Photos: Ed Salvato
Utah is probably not the first state that comes to mind when you think ‘gay winter paradise.’ You may be surprised to learn that Park City is a cool, blue dot in a sea of conservative red and well worth a visit this winter.
You may have just missed Sundance Film Festival, which pretty much amps up the gay factor a 100 times, but during the rest of the year, you’ll find an incredibly gay-friendly environment, bars and restaurants that welcome gay and straight customers with equal gusto, and some of the best outdoor activities you can shake a ski pole at.
In winter you have the choice of three incredible beautiful and unique ski resorts. Deer Valley Resort, with its six easily accessible peaks, does not allow snowboarding so it has, perhaps the purest ski vibe of any of the three resorts. Park City Mountain Resort allows both skiing and snowboarding, which grants it a slightly younger, groovier vibe. The Canyons Resort is the local favorite and it may be where you’ll stumble into young Olympic hopefuls just skiing or boarding on their day off.
I was just there last week and discovered a charming boutique ski lodge: The ski-in/ski-out Goldener Hirsch Inn in the photogenic Silver Lake area of Deer Valley, with its festively lit and snow-covered evergreen trees. The boutique-like Goldener is tucked discreetly into the side of the mountain between several other properties and tastefully appointed with authentic Austrian alpine furnishings and décor. The very high level of professional, friendly, attentive service belies the fact that the property offers only 20 units.
I also got to visit a very cool restaurant I first saw under construction last August. The owners of the High-West Distillery claim it’s the first distillery built in Utah since the 1870s and it’s well worth a visit to try their delicious home-distilled whiskey, Rendezvous Rye (get a flight!) and vodka, Vodka 7,000 for the altitude at which it’s created.
For additional trip-planning information, visit the website of the Park City Chamber of Commerce.