Nestled in the canyons of the Utah Valley is Sundance Mountain Resort—a small, quaint ski resort with a rustic atmosphere and a luxury quality. Like the festival which shares its famous name, Sundance Mountain Resort bears a commonality with the Sundance Film Festival—Robert Redford. But while the film festival was run by the celebrity figure for decades, Redford built the resort up from the small housing development it once was in the 1960’s.
Through Redford’s affiliation with the Sundance Institute, Sundance Mountain Resort became synonymous with independent film in the film industry with its year-round directors and filmmakers workshops at the resort.
The resort is located at a lower altitude than the other ski resorts in the area, which often translates into shorter ski seasons, so Redford used that as an advantage rather than a weakness. Year-round activities and the association with the film festival helped put it on the map as a destination worth visiting outside of the ski season.
Today—unlike the festival—Sundance Mountain Resort has maintained its old-world charm as a small ski resort without feeling antiquated. Apart from the handful of screenings at the resort grounds throughout the festival, it’s business as usual at a ski resort that values its retreat-like atmosphere over providing the most action-packed ski vacation possible.
World Class Skiing Within An Hours’ Drive From An International Airport
As a Utah native I’ve been pitching the same angle for years to argue my home state’s draw over competing ski areas nearby (ahem, Colorado). Within an hours’ drive from an international airport you can be checked into your resort, well on your way to getting fitted for ski boots or checking out one of the many restaurants that resorts like Sundance have to offer.
For Sundance in particular, the convenient proximity to Provo—Utah Valley’s largest city and home to Brigham Young University—gives it your usual urban conveniences while feeling separated from the hustle and bustle of the everyday modern world. In the short 12-15 minute drive up Provo canyon into Sundance’s tucked away slopes, travelers take a step back from the hustle and bustle of the city and into the quaint luxury of a rustic ski resort—one well-loved by locals and tourists from afar.
As winter storms roll across the northern Nevada desert and the Great Salt Lake, the heavy moisture in the clouds evaporates, causing the Wasatch Mountain range to be hit with particularly light, fluffy powder snow unlike anywhere else in the world. For ski and snowboarders, the Utah powder is unlike any other experience in the world—one that draws in winter sports fanatics in by the millions each season. In fact, our snow is so well-loved that it’s earned Utah a reputation for the greatest snow on earth.
At Sundance Mountain Resort, the famous Utah powder creates a light texture on the ski slopes to welcome ski and snowboarders in on a small but diverse mountain terrain. Stunning 360-degree views of the Utah Valley, Mount Timpanogos, and Provo Canyon can be seen from the top of the resort. Below, guests can view breathtaking scenery of the towering Mount Timpanogos from an angle reserved only for that area. As a local, the mountain view is one of my favorites in the entirety of the Wasatch mountain range.
Rustic Lodging In A Relaxing Environment
Though Sundance is small, it makes up for its size in the world-class amenities that earned it the number one spot atop Conde Nast’s list of top resorts in North America.
The rooms at the resort feature rustic, spacious lodging with updated bathrooms (a requirement for the germophobic like myself), full kitchens, and separate living areas. Though the decor is far from contemporary, its cozy atmosphere feels comfortable and log cabin design make the rooms comfortable and relaxing nevertheless.
Amenities & Activities
Sundance Mountain Resort, though known as a ski resort with classes, teams, and special group days for women, offers a wide range of activities beyond skiing to create a well-rounded resort experience even after the lifts close for the day—or season. The art studio offers activities like pottery, soap making, journal making, jewelry making, and painting classes in addition to more technical spectator events like glass blowing (the glasses you use around the resort were made onsite at the art studio).
For kids, the resort also offers specialty kids classes in subjects like beading, pottery, printmaking, and painting. The classes are offered year-round, and provide a warmer activity when things get too cold outside—or in between hiking and biking in the summer months.
At the Sundance screening room, patrons can catch a film every now and then or enjoy summer theatre in an outdoor amphitheater of world famous productions (this summers’ has yet to be announced). The theatre program partners with Utah Valley University, which is known for its own theatre programs just a few miles away in nearby Orem.
In addition to its theatre, film, and art programs, Sundance’s outdoor activities keep families busy throughout the duration of their stays. Zip lining—both in the winter and summer—is available, as well as horseback riding, hiking, fly fishing, and mountain biking. In the general store, patrons can shop an assortment of high-quality items also available in the Sundance catalog, before heading up to the full-service spa for a wellness program or specialty treatment.
Travel to Sundance Mountain Resort is easy, as it’s located just a few miles up Provo Canyon from Provo, just south of Salt Lake. Fly into Salt Lake International Airport and catch an Uber or rent a car (though you may not need one during the duration of your stay) for a quick one hour drive down I-15 to Orem. Once you reach Orem, exit off of the freeway at 800 North and follow the road all the way to the entrance of Provo Canyon, where Sundance Mountain Resort is nestled just a few miles up and to the left (don’t worry, there are signs).
Regardless of your personal interests, Sundance Mountain Resort serves as a relaxing getaway—not to be confused with the hustle and bustle of the film festival, which shares the same name. Though Redford is affiliated with both, the lodge is clearly his pride and joy as the carefully curated assortment of activities and dining experiences represent decades of tender love and care put into a quiet, beautiful resort.
We would like to extend a thank you to Explore Utah and Sundance Mountain Resort for hosting Grit Daily to experience what the resort has to offer for this feature. All opinions are our own.