Woodward Park City is a tween-age dream come true.
YOUR TEENS AND TWEENS WON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT COMING ON THE FAMILY VACATION AFTER A VISIT TO UTAH’S NEW WOODWARD PARK CITY.
Confession: When I was around 13 years old, I begged my parents to let me switch from skiing to snowboarding. It wasn’t that I didn’t like skiing anymore, but the lure of the dark side was strong to a teen girl desperate to hang out with anyone but her family during weekend trips to Vermont. I snowboarded relatively happily for almost a decade before switching back to skiing—which had been completely transformed by the “new” shaped-ski technology by then. I haven’t looked back.
Fast forward: I taught my three boys to ski when they were each 3 years old, and I’ve been waiting for the day when one of them asks me to snowboard. Turns out, they’re all perfectly happy skiing, but what they do love is skateboarding. With so many similarities to snowboarding, the skate scene offers the counterculture vibe that I sought out many years ago, without the added expense of maintaining two sets of equipment.
Needless to say, when I offered them the chance to check out new Woodward Park City last winter, with its 66,000-squarefoot indoor sports hub—complete with a 10,000-square-foot skate park—and 120-acre outdoor Mountain Park, it was like someone had created a winter vacation mecca just for them.
“We are an outlet for teens and tweens to come and congregate in a productive manner,” says Chris “Gunny” Gunnarson, General Manager of Woodward Park City. “When I was a kid, we relied on a lot of luck to develop our skills. We took a lot of chances. The number one comment I get from those who came from my action sports generation is: ‘I wish I had a Woodward like this when I was growing up!’”
The Woodward brand is no stranger to mountain resorts; its first snowsports-themed indoor action hub opened in 2009 at Colorado’s Copper Mountain, followed by Woodward Tahoe at Boreal in 2012. Last season, Powdr Corp., Woodward’s parent company, debuted the Park City location—the first one to have its own slopes and lift-served terrain parks, halfpipes, progression parks, and a 12-lane tubing hill. It’s Woodward’s largest and most comprehensive action sports complex to date.
“Visitors from out of town are familiar with the property, as we’ve offered Utah’s longest and Park City’s only tubing at this property for more than 20 years,” Gunny explains, referring to the former Gorgoza Park facility. “We’re still seeing those visitors who come for the tubing but quickly realize there is a lot more to do here these days.”
As Front Range skiers, we’ve visited the Woodward barn at Copper Mountain several times, so my boys think they know what to expect when we pull into the parking lot at Woodward Park City. Little do they know that the indoor facilities at this location are over three times the size of the Copper barn. With a Hub Access pass, visitors get 90 minutes to check out all of the indoor features, including the skate park, acro zone, trampolines, parkour, pump track, and several ramps for launching into foam pits via bike, scooter, skateboard, roller skis, or roller snowboard. Add on lift access and spend the rest of the day on the Hot Laps quad, which serves the 22-foot Superpipe and terrain parks. Still got time to burn? A tubing pass for the magic carpet-accessed lanes is purchased separately.
The boys are salivating over the skate park, but we have a date with the terrain parks first, so we boot up and head to the quad. The goal: Slide a rail. Our instructor, Brett Fisher, is pushing 20 years old and connects immediately with my 12and 13-year-olds, showing them ski videos and talking about skateboarding. He worked at Woodward Tahoe before coming home to Park City to help launch this new, state-of-the-art destination in the town where he grew up. He assures the boys they’ll be sliding rails by the end of their two half-day sessions.
Since the boys have some experience in the parks, things go swimmingly, and both boys execute successful slides by the end of the first session, though it’s not always pretty. They vow to clean it up tomorrow and eagerly head inside to the fun house.
Most ski resorts have terrain parks—but none have such a seamlessly connected indoor component like Woodward Park City’s Action Sports Hub. Once inside, the kids shed ski boots for Vans, strip down to base layers, and scatter. One beelines to the concrete skate park, 10,000-square-feet of street features and tranny options designed by legendary park builder Nate Wessel. Another borrows a scooter and laps the Pump Track, which is perched above the ramps and offers a cool overview of the facility. The youngest remains in ski socks and
hits the extensive trampoline park with five Olympic fly-bed tramps and two Supertramps, which bounce people three times higher than regular tramps.
When their time is up, we head over to one of the two dining options inside the Hub. The Hive cafeteria serves up kid favorites including pizza, a mac ’n’ cheese bar, and a waffle station, plus soups, salads, and grilled specialties. (Upstairs, at the quieter and more laidback Grind Cafe, there’s coffee drinks, sandwiches, cheese plates, and a small selection of beers, wines, and cocktails for parents who need a time out.) The kids are talking over each other, eager to share their accomplishments. They’re already hatching a plan for tomorrow’s hub session as we pack the car and head back to our hotel.
The following day looks much the same, but now that the kids know what to expect they’re even more stoked to get back to the facility. On the mountain, the boys graduate from the mini rails to the medium-sized features under Fisher’s instruction. It’s a matter of practice, so there’s lots of hiking up to correct small balance and posture issues. Within a couple hours, both boys have accomplished their goal and head inside for more hub time.
Today everyone is focused on the mini mega ramps—five different drop-ins ranging from seven to 24 feet that launch people into massive foam pits. Kids are speeding down on roller skis and snowboards, skateboards and scooters, even bikes. We watch backflips, corkscrews, and grabs, listening to the cheers and whoops from spectating parents and coaches. The boys begin with skateboards on the smallest ramp to get the feel for it, but quickly graduate to the larger ones, relishing the feeling of more hang time with each jump. Some kids are clearly practicing for the terrain park; others careen through the air, arms and legs flailing, a combination of fear and ecstasy on their faces as they hurtle toward the foam. Either way, each and every one of them is here for it, and likely to come back for more.