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Outdoor Adventure in the Beehive State
Central Utah is filled with surprises. Behind the veil of suburban and academic peacefulness is a boisterous and adventurous culture where there is no lack of excitement or adrenaline. Explore the canyons and mountain towns of Central Utah.
Green River – This is a popular river for rafters looking for everything from scenic floats to white water roller coasters. The Flaming Gorge offers impressive view while Lodore Canyon delivers a punch with Class IV rapids. There are lots of ways to enjoy the Green River.
Dinosaur National Monument – How many museums will give you the chance see and even touch the fossils in their original resting place. Experience the prehistoric era like never before!
Utah Field House of Natural History – As if you didn’t get enough ‘dino-mite’ dinosaur history at the National Monument, stop by the Field House to see even more fully constructed replicas and real dinosaur bones. Kids love Dinosaurland and parents don’t have such a bad time either!
ATV Riding – The beautiful scenery nearby mountains make for stunning ATV trails. Utah’s Paiute ATV Trail is 275 miles long and is a loop. It was rated by Dirt Magazine as one of the top 15 trails in the country and is a popular destination for all riders. But that’s not the only ATV gem in the area. Little Sahara Recreation Area offers a sandy refuge for those who have tired of dirt trails.
Fremont Indian State Park Museum – This isn’t just a locally known destination, but it’s something that the locals are very proud of See ancient Fremont Indian rock art and relics of the Fremont culture in the museum. This is open year-round.
Big Rock Candy Mountain – You know the song. Well, now you can see the mountain made famous by the 1928 hit. Millions of years of mineralization have colored the volcanic hillsides into a texture that looks painted on.
Fillmore Territorial Statehouse State Park – This is Utah’s oldest existing government building. As the original capital of the Utah Territory, remains of the half-constructed full size capital can still be found. The building was never built to its full size as, midway through the construction, the capital was moved to Salt Lake City.
Timpanogos Cave National Monument – It’s said that Martin Hansen discovered this colorful and extensive cave while tracking mountain lions through American Fork Canyon. It doesn’t get much cooler than that. Until you reach the top of the 1.5-mile, uphill, paved hike and enter the naturally refrigerated caves. Guided tours available.
Alpine Loop – Have you always watched "The Sound of Music" with great envy of the mountain views? This 40-minute drive connecting American Fork and Provo Canyon will give ease to all of your jealousy. Mercedes has filmed commercials in this scenic drive that boasts sweeping views of the Wasatch peaks and dense forests of dogwoods. It just might be the best photo op in central Utah.
Alpine Sliding Rock – As you meander through the suburban neighborhoods of Alpine, Utah you may suddenly find yourself at the trailhead for one of the area’s most popular summer spots. The Sliding Rock, a short and naturally occurring water slide, should be used at your own risk but can be a refreshing escape from summer heat.
American Fork Canyon – This is one of the most popular canyons in the Wasatch Front, probably because the canyon, which is a state park, offers limitless activity with ultimate scenic views. Mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking pros all dream of the day that they can spend in this beautiful canyon of limestone and pine.
Thanksgiving Point – Halfway between major cities, Salt Lake and Provo, this is a very popular location for seasonal activities and special events. But it’s more than just a great venue. It’s a whole village of restaurants, gardens and even a Mammoth Screen Theatre featuring National Geographic 3D movie experiences.
Lone Peak – If you’re in Utah in the summer, then you’re here to hike. Lone Peak is accessed through Bell Canyon and is a truly gorgeous venue with views looking down into the valley and up into the mountains. If you make it to the top, you’ll be able to see from Salt Lake all the way down into Utah Valley.
Trax – For those staying just south of SLC in Sandy, there is a quick and easy way to access Salt Lake without having to rent a car or brave the I-15 corridor. Trax is a light rail train that takes you all the way from Sandy through every corner of Salt Lake City. There are other light rail systems linking Provo to Salt Lake as well. Information can be found here.
Rio Tinto Stadium – Utah’s Major League Soccer team, Real Salt Lake, has been an icon in the League since its creation. The soccer-specific stadium is a beautiful outdoor venue that transforms every game day into a singing, dancing, drum beating, goal score party. If you’ve ever attended a soccer game, you know that they are among the most entertaining environments in sports.
The Living Planet Aquarium – Over 2,000 animals and 400 species are on display at this recently opened aquarium. But looking through the glass isn’t the only way to enjoy the sea life. Stingray feedings and penguin encounters are among some of the other hands-on play.
Maple Canyon – On your way to Ephraim through Salt Spring Canyon, you’ll pass through the quaint town of Fountain Green. Up in the hills of that town is one of Utah’s most distinct canyons. Pictures don’t do the unique stone justice. 500 foot walls of large river rocks stuck into a cement like composite. This one-of-a-kind canon is a major destination for rock and ice climbers year round.
Mona Rope Swing – During the summer months, this is one of the most popular destinations for locals and BYU students. It’s a homemade swing built and maintained by locals, so use it at your own risk. But, for the brave and reckless, this is a refreshing treat.
Bridal Veil Falls – Drive, hike or bike up the stunning Provo Canyon (HWY 189) and within a few miles you’ll be floored by the multi-tiered cascade of water descending 607 feet into Provo River. This is an extremely popular hiking destination.
Provo River Tubing – The Provo River has many different personalities as it descends from the mountains gently into the valley. The water is still rather cold in the summer, but the warm weather makes floating it a relaxing treat.
J Dawgs – Brigham Young University students have embraced this simple, but delicious concept that began as an experiment by a grad student in 2008. They don’t serve much else, but their beef and polish dogs are perfectly prepared and the secret sauce makes J-Dawgs a local legend.
The Quarry – The Provo location is one of just one of at least 10 climbing gyms in Utah, but after 10+ years, it is still one of the best. Whether you are in town to climb or just looking for a quick afternoon adventure, The Quarry has a challenge for everybody. Mountainworks, the outdoor shop that shares the building, can outfit you for any adventure you have planned.
Rock Canyon – Rock Canyon is exactly what you would expect it to be. Squaw peak, a 3,000 foot prow that towers over Provo, is the feature of the quartzite and limestone canyon. It’s just three miles from the mouth of the canyon to the peak. But the hike packs a punch with a 3,000 foot elevation gain. Expect 4+ hours of round-trip hiking and a staggering 360-degree view at the top.
Brigham Young University – Brigham Young University sits in the foothills approaching Rock Canyon and boasts over 40,000 students. Despite its impressive population, the campus is still on a somewhat small acreage. Especially in the fall, make the trip to this campus which embraces the natural beauty of its setting.
Hobble Creek Canyon Golf Course – Hobble Creek Canyon is found in the Springville/Mapleton area and is another example of the diverse beauty that Utah’s canyons have to offer. The somewhat narrow mouth of the canyon opens a few miles in to give just enough room for a secluded and truly gorgeous golf course.
San Rafael Swell – The swell is a massive dome that rises out of the earth and covers miles and miles of land surrounding the area of Price. The harsh conditions that are common in the area have eroded the land and created multicolor rock pillars and formations. This breathtaking area is touted as the “undiscovered” natural wonder of the American West. Even compared to the stunning landscape of southern Utah, you need to make the time to visit the San Rafael Swell.
The Green River – The Green River snakes through Utah’s eastern highlands, passing through Vernal and Price. All along the way, you can find every level of whitewater and quiet eddies.
Goblin Valley State Park – The southern end of The Swell boasts an extremely unique landscape that has visitors wondering if they are on Mars or still in Utah. Natural forces have carved out thousands of “hoodoos,” which are mini rock formations ranging from one foot to 20. Hiking around the park leaves you feeling as if you are navigating a petrified world of ancient goblins.
Little Grand Canyon – gravel roads guide visitors to the remote northern portion of The Swell and to an overlook of “Little Grand Canyon.” Standing at the edges, you get that same feeling of smallness that the Grand Canyon is famous for.