Take Advantage of What Park City’s Adventure Companies Have to Offer
Photography: Don Weller
Park City’s Olympic past has helped cement the area as a winter adventure destination in perpetuity, but there are plenty of thrills to be had in the warm-weather months also.
John Sarbo is the owner of Beyond Limits, a guiding service based in Park City. Sarbo’s guides meet their clients on Main Street on a daily basis, offering a menu of mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, and one of their newest pursuits, the intriguingly named sport of river luge.
“The Provo and the Weber Rivers are very nice,” offers the 35-year-old owner, originally from Connecticut. “But they aren’t the most thrilling places for rafting. They are category I, II and III, not the super-exciting categories IV and V.” The river board is “like a Boogie board on steroids,” as Sarbo describes it. “It’s longer and thicker than a traditional Boogie board. Our clients ride down headfirst, on their stomachs, their faces inches from the water. It’s a much more intimate and exciting experience. It’s totally unlike sitting in a raft, floating down the river and waiting for the next few ripples of whitewater.”
The mountain biking around town is vastly underrated, according to Sarbo, who moved to Utah and start-ed his business some five years ago. There are approximately 300 miles of trails within a 10-mile radius of town,” he explains. “Our guides can provide the appropriate terrain for those folks who haven’t been on a bike of any kind in 20 or 30 years, all the way up to an expert who’s unfamiliar with the area.”
Sarbo runs trips internationally and to domestic destinations like Maine and upstate New York. But he concentrates most on his efforts in Utah, and Park City in particular. “I think people are continuing to discover how much there is to do in the summer, and how great the natural terrain is here. We want to stay in the forefront, because the adventuring aspect of this town is only going to grow.”
Aptly named All Seasons Adventures is located in the Grand Summit Hotel at The Canyons. Their winter menu includes exciting options like dog-sledding, cross-country skiing, resort tours, fly-fishing, snowmobile rides and snowshoeing, among others. But summertime provides even greater latitude in terms of adventure.
“Geo-caching has become very popular,” explains Hattie Tingey, an All Seasons guide. “It’s kind of like a high-tech treasure hunt, or scavenger hunt. We use GPS systems and a compass, and our clients hunt for “treasures” or items that we’ve dispersed in advance. It’s a unique activity, and has been very well received.”
Traditional summer activities include raft trips on the Weber River. These class II rapids provide an experience more leisurely than white-knuckle. “Ducky boats,” which are inflatable kayaks, add a bit of thrill to trips down the river. Though there’s no ocean in the vicinity, another popular activity is sea kayaking, which takes place on the sizeable Jordanelle Reservoir. Fly-fishing is a specialty of the house, and one of the favorite activities of owner Bruce “Goose” Juhl, who takes clients out to the Provo River for casting.
He echoes the sentiments of colleague John Sarbo, commenting that Park City is a mountain biking destination that hasn’t gotten its due. “One of our specialties is the Mid Mountain Trail, which you can take from the Utah Olympic Park all the way to Deer Valley. That’s way too much
biking for most folks, so typically we do an eight- or 10-mile section in any one day,” explains Juhl.
What separates All Seasons from some of the other adventure outfits is the fact that they’re something of a “one stop shop.” In other words, if they don’t offer an activity themselves, like hot air ballooning, ATV touring or horseback riding, for example, they can book clients through another company that does. “We cater to individuals, small groups, families, or large corporate groups,” concludes the owner, who’s been in town almost 30 years. “Our mission is to show our clients how much fun there is to be had in this town, winter or summer. And that’s why we’re called All Seasons.”
Calvin Hebert is a Park City-based Exum guide, who spends his summers in Jackson, Wyoming, often taking patrons to the summit of the Grand Teton. But he spends the other three seasons of the year working near his home in Bonanza Flats, and is well aware of the summer offerings of Exum Utah Mountain Adventures.
“Our forte in this area is rock climbing and instruction,” explains Hebert, who’s lived in Park City for 12 years. “While we’re happy to cater to visitors, the fact is many of our customers are Utah residents looking for adventure.” Exum guides primarily use both Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood Canyons as their rock climbing bases. They offer half- and full-day programs, as well as private guiding for those with no need for instruction.
Exum guides also teach summertime mountaineering skills. Route-finding, weather prediction, safety issues, facility with an ice axe, crampons and team rope work are among the disciplines offered by the Exum professionals, who are universally acknowledged as industry leaders in climbing adventure in the West.