Find your cool in Utah’s mountains, lakes, pools and streams.

Summers bring to mind my best childhood memories—zany slip n’ slide contests, summer camp and a chin dripping with watermelon juice and mug root beer. As someone who never really grew up, I find Utah to be my playground. Thanks to protected public lands near Salt Lake City, it’s surprisingly easy to escape the city heat while finding cool ways to embrace my inner dirtbag. Outdoor play is at the top of my list, so here are my top 20 recommends for summer. So, check out these lakes, wakes and outdoor takes.

Mount Olympus West Slab Climb
If you thought the 7 1/2-mile Mount Olympus trail hike had jaw-dropping views, try the multi-pitch 5.5.-level climb up the West’s rocky face. Utah Mountain Adventures (UMA) provides courses with solid technical experience, killer fitness and some bragging rights to one of Utah’s most popular summits. (801-550-3986,, $279 adult)

Paddleboard the Jordanelle
We have plenty of lakes to choose from, but Jordanelle Reservoir is a favorite for a leisurely stand-up paddle and a Vitamin D fix. Grab a spot on a calm morning to prep for the SUP summer races held at the reservoir or practice your balance to avoid that beginner SUP awkwardness, mastering your own style with simultaneous ab workout. (Jordanelle Rentals & Marina, 515 State Road 319, Heber City, 435-615-7397,, $20 for hour board rental)



Lumberjack Log Rolling
I first tried rollin’ some (foam) logs at the Outdoor Retailer 2016 Summer Market, and it gave me an unexpected workout. It’s a fun solo, family or group alternative to a typical pool (or lake) day. Get the skills you need with a log-rolling class at the Northwest Recreation Center. Classes are year-round with no experience needed, except a desire to improve balance, cardio, core and foot speed. (1255 Clark Ave. [300 North], Salt Lake City, 385-468-1305,, $45 for 10-punch pass, all ages)

Skeet Shooting at the Ranch
Mountains, gear, guns and ammunition. What more could you ask for? North Forty Escapes offers competitive skeet shooting on a 3,000-acre ranch in the Uintas that’s surprisingly fun. Beginners learn the right way to hold a rifle, practice their aim and to coordinate and compete in a group. Reserve your spot for the multi-station clay-shooting course. (4413 Weber Canyon Road, Oakley, 435-640-3239,, $85 per person)

Fly the T-6 Texan
Ready to slip on your flight suit and take home your own flight video from your WWII-era plane adventure? Try something different and get a new perspective of the local mountains with Utah Warbird Adventures’ 20-, 30- or 45-minute adventure flights. Soar above Utah’s peaks like a pro and take the controls with an expert pilot, with optional aerobatic maneuvers like barrel rolls and hammerheads. Leave exhilarated and ready to nurse an aviation addiction after your day in the skies. They also offer hour-long scenic flights for three people with their Cessna fleet at $200. (2002 Airport Road, Heber City, 435-275-1672,, T-6 Texan: $375-$575 per person.)



Rapids on the Weber
It’s not as challenging as a Class V rapid, but the scenic views along the Weber River will wow you as you wind through Rock Alley and Devil’s Slide, among other breathtaking formations. Park City Rafting offers day trips for all ages (3 to 6 year olds are free, but only on the 2-hour trip). Put your back into it with a paddle or sit back and let the experienced guides take you down the rapids. (1245 Taggart Lane, Morgan, 435-655-3800,, $49-$99)

Outdoor Theater Under the Pines
Take in live performances at Sundance Summer Theatre’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. You’ll enjoy the pre-show barbecue dinner ($20 extra) at the base of Mount Timpanogos. The Sundance arts community is dedicated to preserving nature and the arts, and has long partnered with Utah Valley University for its summer theater project. Choose bench or blanket seating. The show runs July 20–Aug. 12. (Sundance Resort, 8841 N. Alpine Loop Road, Sundance, 800-892-1600,, 20 dinner ticket, $20-$38 theater tickets)

Deer Valley Lawn Concerts
Pack picnic and libations for the St. Regis Big Stars Bright Nights Summer Concerts in Deer Valley. Sponsored by the Park City Institute, this is your invitation to dance under the stars. Look online for the upcoming schedule to plan your next date or girls’ night out. Enjoy an evening of famous artists and high-caliber entertainment with an option to make it an overnight package that includes concert access and a bike tour (prices start at $98 per person). (435-655-3114,, package: [email protected] Concert tickets vary. Members’ pricing starts at $49.)

Fat Tire Rides Over the Rainbow
Whether you’re an oldie or a newbie at riding fat-tire bikes, “fatties” can provide a fun ride over unstable terrain. For starters, hit the friendly 2-mile trail ride on Ogden’s Rainbow Trail Loop to work up a sweat. (1851 Valley Drive, Ogden, just west of the mouth of Ogden Canyon. Free, self-guided. Look for signs indicating the designated trailhead parking.)

Music and Art Campout
The three-day Bonanza Campout festival returns to Heber this summer (June 23-25) with a lineup of top-tier music, art, merch and an option to camp out next to the river. It’s like a mini-Coachella in our own backyard, with names droppin’ like Lauren Hill and Nick Murphy. Throw up a hammock and bring the fam for a full weekend in the mountains. (River’s Edge, Heber, [email protected],, $65 per day or $175 for three days.)

Summit Adventure Course
Ever wanted to be a gladiator on a challenging obstacle course? Now’s your chance at the Utah Olympic Park adventure course. Relive your childhood balancing on wire traverses, swinging from ropes and jumping from platform to platform. Take a group and create your own Summer Olympics challenge to see which gladiator makes it out alive. (3419 Olympic Parkway, Park City, 435-658-4200,, $20 per person)

Yoga Meets the Old West
Enjoy a four-hour fresh-air hike into the Wasatch Mountains to get your cardio pumpin’, followed by expertly led outdoor yoga instruction and a gourmet lunch at Tavern Blue Sky, a historic building overlooking a mountain meadow straight out of The Sound of Music. (Blue Sky Ranch, 27649 Old Lincoln Highway, Wanship, 435-252-0662,



Chuck Wagon Cowboys
When the dinner bell is a chime made from a horseshoe, you know you’re at Rocky Mountain Outfitters Cowboy Village. Arrive by horse-drawn wagon for some mountain music and authentic Dutch oven grub. You have two options: Go for the day-time BBQ gathering or the evening dinner fixins’ with games, music and Cooky’s Chuck Wagon—the original food truck—where you’re sure to see some Stetson-style hats and chaps. (633 W. Soldier Hollow Drive, Midway, 435-654-1655,, $65 adult $45 children,)

Outdoor Movies at the Capitol
Out for an evening stroll on Capitol Hill? You’re likely to come across the free summer movie series with live music, games and fancy food trucks. I wouldn’t wait to snag a cozy lawn spot, though. This Friday night favorite fills up fast. Dress as your favorite movie characters for a chance to win prizes. Check online for the lineup. (Movie Under the Stars, Utah Capitol South West Lawn, 350 N. State, Salt Lake City,, selected Fridays, 7:30-10 p.m., free)

Kids Curiosity Summer Camps
Need something to keep your little ones’ minds growing? Encourage your kids to discover chemistry, music, engineering, science and design at The Leonardo’s summer camps. Not only do the camps offer hands-on learning but they also include outdoor time. Options available for K-12. (209 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-9800,, $150-$300)

Balloon & Art Fest
Rise with the sun for a sky dotted with color at the Ogden Hot Air Balloon Festival Aug. 18-20. Though hot-air ballooning has been around since the 1700s, modern gas balloons are safer and more comfortable. They’re a perfect way to appreciate the clouds rising over Ben Lomond Peak. The festival offers rides to the public for $200, or you can enjoy the show at no cost. In addition, there’s plenty to stimulate the senses from artists’ booths to food vendors and photo contests. (Eden Park, 2100 N. 5600 East, Eden,, Free-$200.)

Snowbird for Summer Birds
Hidden Peak may not be at the top of many peak-bagger’s lists—too easy to get to—but it is one of the most summited at 10,992 feet. OK, it’s done mainly by taking Snowbird’s 10-minute tram ride, but how great is that for the whole family, young and old? Spend a day breathing the fresh air, honing your photo skills and playing “I Spy” looking for Alpine Ridge, American Fork Canyon and Salt Lake Valley landmarks. (Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, 9385 S. Snowbird Center Drive, Snowbird, 801-933-2222,, all-day tram pass, $26)



Wildflower Power (Women Only Outing)
Fun and relaxation are waiting at the finish line of the Wildflower Trailfest with music, massage and mountain-bike demos. Registration is open now for the July 14 race, from expert level to sport level (8 to 15 miles) including mountain-biking workshops and trail runs. All positive energy to be shared with your gal pals. (Snowbasin, 3925 E. Snowbasin Road, Huntsville, 801-644-9940,, $55-80)

Woody’s World View
Powder Mountain’s 15-plus miles of trails are open to the public free of charge from dawn to dusk. Grab your hiking shoes and pursue your right to roam in north Ogden’s nature of east Eden. Beginners can hit the 1.4-mile Woody’s World trail and move on to longer connecting trails such as Paper Airplane (named after a giant steel art installation by artist Griffin Loop that you’ll pass by along the trail). (Utah Highway 158, 8000 N. 5100 East, Eden.

Pineview Wake Surf Open
A summer wakeboard session should be on everyone’s list. Learning the basics to proper edging and your first flip on any of Utah lakes and reservoirs. Wake Utah’s eighth annual Wakeboard Competition & Festival kicks off July 28 at Pineview Reservoir with a demo day followed by full competition on July 29 from groms to advanced. Choose your adventure, and get flippin’. (Middle Inlet, Pineview Reservoir, Huntsville,, registration varies by level.)

Our mountains offer plenty of ways to get elevated year-round, beyond the ski lifts. Your feel-good factor can consist of open fires, fish frys, floating beneath towering cliffs or tiptoeing through wildflowers. We have it all, so fill your summer schedule with one or all of these recommended daytrips.