In exactly 20 years of operating All Seasons Adventures in Park City, Spencer Byrne knows a thing or two about surviving stormy skies and rough waters. But no outdoorsy metaphors can capture the devastation wrought by the COVID pandemic.  

“Our darkest moment was when town shut down,” he said. “We never imagined that we would have to stop our operations. We had so many reservations on the books and had a great snow year in 2020, so going to a complete halt was terrifying, stressful, and uncertain.”

National Travel and Tourism Week gives Spencer a chance to reflect on the power of travel to bring nature closer to pandemic-weary souls while rebuilding Park City’s economy.“ Although it might not feel this way, Park City still has the same small, year-round population it did during our mining days,” he points out. “Without visitors, we wouldn’t have any guests to take into Park City’s great outdoors.”

In addition to excellent safety protocols that prevented COVID outbreaks at All Seasons, Spencer says the lure of Park City’s wide-open spaces has been critical to staying open. “Guests come to Park City with a desire to be outside,” he believes. “We saw more interest in family travel. Others visited Utah because it’s an outdoor mecca. They found comfort in getting outside when confined indoor spaces were off-limits due to the virus.”

Like many Park City business owners, Spencer never views visitors as a homogeneous group of “tourists, ”but as unique individuals with a human desire for adventure, bonding experiences and contact with nature, whether with family, friends or coworkers. “All types of tourism are integral to our business,” he states. “Visitors come to us from local hotels, or they are families on a National Park tour, corporate travel groups excited to try something new, or day-trippers from Salt Lake. ”Tourism supports his business, employees and future, and for his guests, travel offers a getaway from a busy, stressful daily life. “We truly believe that the outdoors is for everyone,” he said.

The power of travel also reconnects family members with each other; the All Seasons staff loves the occasional life-changing moment an outdoor experience can bring about. “One of our guides, Anya, recently guided a family with a child with autism,” Spencer recalls. “The family wanted an engaging outdoor opportunity for their child, but nothing seemed to work. ”The answer was an All Seasons guided snowshoe excursion. “The kiddo had a blast playing in the snow and discovering different trees and plants while being surrounded by loved ones” and a patient, caring guide, Spencer said. The parents were emotional in expressing gratitude for the family bonding experience. “It reemphasized our belief that everyone can find joy and comfort in some form of outdoor recreation,” he concludes.

Rebuilding Park City businesses with committed employees also depend on travel, and Spencer’s pandemic response prioritized the joy of the job. “We balanced the seriousness of our protocols with a sense of fun, as our business attracts employees for the exciting, people-focused, daily adventures,” he said. “We wanted our guides to know we could uphold tour quality for travelers even if it meant requiring masks or having the guest adjust their gear- with the guides double-checking - instead of breaking the 6-foot barrier.”

Breaking barriers – whether between individuals, people, and nature or locals and visitors -is another excellent metaphor for what All Seasons Adventures – and the power of travel – are doing every day.