Beyond Park City: Summer activities across Utah without hitting the national parks |

Beyond Park City: Summer activities across Utah without hitting the national parks

Mount Timpanogos is seen from Heber City airport.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

This story is found in the summer 2019 edition of Park City Adventure Guide.

You won’t run out of adventures in Park City, but if you’d like to look around the area, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. Besides the national parks in the southern part of the state, here are three other excursions to areas outside of Summit County.

The Wasatch Back

Just on the other side of the mountain, south of town, the Heber Valley is as close to Switzerland as you can get in North America. The towering Mt. Timpanogos presides over the western skyline with glacial snows and sheer cliffs. The Sundance Resort is a short jaunt up a side canyon, where you can hike to waterfalls, have a leisurely meal and listen to outdoor concerts.

The town of Midway, settled by Swiss immigrants, is a quaint gem with eateries, hot springs, and golf courses. Grab your suit and snorkel inside the 55-foot deep Crater at The Homestead, a hot spring pool unlike any other. The Provo River is a blue-ribbon trout stream that cuts through the valley and flows into the Deer Creek Reservoir. Rent a boat or take a swim in these clear mountain waters. Just beyond is Soldier Hollow, the site of the 2002 Winter Olympic cross-country skiing events and a host of other competitions year-round.

Vernal’s dinosaurs

Two hours east along U.S. 40, the Uinta Basin is full of surprises. First, stop off at the McConkie petroglyph panels, where you’ll marvel at a rock art extravaganza. While it’s on a private ranch a few miles northwest of

Vernal, it’s open to the public for a $4 donation. Then make a stop at the Utah Field House of Natural History in Vernal to discover the prehistoric worldwith hands-on exhibits and activities.

To see dinosaur bones still encased in stone, head to the Dinosaur Quarry Visitor Center, a part of the Dinosaur National Monument. Their glass-roofed exhibit hall protects these 149-million-year-old fossils. You can even touch them.

To the east, the monument itself is 200,000 acres of rivers, canyons, mesas and mountains straddling the Utah and Colorado border. The Green and Yampa rivers have cut through stone here, and whitewater rafting in Lodore, Whirlpool and Split Mountain canyons is thrilling.

Cheese and rasperries

A few hours north the Cache Valley beckons. Home to Logan and Utah State University, it’s an agricultural paradise with world-famous dairies, local honey stands, and great rural bike riding. To the east, Logan Canyon cuts through the mountains, with terrific hiking, fishing and even caving. The paved road up to Tony Grove Lake is a good stop, with mountain biking and hiking trails too.

On the other side of the range, Bear Lake’s startingly green waters stand in stark contrast to the mountains. This 18-mile-long lake is perfect for sailing, windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, camping, and fishing. Make sure you time your visit to pick up some raspberries from the roadside stands, or attend the Raspberry Days festival in Garden City the first week of August.

For more stories from this edition, visit the Adventure Guide special section.

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