While Utah is home to some incredible outdoor space and National Parks, I encourage travelers to consider making the trip up to Montana to visit Glacier National Park. I recently did this sojourn myself and was well rewarded by some awe-inspiring scenery and amazing hikes.
In particular, I recommend Glacier as this is a very easy trip for residents of Salt Lake and introduces some remarkable scenery apart from the red rock and sandstone we are accustomed to with many of the National Parks here in southern Utah. There are several direct flight options from Salt Lake International to Glacier Airport in Kalispell, Montana. From there it is easy to rent a vehicle and head to the parks West Entrance to begin your adventures.
In particular, I suggest the many hikes and lookout points of the popular Going to the Sun Road and strongly recommend the eastern side of the park and the Many Glacier areas. Stay at the Many Glacier Hotel and awake the following morning to hikes that you can embark on directly from your hotel. Prepare yourself for jaw dropping snow melt waterfalls and crystal clear lakes.
I especially suggest staying at a few different lodges in various parts of the park to get a sense for unique scenery in each area and also to gain access to the different trails and hiking options. They are well managed, reasonably priced and offer evening lectures from park rangers as well as high-quality dining.
While there were once a recorded 150 glaciers at the park there are now only 25 and it is estimated that by the year 2030 even those will be gone. Therefore, don’t delay, I highly recommend taking the time to make the visit to enjoy the majesty of Glacier National Park. I have included some pictures I took that provides a visual sense of the breathtaking scenery.
Riverview Walkway Trail, Ogden Botanical Gardens, and Dinosaur Park, Ogden, Utah.
There are some great outdoor hikes and activities directly in Ogden, Utah that offer quite a bit of family fun. In particular, these include the Riverview Walkway Trail, the Ogden Botanical Garden and Dinosaur Park. Due to the fact that these are all within direct walking distance of one another, it is easy to enjoy all of these attractions in a single morning or afternoon. My suggestions would be to park in the parking lot for the Ogden Botanical Gardens (there is always plenty of parking and it is free).
This is accessible by heading south off of 12th Street onto Monroe for a couple blocks. From there, one can walk through the gardens and enjoy the many flower species and varieties that are on display and fastidiously attended to. I would also suggest strolling through the various tree varieties as well.
These are labeled with genus species and common name information. This is a great place to teach children about horticulture and for them to learn firsthand about the many indigenous tree and flower varieties in the area. The Ogden Botanical Garden is easy to explore and opens up the Riverview Walking Trail which is a biking, running or walking trail that is a double lane asphalt path. Dogs are welcome on the trail and the trail runs alongside the Ogden River. Therefore, dogs have a source of water and one can enjoy the pleasant sounds of running water.
The trail is largely shaded and is open to the public at no cost. As you reach the east side of the trail there is an elaborate outdoor play area for kids with swings, climbing bars, slides etc. There is also covered picnic and outdoor bbq areas. If one continues east along Park Blvd (an easy short walk from the playground) you will reach the George Eccles Dinosaur Park which offers life sized prehistoric giant displays and is great fun and education for kids. This is an incredible offering in Ogden with over 100 dinosaur sculptures on display. Many are robotic and brought to life with state of the art sound. For more information on park I suggest visiting: http://www.dinosaurpark.org/.
If you have not yet been to Moab, Utah, I would strongly urge you to put it on the top of your list for a visit. There is a great deal to see and do in Moab, Utah, including the biking, hiking, climbing, rafting and off road adventure.
First, I would strongly caution against visiting in the summer months given the extreme heat. The best time of the year to make the trip is in the Spring or Fall. Given the profusion of activities I would suggest allocating at least a few days for your trip. However, if you are making it a short visit the activity I would recommend that one put on the top of their list is a side by side tour. These may be rented from the various outfits in Moab and will run a few hundred dollars for the day and these tours are self-guided. Most trails are very well marked so a self-guided tour should not pose an issue and most outfits will both recommend trails as well as drop the side by side off for you directly at the trailhead. While I am not generally much for motorized sport, I do think that the 4 wheel drive Razr’s can be a great way to cover substantial ground and therefore see more of the amazing landscape.
There is also technical skill involved in navigating up and through the various rock formations. One of my favorites is Poison Spider which will provide a good mix of challenging climbs as well as breathtaking scenery.
This trail will require the better portion of the day and will get you some elevation as you make the snakelike climb to the top of the plateau. Keep an eye out for white stripes painted on the rock that will guide you along the trail. I would also suggest bringing plenty of water and snacks and a can of tire repair or Fix-It-Flat in the event that you catch a sharp rock and have a puncture.