7 Sundance Summer Adventures Worth Visiting For

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A Guide to Exploring Sundance in the Summer

sundance zipline

Sundance: It’s a name often associated with film festivals and skiing, but the well-kept secret of the summer side of Sundance Mountain Resort is finally getting out. If you don’t go before the snow flies, you’re missing out on incredible adventures. I had visited Sundance only once before a recent visit to sample their summer offerings, and the incredible food, horseback riding, and mountain biking were all perfect ways to spend a summer day.

I was surprised by all the adventures offered here, but even more surprised by the affordable price. The Sundance brand is often associated with luxury, but summer activities and events are reasonable—even for families.

sundance-summerHistory of Sundance

Backing up a bit, Sundance started way back in 1969 by Robert Redford and is set against the majestic backdrop of Mount Timpanogos. Redford has kept Sundance purposely small through the years, maintaining a rustic, authentic vibe while others have expanded around it—making Sundance one of the few small resorts remaining in Utah.

But what Sundance lacks in size, it makes up for with character: the elegant atmosphere, chef-prepared cuisine, and unique events, like their annual summer theatre shows and concerts.

Utah locals sometimes mistakenly think Sundance is far from the city. But in truth, Sundance Resort is just 55 minutes from the Salt Lake City International Airport and 45 minutes from Park City—yet it feels worlds apart.

7 Adventure Options for Summer

There’s something for everyone at Sundance. Choices range from active pursuits like mountain biking and ziplining to relaxing activities like chair life rides or watching a play. Choose your own adventure below and go explore this local resort before summer ends:

1.Scenic Lift Rides and Full Moon Rides-The best part about a scenic lift ride: anyone can do it. At Sundance, you ride Ray’s Lift to the top of Ray’s Summit where you can head out on a hike or just enjoy the views. From here, take Arrowhead Lift to lunch at Bearclaw Cabin where 360-degree views of the Wasatch Mountains and valleys await. You’ll ride the chair back to the base after. Mountain peaks, lush forests, and views of the entire resort make this a winning ride. Open until October 6. On select nights, bundle up for a Full Moon Lift Ride. The experience is about 45 minutes and can be quite cool. Bring a jacket. Offered through October.

2. Lift-served Hiking- Visitors to Sundance can reach Stewart Falls, one of Utah’s most photographed waterfalls, from a shorter trail than what is open to the public. Purchase a scenic lift ride ticket and ride to Ray’s Summit for wide-open valley views. Then follow a trail through the forest to a meadow, ending at Stewart Falls. Plan for three miles of walking and about two hours.

Mamma Mia at Sundance

3. Sundance Summer Theatre– Sundance’s popular outdoor musical theatre is now open for performances of one of my favorite plays, Mamma Mia. You can still buy tickets, and shows continue until August 10. Performances are Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8 p.m. Dine before the show by purchasing barbecue tickets for just $20. Enjoy a meal at 6 p.m. in the mountains before taking your seats.

zipline sundance

Riding the Sundance zipline

4. ZipTour- Adrenaline junkies get a kick out of the scenic ziptour, which features a 2,100-foot vertical drop on one segment—the most of any zip line tour in the United States. Ride next to a buddy and race on the double cables where your speed can reach 65 mph. Or take it slow and stop for photos along the way.

I love the Maverick Tour, which includes two ziplines and training for $79. Ride up Ray’s Lift for the big span and zoom down the mountain with incredible views from every angle. Great for kids and adults. If you’re looking for a bigger ziplining day, book the Bluebird Tour. It includes four spans for over two miles of zipping down. You’ll also get two scenic chairlift rides in to take you to the spans.

You can even go after dark on short Full Moon and Halloween tours.

Mountain biking the beginner trail at Sundance

5. Mountain Biking- The mountain biking trails here are open to intermediate and advanced riders with Mountain Bike School classes available for those looking to gain confidence on two wheels. Choose from 25 miles of singletrack trails that you can ride up or downhill via a chairlift ride. All offer impressive views of the mountains and valleys as you ride in near solitude. Though I’ve only been downhill mountain biking a few times, I found the beginner trail to be super fun and doable.

Horseback riding to Stewart Falls

6. Horseback Riding- My favorite Sundance adventure! At the Sundance Stables, you won’t wind up in a massive group ride. Instead, every ride is either a private group or no more than six people. Our two-hour ride through the mountains and forest showcased epic mountain scenery, wild turkeys, and the rushing Stewart Falls waterfall. Would definitely return to do this again and the prices are reasonable for locals looking to ride for the day.

7. Post-adventure Dining- Creative, local, sustainable cuisine is the name of the game at Sundance, and you can’t go wrong with a meal at the Deli, Foundry Grill, or Tree Room. I ended my Sundance visit with lunch at the Foundry Grill and was wildly impressed by the diverse appetizer menu (get the bruschetta), the fresh tacos, and the homemade desserts.

sundance food

The Foundry Grill

The Deli‘s a more casual option that’s a perfect place for grab-and-go sandwiches to take hiking or eating outside in the sunshine on the patio. The menu has a variety of options kids and adults will enjoy. The Deli also sells baked goods and coffee if you’re planning on a morning visit.

Don’t miss a stop in the Owl Room Bar, a historic relic once frequented by Butch Cassidy and his Hole in the Wall Gang. The 1890’s bar was moved from Thermopolis, Wyoming to Sundance and features live music on weekend nights and great patio space.

Tacos at the Foundry Grill

The beautiful Tree Room is named for the tree it was built around and has won local and national dining awards galore. While I haven’t experienced it myself yet, a visit to the Tree Room makes for a romantic night out, especially when paired with a full moon lift ride.

Summer activities are open until October 6. So there’s still plenty of time to visit before the summer season ends.

Thanks to Explore Utah Valley and Sundance Mountain Resort for hosting me on this visit.

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About Author

Jenny Willden is the Managing Editor of Outdoor Sports Guide and a self-proclaimed gear and grammar nut. She's a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the Adventure Travel Trade Association. A lover of adventure and travel, she's happiest when riding horses or snowboarding in Utah’s mountains. Follow Jenny’s exploits on Twitter @jennywillden or Instagram @jlwillden.

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