You’ve heard it before: People come for the skiing and stay for the summer. That’s because Park City is an amazing place to be year-round.

When the valley is scorching, it’s a few degrees cooler in the mountains, so folks come to explore the miles and miles of biking and hiking trails, to dance at live music festivals and to enjoy the plentiful al fresco dining and drinking.

When I was young, my mom would pack a picnic and haul us all to Park City for the day. We’d hike in the mountains and find a beautiful spot to munch on tuna fish sandwiches and swig Fresca. After, we’d head to Main Street to browse the shops — mostly local artists — and stop by the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory to get an ice cream cone or slice of fudge before heading home. Back then, Park City was just Main Street and a few colorful houses.

Over the years, the town grew. Our summer days in Park City had more to offer. We raced down the alpine slide, got up early to watch Autumn Aloft, the annual hot air balloon festival, and found treasures at the Park Silly Sunday Market. As I got older, I hiked farther and farther into the mountains. My favorite afternoons were spent following foot trails and resting in alpine meadows. Park City’s breathtaking vistas have been captured by photographers like Johnny Adolphson, whose brilliant landscapes showcase this area’s dazzling beauty.

One of the first concerts I ever attended was at ParkWest (now Canyons Village at
Park City Mountain) to see the Eurythmics in 1984. I remember Annie Lennox’s orange hair as she crooned “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” her contralto tones reverberating in the clean mountain air. I even got married in Park City — in an old pioneer schoolhouse that was transformed into the Park City Community Church (now condos and apartments) — and had my reception at Adolph’s (since closed). Park City was a gem, a place where I found peace; a charming small town that guarded the soul of the mountains that held it.

Over the years, it’s grown more than anyone could have imagined. Now, it’s a place that offers something for everyone. There’s shopping and golf. Beer festivals and wine tastings. Luxury spas and high-end restaurants. Horseback riding and boating. You can don a silly costume and join the Tour des Suds bike race, ride the zip line at the Utah Olympic Park or browse the galleries during the Gallery Stroll on the last Friday of each month.

Park City has evolved into a stunning outdoor playground, thanks to the many locals who’ve invested their time, heart and vision. In this issue, we talk to the people with a passion for play. People like Bob Radke, who spent 17 years crafting trails for Snyderville Basin Recreation and is responsible for building dozens of the most well-loved trails in the Wasatch Back. Or Julie Minahan, director of Young Riders, a program that gets kids on their bikes and teaches them how to read trail maps. Then there’s Shaun Deutschlander, who founded Inspired Summit Adventures, a guide service for mountain biking, hiking and camping adventures.

In a town that’s home to many international athletes, you never know who you’re going to brush shoulders with on the trail. Including people like Marty Jemison, a two-time Tour de France competitor and former U.S. National Road Race Champion.

Sounds too good to be true, right? It is. There’s a price of admission to this amazing playground. Park City once had abundant wildlife; it wasn’t uncommon to see moose, deer, elk, coyotes, fox, eagles, bears — and even mountain lions. But the influx of people on the trails and the number of new homes being built on animal habitats has changed all that.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has come up with some creative solutions to minimize the conflict between humans and wildlife and to protect precious areas and the creatures that live there. And Park City’s environmental sustainability department has set North America’s most ambitious climate goal: for the whole community to be net-zero carbon and run on 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030.

But it’s also up to us, the people playing in this majestic playground, to care for it. So sure, come and play, there’s plenty to do. But be a good steward, too. Learn trail etiquette and pick up trash. Vote for people who care about preservation and sustainability and help us all conserve this natural playground so that future generations and the wildlife that call this place home can enjoy it too.