Bountiful Rocky Mountain vistas in every direction are part of what makes Park City most magical, and thanks to the talents of many entrepreneurial locals there is an abundance of ways to soak up the scenery through brag-worthy experiences. One such offering worth calling attention to is The Viking Yurt located atop the sweeping trails of Park City Mountain.
The yurt is best known for its reservation-only wintertime Nordic fine dining dinner adventure. The intimate four-hour experience serving up to 40 people once per night begins with a horse-drawn sleigh ride to the encampment and is followed by a gourmet Norwegian six-course dinner including the likes of glugg - a hot, spiced beverage- and sorbet intermezzo – a palate cleanser. Casual lunch is also available during the winter, and while the dinners are currently not in operation outside of the ski season, the summer of 2019 begins the first time in its existence (since 1999) that casual lunchtime dining is operating during the summer season on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, no reservations required. Indoor seating is available for diners looking to feel encompassed by a charming European atmosphere, and outdoor deck seating is available for those wanting to dine over lush mountain views.
WHAT: Lunch Hike (or Chairlift Ride)
WHERE: The Viking Yurt, Located a short walk from the top of Crescent chairlift
WHEN: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM - no reservations required. Service ends September 29th.
WHO: All Ages
Hiking up to the Viking Yurt followed by treating myself to a well-earned lunch has been a priority on my summertime to-do list. Over a beautiful weekend in Park City, my partner and I mapped out a plan to wake up on Sunday morning and “hit the trail.” We navigated our way to Park City Mountain Village (note the appropriate base area as Park City Mountain does have two, with the other being Canyons Village) and by 10:00 a.m. we had picked up our scenic chairlift ride tickets and wristbands- which we would need to ride down Cresent chairlift following lunch - and were working our way to the trail.
There is an easy-to-navigate series of trails to the yurt from the base area for mountain bikers or hikers, approximately seven miles one-way. The round trip route is about 14 miles, so if hikers are intimidated by the distance, a nice way to divide the journey is to choose one direction to hike and the other direction to take the chairlift, which is the plan we opted for (reminder that this will require a lift ticket purchase from the base area, regardless of the direction in which the chairlift is being ridden from). From the base area, this is the trail route TO the yurt:
- Begin by taking Jenni’s Trail all the way to its ending point right by the PayDay lift terminal (~5.1 miles).
- Note: from the base area, Jenni’s Trail begins just above the First Time chairlift, below the Adventure Park activities. It is marked with a trail sign, and likely the trail that all other hikers/bikers are heading towards.
- Once reaching the top of the PayDay lift terminal, follow the signs for Mid Mountain Trail and travel until reaching the fork for Tommy’s Two-Step (~.5 mile).
- At that point, you will follow Tommy’s Two-Step the rest of the way to the yurt/top of Crescent chairlift (~1.5 miles).
The route has beautiful views of the mountains, town, and forest that had me swooning. While the trail does have a constant slope, the path is designed with many switchbacks to keep the incline very gradual so it’s perfect for intermediate-level hikers. For me, the nicest aspect of the hike is that the majority of the trek was through trees which served as a natural sun blocker and temperature regulator, making the experience comfortable even on a warm day. We did make sure to pack plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and clothing layers to ensure we had our basic needs met, which I recommend every hiker/biker take into consideration.
Approximately three hours later, after navigating the proper trail crossings, we reached the top and it was well worth the journey. There is a great sense of accomplishment that comes with reaching the top of a trail, and we were greeted by even more incredible views that made us feel like we were on top of the world. Some hikers can absolutely accomplish the hike in less time, but we chose to walk at a more leisurely pace and stop for photos along the way. Mountain bikers can traverse uphill in even quicker time, but from my perspective, it took us several enjoyable hours.
With our stomachs grumbling, we made our way to the yurt. Opting for a seat outside, we grabbed an umbrella-shaded table on the deck. The inside of the yurt has a ceiling fan operating, but there is no air conditioning so depending on the day and time, it can get warm inside but it is well ventilated with fresh air. There is also a compost toilet washroom available right next to the yurt for when nature calls.
When we were ready to eat, we went inside and placed the order at the register; cash and cards accepted. Our food was brought out to us shortly after. In correlation to the small size of the yurt, the lunch menu is minimal but diverse enough to appease an appetite. A variety of snack foods, cold drinks and a nice selection of alcohol are available, along with four main meal options including Quinoa Summer Salad Bowl, Buffalo Brat, Grilled Cheese, and Prosciutto & Brie Cheese sandwiches made to order. For those seeking a sweet reward, sugary bites include Auntie Em’s local pie, freshly made cookies, and Bees Knees ice cream in a variety of flavors.
I enjoyed both the salad bowl and Buffalo Brat, providing a good dose of healthy and moderately healthy until I went for a slice of pie AND cookie. I earned it. While we were dining, two other hikers in need of a seat joined us at our table and we shared agreements on what a beautiful day it had turned out to be.
Fueling up with our tasty sandwiches and treats, we were ready to make our way back to the base area- this time opting for the chairlift ride. Crescent chairlift is within view of the yurt and only requires a brief walk. Once we walked over to the terminal, we showed the operator our wristband and hopped on the next chair. The ride took approximately 13 minutes to get to the base area, offering a treetop view of the landscapes and activities that exist below. Once we made it to the base area, the tranquil ride was met with a high-energy atmosphere of Park City Mountain’s Adventure Park creating a vibrant ending to a serene and amazing experience.
Though we opted to hike up to the yurt and ride the Crescent chairlift down, there are a couple of alternatives available to access the establishment.
- The fastest and most direct route is to take the Crescent chairlift to/from the Park City Mountain Village in both directions, omitting any hiking from the journey. Reminder: This will require the purchase of a scenic chairlift ticket from a ticket window.
- Take Town Lift chairlift, located on lower Main Street, to the top and then hiking Mid Mountain Trail and Tommy’s Two-Step to the yurt. The top of Town Lift is next to the top of PayDay lift, leaving a scenic and relatively leisure two-mile hike ahead as described in the hiking route shared above.
- *Please note: there is a ticket window located on Main Street next to Town Lift and does not require a visit to the resort’s main base area for purchase.
Perhaps one of the best features of the yurt is its location and accessibility. While I thoroughly enjoyed the hike up Park City Mountain’s trails to reach the establishment, the yurt’s proximity to the Crescent chairlift makes it a breeze for visitors to reach it in a number of different manners to best suit variable preferences and time commitments.
In 1999 The Viking Yurt was erected by owners Joy and Geir Vik. Joy was raised in Park City and later met Geir, a Norwegian, while they were both studying at the University of Utah. Once married, they moved to Norway where, several years later, they returned to Park City upon missing this skier’s paradise. Since then, the yurt has served as a true Norwegian experience. The location alone is reason enough to put this on the Park City must-do list, and the cuisine offerings are an added benefit to treat the taste buds and bask in the international flare of this picturesque venue.
For more information please visit TheVikingYurt.com.