As a bonafide winter person with nearly zero tolerance for summer heat, I spend June through September attempting to identify activities that won't make me want to dry heave. Utah is high desert country but it's not without an outpost or two where one can beat the heat and indulge in a watering hole or two.
When I mentioned I can't stand heat, I wasn't exaggerating. I tend to see black spots and dry heave if I expose myself to temps hotter than 85 degrees. That's how I figured out How Not to Suck at Paddleboarding and where all the Shady Hiking Trails in Northern Utah are located. My every waking moment in the summer is spent figuring out how better to tolerate the heat. So here are some additional suggestions for surviving the next heat wave.
RIDE THE NEW ROOFTOP TRAM BALCONY
For the first time in North America, you can experience an aerial tramway ride atop a tram car! That's right, for summer 2023, Snowbird has debuted a rooftop balcony intended to supercharge the tram riding experience beyond the thrill of gazing out the window. Best for adventure hounds, and those who aren't afraid of heights, the tram balcony will ascend to the 11,000-foot tall Hidden Peak at the top of Snowbird. The fresh breeze will certainly keep you cool but at that elevation, you may need to pack a jacket.
PLUNGE INTO BEAR LAKE
On the northern Utah/Idaho border lies a glimmering blue lake that is often referred to as "The Caribbean of the Rockies." The high elevation and depth of the lake (208 feet) keep the water temperature quite a bit cooler than other lakes and reservoirs around Utah. Its fascinating color is due to microscopic particles of calcium carbonate suspended in the water from the surrounding topography and the Bear River Mountain Range which contains much limestone. The lake is surrounded by many fine white and sandy beaches with a plethora of activities to keep busy. We recommend staying at the Water's Edge Resort at Bear Lake resort in Garden City.
Boating, waterskiing, wake surfing, wakeboarding, pleasure cruising, scuba diving, paddling, and more can be enjoyed on the waters of Bear Lake. We suggest a sunset or sunrise paddle on a kayak or a paddleboard. If you need further relief from the heat you can hunt for the world's best raspberry shake among the many roadside stands that surround the lake.
DO GO CHASING WATERFALLS
If you head for the hills, especially after a record-breaking winter, there will be refreshing meltwater and roaring waterfalls to enjoy. Just be sure to check ahead of time as it is not permitted to swim, wade or touch the waterfalls within our protected watershed areas. Dogs are also not permitted in the watershed zones, you can find more info here. Here's a short list of our favorite cascades in Utah.
HEAD FOR THE HILLS
Hiking in Utah can be a real chore in the summer months when the mercury can regularly top 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The antidote is to seek experiences that offer access to water, higher elevations and shade. We compiled an entire list of worthy, shaded hikes in Northern Utah. You can find that here. Thanks to the fact that ski resorts reside on mountains, many of our area resorts offer excellent biking and hiking trails at higher elevations. Some standout hikes at Utah resorts include:
Wildflower Walks, Little Cottonwood: Take a gander into Mineral Basin at Snowbird or hike up to the famed Cecret Lake at Alta for a fantastic wander through wildflowers in the high alpine. The flowers typically peak in July and it can be fun to pair an outing with the annual Wasatch Wildflower Festival.
Lakes Galore, Big Cottonwood: There are a great number of options for hiking to or around lakes in Big Cottonwood. Try the very accessible Silver Lake loop near the Solitude Nordic Center. Brighton boasts the Twin Lakes Trail, Lake Mary, Lake Martha and Solitude Lake. Should you decide to hike on Sundays, Brighton hosts a fun and funky little swap meet in their parking lot whenever the weather is fair.
Powder Mountain Bike Park: With an ample network of multi-use trails, Powder Mountain also boasts trails specifically constructed for downhill mountain biking via lift service. Check out the meandering Brim Trail for wildflowers and fantastic views. The trail is somewhat long (nearly seven miles) but the grade and terrain are gentle.
Ogden Valley Retreat: For a ton of neat and challenging terrain by hike or by bike, check out Snowbasin's summer scene. With their regular Blues, Brews, and BBQ festivals it's a wise way to spend a hot summer afternoon. Check the website for their current schedule and lineup.
Summit County: There are over 400 miles of trails in the Park City area beyond those that also span Deer Valley and Park City Mountain. It would be nearly impossible to list them all but you could spend all summer in the area and never ride or hike the same trail twice. Armstrong at Park City Mountain and Bald Mountain at Deer Valley are standout choices.
Provo Canyon: Make a stop at the jaw-dropping Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon before you head for the shelter and shade of Sundance Mountain Resort. There are over 10 miles of trails at the resort and guided hikes are also on deck for an enjoyable experience with a naturalist. The trek to the summit on the Pahneekahvets Trail maximizes the stunning views surrounding the north fork of the Provo Canyon.
Eagle Eye: Get away from it all in the lofty Tushar Mountains near Eagle Point for an oasis of recreation and a respite from the heat. Climb the rocky slope of nearby Mount Holly for astounding views.
BIKE BRIAN HEAD
Brian Head Resort boasts Utah's highest elevation base area at 9,600 feet and it tops out at Brian Head Peak over 11,000 feet. This slice of high desert often remains cool at night so it's a great area to camp out, rent a condo and just enjoy a more pleasant red rock experience in the summer months. The awesome bike park with over 15 downhill trails is complimented by interesting cross-country routes surrounding the resort and a plethora of summer activities.
CATCH A BREEZE
Many of Utah's ski resorts offer scenic chairlift rides, some even permit you to slap your bike on board for a downhill joy ride. At elevation, the breeze generated by a pleasant chairlift ride can be the ideal antidote to summer's sweaty unpleasantries. Pack the sunscreen, a cool bev and enjoy the ever-shifting view. Here's a guide to which Utah resorts offer this summer amenity. If you're more inclined to travel downhill on two wheels then you'll want to peek at our Lift-Served Mountain Biking Guide.
How Not to Suck at Paddleboarding - Click Here
Savor the Shade: Cool Hiking Trails in Northern Utah - Click Here
Trail Tips & Biking Etiquette - Click Here
Guide to Scenic Chairlift Rides - Click Here