people in town. We knew everyone, and they knew us,” Williams recalls. “Park City was very wild at that time.”
Rural Adventures The Williams siblings rode dirt bikes across every inch of town—in areas that would later become neighborhoods like Park Meadows and Kearns Boulevard—jumping over abandoned mine pilings heaped 80 feet high in Prospector. Today, Williams loves going on what he calls “urban hikes” through his Prospector neighborhood, mingling with neighbors and families who remind him of his younger years. He recommends the Lost Prospector trail for a mild to medium difficulty hike: “I normally pack a few beers and go.” Even just a casual stroll along the Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail that runs through town and out toward Hwy 40 affords Williams chance encounters with nature in the wetlands that line the path.
The Skinny Swimming in nearby Rockport and Echo Reservoirs is also a must-do summer activity for Williams. And skinny-dipping tops his list. “I get naked and jump into the Weber River after getting sweaty bucking hay—the river used to run right by our family farm,” he says. “I never miss doing it once a season.”
KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher arrived more than three decades ago to work as a “Chateau Queen”—a mountain ambassador of sorts—at local ski lodge Chateau Après, one of town’s first hotels. Like many other Park City transplants, she ended up staying. As news director at KPCW Radio (and a 20-year veteran of the nonprofit station), she is proud of how the public radio station has stayed true to its local roots despite the town’s exponential growth. Eclectic programs such as “lost and found” and a silly classifieds show are examples of ways the station expresses an authentic, grassroots personality. “It’s about community and letting people who have something to say, say it on the airwaves.”
Free Ride Thatcher’s favorite free summer activity is to lead Tuesday-evening Team Sugar all-women group rides at White Pine Touring. “I love to mountain bike and show other women how to enjoy it,” she says. Team Sugar aims to bring fun and camaraderie to the sport without the pressure of keeping up with a bunch of hard-core gear heads. Sometimes as many as 70 women join in the two-hour sessions. “We show them skills like biking over logs and how to take sharp corners gracefully,” she explains. “It’s a great opportunity to meet other women who love to bike, and to get out and see terrain you’ve never seen before at a different pace from hiking.”
Finding Her Running Legs For someone who devotes so much time to spinning her wheels, running was foreign territory for Thatcher—until her friend, Park City Magazine editor Kristen Gould Case, challenged her to a half-marathon fundraiser for breast cancer last summer with a mere 13 weeks to train. On a whim, Thatcher accepted the challenge and signed up online before she could change her mind. She began running three times a week, starting on the bark-covered loop around north Hwy 40 before trying the Rail Trail. Thatcher’s favorite? The six-mile Round Valley loop. “It’s a gentle up and down, and the trails are wide enough that there are no surprises between runners and bikers.” Oh, and that half marathon? It’s already back on her calendar for this year.
Fave Event “The Park City Food and Wine Classic at Canyons is a wonderful way to spend a summer day pretending I know something about wine. One of the best parts of the day is finding something I like with a price tag I can afford.”
Fave Chill “Gelato at Spin Café in Heber City.”
How Does Her Garden Grow? Thatcher loves being up to her elbows in her backyard garden, where she’s cultivated a small crop of lettuce, carrots, beans, and arugula. She shares a favorite summer salad-dressing recipe she credits to her friend Ruth Drapkin (at left). Thatcher serves it over her homegrown greens with a side of barbecued chicken breast and quinoa cooked simply in vegetable stock.
Wish List “I’d love to see Park City Golf Club start a less serious, coed golf league that uses a best ball format. It would be quicker than the traditional ‘everyone plays their own ball’ game and a lot of fun for those of us who like to play golf but only have a great drive, chip, or putt every 20th swing.”