The secret is out on the natural beauty and wonders of Utah. Once overlooked and largely- ignored by the greater outdoor community, the Beehive State is quickly becoming a premiere destination for outside adventurers of all levels. Maybe it is the five gorgeous national parks, or it could be the numerous mountains and jaw-dropping national forest regions just waiting to be explored. No matter what the reason, Utah has become a destination for snow lovers, rock climbers, hikers and vacationers looking for the very best of outdoor recreation. Honestly, if your next trip isn’t to the awesomeness of Utah, it may be time to rethink your plans.
In the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains, just north of Provo, Out N Back is the region’s best outdoor store. It has plenty of gear and rentals to properly kit you out for your adventure, and the staff can recommend the perfect spots for you to explore. With hundreds of miles of trails to explore, world-class skiing, and the best bouldering around, you’ll want a pack perfect for the variety of seasons you may find on one adventure. Out N Back’s Atmos and Aura Packs from Osprey are fantastic for long hikes and backcountry adventures in the sun, snow, and possibly rain. The packs can also handle camping and climbing gear for your vacation to Joes Valley, making them the ultimate pack for your spring adventures.
Just 16 miles from Provo, the always-stunning Sundance Resort is perfect if you are looking for a mid-winter getaway to the region. Averaging 320 inches of snow per year, finding powder is never hard when hitting the resort’s 42 downhill runs. The resort also has six miles of trails dedicated to snowshoeing, and more than nine miles of routes for skaters and cross-country skiers. Even those not interested in winter sports can have an amazing adventure on the winter zip-line course that covers nearly 5,000 feet. Sundance is a snow destination for all levels; advanced skiers will enjoy the steep, narrow chutes and wide-open bowls, while beginners will enjoy Sundance’s immaculately groomed slopes on the backside of the always beautiful Mount Timpanogos.
Standing on top of Timpanogos, it is hard to image how you lived your life without seeing this gorgeous panorama. Known as “Timp” to locals, this mountain is breathtaking year-round and gives you soaring views of the Provo region while basking in the heights of the Wasatch. As the temps warm, the Aspen Grove Trail to the summit is filled with wildflowers, and dotted by waterfalls, a lake, and constant mind-blowing views. Exposed, rocky, and nerve-wracking for the moderately experienced, the entire 16.6-mile round-trip up Timp will stay in your memory for years to come. This hike is most popular in the summer, but the truly adventurous will be awe-struck with the challenge and beauty of summiting this peak in the winter.
No matter the season, you’ll want to fill a pack with snacks, water, and maybe even snow gear. In heavy snow years, Mount Timp is a great backcountry ski destination if you are looking for a true wilderness adventure. If you are looking for remote, crowd-free runs in stunning scenery, this is the place to go.
Further outside town, a few hours to the east of Provo, is Joes Valley, one of the best bouldering locations in America. It’s the destination of many a spring break and is a wonderland of exploration. The bouldering in Joes is second to none, and offers a myriad of routes and problems for all levels of climbers in its three main areas: New Joes, Right Fork, and Left Fork, the latter of which has the best options.
In addition to bouldering, you can explore the many scenic areas of the Manti-La Sal National Forest before setting up camp and stargazing deep into the universe along one of the streams and creeks flowing through the area. Nighttime in Joes Valley will get chilly, but after a day of crushing it on the rocks, sitting back in front of a fire and watching the stars is the perfect ending.
If the previous destinations just don’t cut it, take an off-season getaway to one of Utah’s five national parks. Increasingly popular in the summer, the shoulder seasons will give you the solitude you crave. Utah’s Arches and Zion are the obvious and most popular destinations, but Capitol Reef National Park will capture your heart and soul. This is the park you visit to fall in love with the wilderness of Utah, and where your spirit feels most at ease. Highlighted by the Waterpocket Fold and Cathedral Valley, you will forever be changed after an adventure in the heart of Red Rock country.