It is hard to imagine that more could be written, said, or conveyed about The Sundance Resort. With over 50 years of history, it has a life force of its own that is well-known around the world. Reviews abound for this timeless spot along the Wasatch Back, but then again, the elegance of Sundance is its uncanny and vigorous ability to be exactly what you need, when you need it — a true chameleon while simultaneously an intimate and metamorphic experience. The nuance of Sundance is — it is always this way each time you visit.
As the world changes all around, Sundance remains essentially the same as we imagine Mr. Robert Redford intended it to be. The lush history of Sundance leaps off of the photos you find embellishing the walls within the resort. Yet, the euphoric and intimate space between sleep and wake that no doubt we all have experienced at some point in life seems the closest way one can describe touching the ethos of Sundance. Honestly, it is more than a household name or destination — it is magical. It is a way of encountering every adjective for the word “adventure” in the English language. Sundance is excitement all year round, but one could argue it hits its peak in autumn.
From the fall leaves illuminating the very last of our inviting summer nights; to experiencing the best of harvest ingredients within the changing menus at The Tree Room and Foundry Grill — Sundance in autumn is a treasure, expertly preserved and authentically executed — much like the actor himself who is quoted as saying, “When you get older, you learn certain life lessons. You apply that wisdom, and suddenly you say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a new lease on this thing. So let’s go.’” The resort offers an eclectic array of activities, and the vibe one gets while at Sundance is to experience them all!
Fall is the perfect time to take a scenic walk through the colors of the changing leaves, zipline through their alpine Zip Tour, take the most picturesque chair lift ride, or stroll through the Autumn Festival that meanders through the resort. For adventure-seekers, the understated draw to the 12,000-foot sprawl of Mt. Timpanogos via the resort makes Sundance the most coveted home base to launch exploration. Horseback riding in the morning can easily turn into razor drifting up the resort trails and end with hiking to Stewart Falls. Do, please, make your way to the Sundance Mountain Outfitters shop to collaborate for your grand adrenaline rush — expertly and properly. As their tagline says, “Gearheads, we got you. Also, non-gearheads, too.” Imagine having the chance to drop your gear down and spend the afternoon at the Owl Bar, recharging, and then meeting up to fly fish your way towards sunset.
The art of crafting the ultimate treasure hunt nature can offer in one place is not lost on those who spend even one day at the resort. One could get consumed in the cadence of every nook-and-cranny of the resort and still not discover everything there is to see. A favorite among the locals is the Author’s Series or spending the day at the Sundance Art Studio. When walking into the spaces that appear nonchalantly crafted, with the perfect filter of sunlight, it’s easy to believe the illusion that Sundance somehow organically came together. In reality, Sundance was carefully orchestrated, like the soundtrack to a Redford movie itself, to give its visitors the perfect combination of outward presentation while subliminally giving subtext to your entire visit — that won’t register until you leave. And, all of this is just the beginning.
Move over adventure, it is time to slow down as the sun hits the tops of the reds, yellows, and oranges of autumn — the colors seem to glitter and sparkle differently in the twilight of an early supper or pre-dinner drinks on the benches that stand stalwart along the paths of the grounds. Shopping has never looked so engaging before, and dining has never felt so effortless. For the fast and casual among us, the Sundance Deli has the most amazing Vietnamese Shrimp Salad Bahn that I’m sure customers feel they could eat every day and never get tired of it. While waiting for your sandwich, you can run your fingers over the textures and richness of the singular wares of the resort. Every item for sale is carefully chosen to ensure the merchandise tells the story of Sundance, timelessly, as if generations to come will automatically know the secrets each treasure holds. No detail is overlooked, and I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that there are teams behind the scenes that take great care in collecting just the right fit for each guest that might walk through the General Store. If you need serenity while on the grounds, the spa is not to be missed. You can multi-task by drifting online while soaking in the gloriousness of meditation space within the grounds. Not to be overlooked is the Bearclaw Cabin and Creekside Café. The Bearclaw Cabin is more than unique; it is the picnic experience elevated — literally — as you sit on top of the mountain surrounded by 360-degree views of Heber and the neighboring valleys. The coolness of fall taking over the last vestiges of summer’s warmth can be felt on the mountain tops of Sundance, and while skiing is just around the corner, fall holds its own so every guest can touch the changing of the seasons in one afternoon.
For the more luxurious in spirit, The Tree Room is unsurpassed in its fine dining offering. It has been said that good food gives the taster a moment of transportation, but great food gives the taster a memory they will treasure in privacy forever. The Tree Room has all the correct elements for shaping the visceral, rustic joy of purely beautiful food. While walking to your table, you can consume with your eyes first as you view pictures from Mr. Redford’s private art collection. Saunter to your reservation, do not run or walk. You’ll miss the once again present subtlety of the experience. Be prepared to nestle into the glow of every bite, and for the skilled foodies; you’ll recognize the old-world French technique grafted to American comfort food.
There is never a great way to end such an adventure. In speaking to Alysha Jeppson, Marketing Coordinator for the resort, she says what makes the resort special is “A melding of sophisticated and rustic — combining elements of nature and the old west to make something truly magnificent.” Hundreds of visitors annually would agree with her. Cascading springs, boardwalks, quintessential atmospheres, and the discernible change in attitude in each room you pass makes Sundance the epitome of autumn. Summer and winter may be hailed as the best times to book your time together; however, it could be argued that autumn is the premier time to mark your calendar for a true relationship with Sundance. Come back often, but keep space open for the clandestine, serendipitous meet-up together each autumn as both the resort and you grow timeless together.