For the uninitiated: The Wasatch Back sits on the eastern edge of the Wasatch Range and includes the mountain towns of Eden and Park City, extending south to Midway.
In the summertime, the Wasatch Back is an adventure capital for teens. Here are some of our favorites and before you go, always contact the destination to see what COVID restrictions are in place. More summer ski resort activity information can be found here.
Built for the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games, Utah Olympic Park in Park City is a nearly 400-acre venue that boasts one of the steepest ziplines in the world and a state-of-the-art alpine slide, as well as the Comet Bobsled (opening soon). Our family recently booked a Summer Jump Pass that includes two hours of Extreme Tubing, Alpine Slide, Freestyle Zip, Extreme Zip and the Discovery Course...and we had the time of our lives. Another fantastic option is the Trackside Pass which includes unlimited use of the Airbag Jumps, Canyon Adventure Course and Summit Adventure Course during a two-hour block. The Park is taking extreme caution in complying with Summit County Health Department requirements with detailed sanitation between sessions. Activities are ever-changing so be sure to contact the Park prior to your visit to reserve your spot here.
Referred to as the “Disneyland of Action Sports,” Woodward Park City isn’t just a winter sports destination. Sure, their 19,400-foot indoor playground boasts pump tracks, ramps, parkour zone, Olympic-grade trampolines and foam pits but the outdoors is pretty awesome, too with lift-accessible mountain biking for some pretty gnarly hot laps. Book a 90-minute session and you’ll have access to the indoor concrete park, pump track, mini ramp and mini ramp to quarter pipe + street corner, resi to quarter pipe, outdoor pump track, airbags, trampoline and parkour zones and outdoor concrete parks...if you have time to cram it all in. As of June 29, 2020 face masks are required in Summit and Salt Lake Counties. Please check with Woodward Park City before your arrival for more information.
Mount Timpanogos is the crowning achievement of the Wasatch Back landscape with two strenuous routes up the mountain with Sundance Mountain Resort nestled below. (Make sure you are prepared for a challenging excursion and do your research on routes and difficulty level before heading out on this hike.) For a more leisurely excursion, don’t miss the half-mile nature trail at Cascade Springs’ refreshing oasis of verdant vegetation, cascading waterfalls and inviting pools. Park City has more than 400 miles of hiking trails including Deer Valley Resort's 2.25-mile Silver Lake Trail through dense forest and open ski runs (and stunning views of Jordanelle Reservoir). The 2.8-mile round-trip hike to Blood Lake trail atop Guardsman Pass is another stunner. The Village at Park City Mountain has several excellent hikes and you can wrap up your day with a thrilling ride down Utah’s longest Mountain Coaster.
Wasatch Mountain State Park is a nearly 23,000-acre preserve in Midway for mountain biking, hiking, camping, golfing, ATVing and fishing near Midway. The Dutch Hollow Trail System has almost 20 miles of single-track while the WOW (Wasatch Over Wasatch) Trail is a more strenuous ride that extends 9.2 miles from Wasatch Mountain State Park to Hardy Lake near Deer Valley. For easy to technical riding in Park City, the Round Valley Trail System has 30 miles of high-desert singletrack that connects to the Trailside Bike Park in Snyderville. And if your teen wants a real challenge, the Mid-Mountain Mountain Biking Trail stretches 22 miles from Park City Mountain Village to the Canyons Village. For lift-serviced biking fun, ride the Crescent Lift at Park City Mountain or venture north for Snowbasin Resort's lift-served hiking and biking from the comfort of the Needles Gondola on weekends from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
More on Utah's beginner, intermediate and advanced trails can be found here.
What teen doesn’t love to float down a raging river? A popular float is the Provo River which extends the Upper Provo River Trailhead past Bridal Veil Falls along the Provo River Parkway. Further north, there is a popular 5-mile float on the Weber River through Weber Canyon that is accessible to well-equipped visitors (during high water, the float includes a class III rapid). The Weber River float parking lot is 2.5 miles northwest of Henefer and 35 minutes from Park City or Ogden on I-84. Note: be sure to wear a life jacket at all times (they are mandatory on both rivers) and check water levels for safe passage prior to embarking on this adventure.
One of Utah’s most popular state parks, Jordanelle State Park, has camping, boating, swimming, kayaking and fishing. The Aqua x Zone is an inflatable water sports park that allows up to 65 people to run, jump, swing, and swim on a variety of obstacles like The Curve, a 20-foot-long raceway. If you'd like to learn to row, check out the Park City Rowing Academy and for sailing lessons, connect with Park City Sailing.
One of the Heber Valley's most famous features is the Homestead Crater, 95-degree geothermal hot springs covertly ensconced in a natural cave. Upon entering the tunnel you’ll swear you’ve been teleported to the Caribbean’s azure-blue waters where you can take a therapeutic soak or a SUP yoga class. The 65-foot-deep crater also offers PADI Open Water certifications.
Deer Creek is a medium-sized reservoir that offers excellent boating and fishing, not to mention the area’s best view of Mount Timpanogos. If you want to try kiteboarding, Uinta Kiting is the only Kiteboarding School permitted to teach in a Utah State Park. On the east side of the Heber Valley, Strawberry Reservoir is renowned as an excellent trout fishery and be sure to try your hand (or rod) in The Middle Provo, one of the most popular fly-fishing streams in the State of Utah. Sundance Mountain Resort offers guided fly fishing for those looking for instruction or guide services.
Provo Canyon Adventures
Rocky Mountain Outfitters, known for their horseback riding and guided fly-fishing services, recently acquired this canopy zipline tour nestled in Provo Canyon. Your adventure starts with a Ranger ride to the top of the course, followed by a series of five action-packed ziplines overlooking the Provo River. This is the perfect course for families or those who don’t want something physically demanding but still offers plenty of excitement.
You’ve skied Sundance Mountain Resort in the winter but guaranteed, it’s one of the most gorgeous places you’ll ever see in the summer. With Mount Timpanogos as your backdrop, the Sundance Zip Line is one of the most exciting and scenic zip tours in the world with over 3,870 feet of riding. Guests can ride side-by-side on the zip line’s double cables and control their speed, cruising over 65 miles per hour, or stopping mid-air to take in the views.
The Screaming Falcon is the longest continuous zipline over water in the world and the second-longest in the lower 48. “This is not an easy ‘Disneyland’ experience where your guides do all the work; it’s an adventure zipline course,” said owner Jon Johnson. There are a few à la carte tour options ranging from one to three hours; my daughter Hadley and I had an exhaustingly fun time on Kingfisher, the second-largest course with seven ziplines and two aerial bridges. Our biggest thrill was adding on the Screaming Falcon at the end. Soaked in Deer Creek’s blue waters and beaming sunlight, we careened down that 3,900-foot zipline in an extended moment of sheer euphoria. As we were driving home, Hadley commented, “I thought we were just going to do a few ziplines and call it good. But that? That was something.”
Rest assured, so is the rest of the Wasatch Back.
If you’re looking for indoor fun, be sure to check out my article Winter Fun for Teenagers in Utah: 15 Activities You’ll Love.