Tucked into the Wasatch Range in northeastern Utah, the Heber Valley is stocked with adventures to tackle during the day and small towns where you can rest your weary feet at night. Go adventurous with snow tubing and ziplining, or take a slower pace with art, history, and great eats, all in this one quiet valley.
Park City, Utah
Most people flock to Park City in the winter months for skiing at world-class resorts such as Park City Mountain and Deer Valley Resort (a must for those who want a ski-only resort). If an afternoon of snow-plowing isn’t on your list, sample the Comet Bobsled Ride at the Utah Olympic Park. This 3,000-foot ride swoops down the winding track used by athletes at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Alternatively, hitch a ride on a dogsled with Destination Sports & Adventures, where teams of Alaskan and Siberian huskies pull you through a winter wonderland.
If you’re looking for quieter activities, head to Main Street, with its mix of ruddy brick and cheerfully wood buildings in cheerful colors. When you’re done admiring the architecture, pop into some of the many the many shops. At Atticus Tea and Coffee, warm up with a freshly brewed cuppa while perusing new and used books. Pick up Western gear and other souvenirs at Burns Cowboy Shop before browsing the numerous art galleries lining the main drag.
Hearty fare for the hungry can be found at Handle, which serves fried chicken and prime ribeye steak. Nosh offers lighter fare, including crispy falafel and creamy hummus. Cap off the night at High West Distillery’s saloon, where you can pair their Western Mountain cuisine with Utah-crafted spirits.
Heber City, Utah
Heber City is well-known for the Heber Valley Railroad, originally founded in 1899 to carry livestock and passengers. Today, the line carries visitors past towering mountains and over rushing rivers on themed rides throughout the year. Visit mid-November through December to experience the popular North Pole Express, where children can visit with Santa and his elves, indulge in hot chocolate and cookies, and even take home a souvenir bell from the reindeers’ sleigh, just like in the popular children’s book.
After a day on the rails, find sustenance at the Lakehouse at Deer Creek, a new restaurant that re-envisions heritage Utah cuisine in dishes such as bison meatloaf and roasted quail. For lighter fare, visit Spin Cafe to enjoy sandwiches stacked with house-smoked meats or indulge a sweet tooth with homemade gelato.
If you’re after an adrenaline rush, plan to spend a little extra time in Midway, perhaps most famous for the Utah Crater, a beehive-shaped limestone cavern hiding a blue-green mineral spring pool with a year-round temperature of 95 degrees F. Soak in the warmth with a dip in the pool, or try your hand at yoga on a stand-up paddle-board; put on a snorkel to skim the waters’ top layer, or test your limits with an instructor-led scuba dive.
If speed is more your style, hit the slopes at Soldier Hollow in Wasatch Mountain State Park. The 1,200 feet of downhill snow tubing routes are easy to access thanks to a line that hauls everyone back to the top of the hill after each run. When hunger hits, drop into the family-owned Midway Mercantile for pescatarian-focused dishes.
Sundance was founded in 1969 by actor and filmmaker Robert Redford with the dream of creating a community devoted to art and nature. Today, not only does the mountain resort host some of the events of the esteemed film festival, it is one of the top ski resorts in the country.
Although the resort offers classics activities such as downhill and Nordic skiing, the real thrill is the nearly 3,800-foot zip line. Race down the peaks at speeds up to 65 mph while taking in views of Mount Timpanogos and the resort property. Get revitalized at the spa or meander through the art studio featuring works by local artists—and if you’re feeling particularly creative, catch a class on pottery making, leather-journal making, or jewelry making. Then watch masters transform discarded glass into gorgeous pieces in the glassblowing studio.
Wind down the day at Owl Bar where you can belly up to the coppertop bar rumored to have been frequented by Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch Gand, who inspired the 1969 movie starring Mr. Redford himself.