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From the iconic sights of its five big national parks to rarely seen slot canyons, the Beehive State is a place where you can find any adventure that suits you. There’s deep snow in the Wasatch, backpacking in wilderness areas like the Uintas and the red rock expanses of the Colorado Plateau, singletrack and trout streams everywhere and the chance to get off the grid on back roads and at secluded camp spots. But that’s not all: Utah’s a gathering place for those who love the outdoor lifestyle. So when it’s time to relax, you are never too far from world-class food and beverages, accommodations and the company of like-minded souls. Read on to find out how to maximize your next Utah adventure in some of our favorite spots in the state.
Logan and the Cache Valley
Nestled in Cache Valley in the northeastern region of the state, Logan, Utah is a high mountain agricultural valley so named because in the 1820s, beaver trappers stored their furs in hidden caches until they could trade them at a rendezvous. Today, it’s known as a recreational paradise of unspoiled land rich with options for climbing, biking, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, watersports and snowsports adventures.
A visit to Logan will make you appreciate its unbelievable proximity to so many outdoor adventures. A quick 10-minute drive takes you from historic downtown Logan to the Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway serves up 43 miles of uncrowded terrain and stunning scenery featuring dramatic limestone cliffs, colorful fields of wildflowers and the Logan River. In the turquoise blue waters of Bear Lake, you’ll find opportunities for scuba diving, cave exploration, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing, boating and more.
From June through mid-October, you can stay at the Beaver Creek Lodge to explore the Rocky Mountains on horseback like a true cowboy. Riders of all experience levels love the beautiful mountain trails with spectacular views, friendly mounts and experienced guides. Or, take it up a notch and rent a side-by-side RZR off-road vehicle. They seat four to six and offer a fun, safe, and comfortable way to explore the backcountry.
Logan also has an array of unique and affordable locally owned restaurants, including Logan’s Bluebird Restaurant, which is the longest operating restaurant in the state. It has been serving items such as teddy bear sundaes and shrimp salad since 1914. If you find yourself exhausted from outdoor adventures, you can check out the self-guided Cache Valley Foodie Trek and Signature Products Tour. Visit the food production facilities and sample the famously delicious local cheeses, ice creams, chocolates and coffee. And don’t miss the chance to sample honey from fourth-generation beekeepers and Cox Honeyland.
Homewood Suites by Hilton, Draper, Utah
Savvy Utah adventure junkies will point you to the best place to stay if you want to take advantage of the incredible access to outdoor recreation along the Wasatch Front. They’re sure to tell you that staying anywhere but Homewood Suites by Hilton in Draper is a mistake. It’s 20 minutes from four of the best ski resorts in the country and 10 minutes away from the excellent mountain biking terrain of Corner Canyon. The hotel features apartment-like rooms with kitchens and a large living area. Plus, you’ll find tons of other great amenities like free hot breakfast, free WiFi and free parking. There’s also a business center with a quiet meeting room as well as a large fitness center, hot tub and pool. During the week, Homewood Suites hosts evening socials that include appetizers, beer and wine. It’s a completely smoke-free hotel, where you can enjoy even more clean air in the outdoor fire pit while you grill. (801) 509-7000.
St. George, Utah is often thought of as a destination for superb year-round desert golf and as the gateway to Zion National Park, but you’re missing out big time if you think the recreation opportunities end there. It’s one of the best outdoor destinations in the southwestern United States, with hundreds of miles of singletrack mountain biking trails, unparalleled road cycling paths, world-class hiking, a truly impressive variety of rock climbing routes and watersports galore. Plus, it’s all set against a backdrop of stunning red sandstone cliffs and blanketed by sunshine more than 350 days a year on average.
Surely, you’ve heard of the legendary trails at Gooseberry Mesa—if you haven’t you are in for a treat. Gooseberry Mesa might be the most popular trail in all of Dixieland, and rightly so: Thirty miles of networked singletrack make it appealing to riders who want to customize their mileage, but the real draw here is the rolling slickrock trails that give way to epic panoramas of Zion National Park, making it one of the most scenic rides in the world. There are also about a gazillion other local trail systems in Washington County. Rider favorites include Bearclaw Poppy, Barrel Roll and the Rim Trails that have difficulty ratings ranging from newbie to something I don’t think your mom would approve. Outfitters, tours, and shuttles are all available to book.
If it’s road cycling you’re partial to, the St. George trail system is a great option for beginning riders because there are so many out-and-back options, instead of committed loops. The Red Hills Parkway bike path and Southern Parkway are also easy rides and have stellar views. If you prefer something a little more intermediate, try Sand Hollow Loop, which serves up 35 miles of dedicated bike lanes in a scenic circumnavigation around Sand Hollow Reservoir. Advanced riders will delight in the magnificent 20-mile path through Snow Canyon State Park, which has a good amount of climbing and breathtaking views, or the Gunlock/Veyo Loop, which offers 40 miles of legit desert cycling.
Hiking and Climbing
Not to brag, but Zion Canyon has the most big wall climbing routes in the United States and it’s free to climb them! Hundreds of grade IV and V multi-pitch climbing routes between 800 and 2,500 feet walls provide an endless array of opportunities to shine or slip on iconic sandstone routes such as Moonlight Buttress and Prodigal Sun. Snow Canyon also offers great climbing and you can count on it being much less crowded than Zion. If you prefer to hike, there are options o’ plenty. Zion’s Angels Landing may get all of the publicity, but do yourself a favor and check out the gorgeous hikes in Snow Canyon State Park that feature petrified dunes and petroglyphs or explore the Red Cliffs Recreation Area.
If you’re looking for a great way to cool off when the mercury rises, don’t miss the plethora of water activities available at Quail Creek and Sand Hollow Reservoir. Stand-up paddleboard, kayak or jet-ski to your heart’s content. The warm, blue water and red rock landscape make you feel as if you’re cruising around Mars.
When you need a break from all that adventure, try to catch a show at the Tuacahn Amphitheatre for a taste of Broadway in the canyons. Or take a stroll through the eclectic art galleries at the Coyote Gulch Art Village in Kayenta. Enjoy a drink or three at one of St. George’s local hot spots and dine at one of the many great restaurants in town. Be sure to visit the Canyon Breeze restaurant at Red Mountain Resort for a seriously delicious meal and perhaps a post-hike spa treatment.