Content produced in partnership with Stein Ericksen Lodge
For the most part, people come to Utah for one of two reasons: to hit the slopes or gawk at incredible landscapes. Traditionally, those activities were mutually exclusive as they’re a good distance apart from one another. Park City, Utah’s premier ski destination, is easy to get to from Salt Lake City, but sequestered away from most other attractions. Likewise, Utah's incredible national parks are spread out into the furthest reaches of the state. That's is, until Stein Ericksen Lodge decided to change the game.
The luxurious five-star ski-in/ski-out Deer Valley property has introduced a new package called “Explore the West,” which offers intrepid travelers the chance to have their cake and eat it too. Instead of wasting hours and hours on the road, they’ve cut travel times down significantly – by flying to them. Outfitted in your own private Piper Navajo jet, the Grand Canyon (Arizona), Mount Rushmore (South Dakota), Yellowstone (Wyoming), and Utah’s Mighty 5 -- Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capital Reef National Parks are finally accessible within an easy day trip, each with flying times under two hours.
When you say it’s as much about the journey as it is the destination, taking to the skies is a major highlight of the trip. Even if you’ve seen these parks from land, it’s a completely different view from 11,000 feet. The experience is total luxury without any of the stresses of commercial flying, and a Utah Airways pilot who acts like your own personal tour guide, pointing out interesting topography and famed natural wonders as you snap away in awe. There’s seating for up to six people in these jets so roundup your crew and plan the next family get together for the ride of a lifetime.
The inaugural flight went to Moab, which is the closest of the destinations. After just 50 minutes in the air, the group of four was on the ground and being led through Arches back entrance to look at dinosaur tracks and off-the-beaten path sites normal park visitors wouldn’t even know existed. Navtec Expeditions runs all the guided hikes and ground operations, making sure to tailor the trip to the guest’s preferences and pace and offer plenty of suggestions for what to see and how to schedule the day, doubling as the group photographer. The team spent about six hours taking in the sights before being ushered back to the small, minimal security airport; no stress, no fuss.
If you’d prefer to get your fill of the outdoors by spending the night or combining nearby destinations into a multi-day trip (like Canyonlands and Arches or Zion and the Grand Canyon), accommodations and additional activities (think: helicopter tours, whitewater rafting, ATVs, and horseback riding) can also be arranged.
And if you thought the national parks were only primed for viewing in the summer, this opportunity is available year-round. Take a day off from the slopes to stretch your sore muscles and experience the majestic calm of the parks in winter, sans crowds and chaos. It just may be the best season yet.
Packages start at $1,895 per person, which includes the flight, transportation, a gourmet lunch, and accommodations. You can learn more on the Stein Ericksen site here. Yolo, right?