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Utah outdoor activities (biking, climbing, rafting, etc.)

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Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know … ?

  • America’s first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869 when two lines met near Brigham City.
  • Lake Powell has more shoreline (1,800+ miles) than the western U.S.
  • Great Salt Lake is four to eight times saltier than the oceans.
  • More than 350 million tons of fossils have been excavated from Utah’s Dinosaur National Monument.
  • Arches National Park has the world’s largest concentration of natural stone arches.

Spoiled for choice

Utah, as a destination for lovers of the outdoors, is a natural choice. For starters, it is a big state — America’s 11th largest — and it offers so much variety. Its climate ranges from a dry desert to the alpine.

The terrain can be categorized as representing three main landscape types: the desert in the western part of the state; the Uinta and Wasatch mountains, in the northeast, which are part of the Rockies, and — for some, the most dramatic — the red rock buttes, canyons and mesas that comprise the Colorado Plateau in southern Utah.

The Great Salt Lake — America’s largest lake after the Great Lakes — and the Bonneville Salt Flats are in the west desert. The mountains, with “the greatest snow on Earth,” were central to the 2002 Winter Olympics. The state’s five national parks are located on the plateau.

In other words, the state — with a relatively low population density, numerous state parks, national monuments and recreation areas, national forests, designated wilderness areas and other protected areas — is a big playground.

Private developers and managers of public areas have helped things along, with world class resorts and a plethora of designated trails for biking, hiking, taking a scenic drive and more.

The state counts 2,200 miles of scenic byways (state and national), 13 downhill ski resorts, 800 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, more than 1,600 miles of the Great Western Trail plus dozens of other options for hikers, a collection of trails for birders (430 species in the state) and viewing sites for other wildlife, and more than 100 golf courses — choices for every season.

Many activities can be undertaken independently, but within the framework of regulations meant to protect the state’s natural resources. In addition, the state’s tourist office identifies literally hundreds of guides and tour operators poised to assist visitors with hiking or cycling trips, horseback trail rides, wildlife viewing, ATV itineraries, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, fishing or other activities that make good use of the state’s lakes and waterways. The biggest challenge is making those choices.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Try the off-road Jeep experience through rugged canyons near Moab. Or, travel the historic Pony Express Trail on a motorcycle, covering 150 miles of rugged terrain and small mountain ranges.
  • Take a guided three- to five-day whitewater rafting trip on the Green or Yampa River, starting in Dinosaur National Monument and heading south for swift rapids and views of red cliffs, ancient rock art and wildlife.
  • Camp at the suggestively named Kodachrome Basin State Park. Capture on camera the look of sandstone chimneys and pillars that change color depending on the light. Or, rent a yurt for a multiday experience at the East Canyon State Park.
  • Hike some part of the Great Western Trail, a route that covers some 4,500 miles from Canada to Mexico. A third of those miles are in Utah.
  • Rock climbing is a natural in a place with Utah’s rocky terrain. There are numerous choices. Consider Logan Canyon, which has options for climbers at various levels of expertise.
  • Do your mountain biking on Slickrock Bike Trail, the trail that made Moab famous in the mountain biking world. Another option, next to Slickrock, carries a cautionary name: Poison Spider Mesa Trail, which offers a loop meant only for advanced riders.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Camp at Devil’s Garden inside Arches National Park or other area campgrounds. In the park, count and photograph the arches that gave the park its name.
  • Look for birds you have never seen in Utah’s Bear Rive Migratory Bird Refuge. It is just one of 34 hot spots for birding listed by the state’s tourist office.
  • Go fly-fishing in the Logan or Blacksmith Fork River. Or, in winter, make that ice fishing in the aptly named Fish Lake in Fishlake National Forest. Enjoy off-road snowmobiling or time on the forest’s cross-country ski trails, too.
  • Rent and, for a few days, live aboard a houseboat on Lake Powell. Also, fish for bass on the lake.
  • Plan a visit to the Golden Spike National Historic Site outside Brigham City to coincide with the August Railroader’s Festival. Or visit in May in time for the annual reenactment of the 1869 ceremony celebrating the completion of the transcontinental railroad. Rails were laid from west to east and east to west, meeting at the place called Golden Spike.
  • Hike in Antelope Island State Park. Be on the lookout for the wildlife. Residents include bighorn sheep, bison, deer, pronghorn antelope, as well as birds.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Play golf. Utah is well supplied with courses.
  • In addition, find one of the state’s numerous stables and spend time on horseback.
  • Play hide-n-seek among the sandstone “goblins” in Goblin Valley State Park.
  • Rock hounding — when you know what it is, you may like it. It is the search for rare or unusual rocks, gemstones and fossils, and Utah is a prime spot for the collector because of its diverse terrain.
  • Bear Lake offers choices. Consider sailing on its waters.
  • Choose one of Utah’s 18 state and national scenic byways, and get out and see the state’s countryside.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Utah Office of Tourism at www.visitutah.com