Stage 6: Park City to Park City
Last year, Park City’s three area ski resorts ranked in SKI Magazine's top 10 Resort Guide thanks to high praise from readers who are passionate about skiing and know the Greatest Snow on Earth when they experience it.
This is a bicycle race, however, and a quick sprint out of Park City gives very little time to reflect, for the moment, on the old mining town’s mountain innumerable cultural and outdoor assets.
But don’t worry: after 78 crushing miles, we’ll be right back where we started.
Following a déjà vu run in reverse of yesterday’s run down Browns Canyon, the peloton will hard right south toward Kamas, where a Sprint Line where rush riders to the gateway to the high Uinta Mountains.
An ever-so-brief skip and jump up the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway gives us a taste of what lies ahead: the Uinta Mountains, unique for their east-west orientation (rare in North America) and height, they feature Utah's tallest peaks, including Kings Peak at 13,528 feet. Numerous alpine lakes, campgrounds, picnic areas and backcountry wilderness access points line this high-mountain byway.
A turn off the byway crosses the Provo River, which Jordanelle and Deer Creek Reservoirs with snowmelt from the high Unitas. Along middle stretches, the Provo offers world-class fly-fishing.
From Summit County, the riders will be warmly welcomed into you to Heber Valley, one of the friendliest communities in Utah. Early Swiss settlers felt a connection between the lush high country along the Provo river and their native lands in the Swiss Alps.
Today, Heber Valley boasts three state parks, pristine lakes, endless hiking and biking opportunities, horseback riding, snowmobiling, 90 holes of public golf, and majestic mountainous views of the Wasatch Back, including the super-majestic Mount Timpanogos. For a more subterranean view, one of the most popular tourist attractions is scuba diving in the geo-thermal Homestead Crater, a 50-foot deep natural hot spring with a 90-degree water temperature.
Sprinting through Midway City offers glimpses of unique and historic architecture tapping the valley’s Swiss heritage. Midway maintains a Swiss-themed town square, business district, and residential community During Labor Day weekend, more than 90,000 people enjoy the Swiss Days celebration, as well as the International Sheep Dog Trials. During the 2002 Winter Olympics, Midway’s Soldier Hollow hosted the cross-country and biathlon events and continues to provide the state’s best Nordic skiing venue during the winter.
We promised a return to the mountain resort lands of Park City, and that time is drawing near. So let’s take a look at what lies ahead:
Park City Mountain Resort is one of the most accessible mountain resorts in North America. Just a 35-minute drive from Salt Lake City International Airport, the resort is a year-round vacation destination offering over 3,300 acres of varied ski terrain. Its mountain neighbor, Deer Valley brings an additional 2,000 acres to the table along with some of the nation’s top groomed runs and luxury summer accommodations. During the summer the resort hosts the Deer Valley Music Festival, which brings the Utah Symphony and Opera to the open-air majesty of the high Wasatch Mountains.
Park City is a world-renowned art community with ongoing gallery openings and performances anchored by major annual events like the Kimball Arts Festival and the Park City Food and Wine Classic. And of course, the sine qua non annual art event is the Sundance Film Festival. Since 1985, hundreds of critically acclaimed films and filmmakers launched at the Festival have found commercial distribution for their distinct brand of visual storytelling.
In downtown Park City, there are over a hundred restaurants and bars mostly within walking distance or a short ride on the free city-wide transportation system, including the country’s only ski-in distillery, the High West Distillery and Saloon.
Park City is a mountain town that certainly let’s the good times roll. But for the riders in the peloton, but there’s one last task for riders to round out the 2013 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, and let’s just say it defies categorization: the HC hors categorie King of the Mountain climb up Empire Pass. It was a game changer last year and we can expect riders to pour their heart, soul and a bit of sweat into this hill to prepare for a mad dash down an 11-percent grade mine road where a champion will be crowned at the finish line in Park City where the world will be watching.