Tucked away at the south end of the 22,000-acre Wasatch Mountain State Park in Utah sits Soldier Hollow Cross-Country Ski Resort. Nestled in the foothills beneath majestic Mt. Timpanogos, overlooking the amazing views of Heber Valley, it still remains relatively unknown—even to Utahans. It is best known as the site of the biathlon and cross-country skiing events during the 2002 Winter Olympics, and was one of the busiest venues during the games. Soldier Hollow is now a permanent site for professional athletes from all over the world and a state park recreational site for the general public, offering cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and tubing.
Soldier Hollow is only 30 minutes south of Park City and offers the longest tubing lanes in Utah—1,200 feet of sliding fun. Diesel and I wanted to go tubing with my twin sister, my brother and their spouses when they came to visit us in Park City. None of us had ever been tubing before, so not knowing what to expect, we were up for the adventure!
Surprisingly enough, this is one activity that is seldom crowded because they sell a limited amount of tickets in two-hour increments, giving their customers the best tubing experience possible. That’s a huge plus, especially for those with large families and small children. Young mothers and fathers with toddlers, each in their own tube, went sliding down the hill joined together. We saw big groups of people sliding, all hanging on to each other’s tubes, wildly laughing! Everyone was having a great time!
The ride up the hill is a whole lot of fun in itself. You take your inner tube over to the lift, sit down in the inner tube, and the lift operator hooks it onto the towrope. To fill the time, snowball fights ensue while you’re slowly being dragged up the hill. A sound system is playing upbeat music for everyone’s enjoyment. The air is refreshing. The temperature was a crisp 26 degrees, so we bundled up with our warmest gear.
On one of our runs, the six of us all hung on together, going as fast as we could down the lane, turning round and round. I clearly remember screaming and laughing, wondering how we were going to stop before crashing. The workers make sure that doesn’t happen by yelling “drag your feet, drag your feet!” It’s very exciting, yet as safe an experience as you want it to be. Sliders are constantly being advised to “drag your feet” to safely slow down at the end of the run. There were five lanes operational, which kept things moving smoothly. As soon as we got done with one run, we hurried and took our inner tubes over to the lift to get going on another run. It was absolutely the best family fun on snow we could have had. We felt like kids again!
But we didn’t stop there. We went back to the day lodge and rented snowshoes to explore the many miles of trails winding through the foothills. It’s not as easy as it looks, but we soon got into a rhythm and forged our own trail up and around the hills. The views kept getting more scenic the higher we went. The valley below was stunning. Our snowshoe adventure lasted more than two hours, giving us all some great low-impact aerobic exercise.
We experienced as much of Soldier Hollow as we could in one day, but there is much more that it offers. The Soldier Hollow Equestrian Center, in partnership with Rocky Mountain outfitters, offers year-round equestrian adventures high on the south slopes of Soldier Hollow. And if you are an aspiring Olympian, join the Olympic biathlon experience —a combination of Nordic skiing and rifle shooting, using the same rifles utilized during the Olympic Games. No experience is necessary, and everyone receives training and instruction before a fun, mini-competition is staged. It concludes on the Official Awards Podium, where everyone is awarded a certificate suitable for framing.
Soldier Hollow has become a world-acclaimed facility with a legacy of ski racing and biathlon, and has hosted many elite competitions since the Olympics and Paralympics of 2002. It is also home to the Intergalactic Tubing Championship, the Heber Valley Pow Wow, and the Classic International Sheepdog Championship— the largest sheepdog event in the world.
Toni Knudson is the director of operations at RV Life.
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