Adventure Guide: There’s adventure waiting outside of Summit County, too
Even in a summer of social distancing, Park City and the rest of Summit County offer all the fun and adventure one can handle, right? Technically true — but that’s no reason not to check out what’s on the other side of the mountain.
With that spirit of expedition in mind, here are some fun destinations and activities to explore outside of Summit County, all within a few hours’ drive.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The Hogle Zoo, located in Salt Lake City at the mouth of Emigration Canyon, is home to those animals and many others — more than 800 of them, in fact, making it a perfect place to spend a day with the family, especially if you have little ones. Like most other organizations, the zoo has made adjustments in light of COVID-19 to ensure guests’ safety. Guests, for instance, are required to reserve tickets for time slots throughout the day, face coverings are recommended and some indoor exhibits where social distancing is difficult may be closed. For more information, visit hoglezoo.org.
Big Cottonwood Canyon
Looking for a relaxing afternoon? Head up to Guardsman Pass above Park City — making sure to stop at the top for a can’t-miss view of Bonanza Flat — and take a leisurely drive down Big Cottonwood Canyon. The sights alone are worth the trip, but there are also dozens of areas along the way to get out of the car for some action. Bloods Lake trail — which starts at a trailhead right off Guardsman Pass Road and winds over 2.8 miles to the eponymous Bloods Lake — is a locals’ favorite. Further down the canyon is Donut Falls trail, which features — you guessed it — a waterfall. Be warned, though: Recreaters are advised to steer clear of crowded trailheads and to maintain social distancing protocols.
Antelope Island State Park
A two-hour drive north of Park City in Davis County is Antelope Island State Park, located on the largest island on the Great Salt Lake (though it is more of a peninsula when water levels dip to extreme lows). There are marinas, beach areas and campgrounds for recreation, but the main attraction is the free-roaming bison herd that calls the island home and can number up to 700 strong, depending on the time of year. Just make sure you bring a camera, because the majestic sight of the bison is something you’ll want to remember. For more information, visit stateparks.utah.gov/parks/antelope-island/.
Don’t want to stray too far from Park City? Jordanelle State Park, right outside Park City’s borders in neighboring Wasatch County is for you. In landlocked Utah, the Jordanelle Reservoir is tough to beat for anyone craving a day at the beach, complete with suntanning, boating, paddleboarding, swimming and almost any other water activity short of surfing. Day use of cabanas or group pavilions is available by reservation, but those who want to stretch the fun over more than one day can also book a campground a stone’s throw from the shores of the reservoir. For more information, visit stateparks.utah.gov/parks/jordanelle/.
There’s no doubt that Salt Lake City, set against the stunning backdrop of the Wasatch Range, is one of the most picturesque metropolitan areas in America. And one of the most breathtaking places to take it all in? Ensign Peak, perched in the foothills north of the State Capitol, offers panoramic views of the entire Salt Lake Valley. The trail leading to it is under 2 miles, roundtrip, making it the perfect place for an afternoon picnic. Better yet, make the trek in the evening and watch the sun set to the west then enjoy the city lights spread out over the valley below you.
Bonneville Salt Flats
A jaunt west on Interstate 80 near Tooele lies the world-renowned Bonneville Salt Flats. You may be familiar with the salt flats as the home of the Bonneville Speedway, where numerous land speed records have been set, but it’s also a popular tourist destination. The area is so flat, in fact, that you can literally see the horizon bending in the distance, and there’s something invigorating about standing amid salty crust as far as the eye can see. It’s a desolate place, but that’s sort of the point — it has a way of putting into perspective one’s place in the universe.
Although Park City summers offer an abundance of hiking, biking, fly fishing, boating and other warm-season activities, the mountain town also has many non-recreational offerings.
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