utah ultimate adventure

The Ultimate Utah Summer Adventure Calendar [Part One]

The options for fun summer activities in Utah are nearly endless. For awhile I’ve wanted to write a post about epic Utah adventures for every weekend of the summer, but it putting it together has been challenging. Summer 2019 only has 14 weekends–you’d need hundreds of weekends to experience everything that Utah has to offer!

The activities below are just a sampling of fun places and things to check out in Utah. I’ve done most of these myself and can vouch for how awesome these experiences are. I’ve organized them according to common weather conditions–generally, high altitude and water activities are scheduled for late summer while red rock activities are near the beginning.

Have you seen all the main hotspots already? Have no fear…along with the basics of each getaway I’m including a “more adventurous” option for those who have advanced outdoor skills and specialized gear. So gather up some close friends, save the dates on your calendar, and get ready for a summer of amazing Utah adventures!

๐Ÿš— Weekend #1:ย  Moab & Arches National Park

Up for some red rock fun? Flanked by soaring red rocks, this adventurous town is roughly four hours away from Salt Lake City and easily reachable by car or bus. Chances are that Moab will already be blazing at the beginning of the summer, so plan accordingly. Head to Arches National Park first to check out some of the most iconic sites in Utah. My personal favorites in the park are Balanced Rock, Sand Dune Arch, The Windows, and Landscape Arch. Delicate Arch–the feature prominently displayed on many Utah tourism brochures and our license plates–is also a must! Getting there requires a bit of a hike on shade-less sandstone, so bring plenty of water and plan the hike for early morning or evening.

Moab has lots to offer beyond the national park. There are Colorado River tours, Jeep adventures, 4×4 boat rentals, skydiving, ziplining, and all kinds of other fun things to check out. But if you don’t have much time, Arches NP alone can easily occupy a whole weekend.

๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Want more adventure?

Sandstone + slots =ย  endless climbing and canyoneering! If you’re comfortable rappelling, pay a visit to some simple and short canyons in the park (U-Turn Canyon and Dragonfly are my favorites!) Moab also has some of the most incredible spire and big wall climbs in Utah–thousands of routes are scattered across this desert paradise.

delicate arch Utah moab arches national park
Delicate Arch at night

๐Ÿš— Weekend #2: Antelope Island

Antelope Island is one of the coolest places in Utah, but it’s frequently overlooked by out-of-town visitors. It’s only an hour away from Salt Lake, but as you drive along the causeway flanked by salt flats you’ll feel like you’ve entered a different world. Still pools of water reflect snowcapped peaks, buffalo roam on the rolling plains, and the crowded suburbs shrink in the distance as you enter this island haven.

My favorite way to see the island is to explore the perimeter by car and stop for short hikes and sightseeing along the way. Bridger Bay Beach is a great spot to soak in the scenery, and there are several campgrounds on the island if you want to stay overnight. Be warned, though, the bugs can getย veryย bad on Antelope Island as the weather warms up. Wear long clothing, douse yourself in bug spray, and consider wearing netting to ward off the biting flies.

๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Want more adventure?

Antelope Island has lots of mountain biking and horseback riding trails. Don’t have access to a horse or bike? Satisfy your itch for adventure by hiking Frary Peak, the tallest mountain on Antelope Island. The 7-mile trail is considered a tough hike, so make sure you’re in good shape and prepared with plenty of water.

Great Salt Lake Utah Antelope Island water
View of the Great Salt Lake

๐Ÿš— Weekend #3: Zion National Park

Another Southern Utah adventure! Located 4.5 hours from SLC, Zion National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the entire US, so you’ll probably encounter crowds and long waits at some of the key sites. But the wait is worth it for those who haven’t been to the park before. I love the fact that Zion has something for everyone–there are simple, family-friendly hikes and involved multi-day canyon trips that challenge even the most experienced of adventurers.

For a weekend trip, I’d recommend checking out the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and the Emerald Pools. Angel’s Landing is one of the most exhilarating and beautiful hikes in the park. Hike to the very top for incredible panoramic views and spend a night (or two) in one of Zion’s comfortable campgrounds.

Update for 2023: many of Zion’s iconic routes, including Angel’s Landing, require permits now due to overcrowding. Be sure to plan ahead on the NPS website.ย 

๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Want more adventure?

There are so many ways for adrenaline seekers to enjoy Zion. Climbing, canyoneering, biking, and horseback riding are some of my favorite activities in the area. I haven’t had the chance to hike The Subway yet, but it’s a popular route that is well-suited for fit and adventurous hikers. You’ll need a permit to access the unparalleled views in this part of the park, so be sure to plan ahead.

Zion National Park red rock walls rain
Zion National Park on a Foggy Day

๐Ÿš— Weekend #4: Sand Hollow State Park

Last summer I went to Sand Hollow for the first time and I was blown away–the combination of crystal-clear water and red rock is breathtaking! Located just outside of St. George (about 4.5 hours from Salt Lake), the park is a popular getaway for boating, swimming, and cliff jumping. Temperatures can be sweltering in the summertime, so sunscreen and shade are a must. There are plenty of areas nearby for camping so you can easily plan for a full weekend of fun.

๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Want more adventure?

It’s time to dive! The best adventures at Sand Hollow are beneath the surface. If you’re a certified diver, you can don scuba gear and descend 40 feet to see a submerged VW bus, an old Cessna 310 aircraft, and other interesting relics. Utah isn’t exactly a premier scuba destination, but Sand Hollow is considered some of the best diving in the state.ย 

Sand Hollow dunes summer St George Utah
Dunes near Sand Hollow

๐Ÿš— Weekend #5: The Alpine Loop

The 20-mile Alpine Loop road packs in everything that there is to love about Utah scenery: towering, craggy peaks, thick woods, canyons, waterfalls, lakes, and sheer cliffs abound along this picturesque route. The best part is that this adventure can easily be an afternoon getaway or a multi-day escape. The paved road is easy to follow and there are plenty of scenic pull-offs and trailheads along the way. Pro tip: visit again in the fall for a spectacular display of autumn colors!

๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Want more adventure?

Ditch four wheels and opt for two instead: this route is a premiere road cycling spot. There are lots of twists, turns, climbs, and descents on this route, so be sure that you’re physically prepared for the trip.ย 

Alpine Loop Utah summer mountains trees
Alpine Loop in full bloom

๐Ÿš— Weekend #6: Mount Timpanogosย 

Mount Timpanogos (AKA Mt. Timp) is one of my favorite Utah attractions. At 11,749 feet, it’s the second-highest peak in the Wasatch Range and its impressive face dominates the valley below. By mid-summer, the peak should be free from snow. Theย Timpooneke trailheadย marks the start of the well-maintained hiking path. The strenuous, 15-mile trail will take you past gorgeous wildflower fields, scree slopes, and high alpine forests.ย 

๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Want more adventure?

Mt. Timp can be done as a (strenuous) day hike. But if you’re up for a longer adventure, camp overnight just below the summit. The stars are unreal at night and the views of the valley below will take your breath away!

Mount Timpanogos Utah nighttime
Mt Timp in its full glory

๐Ÿš— Weekend #7: Jordanelle State Park

Located just 40 minutes from Salt Lake, Jordanelle State Park features a large reservoir with ample space for boating, paddleboarding, wakeboarding, and other fun summer activities. There are also three campgrounds with RV and tent spaces on the water’s edge. Generally, the state park is easy to access, but you’ll want to plan ahead if you’re visiting over a summer holiday–traffic to the park spikes on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Want more adventure?

There are lots of adventures to be had at Jordanelle if you’ve got access to a boat. Try wakeboarding, water skiing, or tubing for some high-adrenaline fun!

Jordanelle Reservoir Summer Utah
View of Timp from Jordanelle

๐Ÿš— Weekend #8: Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon is the home of the hoodoos (a term for irregularly-formed columns of rock). Hoodoos can be found around the world, but you’ll see the highest concentration of them in this stunning canyon. Trails wind in and around the canyon so that you can view this amazing geological site from all angles. Check out the Bryce Amphitheater, Inspiration Point, and the Navajo/Queens Garden area for some of the most awe-inspiring views. Bryce Canyon is only four hours away from Salt Lake City.ย 

๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Want more adventure?

Switch things up a bit by hitting Bryce Canyon’s classic trails on horseback. You’ll love soaking in the red rock views from the saddle on your own or with a group of others on a leisurely trail ride. There are several companies in the area that offer riding tours in the canyon.ย 

Bryce Canyon Utah Horseback Riding trails
Horseback riding in Bryce Canyon

Eight weekends down, seven to go…keep an eye out for part two! Are you feeling excited for summer yet?!

Drop me a line in the comments about the adventures you’d like me to include in part two!ย 

Photos from Pixabay/Creative Commons

ultimate utah summer adventure list

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