The beauty of life in Salt Lake City lies in the unparalleled access to the great outdoors.
Far and wide, across the state of Utah, there are so many scenic landscapes to enjoy. It's not even necessary to take a huge road trip to escape the city (although that is fun too) — there are plenty of adventures near Salt Lake City for nature lovers to plan an action-packed day trip. A few of our favorites are under two hours away by car and make for a manageable microadventure in the city's backyard. Pack a picnic or grab a to-go lunch and set your sights on a new experience.
Tibble Fork Reservoir & Mount Timpanogos
Tibble Fork is a small but lovely reservoir snuggled up in a hollow in American Fork Canyon. It marks the ancient southern toe of the immense glaciers that once capped the Wasatch Mountains during the last ice age. The sneaky view of Mount Timpanogos to the southwest is what sets Tibble Fork apart. This is a great place to try paddleboarding for the first time as the water is often calm and offers protection from wind. (For more paddleboarding ideas, click here.) Cool off with a dip in the reservoir or work up a sweat first by taking a hike on the Tibble Fork trail.
More ambitious hikers may opt to summit the mighty Mount Timpanogos nearby, though that may swallow most of your day. The hike runs 13-15 miles round trip, depending on which trail you take, along with a hearty elevation gain of nearly 5,000 feet. Tibble Fork would be the perfect place to cool your toes after such an adventure. For a bit less mileage and vert, consider one of the daily tours in Timpanogos Cave National Monument. This is especially fun with kids; one of my most vivid childhood memories is touring the cave with a pair of light-up sneakers. The formations within the cave are spectacular and the guided tours provide interesting info about the area's geology, hydrology, and Native American legends.
Uinta Mountain Range
About an hour out of Salt Lake City lies the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in the Uinta Mountain Range. This unique range is one of the only ranges in North America that runs east to west and features high elevation peaks sculpted by glaciers and dotted with tranquil lakes. If you happen to be heading up on a Saturday, you can make a reservation for a distillery tour at Alpine Distilling, which is on the route to the Uintas. There is no shortage of diversions in the Uinta range, so here are some ideas to get you started...
Sundance & Provo Canyon
Sundance Mountain Resort and Provo Canyon are an hour drive from downtown Salt Lake City. Ditch the city and head for the cool and calming air of Sundance Resort where there are countless activities to keep the whole gang busy. Make sure to stop and admire the gushing Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon on the way up to the resort. Then grab a snack or to-go lunch from Sundance Deli and decide where the day will take you. Sundance offers fly fishing lessons, mountain biking, hiking, ZipTours, horseback riding, art classes and full moon lift rides. (Click here for additional stargazing hot spots and astro events in Utah this summer.)
Sundance ZipTours are an incredible rush. You'll soar up to 480 feet above the ground through groves of pines and aspens. If you opt to try all 4 spans, you'll cover nearly 2 miles with over 2,100 feet of vertical drop — the most of any zip line tour in the U.S.! I also highly recommend enrolling in some Sundance Art Studio Classes as well. In this quaint studio, you can choose from pottery, soap making, silversmithing, journal binding, painting and printmaking, and glassblowing. To see how much fun I had visiting Sundance for a pottery lesson, click here. Take home a special memento from your day at Sundance and learn a new craft!