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Go West! Adventurers, film buffs flock to Rocky Mountain resort

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(BPT) - America’s love affair with winter sports continues.

Participation has been on the upswing since 2011, with 9.4 million downhill skiers, 7.7 million snowboarders and 4.1 million cross country skiers tracked respectively in the 2014-15 season alone.

One of the most popular regions? The Rocky Mountains, whose ski resorts drew 20.7 million visitors in 2014-15 according to snowsports.org – the highest number since 2010/2011, and representative of 39 percent of all such visits across the U.S. And because of this year’s prime snow conditions, many ski buffs are again looking to the West for this season’s vacations. Those wanting adventure with a choice of many other amenities might consider Sundance Mountain Resort near Provo, Utah, the 5,000-acre resort founded by actor Robert Redford in 1969.

Redford, who can sometimes be found on site, founded Sundance in 1969 with the mission of fostering artistic expression, encouraging nature appreciation and building environmental stewardship. He explains in a video how he found the property while driving around.

“It was so idyllic, kind of raw and primitive, which made me fall in love with the whole canyon,” he remembered. “I knew it was just a matter of time, and this whole beautiful area was going to be discovered … so at that point I pledged to do everything in my power to preserve it.”

The destination has since become renowned, as it is an official venue for the iconic Sundance Film Festival. But vacationers may be surprised at the resort’s range of other offerings.

Ski enthusiasts are drawn by the area’s average 300 inches of dry, powdery snow each year. And Sundance, in addition to 45 downhill ski runs (20 percent at expert level) offers 25 kilometers of groomed trails for skating and classic skiing along with a nearly two-mile zip line offering dual-span seating, adjustable speeds of more than 65 mph and the largest vertical drop (2,100 feet) in the U.S.

The family-owned resort is a year-round destination and cultural mecca offering artistic, literary, theatre and musical programming along with four eateries including the award-winning Tree Room. Also featured are 92 guest accommodations; a selection of mountain homes; a full spa spotlighting nature-influenced healing methods; a state-of-the-art screening room; an outdoor amphitheater; a bar and a general store. All buildings are created from local materials – stone quarried in the area along with indigenous cedar, fur and pine – and designed to fit in with the environment.

Sundance’s affiliation with the film festival of the same name means hundreds of dramatic and documentary films, shorts, installations, performances, panel discussions and dynamic music events have been launched or hosted at the resort, continually introducing attendees to original and authentic storytelling. Two fun facts: Redford’s 1972 film “Jeremiah Johnson” was filmed nearby, and the vintage 1890s wooden bar inside the resort’s Owl Bar was once frequented by Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall Gang. The resort has also served as an inspirational mecca for countless skiers, artists, outdoor enthusiasts, foodies and wanderlust adventurers.

Browse photos of the resort’s inspiring mountain vistas, challenging ski runs and other inviting amenities at www.sundanceresort.com.