Everyone travels for different reasons. Most people travel to see the iconic buildings, built by ancient civilizations long ago, or experience what remains of those cultures in the modern population. But for other people, they travel to see modern cities, void of culture, that have been built up through the lens of mainstream movies. There is another kind of traveler, much smaller in numbers, but seeking memories that can’t be appreciated on the big screen, or help you appreciate other cultures. For this kind of traveler, it’s the subtle nod at the end of the day, the feeling of accomplishment when the adrenaline wears off. This traveler seeks adventure, and few places in the world offer as many possibilities for adventure travel as in Utah.
What makes Utah ideal, is its wide range of geography. For a great selection of adventurous options, geographical diversity is a must. In the northern part of Utah, high altitude mountains make way for lush forests and create the world’s best skiing opportunities. In the south, there are large red rock landscapes, which have earned Utah the right to host 5 National Parks, more than any other state except California, which is twice the size of Utah. In the west it;s possible to find deserts with rolling sand hills that have earned the name Little Sahara, and in the East you can find large rivers that produce some of the most amazing whitewater experiences in the United States. But the landscape still provides for so much more.
Canyoneering is not a well- known activity to most of the people in the world. It is impossible to describe canyoneering with words, but there is an excellent video that answers the “What is Canyoneering?” question.
Canyoneering provides adventure for all skill levels. The sandstone geography of Central and Southern Utah have created the perfect playground for people who want to experience this type of activity. Its an activity that requires teamwork, trust and a tolerance for cuts, scrapes and bruises. However, if physical challenges, to visit places rarely seen, is something that appeals to you, Utah is one of the best and few places in the world you can try this activity.
Rock climbing is not really an exclusive activity to Utah or, like canyoneering, limited to where it can be done. What makes Utah a great place for rock climbing is the variety of rock and challenges that it presents. Less than a few minutes from your hotel, in any part of the state, you can find amazing rock- climbing routes. Even the major population center of the Wasatch Front, has world -class- climbing only minutes from millions of homes. The southern part of the state, features amazing climbs on red- rock buttes that are more similar to frozen giants, overlooking the valley, than they are to heavily photographed rock- climbing routes frequented by thousands.
A large portion of the land in Utah, is controlled by the Bureau of Land Management. Numerous areas and trails have been designated for use with all terrain vehicles and off- highway vehicles. With three major sand dune areas in the state, plus numerous mountain ranges, Utah is a mecca for off- road thrill seekers. Nothing is more prominent than the Jeep Safari. Thousands of people travel to Moab, Utah every year for the purpose of driving some of the world’s best off-road trails in 4×4 vehicles. Moab, normally a sleepy tourist town, can more than triple its population during the Jeep Safari week. It truly is one of the top 5 places in the world for Off -Road enthusiasts.
White Water Rafting
When most people think of white- water rafting, they think of big water, violent rapids and wide rivers. Two of the greatest and mightiest rivers in the American west collide in South Eastern Utah. The Green River which begins its journey to the ocean in Wyoming, winds through Utah, Colorado and back into Utah, before it meets up with the Colorado River. Meanwhile the Colorado River comes from Colorado into Utah.
Before the rivers meet, they offer great opportunities for families to spend multiple days on the river playing on class I-IV rapids. During this time the rivers flow through some of the most beautiful and isolated parts of the old west history. After the rivers meet, hold on! At high water, the waves in Cataract canyon can become some of the biggest in North America and are capable of flipping 30 foot rafts.
No other place in the world has skiing like Salt Lake City. The license plates on their automobiles proudly proclaim ‘Greatest Snow on Earth’. Many people consider that boast to be true. If the snow isn’t enough to win your heart over, will the convenience do it? Adventurers can fly into Salt Lake City International Airport and within 45 minutes of exiting the plane, they can be floating in the powder of their choice in 10 different ski resorts. No other place offers that type of convenience. And the best part is: The lines aren’t long so you can maximize everyday on the slopes. In some seasons, you can snow ski in the morning and water ski in the afternoon.
For the novice biker, many opportunities present themselves. Most of those ski resorts during the summer have a multitude of trails cut across the mountain. If you are a lazy biker, like myself, it’s great to ride the lift up, and coast any number of trails down. However, for the more serious bikers ,a trip to southern Utah is a must.
The same red-rock valleys that are legendary for jeep trails give way to hundreds of amazing bike trails. They overlook some of the most iconic red- rock scenery ever photographed, whether it is the Colorado Overlooks or the sunset from the slick rock trail; amazement can be found around every corner.
The northern part of the state is heavily forested with numerous high- alpine backpacking trails. One of the most challenging and most famous is the Highline Trail. The Highline Trail is an 86 mile backpacking trail that runs along the Uintah Mountains. Unlike most mountain ranges in the United States, the Uintah Mountains run east and west. Most ofThe Highline Trail is above the timberline and is the highest spot in the state at 4,125 m. Its not uncommon to see deer, elk, moose, and even bears in some of the more isolated parts of this trail. Don’t forget to bring your fishing pole. The Uintahs have thousands of fresh- water lakes and most of them are stocked with fish.
Life is an adventure. Most of the time we don’t get to choose the adventure that life sends us on. Maybe that is why we like traveling. Maybe we travel to escape the adventure that our regular life gives us, or maybe we travel to get us more adventure. If you are one of the latter people, Utah should be your ultimate destination. Just make sure to check out the list of things you probably want to bring.