Pairing adventures with booze and other libations
One of the best parts of being outdoors is the rigorous butt-kicking you get from hiking, biking and exploring our deserts, lakes and mountains. Utah has always had braggin’ rights to high-country adventures but with the growth of craft distilleries, wineries and breweries mushrooming throughout the state, the Beehive State can now boast booze brands with some of the most complex and well-executed refreshment on the market. So, if you’re ready to bring together the world of booze and summer adventures, we’ve done the homework for you.
Cracks, Crags, Historic 25th & Multiple Wives
Trading in its 1920s bootlegging history for modern-day high adventure, Ogden’s outdoor paradise offers rugged outdoor climbing opportunities and celebratory imbibing to rowdy souls anywhere. Along with hosting the premier climbing event of the region, Ogden Climbing Festival, every spring, Ogden offers indoor climbing at The Front Climbing Club (225 20th St., Ogden, 801-393-7625, FrontOgden.com) and iRock Climbing Wall (2261 Kiesel Ave., Ogden, 801-528-5350, iRockUtah.com). Then, take what you’ve learned to the great outdoors, up Ogden Canyon, where you can test your footing on the Utah Wall (located about 1.8 miles up Canyon Road from Harrison Boulevard). Utah Crack’s multi-pitch climbing route, just up from Waterfall Canyon, is a relatively easy route for an afternoon. On the north side of the canyon, another favorite challenge is Macabre Wall, offering up jagged edges of quartzite chaos in the Alpine area (access it from the Jump Off Canyon Trailhead at approximately 495 North on Harrison Boulevard in Ogden. Look for the vertical wall above and hike to it). But if you’re looking for a shorter route that’s less intimidating for beginners, choose the 40-foot wall at the 9th Street Crag (travel east on 9th Street to the top. Park and walk up the dirt road until you intersect the canal road and then travel north. Follow the road about a hundred yards to the trailhead.) The trail works its way up in the north-easterly direction leading to the crag) or take in 26th Street’s Bouldering Park (travel east up 27th, Lake or 25th streets until you reach the end of the street).
After a little mountain madness, we suggest you drag your sweaty, dirt-covered self to Ogden’s Own Distillery (3075 Grant Ave. Ogden, 801-458-1995, OgdensOwn.com), just 10 blocks from Historic 25th. Restock on slick souvenirs, handcrafted herbal spirits and Five Wives Vodka for that celebratory drink to the great outdoors. Ogden’s Own plans to offer new tasting tours with extended hours beyond its current noon-5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday, thanks to new Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control rules going into effect July 1.
Vaqueros, Trails & Whiskey With a View
Pairing your inner horse whisperer with a flight of whiskey is a time-honored tradition every mountain man or woman should take advantage of. To experience the high-Uinta backcountry the way it was meant to be, book a three-hour Canyon & Creek Ride tour with Blue Sky Utah (2071 State Road 32, Wanship, 435-252-0662, BlueSkyUtah.com). Meander through mountain meadows to a refurbished old-style saloon where your personal chef will prepare a three-course meal over an open fire. There’s plenty of time to relax or explore the surrounding trails and wilderness. These all-inclusive tours start at $550 per person, beginning June 1. If you’re looking for other vaquero-style excursions, you can book with Red Pine Adventures (2050 W. White Pine Canyon Road, Park City, 800-417-SNOW, RedPineTours.com) for private mountainland trail rides beginning mid-May, starting at $75 per person near Canyons Resort.
OK, you dig the mountains, and you’ve led the charge on your outing. Now there’s no better way to reward your palate than a tour of High West Distillery (27649 Old Lincoln Highway, Wanship, 435-649-8300, HighWest.com) to sample the subtle smells and flavors of its distinctive rye and oat whiskey blends. We recommend the tour at Blue Sky Ranch for behind-the-scenes sampling, and flights ranging in price from $15 -$25. High West is a must on this list for its quality spirits, working ranch and small-bites restaurant.
Raft, Zip & Sip
You may be notorious for seeking out an adrenalized day, and that’s what you’ll find with High Country Adventures (3702 E. Provo Canyon Road, Provo, 801-224-2500, HighCountryAdventure.com). Try the Raft & Zip combo, perfect for anyone looking to turn their day into one heck of a party. Raft the Provo with a boat guide or opt for the self-guided tour and kayaks, then head over to Sundance Resort for the finer things, including a 2,100-foot drop with Utah’s largest zipline. Make it a multi-generational sky race, or test your date’s derring-do with these parallel ziplines over the Wasatch mountains. Strap in for an experience of a lifetime starting at $99 per person.
Getting thirsty after all that adrenaline? There’s something refreshing about a cold beer or chilled wine after a good day of adventuring. You’ve got a couple of options for a dose of the outdoors at Sundance Resort. The Owl Bar (Sundance Resort, 8841 N. Alpine Loop Road, Sundance, 801-223-4222) is often referred to as the “outlaw hideout” (the original Rosewood Bar was moved to Sundance from Thermopolis, Wyo. In its day, it was frequented by Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall Gang). It’s a cozy piece of history and a summery vantage point to sip crafty cocktails with balanced flavors and new twists on the traditional. If flights of California Chardonnay are more your style, slip on your fancy pants for more wine tasting at the resort’s Foundry Grill, part of the Sundance Wine as an Art program.
Sunset Sailing & Utah County Soda
How long has it been since you’ve sailed Utah Lake, the largest body of freshwater west of the Mississippi? Set sail from Lindon Harbor for an afternoon on the water, or a dinner cruise that fades into night. You can almost imagine you’re floating on an exotic ocean with pelicans skimming the surface and skies brushed with amber and lavender sunsets. So unless you hate beauty, or are just plain boring, we suggest checking out a lazy day on the lake. We’re fans of the on-point service, and outfitters like Bonneville School of Sailing (1113 S. 400 East, Springville, 801-636-5204, BonnevilleSailing.com; tours running from North Dock Utah Lake State Park Marina, 4440 W. Center St., Provo) are running tours now through October from $95-$135 for 2-5 people. Or spend a romantic evening on a sunset dinner cruise and enjoy the outdoor the beauty of Utah Lake. VIP Boat Rentals are also available through TK Water Sports (2132 W. 600 South, Lindon, Reservations: 801-367-0668, TKWaterSports.com) with dinner cruises starting at $75 per person.
The nearest brewpub to Utah Lake? Try Hopper’s or Bohemian Brewery up north in Salt Lake County! It’s not all that surprising that alcohol-eschewing Utah County is missing out on the explosion of craft distilleries and brewpubs embraced by its neighbors. So consider cruising with a cooler stocked with a variety of ice-cold Hopper’s or Bohemian beers. Or when in Rome, go teetotaler and enjoy the specialty craft sodas of Station 22 Café (22 W. Center St., Provo, 801-607-1803, Station22Cafe.com). From Boylan’s Original Root and Birch beers and Wasatch Brewery’s Brigham’s Brew to Henry Weinhard Black Cherry Cream Soda, Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer and Snake River Sarsaparilla, you’ll have a chance to choose a refreshing beverage from among dozens of very groovy nonalcoholic brews.
Red-Rock Riding, Cowboys & Summery Chardonnay
Off-roading should be on everyone’s bucket list, so why not make the pilgrimage to America’s off-roading capital in Moab? The wind-sculpted scenery and slickrock trails of the Sand Flats Recreation Area attract dirt-lovin’ Jeep mania from around the world. Jeeps and Polaris RZR’s tend to be the vehicle of choice for this Moab Disneyland, with some outfitters letting you bring along your own UTV. We suggest Moab Cowboy Country Offroad Adventures (97 S. Main St., Moab, 435-220-0746, MoabCowboy.com) for some of Utah’s most sought-after trails like Hell’s Revenge, where you can navigate a steep course of rock crawling for yourself. Tours start at $79 per person.
These tours are off the beaten path, so you’ll be parched and ready for some fruit of the vine. To that, we say, truck, yeah! Take your goggle-tanned face and dusty clothes to the tasting bar at Castle Creek Winery (14 UT-128, Moab, 435-259-3332, CastleCreekWinery.com) for locally produced Cabernet and Chardonnay. Known for daily tastings, Castle Creek, perched on the banks of the Colorado River, has won numerous awards for its grapes grown at 4,000 feet, made all the sweeter with Moab’s cool nights and quality grapes from Spanish Valley. The winery is located on the working Red Cliffs Ranch off Highway 128, so you can take in the Wild West history while you’re soaking up some vino.
Climbing With Angels, Zion Road Trippin’ and ZCBC
A summer road trip to Zion National Park is not one to be overlooked, but save your flip flops and neon crocs for après-hike relaxation around the fire. Heading up Zion’s most popular and challenging hike to Angels Landing demands a sturdy pair of hiking boots. Hovering over the 1,400-foot knife-edge cliff while gripping a metal chain can seriously freak some people out. There are no outtakes on this hike. Though the rewards are worth it, and the views stupidly surreal, the narrow path is motivation for hikers to take their time and come back safely. For a more moderate hike while in the canyon, hit the Zion Narrows.
After you’ve survived Angels Landing, we’d say it’s beer o’clock somewhere, and the sunny patio at Zion Canyon Brew Pub (95 Zion Park Blvd., No.2, Springdale, 435-772-0336, BrewPubSpringdale.com) is beckoning you at the base of the canyon. An extension of the Zion Canyon Brewing Co.—southern Utah’s first microbrewery, the pub serves up plenty of handcrafted beers and pub grub that should play a lead role in your national-park adventure. Open daily, with live music and post-hike karaoke, you can whet your appetite and get a handle on the desert pulse. Let your tongue linger on the Redemption IPA, or the seasonal pumpkin and apricot ales. Proost!
The outdoors are a place to reconnect and can be transformative. I touched base with Skullcandy’s Park City-based CEO, Hoby Darling, who says: “The outdoors are my place of peace, calm and challenge. They help orient me when work or life is crazy … we are so small and meaningless when on a big mountain.” So step away from the phone, get outdoors, and go for a little social media detox (except for all those awesome photos you are going to take). What part of your future self is going to join the adventure?