Beyond the Salt Lake
February 14, 2012 10:02 AM   Subscribe

3-4 days free in Utah; what fun adventures can I have?

So this idea didn't pan out just because I acted on the idea too late and there are no available reservations. I'll be in Salt Lake City Oct 3-6 for a conference, and would like to take a few additional days beforehand for a fun travel/outdoor experience.

What would you recommend? I enjoy hiking and would love to do some more National Park discovery. I won't be able to carry camping equipment, though, so will need to stay in hotels or lodges.

I also enjoy historic sites, museums, Native history/culture, live music, walking around interesting neighborhoods/towns, art, eating local/regional food - by that I mean both locally grown and local specialities - and unique local events.

Thanks for any tips! I'm looking forward to taking some time to experience a little Utah since it may be the only time I'll have a few days to spend there.
posted by Miko to Travel & Transportation around Utah (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've been doing research on that area as well and from everything I'm reading, Zion is the place to go for hiking and general blow-your-mind scenery. Google says it's only about five hours from SLC. There are plenty of places to stay in Springdale, UT, just outside the park entrance.

Bryce canyon is only a couple hours further. You could set up a base in Springdale and visit Zion, Bryce, and possibly even the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, if it's open at that time.
posted by bondcliff at 10:13 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Moab and the surrounding area are ideal for what you want. Arches and Canyonlands are right there, Capital Reef is not too far in one direction and the Natural Bridges NM is not far in another; and the drive between them is as spectacular in some ways as the parks themselves.
Take 6 to 191 to get started, it's also a great drive. Head through Hanksville on your way to Capital Reef to see Goblin Valley.
You really can't go wrong in this part of the world for scenery and coolness.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:25 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, in the mountains above SLC, there's Timpanagos Cave National Monument. Great fall color hikes...

But if you want the whole super-scenic Out West thing, either head to Moab (Arches, Canyonlands) or Bryce/Zion. Or do both, really, and pick'n'choose. UT 12, from Capitol Reef NP to Bryce, is fantastic, and the high-country parts will be in full color that time of year.
posted by notsnot at 10:36 AM on February 14, 2012

I wholeheartedly recommend Zion as beautiful place. I've been around your time frame and had a lovely time. Even hiking in The Narrows wasn't bad temperature wise. Also on the plus side is that there is plenty of reasonably priced accommodations right outside the park entrance.

If you want to stay closer to SLC, you could do a lot worse than the trip over to Park City. Sure it is a resort town but October will be too late for summer high season and too early for winter ski season. You should be able to find bargins on food and shelter. Plus the town has lots of galleries, restaurants and a distillery. During the day you can hike in the mountains above the town so long as you didn't mind a little snow at the higher elevations.
posted by mmascolino at 10:51 AM on February 14, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone.

I went through UT on a road trip about 10 years ago, and Zion is the place I spent the most time. I'd actually like to go back to Canyonlands and Arches so maybe a couple days in Moab is what I'm after.
posted by Miko at 11:44 AM on February 14, 2012

don't forget, SLC is within spitting distance of some world class skiing, if you're into that sort of thing
posted by Mach5 at 11:57 AM on February 14, 2012

So why can't you still visit the Grand Canyon?

Kanab is less than 6 hour drive from Salt Lake, not much more than 5 for Zion. There you can stay for a few nights, then make day trips to the North Rim and surrounding areas.

Alternatively, and a lot closer (30 minutes from SLC), the Wasatch Mountains are supposed to be breathtaking. They are also good enough for hiking that there is are several major ultra races and relays there, notably the Wasatch Front 100 mile endurance run. Here are some other hiking trails in the SLC vicinity.

Other destinations in Utah, and State and National Parks with times from SLC.

Other suggestions of things to do in/around Salt Lake:
Bonneville Salt Flats + Rental Car + funny British accent = 160 mph?
Liberty Park
The Main City Library looks very cool
Sam Weller's Zion Bookstore
LDS Temple Square see it from the outside, inside is prohibited except to followers
But down the street is the Catholic Cathedral of the Madeleine
You could also see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Or treat yourself to an inexpensive massage

I hope you have a good trip! Let us know what you decide to do.
posted by I am the Walrus at 12:11 PM on February 14, 2012

I highly recommend Moab. There are nice places to stay and eat, and it's very convenient to Canyonlands and Arches. We stayed at The Gonzo Inn, and really enjoyed it.

I especially liked walking the trails at Arches, so if you only have time for one destination, that's my suggestion. I learned to love deserts in Arches. But Canyonlands is also great.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:27 PM on February 14, 2012

Response by poster: I guess it's still a possibility, but I have been there once before for a couple days, so the attraction this time was really the Phantom Ranch idea. That'll have to be for another trip.
posted by Miko at 12:34 PM on February 14, 2012

I'm in Ogden and we're packed full of outdoor stuff. 45 minutes from SLC and we have all kinds of options for eating and sleeping.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:39 PM on February 14, 2012

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