Sundance Now & Then: A Haven for Culture & Natural Splendor

By Local Lexi Feb 15, 2021
What sets Sundance Mountain Resort apart from every other mountain resort in the world? Art, cuisine, landscape, culture, and more...
Sundance Now & Then: A Haven for Culture & Natural Splendor

To travel through the sinuous folds of Provo Canyon is to abandon the mundane and leave the ordinary in your wake....

The contours of the road hug the riffles and pools of the Provo River, the soaring heights of Mount Timpanogos dominate the sky, and the white train and mists of Bridal Veil Falls lure your eyes off the road. The same beguiling scenes that beckon visitors to Sundance Mountain Resort today once captivated the attention of young Robert Redford on an erstwhile road trip across the west as he ventured to college at the University of Colorado.

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photo credit (left image) Alan Silfen

Fifty-two years ago, still enamored with his earlier visit to the North Fork of Provo Canyon, Redford purchased a small ski area named Timp Haven in 1968 from a generation of ranchers by the name of Stewart. With just one tow rope powered by a Chevrolet truck engine, a T-bar, and a double chair, Timp Haven was a beloved but sleepy ski area catering to local families and university students. Enamored by the area’s natural beauty, Redford envisioned a place where humans and nature coexisted in harmony. A landscape whose inspiring splendor would foster a deeper connection to nature, the arts, and creativity. Redford renamed the resort 'Sundance,' after the role he played in the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Thanks to Redford’s thoughtful and careful stewardship, development at Sundance always aimed to highlight and safeguard the scenery. As Redford put it, the goal was “to develop a little and preserve a great deal.” Of the property’s 2,600 acres, 1,845 are protected in conservation easements, preserving vital alpine habitat, wetlands and watercourses. 


Having faithfully developed Sundance with an ethos of sustainability and environmental stewardship, Redford announced the sale of the resort in December of 2020 to Broadreach Capital Partners and Cedar Capital Partners. Redford spent years identifying an appropriate buyer that shared his values and commitment to maintaining the resort’s character as a cultural and recreational hub. To commemorate this milestone in Sundance’s venerable history, the Redford family entered a partnership with Utah Open Lands placing over 300 acres of pristine alpine habitat, wetlands, and streams into permanent protection. The Redford Family Elk Meadows Preserve stands as an added testament to Redford’s enduring commitment to responsible development. 

Redford’s cultural legacy is deeply entwined within Sundance’s rustic charm. Having founded the Sundance Institute in 1981, Redford’s goal was to create a mecca for creative types to escape the mundane and draw inspiration from the surrounding natural beauty. The Sundance Film Festival, born from this initiative, is currently one of the largest independent film festivals in the world.


Movie screenings aren’t the only diversion offered at Sundance Resort. Guests may enrich their memories and connection to this place with classes in the Sundance Art Studio. Silver smithing, pottery, journal making, painting, jewelry making and more await guests who will delight in learning a new skill. Local artists often visit and present their work at Sundance or offer live demonstrations on Saturdays. The Sundance Author Series showcases the work of renowned authors and luminaries like E.O. Wilson, Bob Woodward, and Madeleine Albright. Lectures and presentations create a forum for ideas, fostering creativity, and fueling inspiration. In the hot shop, guests are mesmerized by Oaxacan glassblowers from México, who spend each spring upcycling the resort’s used glass into beautiful vases, art, wine glasses and more. Sundance truly is a place where the arts feel alive.


Step outside the elegant buildings with their roughly hewn wooden floors to satisfy even the most demanding adrenaline junkie. In the summer months, guests may enjoy mountain biking, horseback riding, outdoor theatre and concerts, fly fishing, hiking, wildflower walks, birdwatching, and the ZipTour. Sundance’s zip line features a vertical drop of 2,100 feet—the most of any zip line experience in the United States—and speeds up to 65 miles an hour! 

To us, Sundance is and always will be a dream. What you see, smell, taste and feel here is a dream being carefully nurtured.

Once the winter snows begin to coat the flanks of Mount Timpanogos the lifts begin to spin and skiers and snowboarders find delight on the resort’s snowy slopes by day or night. Nordic skiing, fly fishing, and the ZipTour allow guests to experience the mountain environment at every speed. 

Food has always taken center stage at Sundance and a recent partnership with chef Leslie Durso introduces new and exciting vegan and plant-based dishes to Sundance’s menus. Alongside Executive Chef, Manuel Rozehnal, Durso’s ethos and commitment to healthy living shapes the flavors at Sundance that nurture both the guests and the land. Guests may enjoy locally inspired fare in the romantic Tree Room or the more casual Foundry Grill

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At Sundance “food is art” and the entire dining experience is crafted to encapsulate guests in the moment. A Forbes 4-star restaurant, the Tree Room is anchored around an actual pine tree near a large stone fireplace designed and built by Redford. The elegant atmosphere is thoughtfully fabricated with perfect mood lighting and Redford’s personal collection of Native American art. The menu blends modern French techniques with American comfort food and seasonal, mountain-inspired flavors. A night in the Tree Room is an eve you’ll never forget. 


On less formal occasions, step inside the Foundry Grill, where fresh food is cooked to order for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu draws influence from the hearty meals that pioneers, farmers, shepherds, Natives, and miners needed to survive and thrive on the rugged frontier. The hearty and homey meals served here are perfect for fueling a day on the slopes! Those distinctive flavors teasing your palate are the result of the open “foundry” kitchen. For those on the go, the Deli or Creekside Cafe are quick stops where the wait is short but the flavors are tasty. Made-to-order sandwiches, salads, soups, smoothies, espresso, or homemade baked goods await. Dip in for some hot coco and dip back out to the snowy slopes. For an aprés experience like no other, drop into the legendary Owl Bar and savor a craft cocktail upon a restored bar from the 1890s that once belonged to Butch Cassidy. 

No matter the season, a visit to Sundance is incomparable thanks to Redford’s legacy of conservation and his commitment to maintaining the wild character of this special landscape. Whether it’s outdoor pursuits, the arts, or a desire for some peace and quiet, the rustic elegance of Sundance creates an environment where abandoning the daily grind is made possible. Sundance’s new owners will work closely with the Sundance community Redford forged over decades in these wild mountains to promote slow, sustainable growth. With plans to enhance the ski experience, and additions to on-slope amenities, Broadreach and Cedar plan to continue stewarding the land while fostering the arts that Redford so cherished for the last half-century.

This content is sponsored by Sundance Mountain Resort

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