A Summer Trip to The Lodge at Blue Sky in Park City

A summer road trip to The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection, opened up a world of outdoor activities that immersed our whole family in the stunning surrounding nature—and offered a much-needed unplugging from LA life.

Alexander Creek burbles through the property and into the woods just behind the charming creek houses, and I come to a handful of hiking trails where I pause to whip out my trusty trail map and attempt to make a small choice that will prescribe my daily exploration. I keep trying to catch a glimpse of the moose family that supposedly hangs around the property, but no such luck yet, and, with my husband and infant son relaxing back at the lodge, I'm finally able to just turn off my mind. In L.A., the trails are often crowded, littered with the noise of friends chatting, music blaring from a backpack, or traffic in the distance. Here, it's nothing but the sounds of nature. And it's more meditative than any sound bath, hot yoga class, or day at the beach back home—here, it's a return to the true outdoors.

Park City, Utah, known as a world-class ski resort town and home to the annual Sundance Film Festival, is a wildly popular winter getaway for many west coasters, but heli-hiking, clay shooting, fly-fishing, trail rides, axe throwing, mountaintop yurt private dining, High West whiskey tastings, and complimentary morning yoga in the mountains are just a small part of my argument for preferring the warm-weather months at The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection. The winding drive up to the lodge took us through an unassuming neighborhood in Wanship, which I later learn is home to Gracie's Farm and Saving Gracie Equine Healing Foundation—where you'll go for organic farm school, the property's sumptuous summer harvest dinners, and visit the many rescue horses and other animals—and up and up past the distillery, and over to the lodge, which felt a world away from the typical resort town vibe.

I didn't immediately realize the awe and wonder we'd experience at Blue Sky until we woke up to the stunning mountain views the morning after our arrival—then, I knew, we were in a magical, catch-you-by-surprise kind of place. The switch next to the bed automatically opened up the curtains covering our floor-to-ceiling windows, without any unnecessary early-morning exertion for us. When we were ready, it was off to the nearly endless adventure on offer—a huge list of experiences to choose from, for both children and adults, in a stellar program curated by Henry Hudson, their director of adventure.

I first wandered the property with Jess Cook, their director of sales and marketing, who tells me about the beautiful history of the lodge. Mike and Barb Phillips owned the 3,500 acre property for years as a weekend retreat, and decided to partner with Auberge Resorts to build what is now The Lodge at Blue Sky and share it with the rest of the world as a sort of love letter to the surrounding nature, a place for adventure, and a place to truly retreat. Barb's real passion project, Saving Gracie Equine Healing Foundation, named after her first rescue horse, is now home to rescue cows, chickens, goats, dogs, and cats as well, which guests are welcome to visit, along with the many educational opportunities at neighboring Gracie's Farm.

The scent of sage keeps wafting under my nose as I meander the property—the same wild sage that Joe Ogdie, general manager, forages for every year and is turned into an essential oil that ends up in all their in-room bath products. This is a place where there is a sense of meaningful connection with the earth and Blue Sky's environmental initiatives really are a step above the rest: no single-use plastics, their mineral-rich bath salts are sourced from the Great Salt Lake, they have their own wastewater treatment facility, they source much of their produce from their regenerative farm, and all of the stone in the rooms, building construction, and landscaping are sourced from a quarry twelve miles down the road. The rooms and suites are all built into the natural contours of the land, even the spa and earth suites have living roofs that are made with native grasses and wildflowers. Everywhere I go here, it's a "one with nature" philosophy.

Later, I meet with James Beard Award-winning executive chef Galen Zamarra of YUTA, the signature restaurant at Blue Sky, to chat about how he keeps his menu interesting. He tells me it's "hard to move totally away from [Rocky Mountain lodge] cuisine"—bison, venison, and the like—and I nod and laugh because all my husband could talk about was needing to try the bison NY strip steak on YUTA's dinner menu. Zamarra tells me that, since the resort is still so new, he's "still building the culinary program" and nurturing a sense of place.

He'd like to incorporate "more native and indigenous foods," he says, and passionately tells me about the prehistoric Four Corners potato—taking its name from the Four Corners region where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet—which indigenous farmers helped to protect and cultivate again.The Native American-led non-profit, Utah Diné Bikéyah, does significant work to protect indigenous communities and their food cultures. They run a Traditional Foods Program (visit utahdinebikeyah.org/traditional-foods-program to learn more) which, according to their website, aims to preserve the natural resources of ancient Native American lands and promote indigenous food preservation among Tribes living adjacent to the Bears Ears National Monument. Re-learning about indigenous ingredients, like the Four Corners potato, is a huge step in shining a spotlight on these ancient foods and, hopefully, finding them on more local menus.

The food at YUTA is far removed from typical hotel food—it's thoughtful, playful, and earnestly inspired by its surroundings. I started with the signature cocktail—because how could I not?— which is lovingly dubbed The Horse Thief, inspired by owner Barb Phillips, and pairs tequila with a kick of ginger, fresh blackberries, and lime juice. There were many standouts from our dinners, but chef's signature dish, the ahi tuna with brown butter and crispy shallots (!!recipe on page XX!!), is popular for very good reason—and we ordered this more than once. Don't miss the tender chive crusted short rib, paired with a glass of Chappellet's Mountain Cuvée, or the bass crudo atop Gracie's Farm watermelon radishes.

Gracie's Farm is the property's female-led regenerative farm, about a ten minute drive down the mountain, and is continuing to expand their operation so they can provide more produce to the lodge—eventually maybe even chicken eggs and honey too. The farm is home to the summer harvest dinners, surrounded by the beauty of the animals and nature, each featuring a different ingredient and chef.

As I get the car loaded for the road trip back to L.A., I look around and know I won't experience peace like this for a while, and try to take in one last breath of mountaintop air before closing the car door for good. I wonder when I'll be back, or where else I might feel so luxuriated in the middle of such a stunning natural landscape.


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