48 Hours in Park City: Why Summer Is the New WinterBy: Rich Tubman
I've peed in my shorts five times in my life.
The first came when I was 14 -- rather than risk detection during an intense game of hide and seek, I decided to relieve myself. I regret nothing.
The second came in Park City, Utah a few days ago.
The third came in Park City, Utah a few days ago.
The fourth came in Park City, Utah a few days ago.
And the fifth came... in Park City, Utah a few days ago.
Which brings me to this: here's how to pack in 48 hours of shorts-peeing summer adrenaline in Park City, Utah.
Zip Tours: Canyons Village Base
Two thousand feet of cable strapped between two mountains? Yes, please. The Zip Tours lines send you up to 60mph over a forest canopy that drops out below your feet as you shoot over steep ridges and ski chutes, all laid bare in the summer sun. There's no snow to be found anywhere, even at the insane altitude. Only sunburned knees and deep green trees for miles in every direction. The zip tour comes with a few mild forest hikes between the platforms, which at 8,000ft elevation reminds you that cardio is very, very important.
White Water Rafting On The Weber River (With Beer)
First A Word on Beer: Take all of your preconceived notions of Utah and beer, and then pour them out on the sidewalk in memory of your now-deceased notions. There is delicious beer in Utah. I'm talkin' craft beers galore. One of the best selections is poured alongside a dope burger at the Red Rock Brewery in Park City. With high-ABV IPAs named Elephino and white pale ale bottles ensconced in RAINBOW UNICORNS, let it be known that the craft beer scene is alive and kickin' in The Beehive State.
The Weber River flows alongside the route of the transcontinental railroad, which seems like an interesting coincidence until the All Seasons Adventures rafting company's guide tells you they built the railroad along the river, which in hindsight makes a lot of sense. You'll float through Promontory, the land of the golden spike. You might remember a history class lesson on the golden spike, that infamous locale where Leland Stanford showed up at the 11th hour, hammered the most expensive railroad nail in history, literally and symbolically connecting the transcontinental railroad and basically getting credit for a group project that he didn't do.
Fun Fact: You can drink beer on these river tours as long as you pack it out. Coolers and water are provided, and the guides are as pleasant as you'd imagine for someone who spends their days floating along river banks for money. The fine people of Utah take their countryside maintenance very seriously. Litter removal efforts were noticeable as you float in the sunshine between spotless, craggy valley walls while cracking cold cans in a Yeti costume.
Expect Class 2 rapids on the Weber in the summer, which provides a casual amount of adrenaline in between sunscreen applications and IPA tastings.
Extreme Tubing at Utah Olympic Park
Nordic Ski Jumping has been an Olympic Winter Sport since 1924. It's the one where skiers shoot off the top of a sloped hill and do that "arms back / skis out" pose, with points awarded for distance and style. On television, these jumps look massive. In real life, when you're standing at the top of a K90 Nordic Ski Jump with an inner tube under your arm, these jumps look OHMYGODMASSIVE.
Some kid with a ponytail tells you to hold on tight, and next thing you know, you hear the screaming of a 9 year old following you down the steepest hill of any Olympic event. It's only after you come to a stop several hundred yards from the base of this behemoth ski jump that you realize that you were the screaming 9 year old.
Bobsledding is insane. No one knows who this Bob guy was or what he was thinking (didn't bother Googling), but strapping yourself into a steel missile attached to ice razors in order to experience the gravitational force of Neptune during a fully vertical turn seems like something a crazy person would think of. Given the scarce amount of mental health care in the 1870s when bobsledding first became competitive, it's not entirely improbable that this sport is the creation of a mad man.
In the winter, bobsledding is left for the bobsledders. In the summer, the bobsledding course is retrofitted to accompany bobsleds with wheels instead of ice razors (still not sure what these are called), which slows your sled to a pleasantly deadly 60mph instead of the standard, Olympic, murderous 80mph. Your bobsled driver, who packs in 20 downhill runs a day (!!!), slaps a helmet on you, gives you a frighteningly quick and easy set of instructions ("press your shoulders into the walls, if your chin hits your chest from the G forces, just relax and try not to lift your head up, lest you damage your spine," etc) and then shoves you down a mile of insanely fast and loose bobsled course.
In a bobsled, no one can hear you scream. There's nothing to do but hold on to the little hand straps for dear life. If you're brave, take a seat in the back, where the centrifugal force and drag will make your head drop into your stomach, forcing out guttural groans from a primal location deep in your belly you didn't even know existed. Everyone sounds like a wounded beast as you hit the final turn. Once you stop and load the sled onto the back of the truck, you'll feel like you've been given a second chance at life. The world seems brighter and full of color, no doubt a combination of the subsiding terror, alpine altitude and rush of blood returning to the brain.
Ski Jump Water Slide at Utah Olympic Park
Technically called the Aerial Water Ramp, these ramps are reserved for the brave Olympians who enjoy aerial skiing. You know aerial skiing, it's the one where guys and girls hit a 20-foot ski jump at 40mph, launching 60 feet off the ground, busting out some casual triple backflips, and then landing on a 39-degree slope, ideally on top of skis, but not always.
Three-hundred and sixty-three days out of the year, the steps leading up these ramps are reserved for the boots of the best skiers in the world. The remaining two days are open to Park City residents and visitors, giving us mere mortals the chance to slide down these ramps on our backs and bellies, hitting a lip and launching 60 feet into the air and into an aerated pool. This ain't your granddaddy's water park, and it's safe to say that the aerial water ramp is as much a spectator sport as the Olympic event that created it. All day long, bodies are flung head, feet, back and belly first into the bubbly water at mach speed, with requisite oohs and aahs emitting from the sea of onlookers and queue of would-be sliders stacked along the sides of the park's four slides.
Oh and word to the wise person who does ski jump waterslides: They only do the "Slip 'n Soar" event twice every summer, with the last one of 2016 set for August 20th. Get more info here.
PARTYING QUICK HITTERS
High West Distillery: American frontier cuisine with small batch whiskey? And it's the only distillery you can directly ski in and out of during the winter time? Yes please.
Alberto's Mexican Food: 24 Hour Drive through Mexican food, with "mini burritos" that are the size of actual burritos and cost you 3 dollars. We know what you're thinking, "Mexican food in Utah?" Yes. Mexican food in Utah. Alberto's holds its own.
No Name Saloon: Cocktails, friendly staff/crowd, and a bunch of crazy stuff hanging from the walls and ceilings. Also, the best shuffleboard table in town.
O'Shucks: They have goblets for your beer and a pool table. Enough said.
Bistro 412: The sweatiest dance floor we could find, with generous pours close to closing time, a rarity in Utah. Apparently they serve food during the day?
The Spur: Shot skis, local brews and live bands every night, including Park City's greatest local redneck rock band, Mullet Hatchet.