One Minute of Terror
The “Comet” bobsled ride is not for the faint of heart. During the minute it takes a trained bobsled driver to steer you and two other passengers through 15 curves, almost 5 Gs of force smack you around as your sled descents the ice-covered track. You’ll be jolted back and forth, as the sled reaches up to 80 mph (nearly 130 kmph) and careens around the curves.
Billed as the most intense minute of your life, this ride will give you a good idea of what Olympic bobsled athletes experience day in and day out. The track you’ll ride on is the same one that Olympians raced on during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Utah. While the winter ride is the most intense experience, summer ride are also offered on the same track in a bobsled on wheels. During the warm weather rides, you’ll only experience about 4 g-forces while sliding downhill. That’s still enough to get your spine tingling.
Before the ride, you go through an orientation session to learn safety procedures and what to expect. Rides are offered daily in the winter, and 5 days a week during the summer. Reserve a space well in advance of your trip because these rides, though expensive ($200 in winter; $65 in summer), are popular. Passengers must be at least 14 years old and in good health.
The Utah Olympic Park, a few miles from the historic heart of Park City, offers other adrenaline rushes in the summertime. When it’s warm outside, you can fly along the Xtreme Zipline, which takes you right over the K-120 ski jump hill, or the Ulta Zipline. A ride down the Quicksilver Alpine Slide keeps the summer heat at bay for a few minutes.
Outside the Olympic Park, Park City is a good base for active summer adventures. There are miles of trails for mountain biking and hiking in the surrounding mountains. Peddle on trails that start near the city line, or hook a bike on a ski lift and ride trails from the top down. Rent a bike at Jans Mountain Outfitters ( 800/745-1020; www.jans.com). Hikers often take the lifts at one of the resorts and choose trails that lead along ridges with spectacular views of the Wasatch Mountains. You can go rock climbing in Parley’s Canyon, or along the walls of some of the other canyons that spread out like fingers from the palm of Salt Lake City.
Park City, in a canyon about a half-hour drive from downtown Salt Lake City, is a year-round playground. During the winter, visitors have a choice of three ski resorts: Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort, and The Canyon. Between the three, there’s spectacular terrain for skiing and snowboarding on open slopes, glades, steep bowls, and chutes. Home to the Sundance Film Festival every January, Park City has lodging for budget-minded as well as fat-wallet visitors, and lots of good restaurants. —LF
When to Go: Summer or winter.
Salt Lake City (33 miles/53km).
$$$$ Stein Eriksen Lodge, 7700 Stein Way, Deer Valley ( 800/453-1302 or 435/649-3700; www.steinlodge.com). $$$ Washington School Inn, 543 Park Ave., Park City ( 800/824-1672 or 435/649-3800; www.washingtonschoolinn.com).