Hard to believe this is my first blog post for 2019… My intention is to use this platform authentically and share when I am truly inspired. So here I am writing in July just a couple of days after our (myself, Ben and our boxer pup, Sophie) journey to Sundance, UT. Sundance has been on my dream list of places to experience for at least 10 years. I’ve always been intrigued by Robert Redford’s curated Sundance Mountain Resort set amongst the imperial Mt. Timpanogos. A few years ago, during one of my deep dive searches on VRBO, I came across an enchanted cottage rental in the Sundance area called the Wee Cottage. This year I had reached out to the locally family/owned rental company; Stewart Mountain Lodging that manages the Wee Cottage to see if they would be interested in working with me to be featured on my blog. A few days later I received a phone call from Wyatt Davis inquiring more about myself, OnWord Journeys and to see if a collaboration would be in alignment. Wyatt and I instantly connected on our family businesses, as he works with his mom, Vicki at Stewart Mountain Lodging and I work with my mom, Donna with our toffee company, Goodytwos. Wyatt & and I both reminisced about being able to work with our talented mothers and we also realized we both have a passion for photography and travel. Wyatt went on to share about Stewart Mountain Lodging, the variety of cabin rentals that they offer and the Stewart family history in the Utah, Provo Canyon. I truly love finding gems to experience & share which have history and a story. I’m beyond thrilled to share our journey to Sundance, UT along with the Stewart’s family roots that run deep in the area dating back to the late 1890’s.
Please note, the following is quoted directly from the Stewart Mountain Lodging website: www.stewartmountainlodging.com
Before Sundance – A Stewart Homestead: Please note, this is written word directly from the Stewart Mountain Lodging website. The Stewart Family has a long history in the North Fork of Provo Canyon, now known as Sundance. In short, this land has only had three owners. Ever. The Native Americans, the Stewarts, and Robert Redford. Centuries ago, the Ute Native Americans were retreating to this canyon. It was their summer camp, a spiritual place filled with dense forest and cascading waterfalls where they could enjoy cooler temperatures and hunt the abundant game. In the 1890’s, two brothers, Scott and John Stewart, surveyed this land for the US Government to enable homestead claims. With great foresight and a few bucks, the Stewart brothers decided this exquisite wilderness would be a great place to call home. They saw an opportunity to homestead and protect a vast unspoiled treasure; thus, began the love affair between a canyon and a pioneer family. Fifty years later, in 1944, Ray Stewart and his wife Ava opened a quaint home-spun ski resort called Timp Haven, a favorite of local skiers. With a homemade rope tow, a single chair lift crafted from local timbers, and a T-bar (that was scary as hell to ride) the small ski area became the embryo of what is now the Sundance Resort. Less a few improvements over the years the land remains much as it was thanks to the environmental conservation of the Redford family.
“As third generation Stewarts, it’s our honor and privilege to extend our warm and friendly hospitality to our guests and welcome them to this most extraordinary expression of nature in the North Fork of Provo Canyon. And while Stewart Mountain Lodging has no direct affiliation with the Sundance Mountain Resort, we share a mutual commitment of preservation for the enjoyment of visitors and guests alike.” – Stewart Mountain Lodging
Robert Redford, Sundance Mountain Resort: In 1969, the Stewarts sold the simple ski resort and 5,000 adjacent acres of land to Robert Redford, who has held firm to his vision of protecting the canyon from developers for over 40 years. The Stewart family joined Mr. Redford in making a public commitment to forever preserve their family lands by donating a large conservation easement to Utah Open Lands. As a result, the family legacy and stewardship of this extraordinary place will live on for future generations.
“To give credit where credit is due, it is the visionary spirit of Robert Redford and the Sundance family who have nurtured the bond between art and nature which defines what is now Sundance, as much a feeling as it is a place. While Stewart Mtn Lodging has no direct affiliation with the Sundance Mountain Resort, we jointly share a profound love for this spectacular mountain setting.”- Stewart Mountain Lodging
The Wee Cottage Rental: This sweet little cottage is ultimately what brought us to Sundance this summer and the introduction to Wyatt with Stewart Mountain Lodging. I’m always looking for an intrinsic experience for our travel journeys. This vacation was in celebration of our 16th anniversary, I was searching for romantic places, offering lux amenities & immersed in nature. The Wee Cottage offers just that! The cottage is 1- bed 1- bath and being just 750 sqft is the perfect size for the two of us and Sophie (The Wee Cottage is pet-friendly). Upon entering on the main level, center stage is a large stone fireplace, which we used 3 evenings during our 4-night stay. There is a small, simple bathroom with shower just off the family room. Just beyond the family room is the kitchen, also quite small but quaint & completely set up with all the appliances and cookware needed to cook to your heart’s content, which I did! We enjoyed 3 dinners and 4 breakfasts at the cottage. The kitchen window overlooks the forest and the outdoor hot tub which Ben used at least 2-3 times a day! While cooking, I loved being able to see Ben and Sophie outside (literally) soaking up nature. The bedroom is located upstairs with a queen bed and a small adjoining loft area which we used for our luggage. In the loft, there is a small TV with a nice daybed. Honestly, we never turned the TV on as we were immersed in all the connective elements of the Wee Cottage and Sundance area. Whether outside or inside the cottage you can hear the stream that flows beside the Wee Cottage property offering a soothing vibrational “hummm”. There are two decks located off the Wee Cottage, a very large wrap around deck on the lower main level and the second is just off the master suite. We enjoyed both thoroughly. On the main deck, we had breakfast & dinner and enjoyed our morning cup of coffee on the upper deck. There also is an outdoor fire pit with Adirondack chairs surrounding and a relaxing hammock that I sunk into daily. The location of the Wee Cottage is private, hidden in the forest. The cottage itself is canopied by large pine trees, always plenty of shade & we enjoyed the cool breezes coming from the canyon, rolling off the stream below. The Wee Cottage truly looks as if it’s out of a fairy tale.
Booking our vacation rental with Stewart Mountain Lodging was seamless and such a wonderful experience! SML customer service is amazing, the follow thru communication, emails, directions, recommendations was absolutely top-notch! Along with the special touches added, like the locally made blueberry bread… Thank you To Wyatt, Viki & Aly, we look forward to booking with SML fo our next winter journey to Sundance, UT!
Stewart Mountain other rental properties: SML offers a wide range of luxury rental cottages, cabins & homes tucked away in Sundance, UT. Rental home sizes ranging from 2 guests up to 30 guests. So, if you are looking for a romantic getaway or a large family retreat vacation, they have plenty of options available. Click link to see all SML rental properties offered: www.stewartmountainlodging.com
Sundance Mountain Resort/Foundry Grill: We made our way Sundance Mountain Resort to explore and made reservations at the Foundry Grill for our 16th anniversary dinner. Sundance Resort is just a short drive from the Wee Cottage, only 2 miles away. Sundance Mountian Resort is everything I thought it would be and more. The backdrop of the resort with the cascading emerald green Mt. Timpanogos with still snowcapped peaks simply takes your breath away. There is an essence of presence, stillness embodied in this land. Sundance Mountain Resort has an authentic energy, unpretentious. I loved the simple rustic yet modern architecture. I would describe the main buildings to be “chic” barn-like structures where they contain 2 restaurants, 1 bar, 1-café & Sundance Store are located at the base of the resort. There is no fluff felt here, all of the guests were dressed in outdoor adventure attire (as were Ben and I), the staff’s uniforms are casual – blue jeans & button-down denim shirts. Very warm and welcoming, super easy relaxed vibes. SMR is also pet friendly so you will see pups happily walking around the property outside. There are numerous rivers and streams that run thru the property and alongside the Owl Bar patio and outdoor café seating. Simply put, it’s just laid-back casual elegance in the most picturesque mountain setting. Certainly, a place to visit, dine and stay if you’re looking for a romantic and/or family vacation. Our dinner at the Foundry Grill was superb! The atmosphere is amazing, containing grounded elements of earth with wood plank floors & rustic log cabin walls. The large farmhouse style windows bring the outside in allowing the vibrant nature to illuminate the dining space. The food was impeccable & the service was great. I recommend the Mezcal margarita cocktail, the kale caesar salad & the halibut.
“Sundance Mountain Resort is a ski resort located 13 miles (21 km) northeast of Provo, Utah. It spans over 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) on the slopes of Mount Timpanogos in Utah’s Wasatch Range. Alpine skiing began on the site in 1944. Actor Robert Redford acquired the area in 1968 and established a year-round resort which would later spawn the independent Sundance Film Festival and the non-profit Sundance Institute. Sundance is committed to the balance of art, nature, and community.”- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sundance_Resort
Mount Timpanogos Wilderness Hiking: There are many hiking trails in the Sundance area, it was hard to choose but I did my research on the Stewart Mountain Lodging website & went with their recommendations. I also use the All Trails app on my phone, the app has reviews, maps and very descriptive info on induvial hikes. I use it everywhere we travel to check difficulty, the time it takes, and I use the interactive map on the trail during my hikes. I love the app and can’t recommend it enough!
- Timpanogos Trail: stunning moderate to difficult hike that is almost 16 miles out and back. We only did about 7 miles total as there was still a good amount of snow higher up on the trail. There was also an avalanche that took out a good amount of the forest and parts of the trail. If you have good hiking shoes, its easy to just walk on. We hiked past 3 waterfalls, views are massively amazing. You can really make it a day hike and check out Emerald Lake and make it to the summit with weather permitting. We loved it and so did Sophie
- Stewart Falls: A beautiful and easy/moderate 3.4-mile (out & back) hike to the Stewart Waterfalls. It’s a very popular hike, so heavily trafficked but worth it. Maybe go early or later in the afternoon. Really amazing views during the whole hike, taking a break at the falls to soak it all in was magic!
The Hollow Venue: The Hollow Venue is an acre of land just a two-minute walk upstream from the Sundance Mountain Resort. It was handpicked by Hank Stewart himself when his family homesteaded the canyon in the early 1900’s. It sits on the stream where Hank designed ponds and cascading waterfalls creating the ideal backdrop for any occasion. Ben and I stopped by the Hollow Venue on the way out of Sundance. There was a wedding held at the Hollow the evening before, in the photos, you will notice remnants of some flowers and decor. Really a magical space for any gathering. Ben and I both mentioned that it is perfect for a family reunion, wedding, birthday celebrations, etc.. The Hollow is such an enchanted venue space, I highly recommend looking into if you have a special event coming up.
“Unfortunately, Mother Nature had her way several years ago and dropped an 80 ft cottonwood tree in the middle of Hank’s cabin. We were forced to tear down the walls keeping only the stone fireplace that he built and warmed his family with over the years and the memories of an unforgettable man.” – Stewart Mountain Lodging
Travel to Sundance, UT: As this was a road trip, Ben, Sophie and I drove from Carefree, AZ to Sundance, UT. Travel time was 9 ½ hours and we were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it was!!! From AZ we headed north of Flagstaff, thru Page/Lake Powel then crossed over into UT. We stopped at Bryce Canyon on our journey back home to AZ, Bryce Canyon National Park entrance is just 30 min from the hwy. Highly recommend stopping in Bryce if you are driving from AZ. You can also fly into Salt Lake City Airport, just an hour away from Sundance. SML recommends a 4-wheel drive car rental, especially during the winter months. I also looked into Allegiant Air; they fly into Provo Municipal Airport which is only 33 min from Sundance.
Our trip to Sundance, UT was unforgettable, I look forward to returning for another summer adventure and winter would be awesome to experience also! There is so much to do during both seasons. From fly fishing, hiking, rafting down the Provo River to the 6th longest zip line in the United States, snowboarding, skiing, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing… the list goes on & on! If you are an outdoor enthusiast like Ben and I are, add Sundance, UT as one of your places to experience! As for accommodations, you can’t go wrong with finding just the right rental property by booking thru Stewart Mountain Lodging. If you prefer more of a hotel setting with room service, spa amenities etc., then looking into booking a stay at Sundance Mountain Resort is a great option. Either way, there is sure to be something that will fit your taste & desires.
“This place in the mountains, amid nature’s casualness toward death and birth, is the perfect host for the inspiration of ideas: harsh at times, life-threatening in its winters of destruction, but tender in attention to the details of every petal of every wildflower resurrected in the spring. Nature and creativity obey the same laws, to the same end: life.” –Robert Redford
I will be back writing my next post soon, until then…Wishing everyone a summer full of connective adventures and bountiful expansion journeys! Inward and onward we go.
With love & light,
Connective links to Sundance, UT
Stewart Mountain Lodging: https://www.stewartmountainlodging.com/
Wee Cottage – Stewart Mountain Lodging: https://www.stewartmountainlodging.com/lodging/the-wee-cottage
The Hallow Venue: https://www.stewartmountainlodging.com/groups-events/the-hollow-venue
Sundance Mountain Resort: https://www.sundanceresort.com/
Robert Redford: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Redford
Foundry Grill: https://www.sundanceresort.com/dining/foundry-grill/
Sundance, UT Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sundance_Resort
All Trails: https://www.alltrails.com/us/utah/provo
Bryce Canyon: https://www.nps.gov/brca/index.htm
YouTube video links
Stewart Mountain Lodging: https://youtu.be/1-TDhwULa0E
Robert Redford, Sundance Mountain Resort, the story in his words: https://youtu.be/m_ED_1iGIY4
Salt Lake City Airport: https://slcairport.com/
Provo Municipal Airport: https://www.provo.org/city-services/airport/commercial-service
Allegiant Air: https://www.allegiantair.com/