cross country skiing and snowshoeing in Park City, UTah
Soldier Hollow (435-654-2002, www.soldierhollow.com) is in the Wasatch State Park in Midway, Utah. It added 10 km of easier trails, which is now part of a 31 km trail system. There are 360 pairs of rental xc skis and 110 pairs of snowshoes. New thousand-foot snow tubing lanes with 2 lifts help subsidize this facility. And the biathlon range is open to visitors to try their hand at shooting targets. But the kicker is Soldier Hollow's "30 minutes or your money back" guarantee, which is an invitation to encourage people to try xc skiing. This area hosted the world for the 2002 Winter Olympics for 16 days of xc ski events where it was named "Best Venue" by USA Today. Soldier Hollow has snowmaking that covers the entire trail network, which is the largest snowmaking system for an xc ski area in the world. CCSAA member
The Homestead Resort (435-654-1102 or 800-327-7220, www.homestead-ut.com) is 14 miles southeast of Park City in Midway, UT and it has 12 km of skiing at the Homestead Golf Course and 18 km at Wasatch Mountain State Park. Snowshoeing and snowmobiling are also available. The most unique activity is the Homestead Crater, which is a 55 foot tall beehive shaped limestone rock that nature has hollowed out and filled with 90 degree water. There is public access to the clear mineral water where for a $10 fee people can go swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling or enjoy a theraputic soak.There is also a full service Aveda Spa on the premises at the Homestead. The warm geologic area can effect snow cover and conditions at this golf-course resort but Soldier Hollow is nearby and it has machine-made snow all winter. CCSAA member
White Pine Touring (435-649-6249, www.whitepinetouring.com) offers 18 km of track and skate skiing, plus track, skate and telemark lessons at the Park City golf course and an adjacent dairy farm. There are three groomed loops including 3 km, 5 km and 10 km. Women's Skate Clinic in 4-session schedule in January and February available for 3 different ability levels.
For those who want to get off the flats, half-day snowshoe and xc ski guided tours in the Uinta mountains are also available. Yurt camping is available about 30 miles from Park City with reservations that can be reached either guided or self-guided. To venture out on your own, this is a good stop for advice and maps of the local mountain bike trails that are accessible (many from downtown Park City) and perfect for snowshoeing. CCSAA member
XC SKIING FROM SALT LAKE CITY
The Salt Lake City area is known for the great powder in the nearby Cottonwood Canyons. The city is a valley between two mountain ranges and it is amazing how deep the snow pack is just a few miles up the canyons. Before heading up to the mountains, be sure to check avalanche and weather reports and winter storm warnings. Due to the avalanche potential, the canyons are apt to be closed, trapping everyone from going back down to the city. Sometimes, the closings are a few hours but they can be overnight.
There is public transportation up both the Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, which is convenient and inexpensive ($6 for a round trip bus on the UTA). The canyons have rolling campground trail networks with picturesque rock spires and mountainous beauty all around.
Guardsman's Pass going from Brighton Ski Resort (Big Cottonwood Canyon) to Park City is a local favorite as is the Mill Creek Canyon area. Check the local list of trails on the Web or in the book "Wasatch Winter Trails."
Salt Lake City has great restaurants and is easy to get around via trolly. The alcohol problems are a thing of the past, but you may need to pay a "member" fee at the door of many of the pubs in Utah.
Solitude Nordic Center (801-536-5774, www.skisolitude.com) is a short scenic winding drive from Salt Lake City up the Big Cottonwood Canyon. This is an alpine ski area-affiliated center at 8,700 feet elevation with 20 km of groomed ski trails for classic and skate skiing. Solitude is the most aptly named resort in the nation because there are few people around in a picturesque setting. There's a free shuttle from the Solitude village to the Nordic Center, which is immediately adjacent to Brighton Ski Resort. The village has many lodging accommodations, general store, snow sports retail store, pub and quality restaurant. Rental equipment is available for both xc and snowshoeing in adult and kids sizes. There are cross country ski lessons for classic or skating techniques. Guided snowshoe backcountry tours available. Expect lotsa sun and powder and no crowds.
OTHER XC SKI RESORTS IN UTAH
Sundance Resort (801-223-4170, www.sundanceresort.com) is owned by Robert Redford and located in Sundance, UT. This place has stunning natural scenery, spectacular skiing, and is an ideal locale that integrates outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, and artistic experimentation. The xc ski center has 26 km of groomed xc ski trails, pristine backcountry trails, and another 10 km of snowshoe trails. Accommodations, restaurants, stores, art programs, and more. Lessons and rental equipment are available.