There are few things more American than loading up your car with your favorite people, creating a playlist of great tunes, grabbing snacks, and hitting the open road. The possibilities seem endless until you realize that you have to narrow down a destination. If you're looking for a road trip destination with lots of outdoor recreation, lots of fantastic dining options, excellent lodging variety, great weather, and plenty of charm, you'll want to visit Park City! Luckily Park City, Utah is within a day's drive of most western US cities, so it is the perfect place to escape on vacation.
Park City is tucked into the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, but you only need to rough it if you want to. Enjoy first-rate accommodations at hotels like Stein Eriksen, and The Montage or pitch your tent in the nearby forest. If you're looking for a gourmet bite to eat, you'll find no shortage of options with restaurants like Firewood, Twisted Fern, and The Silver Star Cafe. If a picnic is more your style, stop by Deer Valley Grocery Cafe or Park City Provisions for picnic supplies and enjoy it on top of a mountain peak. Whatever your style is, you'll find it here in Park City.
The entire town of Park City has a really laid back vibe, which makes it perfect for a vacation getaway. In the summer, the preferred method of transportation around town is by bike, and the most popular places to eat are the ones that offer a beautiful view of the mountains. Here are some of our favorite things that make Park City the perfect vacation destination.
Old Town Charm
If you love history and charm, then prepare to fall in love with Park City entirely. Historic Main Street runs right down the center of downtown Park City and is the perfect place to window shop, grab a bite to eat or stop at the mining museum to learn more about the town's history. With over 100 independent boutiques and 50 one of a kind restaurants, your Park City experience will be unlike anything you've ever experienced before. The free shuttle bus and car-free Sundays during the summer are the cherries on top that make Old Town Park City extra charming.
Excellent Access to Trails and Wilderness
Did you know that Park City is only 30 miles from the Uintah National Forest and Wilderness area? If you're looking for a place to get away from it all, the Uintah forest is the place to be. The entire area is dotted with small alpine lakes, and it seems like almost every lake has a trail to it. Our family's favorite short hike is Ruth Lake since all the kids can easily hike to it, and the views are out of this world. If you want a beautiful scenic drive, make sure to cruise down the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, where you absolutely must get out for a bit at both Provo Falls and Mirror Lake to really appreciate the beauty.
Park City is the perfect place to escape the summer heat, and the daytime temperatures remain so great for outdoor activities until snow hits. On average, Park City is usually about 10-12 degrees cooler than nearby Salt Lake City and is about 25 degrees cooler than the famous Utah National Parks of Zion, Arches, and Canyonlands. What that means for your vacation is that instead of planning your trip around the heat waves, you can literally be outside enjoying nature ALL DAY LONG! Nighttime temperatures cool off once the sun goes down, but that gives you more of a reason to snuggle up beside the fire pit before you turn in for the night.
Easy to Rent Gear
One of the biggest hassles of going on a road trip can be the desire to take ALL THE THINGS with you. Pretty soon, your car is so loaded down with bikes, kayaks, backpacks, and hiking boots that there's no room for people. Simplify your trip to Park City by leaving your gear at home and renting some while you're here. Not only will it save you room in the car, but it will also give you a great chance to try out new gear and see if you want to upgrade soon. Here is a link to some great places to rent equipment when you're visiting Park City.
Variety of Lodging Options
Are you looking to find the perfect accommodation for your Park City road trip? The good news is that Park City has a little bit of everything when it comes to lodging. If you want space to spread out and keep some distance from others, there are many options for vacation rentals in the area. Would you rather have someone there to wait on your every need? Then look into a hotel with great concierge service from our list of hotels. Park City even has a hostel if you're on a tight budget. If you're looking to do some camping, three state parks are within close driving distance with great campgrounds to let you have your great outdoors experience, but still, be just a stone's throw away from the amenities of Park City. Check out Wasatch Mountain, Jordanelle, and Rockport State Park for lots of camping options near Park City.
Some of the best things to do in Park City for visitors:
If you love to bike, then you'll absolutely love Park City. The mountain elevation makes the summer temperatures cooler, making it possible to bike all day long. If you like mountain biking, Park City has over 400 miles of single-track trail. Even if you're not an expert, consider taking a biking lesson at White Pine Touring while you're in town to improve your skills. With so many trails, there really is something for everyone, from toddlers to seniors.
If paved trails are more your style, you'll find plenty of places to ride. Consider renting an e-bike for the day so that you can cover more ground without getting as tired. One of the most scenic trails in the valley is the McLeod Creek Trail. This trail takes you from downtown out to Kimball Junction, past the historic McPolin Barn, and with great views of the Swaner Nature Preserve. Start at one end and ride to the other, grab lunch, and ride back for the perfect day.
Take A Hike
Just like biking trails, hiking trails seem to be just about everywhere in Park City. Whether you want to take a long trail through the lakes of Uintah National Forest or take a nature walk by the Olympic Park, it's easy to find the perfect trail here in town. Both Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain offer summer lift service, which can be a great way to get a magnificent view, and then hike down for a more leisurely hike.
Enjoy World-Class Rivers
If you're a rafting and water sports lover, you're going to love the lakes and rivers near Park City, which are perfect for cooling down on a hot day. The Provo River is the area's most popular fishing river, and people come from all over the country to fish its waters. There are several river access points throughout the Heber Valley, and most of them can be reached within 25 minutes of Park City.
If you want more of a thrill from your time on the river, head north to the Weber River, on the Weber River, you can go whitewater rafting in the summers. The section of the river is rated a Class II, which means that it has some exciting parts, but nothing particularly terrifying, making it a great rafting trip for beginners.
Take A Scenic Drive
Is driving your favorite way to take in the local scenery? Well, there is no shortage of scenic drives in Park City. Whether you want to drive up Guardsman Pass and enjoy all the summer wildflowers in full bloom or enjoy countless waterfalls as you drive through Provo Canyon. If you're looking for a drive with lots of alpine lakes, make sure to drive the Mirror Lake Highway. If you want to enjoy a bit of local history, drive up to Echo Canyon and see significant parts of the pioneer route along the way. With so many roads to drive, you may just end up wanting to stay longer so that you can see it all!
Are you looking to plan a road trip to Park City?
It's closer than you think!
Salt Lake City to Park City
- 30 Miles
- 35 Minutes of Drive Time
Denver to Park City
- 475 Miles
- 8 Hours of Drive Time
- Stops to see on the way to Park City: Rifle Falls (Rifle, CO), Hanging Lake (Glenwood Springs), Dinosaur National Monument (Vernal, UT).
Sacramento to Park City
- 675 Miles
- 10 Hours 30 Minutes of Drive Time
- Stops to see on the way to Park City: Lake Tahoe, Bonneville Salt Flats (Utah).
Phoenix to Park City
- 665 Miles
- 10 Hours 45 Minutes of Drive Time
- Stops to see on the way to Park City: Sedona, Glen Canyon Dam (Paige, AZ), Cedar Breaks National Monument (UT).
There are so many amazing things to do in Park City that it's hard to go wrong. With so much to do, it's easy for everyone to find something to complete their perfect vacation here in Park City.