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Swim, Bike, Ski (and Eat, Drink, Play) in Park City

This Utah mountain town is a popular winter getaway spot, but a dream triathlon destination year-round.


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Given that Park City is a former Olympic host town, location of the popular Sundance Film Festival, and home to two world-class ski resorts—Deer Valley and Park City Mountain—many know it best as a winter destination. But no matter the season, this alpine paradise that sits at almost 7,000 feet above sea level is an ideal place to train. It’s easy to get to (30–45 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport), the outdoor access is fantastic, and there’s plenty to do during your downtime. Use this guide to find some of the best tri and not-so-tri training options around Park City.

Stay

Accommodations are abundant and range from casual condos to super luxury resorts. There is no shortage of places to splurge on a winter luxury getaway. The Montage Deer Valley, St. Regis Deer Valley, Waldorf Astoria, and Stein Eriksen are all ski-in, ski-out properties, which means easy access to trails. The Washington School House Hotel is a former schoolhouse that has been converted into a charming 12-room boutique hotel off Main Street.

For more affordable options, check out Peaks Hotel and Hyatt Place Park City or look for rentals in the Kimball Junction area, which is close to amenities and 10–15 minutes to Main Street.

A sunny afternoon at the Silver Mountain Sports Club pool.

Swim

Park City has a handful of reservoirs where open-water swimming is technically allowed. Your best bet is the calm Rock Cliff Recreation Area at the Jordanelle Reservoir, where the August Jordanelle Triathlon is held. Most gyms also have a pool with drop-in options: There are outdoor lanes at Park City MARC, Silver Mountain Sports Club, and Basin Recreation (check websites for seasonal availability). In the winter, hit the pool at Ecker Hill Aquatics Center, which has eight indoor lanes year-round.

Bike

You’re more likely to see knobby tires than tri bikes, but with plenty of rural roads and challenging climbs, the road riding is also top notch. One easy way to find routes (and meet friendly cyclists) is to join one of the Stay Park City Cycling Club’s weekly rides, which are open and offer multiple pace groups. The Sunday Ritual ride leaves from Ritual Chocolate Café—owned by two avid cyclists—and typically entails a 30- to 40-mile loop.

If you’d rather head out on your own, the popular Kamas-Browns Canyon loop climbs along the sparkling Jordanelle Reservoir, rolls along flat farm roads, and returns with a sustained climb up a canyon back to town. Looking to climb? You’ve got options. Near the base of Deer Valley Resort, ride up the gentle switchbacks of Royal Street to the steep top of Guardsman Pass (nearly 10,000 feet above sea level). Or, for some out-of-your-saddle punishment, head to Pine Canyon Road, which starts in Midway and ends at Guardsman Pass. This nine-mile, 11% ascent (with 20% pitches!) was the road that national mountain bike champion Keegan Swenson used to set his 2020 Everesting record.

Want to mountain bike but still haven’t given it a shot? Do it here. There are nearly 500 miles of single-track trails, which is why Park City is one of only a few U.S. destinations awarded the Gold-Level Ride Center distinction by the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Rent a bike from Contender, Storm Cycles, White Pine, Cole Sport, or Jans. Round Valley offers a network of foothill trails mellow enough for first timers, and it’s also one of the best spots for fat biking in the winter. For epic views, climbs, and more technical terrain, try the newer 9K trail, which traverses a ridgeline to connect to trails all over Park City Mountain Resort.

Getting after it on the Park City PCMR trails. Photo: Eric Arce

Run

When coming from sea level, Park City’s altitude can be a bit jarring. Thankfully there are a couple of flat-ish options for running. For an easy jog around town, check out the Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail, a network of more than 20 miles of mostly paved trails that circumnavigate the city and extend into nearby towns. One local favorite for long runs, including pro Carrie Lester before her win at Ironman Coeur d’Alene, is the all-dirt Jeremy Ranch Road, which gently undulates past fields filled with cows.

If you’d rather hit the trails, the options are endless. The aforementioned mountain biking trails also work for trail running, including Mid-Mountain. Yes, it sits at around 8,000 feet elevation, but it offers rolling terrain that crosses diverse sections of the mountain. If you’re up for a challenge, the Mid-Mountain Marathon takes place entirely on this trail.

Break

After all that work at altitude, it’s important to stay fueled. Two brunch standouts with creative, colorful dishes both happen to be Australian cafés: Five5eeds and Harvest. A more under-the-radar spot with a killer chorizo burrito is Salt Box Park City. The Ritual Café is popular with cyclists for its espresso drinks, craft chocolate bars, and insane pastries. And don’t leave town without a meal at High West Saloon, where you can taste a flight of whiskey alongside elevated gastropub eats. A few more solid options: Versante for wood-fired pizza and craft cocktails, Hearth and Hill for eclectic American dishes, Chop Shop for next-level charcuterie boards, and Handle for farm-to-table small plates (the cauliflower with sriracha vinaigrette is a must).

A couple enjoys backcountry skiing. Photo: Trevor Clark

Do

Downhill skiing is, of course, the number one activity in the winter, but practically every winter sport you’d ever want is available, too. Stop by White Pine Touring to rent snowshoes, cross-country skate skis (lessons are available), or a touring setup to hike up and ski down the mountain before the resort opens. Multiple shops also rent fat bikes in the winter, which you can ride along snowy bike paths or in Round Valley. At Utah Olympic Park, you can bomb down an actual Olympic bobsled track (yes, really) or simply entertain yourself at the free ski museum.

While the focus is on the outdoor training, it’s not a trip to Park City without a stroll up Main Street, home to gear stores, boutiques, souvenir shops, high-end galleries, and restaurants. At Deer Valley, take the funicular up to the St. Regis to watch the daily champagne sabering or just to grab a drink on the patio amid picturesque mountains. The Montage is a pricey place to stay, but you can still enjoy the ambience by grabbing dinner at Burgers and Bourbon, its casual restaurant. End your meal with a drink by the fire pit, where—depending on COVID guidelines—you may also be able to roast a gourmet marshmallow for s’mores too.

If you’re traveling with active kids, then they’ll also enjoy a day at Woodward Park City, where everyone (including you!) can jump on trampolines, ride BMX bike features, try parkour or show off skate-park skills. The adults can then get slightly out of town with a visit to Wanship, home to the High West Distillery, to take a tour of the whiskey-making facility.