Outside The Lines Park City's rich culture and history

  • Find The True Park City
  • Park City Museum
  • Heber Valley Railroad
  • Ice Castle in Midway
  • Soldier Hollow Nordic
  • The Sundance Institute
  • Kimball Art Center
  • Utah Olympic Park

Park City is world famous for skiing and snowboarding, but the region’s rich culture and history mean there’s plenty for visitors to see and do when they’re not on the hill.

Park City Museum

Beneath the veneer of mountain town luxury lays Park City’s true heritage as a silver mining town.

Pro Tip

The Park City Museum is a terrifically executed tribute to the town’s past and its evolution into an internationally revered ski destination.

The roots of this history can be seen throughout the mountains in the eroding structures still standing from a bygone era.

Interactive exhibits include an original ski train that was once used to usher skiers up through former mining tunnels, and the town’s erstwhile jail cells, which were actually located in the basement.

Plus, firsthand accounts from mining-era residents illustrate a version of Park City you can hardly imagine.

Heber Valley Historic Railroad

The history of the American West is indelibly tied to the history of the railroads.

The Heber Valley Historic Railroad, less than 30 minutes from Park City, allows visitors to experience a piece of historic Americana and engage with the relics of a bygone era.

The authentic 1899 steam locomotives take passengers on a variety of trips, including scenic rides down Provo Canyon and through Heber Valley’s majestic natural landscape.

Adventure Train trips such as the Reins & Trains and Rafts & Rails options include horseback riding, river rafting, or ziplining.

Or, choose a themed special event such as the Sunset BBQ Special for a Western-style dinner experience, the North Pole Special, or the Valentine’s Day Express.

Ice Castle in Midway

Got kids? Chances are, those kids love castles—bonus points for ice castles (parents, insert Frozen jokes here).

Good news: From January through February, weather-permitting, you can find one of the most dazzling ice kingdoms you’ll probably ever see , just half an hour from Park City in the Heber Valley.

Hand-built from sculpted ice and millions of icicles by Utah-based ice architect Brent Christensen, the shimmering castle will be modeled after Utah’s natural landscape features, from slot canyons to arches to caves.

Visitors can explore the tunnels, nooks, and crannies in parts of the castle, and the entire glacial palace glows with LED lights at night.

Check the website for opening and closing dates, as the ice castle is dependent on Mother Nature’s whimsy.

Soldier Hollow

Half an hour from Park City, this former Native American encampment hosted the 2002 Winter Olympic cross country and biathlon events and portions of the Nordic Combined.

Its championship-caliber trails are ideal for Nordic and snowshoeing adventures, and families will love the tubing track—Utah’s longest at 1,200 feet, complete with a towing service back up the hill.

Soldier Hollow has hosted everything from the Intergalactic Tubing Championships (yes, those exist…and they happen here) to—in warmer temps—the North American Unicycle Championships.

As recreating areas go, it’s hard to beat the beauty, trails, and championship facilities of Soldier Hollow.

Park City Film Series & The Sundance Institute

The crowning jewel of Park City’s film heritage is undoubtedly the Sundance Film Festival, which takes over the town for two weeks each winter.

Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

Fortunately, the town’s commitment to high-quality, independent film doesn’t end when the festival winds down, so there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy Park City’s unique film culture even if you aren’t visiting in January.

The Park City Film Series brings some of the best selections from independent film, including documentary, world, and local cinema, to the Jim Santy auditorium.

Additionally, the Sundance Institute hosts community events and screenings throughout the year.

In Park City, visitors have access to the kind independent film culture you’d only expect in populous, urban cultural hubs.

Kimball Art Center

Located just off Historic Main Street, the Kimball Art Center is the cultural epicenter of Park City’s art scene.

The Kimball hosts a rotating collection of national art exhibitions in addition to the work of budding local artists.

As a community art center, the Kimball encourages participation from locals and visitors alike by offering a wide range of classes and workshops, including ceramics, painting, sculpture, for all ages and abilities.

Utah Olympic Park

The Olympic legacy in Park City continues to thrive more than a decade after the 2002 Winter Games.

The Utah Olympic Park (UOP)—which hosted the bobsleigh, skeleton, luge, Nordic ski jumping, and Nordic combined events—still holds prominent winter competitions, including World Cup events.

Additionally, the Olympic Park is home to two museums, the Alf Engen Ski Museum and the 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museum, where visitors can engage and learn about Utah’s Olympic heritage and the history of skiing in North America.

Comet Bobsled, Utah Olympic Park By Kristen Lumis

I like to call the 54 seconds I spent bobsledding at Utah Olympic Park, “my Olympic moment.” Like many people, my childhood fantasies included winning a gold medal. 

Never mind that I couldn’t throw a single, let alone a triple, salchow. 

Never mind that my ski racing times were always middling. 

I knew, just knew, that I could be an Olympian. 

Needless to say, those aspirations came up a little short. 

But thankfully, I’ve experienced the next best thing—and if you, too, have ever dreamt of being an Olympian, riding the Comet Bobsled in Park City will make your dreams come true (almost). 

About 15 minutes from Main Street in Park City, the Comet is just one of the cool things to check out at the Olympic Park (read: If you’ve got any gravity-phobes in your group, they won’t be bored strolling the museums or catching some real live Olympic training while you hit the track.) 

We signed up, sat through a short orientation, got our helmets, and effectively skipped years of dedicated, sacrificial training for our shot at Olympic glory. 

After we met our professional driver, we settled into the sled with the other novices (each bobsled holds three passengers plus the driver; kids have to be over 16) and we were off down the mountain track. 

The day we rode the Comet was clear and frigid, so the ice was super fast. 

We plummeted down the course, nearly a mile long, reaching speeds of more than 80 mph; we finished just five seconds slower than an Olympic time. 

As you might guess, the bar for participation at Utah Olympic Park is pretty low. 

You don’t have to run down the ice, push the sled, or jump in on the fly in a Spandex speed suit. 

Still, it’s the ride of a lifetime, a chance to mainline adrenaline knowing you’re safe in the hands of a professional, and one of the most legitimate ways to gain respect for the incredible pressures these athletes face. 

Even at sub-Olympic speeds, the Comet ride pulls up to five Gs as you slide through broad, sweeping turns. 

People with neck and back issues or other health problems should give it a pass, but for everyone else, take the orientation instructions seriously and prepare to find yourself bent low, staring at the floor as the sled whips through the curves. 

Don’t fight the forces. 

Instead, hang on, and enjoy every second of your Olympic moment. 

And if there are any thrill seekers in the group, the UOP offers guided bobsleigh runs down the actual Olympic track.

(Banner photo by Fred Hays - Courtsey of Sundance Institute)

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