The mountains in Salt Lake are incredible and beautiful. But if you've never experienced them before, how can you enjoy their charms other than by just admiring them towering over the city in the distance? Let us count the many ways that you can easily experience the Wasatch and soak up that gorgeous mountain setting.
1) Eat & Drink in an Alpine Setting
Love a good brunch? Why not try it on a cozy patio with a mountain peak soaring thousands of feet above you? Alta Lodge has fixed-price menu Sunday brunches all summer long, and the patio at historic Silver Fork Lodge in Big Cottonwood Canyon overlooks the rugged cliffs of Honeycomb Canyon while serving up delicious breakfasts every day. Or eat at a romantic restaurant surrounded by pine trees and waterfalls at the much-lauded Log Haven, or while looking out the window straight up at the 11,000 foot incline of Hidden Peak while enjoying fine dining and an award-winning wine list at The Aerie at Snowbird. And for a cool mountain vibe, a bar and grill set at one of the mountain resorts is hard to beat, like The Thirsty Squirrel at Solitude, or The Gulch Pub at Snowpine Lodge at Alta.
2) Hiking: from the Easy to the Challenging
If strapping on a pair of decent trail shoes or hiking boots is your cup of tea, there are dozens of options for amazing trails available within minutes of Salt Lake. From short hikes with amazing scenic payoffs, to leg-burning multi-mile hikes with jaw-dropping viewpoints or inspiring mountain lakes, there's something for everyone. Try Lake Mary above Brighton or Cecret Lake above Alta for hikes that are family friendly, or for something more challenging, try Lake Blanche in Big Cottonwood Canyon, or the Mount Aire Trail in Millcreek Canyon - both are steeper but definitely worth the effort. Check out these trails for a few more ideas. And if you want help from an expert, try a Snowbird Guided Hike, an Alta Birding Hike (with Tracy Aviary), or a Solitude Geology Hike or Interpretive Nature Hike.
3) Walks in the Wild
Maybe hiking is more intensive an experience than you had in mind, but you'd still like to get up close and personal the mountains - if so, there are many places to just park the car and take a simple stroll. Silver Lake has a mellow boardwalk that circumnavigates a cool mountain lake, taking in the sights which often include all kinds of wildlife—and it's stroller- and wheelchair-friendly to boot! Lisa Falls, while not as wheel-accessible—there is an uphill dirt trail—but it is very family-friendly, and extremely short, and it ends in an epic cascading waterfall.
4) Mountain Biking Trails Everywhere
There's a reason mountain biking is so popular here - the aforementioned trails with all kinds of range in difficulty, all set in unbelievable beauty. Zipping along a fantastic trail, with the cool canyon air blowing gently and the peaks rising straight up above you is a hard experience to beat. A couple of suggestions: try lift-served mountain biking, where one of the chair lifts at the ski resorts will take you to the top of the trail, leaving only glorious downhills for you to enjoy. Give this a spin at Solitude. Another great option is the Wasatch Crest trail, which rides the ridgeline between Park City and Big Cottonwood Canyon.
5) High Altitude Fun for Everyone: Unique Activities
Want to try something different? How about riding atop the world-famous tram at Snowbird? Or maybe a day of disc golf...on a mountainside at Solitude? Solitude has the Adventure Park, where you can try the bungee trampoline, bounce house, and climbing wall. Snowbird has so many summer mountain adventures - an alpine slide, ropes course, a climbing tower and wall, summer tubing, mountain coaster, scenic chairlift, and more.
6) Mountainside Summer Events & Festivals
Larger event-based fun happens every year! Perhaps the biggest is Snowbird's very own Bavarian extravaganza - the Wasatch mountains' version of Oktoberfest. Now in its 51st year, the celebration is every weekend from August to October and features a bier garten, live music, and plenty of food, German or otherwise. In July, check out the Wasatch Wildflower Festival, a free event in which you can take a guided hike or explore on your own at a time when most of the indigenous high-mountain wildflowers are gorgeously in bloom. Also of note: the Coca-Cola Sunset Cinema at Solitude, where you can catch a movie on the resort lawn under the mountain stars on Thursday nights all summer, and also at Solitude, the Beehive Big Cottonwood Cornhole Classic tournament.
7) Health & Wellness in the Great Outdoors
For those looking for an outdoor experience that's a little more pampered, the Cliff Spa at Snowbird offers a simply incredible spa experience, with a beautiful outdoor pool, hot tub, and deck chairs, along with a full fitness/yoga studio inside. The Solitude Mountain Spa and the Stillwell Spa at Snowpine Lodge also offer relaxing experiences. The Cliff Spa offers a weekly Saturday evening yoga series on the beautiful Cliff Lodge rooftop called Bend at the Bird. Solitude has a free outdoor yoga event every Saturday during the summer through September from 9 to 10 am - just bring your mat and enjoy the fresh mountain air.
8) Live Music in the Canyons
For a unique concert experience, you absolutely have to see live music on a stage in the mountains! All four resorts have regular live music series and/or concerts: the Mt. Majestic Music Series at Brighton where "BBQ, music, and mountain magic collide," the Sunday Live Music Series at Solitude, the Chickadee Stage at Snowbird's Oktoberfest, and on July 1 at Snowpine Lodge near Alta is the 2nd Annual Concert on the Lawn.
9) Challenge Yourself with Outdoor Competitions
Whether your favorite accessory is a well-worn pair of trail-running shoes or a knobby-tired mountain bike, you can use it to compete against yourself and others. The Wasatch Trail Run Series gives everyone a chance to compete, whether they are experienced or not, and it takes place at locations all throughout the Wasatch Mountains from April to August. Speedgoat is a tough challenge with races ranging from 11K to 50K and is on some of Snowbird's toughest and most spectacularly beautiful trails. BikeUtah offers the Mid Week MTB Series for mountain bikers of all experience levels and at many different locations all summer. Other competitions include the Intermountain Cup - The Rage mountain bike challenges at Snowbird, and the Starvation Xtreme Triathlon which has the running portion at Solitude.
10) Fun Environmental Education & Volunteerism
Not only are the mountains beautiful, but they are also a precious resource - and they need protection. The Alta Environmental Center conducts educational events, Community Volunteer Days, cleanups, tree harvest and restorations (with partner TreeUtah), birding hikes, a kids' day, and more, all in the name of responsible environmental stewardship. The events are easy to participate in, and truly teach how to help keep our mountains healthy.