With so many places to go, it’s hard to narrow down where to travel in 2019!
Utah is home to more adventures than you possibly have time for. Here are my top adventure trips in the next two years.
When I moved to Salt Lake City in 2015, I didn’t know what to expect. Like many people, I had been to the state on a quick layover, seen the mountains from the airport, and carried on my way.
Turns out, Salt Lake City is a major hub for action sports, vegan food, and broadway shows. Who knew!
For so long I thought Denver was the best place for outdoor enthusiasts in the west. It’s close to the mountains, at a high enough elevation to get your lungs pumping during any cardio activity, and with a population of around 6 million, offers plenty of diversity and cultural offerings.
BUT, the cost of living and distance to ski resorts is majorly off-putting, and it turns out, Salt Lake offers similar resources and amenities with the mountains two to three times closer.
So what’s there to do in Salt Lake City?
1. Ski at One of Eight Salt Lake City Ski Resorts
It’s true what you’ve heard. There are eight ski resorts within an hour of Salt Lake City and they all offer some of the best powder you’ll ever ski, challenging terrain, and local brews for aprés.
Snowbird and Alta are the King and Queen of Little Cottonwood, averaging more powder than any other resorts in the area. Though, you’ll want to be weary of canyon closures after significant storms when roll through and the pro’s do avalanche control work.
Big Cottonwood sees fewer visitors and offers excellent turns at Solitude and Brighton, and heading over Parley’s Canyon brings you to Park City Resort, the largest ski resort in North America, and neighboring Deer Valley.
If you do decide to head into either of the Cottonwoods, opt for the ski bus to reduce traffic.
2. Ride the Aerial Tram at Snowbird
Not a skier or snowboarder? You’ll still want to see the beauty of the canyons from the highest point possible. The 10-minute trip takes passengers to the top of Hidden Peak when you can see Little Cottonwood Canyon snake to the Valley floor and see Mt. Baldy, American Fork Twin Peaks, and Rainbow Peak in the distance.
Once at the summit, stay a while at The Summit lodge. Enjoy a warm lunch and a local brew as you watch skiers and snowboarders make their descent down Snowbird’s technical and varied terrain.
3. Nighttime Snowshoeing in Millcreek Canyon
Who says you have to do all your activities during the day? The summer road up Millcreek Canyon offers a gentle grade for all levels of snowshoers. You can stop at the REI in Millcreek to rent snowshoes for the day (a bargain at $15), and enjoy the peace and tranquility of a quiet, snowy canyon.
For stunning views of the valley floor all lit up, take the Rattlesnake Gulch trailhead and head west on the Pipeline Trail to see the valley illuminated. Alternatively, if you’re up for the challenge, park at the Church Fork Trailhead and hike up Grandeur Peak for the same view, about 2,000′ higher.
4. Nordic Skiing at Solitude
Solitude Mountain Resort offers easily accessible Nordic Skiing at their Nordic Center from 8:30am to 4:30pm all winter long. Prices are fairly affordable–a day of skiing plus rental runs about $40, but if you opt for a half day, you’ll pay $31.
With over 20km of trails, you’re sure to feel the burn and appreciate the mountain scenery. If Nordic Skiing isn’t your thing, they also offer 10km of snowshoe trails for only $8/day.
5. Ice Skating at Gallivan Center
Ice Skating at the Gallivan Center in downtown Salt Lake is the most perfect way to spend an evening or weekend. At night, the outdoor ice skating rink lights up for an added touch of magic.
Snacks are available at the concession stand, and prices for skating are affordable–$9 for skating and rentals. If you go on a Tuesday, you can skate for only $5, which is a steal!
Extend the evening by grabbing a bite to eat at Beer Bar where you can customize your brat with Kim Chi and Sauerkraut, and enjoy a local brew or hand-crafted cocktail at nearby BarX (both owned by Ty Burrell of Modern Family).
6. Sledding at Sugarhouse Park
As soon as Salt Lake sees it’s first snow, the kids are out in droves to shoot down the southern and northern slopes of Sugarhouse Park. Park management places hay bails at the end of the hill to ensure maximum safety as kids (and adults) come barreling down the hillside.
On a snow day, the areas are packed, which makes the experience that much more fun. Bring a trash bag or garbage can lid if you’re on a budget, and want to have fun without making an additional purchase.
Grab a coffee at the newly opened Starbucks on 1300, or at the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street from the park. If you want to go a little out of the way, Sugarhouse Coffee is my personal favorite shop in the area, with a college-town vibe, and a wide selection of coffees, teas, smoothies, and food for those of all diets.
7. Visit the Utah Olympic Park
Not too far from downtown Salt Lake City, the Utah Olympic Park offers a day of all-out fun in a historic environment. Check out the museum at the Olympic Park and snag a pic of yourself holding the Olympic Torch.
Reach maximum velocity on the bobsled experience, or test your fear of heights on the Discovery, Canyon, or Summit courses. If you plan it right, you might be able to catch a ski race, ski jump event, or skeleton race.
8. Explore the Natural History Museum
Every Wednesday evening throughout winter, the Natural History Museum offers discounted admission for $5. I love $5 deals. This offers runs from 5pm to 9pm and grants you full access to the entire museum.
At the time of writing, the special exhibit includes artifacts from the Mayan Civilization, which runs until the end of May 2019. Some permanent exhibits include the history of the Great Salt Lake, First Peoples, and Native Voices.
Get there as early as possible to fully enjoy all exhibits in the museum.
9. $5 Movie Night
Speaking of $5 events (my favorite kind), every Tuesday Megaplex and Cinemark Theatres offer $5 Tuesdays to encourage Utahan’s to see the latest flicks on the big screen.
Word of advice: book your tickets well in advance (like at least the Friday night before), otherwise you’ll be sitting in the front row, probably apart from the person you came with.
To avoid the online booking fee, you can either join your movie club of choice, or stop by the theatre after work to buy your tickets.
10. Rent a BRORA Yurt in the Uinta Mountains
A two hour drive from Salt Lake City takes you to the Uinta Mountain Range, the only major mountain range that runs east-west. During the summer, the Uinta’s are a playground for all types of outdoor recreationists from anglers to ranchers to rock climbers and backpackers.
In the winter, the landscape totally transforms to a remote and rugged winter wonderland, complete with a series of yurts that can be rented for any length of time.
The yurts are somewhat difficult to get to. Some are accessible by way of snowmobile while others require a human-powered activity like snowshoeing or backcountry skiing. The respite, though, is well worth the trek.
11. Go Ice Climbing in Provo Canyon
For those familiar with the sport of ice climbing, Salt Lake offers exceptional routes for beginners and experts alike. Closer to home, a variety of climbs form in Little Cottonwood Canyon, like the iconic Great White Icicle, a WI3 multi-pitch waterfall.
Traveling a little further reaps great reward in Provo Canyon at Stairway to Heaven and Stewart Falls. There are climbs in both of these areas from WI1 to WI5+ R, as well as some mixed climbs.
12. Learn to Backcountry Ski With Utah Mountain Adventures
One of the greatest hidden gems in Utah is the almost immediate access to stellar backcountry skiing. The numerous hiking trails in summer transform to skin tracks in the winter with uninterrupted access to Utah’s notorious and glorious powder.
Utah Mountain Adventures offer courses to students of all levels who are just getting their start in the backcountry. Their courses cover route-finding, skinning techniques, and downhill technique. No backcountry experience required, though, I always advocate for backcountry users to have their AIARE Level 1 for more awareness and safety in the backcountry.
13. Go Snowmobiling at Skyline Snowmobile Complex
While the Cottonwood canyons face all sorts of restrictions to protect the Salt Lake City watershed, the areas surrounding those canyons are generally open to dogs and motor vehicles. Just south of the city in Bountiful, snowmobilers can access Skyline Drive with ample opportunity to rev engines in untracked snow.
Those without a snowmobile can rent one from Lofty Rentals between $199 and $249 per day.
14. Get Cozy at Salt Lake Roasting Company
If you need a little downtime from all the winter activities in salt lake city, head to Salt Lake Roasting Company in downtown Salt Lake for good coffee and a cozy environment.
Salt Lake Roasting Co. is located near the Salt Lake City Library, one of the most beautiful buildings in town, where you’ll also find an extension of the coffee company in a small outlet on the northeastern corner of the building.
15. Book a Heli-Skiing Tour with Powderbird
If you do this, will you take me with you? Heli-skiing has been my long time dream (I’m saving to go on my 30th birthday!), and with tours operating out of Park City and Snowbird, it’s hard to not do it, well, tomorrow.
The guides are Powderbird have been in the business for 45 years, and now operate trips out of Greenland as well.
A day on the helicopter with a public group will set you back a bit (around $1300–worth it), and if you want your own private creme-de-la-creme experience, $18,000.
16. Visit the Ice Castles in Midway
The magical, illuminated ice castles are mystical and fun for people of all ages. Ice castles are lit up at night to a variety of different colors, and there are tunnels to explore throughout the complex.
Weekdays are cheaper at the Midway Ice Castles with a $10.95 entrance fee, if you can go between
17. Catch a Utah Jazz Game
If all these outdoor winter activities in Salt Lake City have you hankering for some warm time indoors, look no further than a Utah Jazz game, where you’ll spend your time hooting and hollering for the home team (hopefully).
Tickets are available throughout the winter and with a range of seating options, you should be able to find something in your budget, starting at $13 for the nosebleeds. If you’re feeling extra fancy, the best seats go for about $600.
In Conclusion–You Won’t Be Bored
There are so many ways to experience Utah in the winter, you won’t be bored by a visit to the Beehive state in the colder, less-travelled months. In fact, I personally favor Utah winter’s to the scorching hot summers.
Will you head to Utah this winter?
With so many places to go, it’s hard to narrow down where to travel in 2019!
Around 5am every morning you can hear the low hum of complaint as angry runners rise from their comfy beds to get 30 minutes in before the day is underway. They grumble as they lace up their running shoes, grunt as they pull on their compression socks, and whimper as they step out into the cold, unforgiving world. They force their way through three unpleasant miles, and kiss the door as they return, so absolutely thankful that running is out of the way, and they don’t have to go through the process for another 24 hours.
And then they go to work and complain to their coworkers about how much they hate running, but they have to do it. They do it for the carbs, or for the abs, but never because they want to. We love the camaraderie of misery.
Why I Used to Hate Running
I used to be a spiteful runner. I ran in spite of what I wanted, and for that I was proud. I made myself run today, wasn’t I a rockstar? I didn’t give in to my primal desire to lay in bed all day, feasting on Cheetos and binging on Netflix. No, I went out and I ran.
It was awful.
All that time I spent angry about my feet hitting the pavement was a lot of wasted energy. If running is something you do for thirty minutes a day, four times a week, that’s over 100 angry hours every year. Four entire days of negativity. Sounds exhausting.
Especially because something wonderful happens when you embrace the choice to run. Your body finds it’s rhythm. You start to feel like a gazelle. You start to build confidence and mental endurance. You begin to believe you were made to run. And guess what, you were.
Turns Out, We Were Made to Run
Our ancestors were persistence hunters, chasing down their prey before the invention of bows, arrows, and rifles. We ran to protect ourselves from predators, and as early as 1829 B.C. we were running for sport in ancient Greece. Our body mechanics, from our glutes, to our sturdy trunk, are huge proponents in our choice to continue moving forward. Running is natural.
Let’s stop buying into the negative narrative about running. In our everything-is-easy-and-accessible world, we shy away from hard things at a rapid pace. While I have a newfound perspective on running, I don’t neglect the fact that running is hard. When I’m running uphill and my lungs are on fire and I feel like I’m going to collapse, I curse the hill, but I keep moving forward. When my arms start to tingle around mile 6, and the sun is beating down on my shoulders, and sweat is burning my eyes, I am thankful to be moving.
Let’s change the narrative and embrace the run.
Anyone venturing into the backcountry needs to follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace to protect wild places.
I’ve always dreamed big dreams. I wanted to be an actress, a singer, a writer, host my own talk show, become president, the list goes on. While some of these ideas were thrown around from one five-year-old to another, they stuck with me. And as I went to college and started cycling through different majors, I kept coming back to writing.
I’ve heard it said, often and sure, that we all want children to dream, but we want adults to conform, and as I’ve grown in my twenties I’ve seen how true that is. We conform in a hundred small ways that seem minor and are labeled as “adulting,” but quickly our dreams seem next to impossible, and the means we must take to accomplish them are riddled with financial hurdles, our beloved security, and risk.
It’s too bad, I think. To let life be dictated by what other people think, or by fear, or by finances. I believe these can all be real hurdles, and it’s difficult to leave your job, or dip into your savings, or answer tough questions from family members. But are those things worse than being miserable? Than returning to a 9-to-5 monotonous job, a mortgage that’s half your income, or mounting credit card debt?
I’m here to tell you, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY! In fact, we all might be better off if we started doing things we loved, things that brought us life, that made us feel like we have a purpose on this planet. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.
You see, I refuse to believe that dreams are just dreams. That the outrageous is impossible. I believe with every ounce of my being that if you are willing to make the sacrifices, you can create the life you’ve always dreamed of.
As much as YOLO seems ridiculous, it’s absolutely, 100 percent true. We are only on this planet for a short amount of time. That time is filled with struggle and triumph and pain and grief and unbelievable joy. We have the opportunity to taste exotic foods, to take gondola rides to mountaintops, to love and be loved.
Two weeks after I finished college, Delta Air Lines offered me a job as a flight attendant. It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. Through Delta, I traveled to eight new countries, ticked off the last of my fifty states, and learned more patience than I’ll ever need again (I hope).
I quit in June of 2017 because I believed that I could create a life full of travel without having to work demanding hours in customer service. This blog is the start of that dream.
After Delta, I started freelance writing and landed a full-time gig at a tech start-up in Portland called The Dyrt, a campground finding app. I loved my coworkers, and the fast-paced nature of the job, but again, I knew it wasn’t getting my closer to my dream.
So I quit. And in grown-up terms, it was pretty irresponsible. I don’t have much in savings. I have three anchor clients to sustain myself, and a hardworking husband who works ski patrol in the winter. But I do have a whole hell of a lot of passion, and if there’s anything I’ve learned in my life it’s that passion can get you places.
Get Started Living Your Dream Life
It’s the beginning of 2019. We all have 12 brand new, glorious months ahead of us to set and attain goals, develop new friendships, and dream bigger dreams. What’s standing in your way?
Finances can be tricky, especially as more and more millennials leave college strapped with tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. It’s stifling, and I’m no stranger. Between Coby and myself, we could travel around the world three or four times with the amount of student loan debt we have.
There are two ways to approach the burden of finances: do something about it, or accept the long game.
“I would rather own a little and see the world than own the world and see little.” -Alexander Sattler
For a long time, I felt trapped under my student loans. I thought I had to put my life on hold in order to pay them off. I have a few close friends who have done this and been successful. They’ve put their heads down, saved the majority of their income, and paid back debt within 2-5 years.
I don’t have the perseverance to do that.
Instead, I’ve accepted that I’ll be paying on my student loans in moderate increments until I start making a higher income through travel blogging and freelance writing. This is the long game, for sure. Though, not as long as twenty years.
Work Beyond Your Fear
Some fears are rational, and it’s important to address them before quitting your job to pursue your dream. Do you live on a single-income? How much are your monthly bills? When can you expect to earn an income doing what you love?
It’s wise to have savings or a nest egg before starting out, but it isn’t necessary. For some, striking out with the pressure of making money can fuel them and enable them to earn thousands each month in a short amount of time.
If that sounds absolutely terrifying (it is!), then start with a side hustle. Dedicate enough time outside your day job to really pursue whatever it is you want to do. Is your dream to own your own bakery? Spend more time baking, network with other bakers, research the logistics for applying for a small business loan, or save enough so you won’t need one.
Make a list of goals and remind yourself of those goals daily. I worked freelance while I held a full-time job and it was exhausting. But, I had a list of goals I wished to accomplish that helped me refocus whenever I felt tired or angry or lost.
Envision your dream coming true. There have been multiple studies proving the benefits of visualization. When you visualize something, the neurons in your brain become excitable, and believe whatever you’re visualizing is actually happening. In fact, several studies have shown that your brain can’t actually tell the difference between an actual memory and a make-believe memory.
So when you start visualizing, your brain believes it’s happening. Then the rest of your body kicks into gear.
Remind Yourself ‘It’s Possible’
Somedays it might not feel like it. You might have unpaid bills, a mountain of paperwork, seven blog posts to write, tense relationships, car issues, a messy house, needy kids, piles of laundry. You’ll feel overwhelmed and overworked and tired and wonder if whatever it is you’re doing is even worth it.
I’m here to tell you it is.
Whatever your dream, it’s possible. You have to believe it’s possible to have any chance at all of achieving it. Dreams don’t operate with doubt as the driver. They’re not concerned with your current reality. They exist in the future, after you’ve done the hours and weeks and months and years of hard work.
It might sound exhausting, and it is. But it’ll make you feel alive. Unbound. Fiery. Fierce. Bold. Courageous. Joyful.
What dreams will you attain this year?
For years, El Potrero Chico has been at the top of my climbing bucket list. It’s home to the second longest sport route in North America, Time Wave Zero, and the notorious El Sendero Luminoso, made famous by a Honnold free solo in January of 2014. It’s the […]