During the 1980s when the notion of skiing in the USA was puzzling to many, given the endless choice of resorts in Europe, those who did take the step soon began telling their friends what they were missing, and so more and more UK skiers packed their bags and headed across the Atlantic for new experiences.
Initially there was a surge in popularity, particularly in the ski resorts of California, Colorado and Utah. Today's Park City is a far cry from its humble beginnings in the mid-19th century - long before it became a sought-after holiday destination, Park City was a silver mining success story, producing gargantuan quantities of the precious metal for over a century until the early 1960s.
During the mining era a notable success story was that of George Hearst, whose Ontario mine, purchased for $27,000 in 1872, went on to produce over $60 million of silver during its lifetime. George Hearst was the father of William Randolph Hearst, publishing magnate and inspiration for the lead character in Orson Welles' classic Oscar winning film, Citizen Kane.
As silver mining became uneconomical, so Park City gradually transformed itself into a ski town and today boasts two world class ski areas, Deer Valley and Park City Mountain. Through the years, Park City has become one of the most sought after destinations in the world of wintersports. When you are skiing on the slopes of either resort there are reminders of its past. Many of the ski runs, particularly on Park City Mountain, have names echoing the mining epoch although most skiers will be totally unaware of the extensive network of mining shafts and tunnels beneath the ski runs.
Utah's Wasatch Mountains are famous for the extraordinary quantities of light, dry powder snow that dump on the ski areas each winter – such snowfall is any skier's idea of heaven. Across both Park City resorts there are almost 400 marked ski runs offering an abundance of ski terrain for all abilities to enjoy. One of the best time of year to visit is during spring when the plentiful snow on the mountains is matched by increasingly long and sunny days.
Winter visitors come mainly to ski, but even if you don't ski and yet love the mountain experience there is plenty to do. Among the non-Alpine activities to enjoy are snowshoeing, ziplining, horse riding and even fly fishing. Not to be missed is the Olympic Park and its fascinating museum and for the thrill of a lifetime, take a hair-raising ride on the Olympic bobsled run. Salt Lake City was the host city for the 2002 Winter Olympics and Park City was the venue for many events.
Away from the ski slopes, Park City is endowed with over 150 bars and restaurants with many locally owned and operated by talented chefs, featuring locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. A Park City landmark is the No Name Saloon 'Helping people forget their names since 1903'. With its laid back atmosphere, a bar doesn't get more authentic than this and is a haven for locals and visitors alike. No Name is located on Main Street in the heart of the town's Historic District. This area is perfect for browsing the many independently owned shops and galleries, eating, drinking and visiting favourites such as the Park City Mining Museum where it’s easy to immerse yourself in the town's colourful past. Around the corner from Main Street is the High West Distillery and Saloon, as far as we know the world's only ski to the door whiskey distillery.
A high point in each year's cultural calendar is local personality Robert Redford's renowned Sundance Film Festival, when the who's who of independent film-making descends on Park City for a couple of weeks each January.
Getting to Park City from the brand new Salt Lake City International Airport is very simple, with a short journey time of just 35 minutes. There are plenty of transportation choices including regular door to door shuttles. Once arrived, a car is unnecessary thanks to an integrated free bus system which connects all parts of Park City and runs from early morning until late at night.
Many of Park City's residents first visited on a ski trip and vowed to come back and make a new life here. It’s people that make places and the residents of the town have been instrumental in moulding Park City into a unique world class destination where everyone is welcome.
More information www.visitparkcity.com