by Susan Strayer
Looking for a family-friendly a ski vacation? Search no more – the perfect mountain getaway is Sundance Mountain Resort. Situated in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, Sundance Mountain Resort boasts grand views and beautiful scenery while providing ski and snowboard terrain for all levels. At least, I think so.
I live there.
My husband’s job allows him to work from home, so just after I’d had our second baby we asked ourselves the question, “If we could live anywhere, where would we live?” The answers for us: Mountains surrounded by nature, and with plentiful access to adventures. We were lucky to find a place near Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah’s Provo Canyon.
Actor Robert Redford purchased Sundance in 1969, then a small, family-owned ski resort called Timp Haven. Redford envisioned “the careful growth of a community committed to the balance of art, nature and community,” and as a member of the community I can verify the connection to these environment and artisanal efforts is still an important part of visiting Sundance. In an age of mega-resorts, it’s refreshing to visit a family-owned, cozy winter getaway secure in the knowledge that they care not just about getting more money for investors, but the atmosphere swirling around the area.
The Sundance Vacation Experience
With 450 acres of terrain, there’s no shortage of skiing and boarding at Sundance Mountain Resort. It’s a great learning mountain, with 35% beginner terrain, a fully-equipped rental shop and lessons available for kids aged three and up. A terrain park with small jumps, boxes and rails is perfect for the daring family members, or, for more experienced skiers and boarders, the back mountain boasts amazing blue and black runs including my favorite secret powder stash – Shauna’s Secret.
Not interested in downhill skiing? Don’t worry, there’s still a lot of fun to be had. The Sundance Nordic Center offers snowshoe and cross country ski rentals, groomed trails, lessons and knowledgeable staff. Or for a truly uplifting experience try the Sundance Zip Tour. The high-flying zip line adventure includes a 2,100-foot vertical drop that’s nearly two miles long; third longest in the United States.
If your idea of a winter vacation involves avoiding the snow, perhaps a visit to the Art Studio or Spa is more to your taste. Daily classes in pottery, painting, jewelry making, photography and more are offered through the Art Studio. My favorite is silver smithing – where else can you create your own signature souvenir jewelry?
The Spa offerings include massages, waxing, facials and manicures for both kids and adults, but in addition to that, it offers unique classes through its wellness program. My favorite is the Sunrise Yoga and Mindfulness Meditation class offered seven days a week.
Lodging and Dining
As far as lodging, overnights at the resort are a unique experience. Each cottage and mountain home has its own architecture and decor so guests never stay in the same place twice. Options range from a standard room with bed and bathroom, to a Mountain Suite with separate bedroom, kitchen, dining and living rooms, to three to seven bedroom mountain homes. During the winter season, Sundance has a “stay and ski free” campaign whereby guests who stay in Sundance lodging get two lift passes for each day of their visit.
No family vacation discussion would be complete without talking about food, and thankfully, Sundance Mountain Resort has excellent options for dining including The Foundry Grill, Deli and Tree Room. The Foundry Grill serves breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday with brunch and dinner on Sundays. It’s a great sit down restaurant for the whole family. For a more unique (and expensive) dining experience try the Tree Room. As Sundance’s signature restaurant, The Tree Room has received multiple awards, including the Forbes Four Star rating and AAA Four Diamond award. incidentally, the restaurant got its name when Redford built the restaurant around a giant pine tree instead of cutting it down.
Sundance Film Festival
One unique aspect of Sundance Mountain Resort is its connection to the Sundance Film Festival. In 1981 Robert Redford founded the Sundance Institute and invited filmmakers, writers, directors and actors to the resort?to work on independent film projects. From there the Sundance Institute began the now famous Sundance Film Festival, an annual event for independent film makers held each January.
Although the festival primarily takes place in nearby Park City, Utah, screenings of certain movies are held at the resort during festival week. If you’re a film buff, plan to visit between January 21-31, 2016 to enjoy the upcoming Sundance Film Festival.
When to Go
Winter season began December 4, 2015 with night skiing opening December 11, 2015. In my experience, the snow is spotty that early in the season, so I would recommend planning a trip in January and February for more favorable conditions. The season runs through April depending on the snow levels, but the busiest times at Sundance Mountain Resort are holiday weeks and during the Sundance Film Festival January 21-31, 2016. Several lodging deals are offered throughout the winter season.
If winter weather isn’t part of your ideal vacation try visiting in the summer. With hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, the Bluebird Concert Series, outdoor musicals and the new Sundance Zip Tour, there’s plenty of fun things to do when the weather warms up.
From Salt Lake City International Airport: When exiting the airport turn Right onto I-80 East then turn Right onto interstate I-15 South until exit 272 in Orem. Head East on 800 North toward the mountains. This road becomes US – 189 at the mouth of Provo Canyon. Continue 13 miles on US – 189. After driving through the tunnel, take a left onto SR – 92. About 2 miles up, the resort will be on the left.
From a Local
Sundance Mountain Resort is indeed a world-class destination, but still has the feel of a local hotspot.
Whenever I’m on the mountain with my three small children (ages nine months, four, and six) I love the cozy family feel. I want a ski resort with solid learning terrain, friendly staff and a capable learn-to-ski program. For my own enjoyment I want steep, powdery slopes and a beginner terrain park so I can work on my pro snowboarding skills. Sundance Mountain Resort offers such a balance.
Thanks to Annie Cutler, Sundance Mountain Resort’s Marketing Manager, for information and photos.
Susan Strayer is an outdoors lover and blogger at mountainmomandtots.com. She lives with her mountain family near Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah. She loves snowboarding, camping, hiking, biking – basically enjoying the outdoors in whatever way possible. Her favorite thing to do indoors is read.