Sundance, Utah is a small resort in the North Fork of Provo Canyon that has a rich history, particularly within its ownership. The area was originally populated by members of the Ute nation. It then passed into the hands of the Stewart family who arrived with the Latter-day Saints. Most recently it has been the site of a ski resort owned and operated by Hollywood actor Robert Redford.

Nestled in Provo Canyon, what is known today as Sundance has a rich history that reflects the different eras of Utah settlement. The land was occupied by the Ute nation beginning in 1,400 AD. Sundance was in an area where the Utes would visit in the summer to enjoy the cool mountain temperatures and lush forests filled with game. The arrival of Latter-day Saint pioneers pushed the Utes out of the area, leaving Sundance to be settled by the Stewart family. 

The Stewarts were Scottish immigrants that came to Utah in the mid-1800s. Andrew Jackson Stewart Jr. and his sons surveyed land in Provo Canyon and felt particularly drawn to the area. Through the Homestead Act of 1862, the Stewarts were each able to secure 160 acres of land within the canyon. Other families joined them, and by 1911, there were 2,200 acres of settled land in the North Fork of Provo Canyon that were then known as Stewart Flats. 

Stewart Flats began to be recognized for its recreational draw in the 1930s and 40s. In 1944, S. Paul Stewart and his brother and sister-in-law Ray and Ava Stewart opened up Timp Haven, a small ski area that operated for 20 years. Timp Haven was greeted by a noteworthy guest in the 1950s when Hollywood actor Robert Redford accidentally stumbled on the area due to a miscalculated turn on a road trip through the West. 

Redford purchased a sizable portion of the Stewart family land in 1969 and renamed the area Sundance, after his character in the western film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. According to Redford, one of his major goals for Sundance was “to develop a little and preserve a great deal.” Instead of succumbing to overdevelopment with hotels and condominiums, Redford’s focus at Sundance was environmental conservation and the promotion of the arts. 

In 1978 Redford increased his Utah presence by founding the Sundance Film Festival, held annually in Park City, building on his Sundance legacy. In 2020, Redford sold 2,600 acres, including the Sundance Mountain Resort, to Broadreach Capital Partners and Cedar Capital Partners with an agreement that they would continue Sundance’s pursuit of environmental preservation and conscientious development.

Images

Sundance from Stewarts Cascades Trail, Jun 16
Sundance from Stewarts Cascades Trail, Jun 16 Source: Unknown photographer. “[Sundance from Stewarts Cascades Trail, Jun 16.]” Photograph. Sundance, Utah. From Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sundance_from_Stewarts_Cascades_Trail,_Jun_16.jpg  (Accessed April 14, 2023). 
Timp Haven
Timp Haven Source: Unknown photographer. “[Timp Haven.]” Photograph. Provo, Utah. From L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/ProvoPhoto/id/766  (Accessed April 14, 2023).
Robert Redford at Toronto International Film Festival 2010
Robert Redford at Toronto International Film Festival 2010 Source: Jensen, Josh, photographer. “[Robert Redford at Toronto International Film Festival 2010.]” Photograph. Toronto, Ontario. From Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Robert_Redford_@_Toronto_International_Film_Festival_2010.jpg  (Accessed April 14, 2023).
Likenesses of Paul Newman and Robert Redford in their roles as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in the movie of the same name, at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, California
Likenesses of Paul Newman and Robert Redford in their roles as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in the movie of the same name, at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, California Source: Highsmith, Carol M., photographer. “[Likenesses of Paul Newman and Robert Redford in their roles as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in the movie of the same name, at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, California.]” Photograph. Los Angeles, California. From Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/item/2013631581/  (Accessed April 14, 2023).

Location

Metadata

Britain Schwarz, Brigham Young University
, “The History of Sundance,” Intermountain Histories, accessed July 24, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/789.