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  • 48°
  • Heber Valley, Utah
  • Saturday, May 25, 2024
  • 03:16 AM
Cloudy 48°
Sunday H: 65°
L: 44°
Mostly Cloudy
Monday H: 57°
L: 35°
Partly Sunny
Tuesday H: 68°
L: 35°
Wednesday H: 75°
L: 44°
Mostly Sunny
Thursday H: 80°
L: 45°
Mostly Sunny

April 2023 Business of the Month: Wilderness Access Outfitters

Local residents Kate and Bryan Silvey have lived in Heber Valley several years (Bryan moved into the valley over 20 years ago then met his wife, Kate). This dynamic duo decided they wanted to offer a unique dining and outdoor recreation adventure not found elsewhere in the area. Bryan previously worked at a chuck wagon-style yurt dining experience in Montana and spent most of his professional career in the food service industry and providing guiding services. Kate worked at Talisker Club at the private yurt experience for upscale Deer Valley clientele.

When the couple found their place in Heber Valley, they started their company – Wilderness Access Outfitters (WAO) – originally as a guiding service. Shortly after beginning this new business, they then decided it was time to bring a guided adventure dining yurt experience to this mountain town. Harnessing their collective experience from previous years, they embarked together to start the winter yurt. Originally located up Pine Canyon Road and in Wasatch Mountain State Park, the first dining yurt was an instant hit. After five winter seasons as that location, the Silveys were presented an opportunity to relocate to a bigger, better, and more scenic location at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center. Still located within the boundaries of Wasatch Mountain State Park, their new location provides for increased parking, onsite structure for staging, easy access, and a larger yurt operation. The new 30-foot yurt can comfortably seat up to 45 dining guests.

For those who haven’t experienced The Nordic Yurt during winter, let us give you an idea of what the wonderful evening offers guests. You arrive at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center where you are greeted by your snowshoe guide. The guide walks you downstairs where snowshoes and trekking poles are ready for all dining guests. The guides assist those who need help strapping into their snowshoes. After a brief safety chat, the guide leads the group on a scenic half-mile trek to the 30-foot enclosed winter yurt. The guide shares fun facts and answers questions along the way, stopping to point out wildlife (deer, fox, birds, and animal tracks) along the way. Once at the yurt, the dining group is greeted by the other friendly staff who will be serving them throughout the evening. Two warm and inviting fire pits are already lit on the expansive deck and a larger bonfire is going to the side of the deck and yurt area. Guests file into the spacious and warm yurt, called by the soft glow of the interior lights and heating fireplaces inside. The dining portion of the evening consists of a five-course dinner with full meal and beverage service. (As of now, it allows you to bring your own beer or wine.) The menu changes each season, but the owners always incorporate local products into the dinner. And the Executive Chef is the well-known and loved Ryan Estel from OG Café. This winter season menu featured locally sourced products from OG Café, Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, local meats from Charleston, Auntie Em’s, and spreads from Pepperlane Products. The four-hour dining experience concludes with s’mores over the open fire pits or bonfire outside and under the stars. The beautiful nighttime views of Heber Valley are unmatched as well. Following dinner, guests return with the guide to the Nordic Center on the same half-mile snowshoe path.

This winter season 2022/23 saw such success that the Silveys are excited to announce new summer operations. Previously only a winter experience, The Nordic Yurt has some exciting summer programming coming in 2023. The couple plans to offer several Harvest in the Hollow farm-to-table dinners throughout the summer season, along with chuck wagon dinners on Tuesday and Saturday nights where guests arrive by horse-drawn wagon and have access to family-friendly outdoor games on the grass, guided hike-in yoga brunches with a mimosa bar, a summer kickoff event, and even a stargazing dinner. The Nordic Yurt is also available for private dinners in both the summer and winter seasons. And the owners hope to partner with some distilleries to offer select beer and wine in the future.

When we asked Kate and Bryan “why Heber Valley?” they said it’s due to how much this valley has to offer in the outdoor and recreation industry. The couple started as a fly fishing guided experience (which they still offer along the middle and lower Provo River areas), but they saw the great opportunity to operate a dining yurt business here and they’re having a lot of success and growth right here in the valley. They both agreed that a large part of their success now is due to their great staff. The unique experience draws in team members who love to guide and find the food service portion of the experience to be a fun twist on traditional outdoor guiding. They attribute their success to their great team. And they love to support other local businesses where they can – largely by including them in the seasonal menus and products they serve to their guests. In fact, they always let dining guests know about all the local products they are using to prepare that night’s meal. That additional awareness and recognition are important for the owners to help other brands grow in and beyond Heber Valley.

Check their website and social media channels for updates on upcoming yurt dining experiences, including the new events happening this summer season.

Soldier Hollow Nordic Center 
[email protected]  

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