It has been an interest of mine to plan and lead group trips to different places that combine cultural sites and theme parks for a while, and back in September of 2016, I had an experimental run leading a group of friends around the parks of the Pacific Northwest. It was a lot of fun, so I decided to plan more group tours, and this particular one was the first under the Coasting with Culture name.
What inspired this location for a tour was in part because it isn't the most commonly visited region for theme parks, but there is a lot of historic and scenic sites to visit along with the few theme park style experiences in the region. I had passed through Salt Lake City before when I moved back to the Pacific Northwest about two years ago, and absolutely loved my short visit. I knew that I would like to go back when the parks and mountain coasters (well, most of them) were open, and this seemed like a great opportunity to do so!
So along with myself, we had a smaller group that included Nicole from Pennsylvania, JoAnna from Illinois, and Andrew and Brittany from Florida. Of course, in order to enjoy the area, we first had to all get to our destination. For me, that would include a flight from SeaTac Airport down to Salt Lake City, courtesy of Coasting with Culture's unofficial preferred carrier, Alaska Airlines!
After picking up the rental vehicle, then the rest of the group, it was time for the fun to begin! Our first stop would take us through to Watsatch Mountains, and into Park City. Along the way, we made a quick stop where we could see the ramps for the ski jump that was a part of the 2002 Winter Olympics. It turns out that it is part of the Winter Olmypic Park where you can slide down those hills on inner tubes, and even go for a ride down the bobsled track on an actual bobsled! We didn't get to it on this visit, but I would love to be able to go back and try it out.
After a bit more of a drive, we would find our way to the Park City Mountain Resort, ready for our group's first stop!
While most ski resorts do a majority of their business in the winter, a large number of them are adding more activities for the summer season so as to draw people in the other times of the year. Activities such as alpine slides that use carts to simulate a bobsled run, or miniature golf.
Now, the reason we are here is for the resort's mountain coaster. The appropriately named Alpine Coaster would be our first credit of the tour!
This Alpine Coaster goes up a large portion of the mountain side, and offers an incredibly windy layout. It also features a bridge you cross twice which would allow skiers to pass underneath during the ski season. This was my third different mountain coaster, and a first for a few of us.
The general consensus of the group was that this was a lot of fun, and the good news was that there would be more mountain coaster experiences on this tour.
After our ride, we made a quick stop into one of the shops of the resort where there was this artistic moose on display. In the shop, you could even buy a can of air (I couldn't help but think of one scene from Spaceballs where Mel Brooks as President Scroob opens a can of air to breathe it in).
After Park City, we would go back to the other side of the Watsatch Mountains, then head South to go to Snowbird Mountain for our next mountain coaster...or so we thought...
As it would turn out, they actually had enough snow on the mountain for them to have an extended ski season, and it seems that unlike other mountain resorts, this one does not operate their mountain coaster when they have skiing in session. The folks at the desk said that it would likely be a couple weeks before it was opened. Therefore, it would be a denied credit. :(
On the brightside, it was at least a very pretty drive up, and we also had a moment to enjoy one of the most unique picture opportunities, where someone wedged a stick between the ground and this rock, giving it the appearance that the stick was all that was keeping it up!
Our third stop was a surprise stop that I had kept secret from the group until we arrived. We went further South to the town of Lehi to visit Seven Peaks Fun Center.
Seven Peaks is your typical family entertainment center with an arcade, miniture golf and some other attractions like bumper boats.
But the main reason for the visit was for a shameless credit, Rush Coaster. Coming from Zamperla, this was a powered coaster that was a bit faster than others of its type, and while Andrew was of the belief that it wasn't a true credit, he was still a good sport and joined us who sought the shameless coaster credit!
On the way to Lehi, we happened to see a location of In-n-Out here in Utah, and thus the decision was made for our dinner stop to be there on the way back to the hotel. While In-N-Out may not be the greatest burger, it is certainly among the better chains, and since it is mainly located in the Southwestern US, it's always a nice treat when available!
And that concludes our arrival day into Utah! Join us for the next update as we head North for a glimpse into the past at the site of one of the most significant transportation projects in the history of the United States.
See more of Coasting with Culture's 2017 Utah, Idaho & Wyoming Tour:
1: Arrival Day / 2: Golden Spike National Historic Site / 3: Driving Trail & Brigham City / 4: Temple Square /
5: Yellowstone Bear World / 6: Snow King Mountain / 7: The Great Salt Lake / 8: Lagoon Amusement Park /
9: Smith's Ballpark