How to Burn it Off
In the Utah Valley, there are countless opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, paddle boarding, and more, and you’ll be guaranteed stunning scenery. We’re focusing on summer activities below, but here’s a list of Utah ski resorts if you’re coming for the winter sports.
UTAH VALLEY HIKING
Hiking down from Timpanogos Cave
If the idea of escaping the summer heat by walking through a dark, cool cave system for an hour floats your boat, do not miss the Timpanogos Cave National Monument (2038 Alpine Loop Rd, American Fork, map). Exploring the cave’s many fascinating formations and colorful geologic wonders is merely half the adventure though—to reach the cave’s entrance, you have to hike up a paved switchback trail for 1.5 miles that’s very steep. It is a workout! But the sweeping cliffside canyon views are hugely rewarding, as is that 45 F coolness inside the cave (bring a jacket!). Reservations for the (required) 55-minute guided cave tour are strongly advised well in advance; you’re given roughly 1.5 hours to get to the entrance before your tour time. As for bringing kids: Our 4- and 6-year-olds made it up with a little help from us, but taking kids younger than that may be tough unless you’re babywearing (no strollers are allowed). Use your best judgment! Summers only. $12 for age 12 and up; $7 for age 2-11.
Another great hike in a region full of them is to two-tiered Stewart Falls (map), a moderate family- and dog-friendly trail through gorgeous forest full of aspen groves on the east side of Mt Timpanogos. The out-and-back 3.5-mile shady trail is easily accessed from Aspen Grove (map), a trailhead off the scenic Alpine Loop Rd. in Provo Canyon (where other trails start too, so follow signs carefully). Two other trails leave from Sundance Mountain Resort—one, called the Nature Trail, starts at the base of the resort in the Mandan lodging area and is only for use by lodging guests, but the other starts from the lift at Ray’s Summit (summers only; non-guests can still buy tickets for the lift). The trail is open year-round, but is best experienced from late spring to mid-fall. During our visit in July, the stream crossings were pretty intense—be sure to wear good waterproof hiking shoes! And if you're hiking further afield, consider a hiking GPS.
(PROVO) RIVER SPORTS
Provo River floating
The scenic Provo River through Provo Canyon has varying ranges of rapids—mostly Class I-Class II, but it can get up to Class IV (near Bridal Veil Falls), depending on the season (the nearby Weber River has rougher rapids, if that’s more your speed). It’s fabulous for rafting, kayaking, paddle boarding, fly fishing, or just floating down, which is what we did (admittedly, not much exercise but beautiful!) with High Country Adventure, an outfitter that offers both rentals and guides for any of these activities. If you’re in northern Utah in the summer, you’ll definitely want to get on the water in some capacity. (For extra adventure, you can pair a rafting trip with a zipline course on Sundance Mountain Resort.)
Sundance Mountain Resort also offers fly fishing on the Provo River; see its website for more information.
Disclosure: We visited the area as guests of Explore Utah Valley. All opinions are our own.