10 must-do recreational
activities this summer
For both fun-loving outdoorsy families and the wilderness wanderers of the world, Utah has no shortage of awe-inspiring outdoor experiences. From the red-rock-induced “Mighty Five” national parks to the cool, high-alpine forests, you can be in paradise—or, rather, many varieties of paradise—within a five-hour drive from the Wasatch Front.
You’ve probably already mountain-biked in Moab, hiked through Escalante, jet-skied on Lake Powell, or set sail on the Great Salt Lake (if not, do all of that, too).
Here’s a handpicked assortment of bucket-list excursions that you may not have taken and that will expand your views of the Beehive State.
1 Wander the Slopes at the Wasatch Wildflower Festival
Beat the valley’s late-July heat by escaping to the canyons. Add in the beauty of Utah’s native plant life, and you’re pretty much set. The Wasatch Wildflower Festival, hosted at each of the four ski areas in the Cottonwood Canyons July 24-26, offers free guided tours and other activities for flower fanatics. CottonwoodCanyons.org/Events/Wasatch-Wildflower-Festival
2 Hook Trout on a Guided Provo River Fishing Trip
Imagine anglers serenely casting flies as the sun sparkles on the Provo River; they’re hooking massive trout right and left. Well, that could be you. Guided fly-fishing on the Provo provides novice fisherfolk with the equipment, expertise and hands-on practice, which might just get them hooked for life. Try Provo River Guides (ProvoRiverGuides.com) or Wasatch Guide Service (WasatchGuideService.com) for starters.
4 Drive the Alpine Loop (May to October)
Pack a picnic, and drive through American Fork Canyon on the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway. After buying a Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest day-use pass, you’re on the 20-mile drive, which takes you through alpine canyons with terrific views of Mount Timpanogos and the Wasatch Range. Make a pit stop at Cascade Springs, our recommendation for your picnic, although there are plenty of places along the route to stop and eat, hike or simply enjoy nature. The descent takes you past Sundance Resort, so stop for a nosh and glass of wine at the Owl Bar before you meander back home.
5 Gawk at Nine Mile Canyon’s Petroglyphs
Nine Mile Canyon, located just north of Wellington, is loaded with Archaic, Fremont and Ute petroglyphs. For a mellow afternoon, view numerous rock-art panels along the road, and take a break at the day-use area at the entrance of the canyon with a picnic. CastleCountry.com/Nine-Mile-Canyon
6 Zipline at Park City Mountain Resort
Blazing down Park City Mountain Resort’s slopes at extreme speeds is exhilarating, but hitting the runs from the air at 45 mph is a completely different feeling. Both kids and adults love the zipline (must be at least 42 inches tall to ride). With a summer day-pass, you can let the crisp mountain air blow through your hair on the Ziprider and Flying Eagle. 435-649-8111, ParkCityMountain.com
7 Tube the Weber River
Hot sun and cool rivers make for an ideal summer respite. Embark on this adventure on your own and then hitchhike back to your car or manage the logistics of shuttling with your friends from Henefer to Taggart. Or make your life easy (that’s what recreation is all about, right?) and hire a local guide service. They’ll hook you up with high-quality tubes and lifejackets, which are necessary, given the Class II & III rapids. Try Barefoot Tubing (801-648-8608, BarefootTubing.com) or Destination Sports (435-649-8092, DestinationSports.com).
8 Cycle Through Liberty
Pretend you’re in the Tour of Utah race and take your road bike over to Liberty. You can hit major climbs through the North Ogden divide, or avoid that stretch if you’re interested in a less heart-exploding journey. You’ll pedal past Wolf Mountain Resort and lush farmland while seeing massive peaks in the distance. Stop in Huntsville on your way out of town and hit up the Shooting Star—the longest continually running saloon in Utah—for a well-deserved beer.
9 Horseback Ride Through Provo Canyon
Get out from behind the wheel of your Outback, and get behind some real horsepower. There’s nothing quite like seeing the majestic beauty of Provo Canyon from the back of a beautiful steed. Start down this path and you’ll find yourself cooking chuck-wagon dinners and hanging at the rodeo in no time. Try High Country Adventure (435-654-1655) or Boulder Mountain Ranch (800-783-5819).
10 Cliff Jump at Causey Reservoir
This stop—15 miles northeast of Ogden—is for the risk-takers. At the highest jump-offs, brave souls vault themselves from cliffs more than 50 feet tall—not for the timid of spirit. Check water levels before you make that kind of leap. There are plenty of smaller cliffs to plunge from, and you can always just step in for a swim. No matter how you decide to get in the water, a visit is worth it—but the big jump makes your trip way cooler.