Ah, Utah. I could sing symphonies about your red rock deserts, jagged peaks, and deep pow-ridden ski runs.
Did you know that on average Utah has the tallest peaks in the country? Each county averages peaks at 11,222′, which is higher than any other state. In the winter, those mountains are home to The Greatest Snow on Earth™. Summer in Utah sees the snow melt, revealing a striking landscape of forest and desert for you to explore.
We’re Dreaming of Summer in Utah
You’ll find evergreen forests for camping, and red rock landscape that’s fit for old western movies. It’s a state of contrasts and color — a place where you still feel like you’re discovering unmapped territory, despite the crowds of visitors who come for national parks, climbing, camping, and more.
Summer in Utah offers something for everyone. Here are a few of our favorite outdoor activities to get you started.
Aerial Tram at Snowbird
Guests can ride up Snowbird’s Aerial tram for $20 and receive stunning views of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Once atop Hidden Peak (11,000′), there’s opportunity for hiking, or enjoying a cold one from the bar at The Summit. Be careful, though. At 11,000 feet alcohol affects the body differently than at, say, sea level.
If you don’t feel like paying the $20 to ride to Hidden Peak, explore the trails at Snowbird or Alta’s base. In late July/early August, wildflowers are on full display. If you’re lucky you might even spot a moose!
Camping in Uinta National Forest
Far less trafficked than the nearby Wasatch Range, the Uinta National Forest is the highest east-west mountain range in the contiguous United States, and is home to the highest peak in Utah, Kings Peak (13,528′). Rugged and wild, the Uinta’s are a fantastic getaway. There are plenty of alpine lakes for fishing, over 1,700 miles of trails, and a wide range of rock climbing routes.
Many of the campgrounds fill up on weekends throughout the summer so book in advance. Or beat the crowds by taking a backpacking trip to Notch Lake, or the popular 104-mile Highline Trail which traverses the Uinta Range Ridgeline.
Check Out the Bonneville Salt Flats
About two hours west of Salt Lake City, the Bonneville Salt Flats stretch out into the distance and are popular for photography. Also known as the “Bonneville Speedway,” races have drawn crowds to the salt flats since 1914 when the first official race took place. Since then, some of the fastest land speed records have come from the Salt Flats.
Each August racing-enthusiasts gather to take part in “speed week,” organized by the Southern California Timing Association. Racers from around the country attend to see just how fast they can go. If you’re not interested in paying $525 to register, it’s public land, so take your car there any day (avoid winter when it often closes due to standing water) and race your heart out.
Tour The Mighty 5
Utah is home to The Mighty 5: Arches National Park, Bryce National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Zion National Park. Honestly, you could easily spend an entire year hiking, camping, backpacking, learning, and exploring these national parks. If you don’t have an entire year, try booking a trip through a local guide company like MountainBased.
Booking a small group tour will give you a quality taste of what each park has to offer. Exceptional guides make the experience feel less rushed, and more like you’re getting to know each area you visit. The best part? You don’t have to worry about the nitty-gritty details — they have all that stuff covered.
It’s important to note: summer in Utah is HOT. And these national parks see temperatures in the triple digits during the summer months. You’re going to need sunscreen and a lot of water.
Spend the Weekend at Bear Lake
Spanning the Utah/Idaho border, in the most northeastern part of the state, Bear Lake draws visitors from Idaho, Wyoming, and all across the great state of Utah. Suspended calcium carbonate molecules give Bear Lake its brilliant blue coloring. Sandy beaches and a full service marina invite visitors to enjoy a relaxing weekend along its shore, and with cabins, tent pads, and RV sites, it’s hard to leave.
I know “fun for the whole family” is an overused phrase, but it’s 100% true for Bear Lake. There’s horseback riding, cave exploring, sandcastle making, boating, camping, and hunting.
This minimal list doesn’t even scratch the surface for summer activities in Utah. So go on. Enjoy all that the beehive state has to offer. If you’re anything like me, you may never want to leave.
- American Fork Canyon Camping, American Fork, UT
- Clear Creek Camp
- Goblin Valley Camping, UT
- Utah Lake Camping, Provo, UT