Utah is a hidden gem in the lower 48. Its proximity to mountains and desert can satisfy most adventurous spirits, and with little effort you can be surrounded by Cottonwood trees or Sandstone arches in a matter of hours. With these ideas for things to do in Salt Lake City, your weekend getaway is going to be a great adventure.
Adventurous Things to do in Salt Lake City
With so much to do, it’s hard to plan and prioritize. However, with this simple guide you’ll be on your way to enjoying northern Utah’s treasures in no time.
Hiking in the Mountains
Load up the hiking gear, you’re headed to the mountains.
Head to the Mountains this weekend
Because the Wasatch National Forest is so close to Salt Lake Valley, it’s feasible and easy to head into the mountains for a quick overnight backpacking trip.
Desolation Lake, located in Big Cottonwood Canyon, is ideal for the beginner to moderate backpacker.
The hike begins about 9.5 miles up the canyon at the Mill D North Fork Trailhead. Winding through Aspen Groves, meadows, and alongside the creek, make sure to stop and enjoy your surroundings.
Also keep an eye out, as moose are often spotted along this trail.
At 7.8 miles round-trip and roughly 2,024 feet in elevation gain, you can start this trail in the late afternoon/early evening, set-up camp, enjoy the stars and a campfire, and be back to your car by 11am.
Pick up the Salt Lake, Park City and Wasatch Trail Map on Amazon
Plan Your Trip to Salt Lake City
Lonely Planet Southwest Travel Guide – Lonely Planet is our go to guide book and when traveling America, you have to pick up your pocket guide to America's Southwest.
60 Hikes within 60 Miles – If you are planning on hiking around Salt Lake City, this guide book rounds up the hikes in the area ranging from easy family hikes to more difficult treks.
6 Days Utah Mighty 5 Tour from Salt Lake City – Get Your Guide offers a 6 day tour from Salt Lake City to the top spots in the area including the iconic national parks of Arches, Canyon lands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion.
Salt Lake City Urban Adventure Quest – This unique tour lets your smart phone be your guide as you explore Salt Lake City. Starting from Union Pacific Depot, you'll solve clues and complete challenges as you travel to Temple Square and the State Capitol Building.
Yellowstone Park and Rocky Mountain Explorer – For a great adventure take a 7 day guided camping and walking tour from Las Vegas! Visit Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Bryce Canyon national parks. Naturally the tour includes a visit to Salt Lake City.
Post Adventure Eats
Beer and Fish Tacos at Lone Star Taqueria
This local post-adventure eatery is an easy two miles from the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Here you’ll find the best fish taco’s in Utah.
Wrapped in two corn tortillas, and overflowing with the fish of the day, these taco’s, topped with a cilantro-lime dressing, will give you reason enough to start planning your next trip to Salt Lake City.
Snowbird’s Mountain Bike Trails
Snowbird is known for regularly receiving 500+ inches of snowfall each year.
Once the snow melts, however, the mountain opens for some of the most breathtaking mountain biking in the Salt Lake region.
The Big Mountain Trail, accessible by purchasing a $25 lift ticket, takes bikers on a 7.5 mile downhill ride through forested turns, wooden bridges, and wide-open straights.
With 2,900 feet of vertical drop, and an 8% grade, you won’t have to worry too much about sore muscles from last night’s hike, but you will want to make sure to wear a helmet.
A Burger and Brew
Proper Brewing Company
Perfect for carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike, Proper Brewing has a burger (and brew) for everyone.
From the Hipster Burger (red onion jam, kale pesto, fresh herb cheese spread, garlic aioli, and spinach) to the Vegan Chili Cheese Burger (house-made vegan chili, vegan cheese, and red onion), you might be tempted to order two.
Proper Brewing also keeps their store open on Sunday’s which is a loophole in Utah’s strange liquor laws.
For the beer lovers: Utah’s liquor code requires all draft beer contain less than 3.4% alcohol content. So, if you’re looking for something stronger, spring for the can or bottled version.
Camping at Jordanelle State Park
Less than 40 minutes from downtown Salt Lake, on the east side of the Wasatch mountain range, you can find even more to explore: the Uinta National Forest, Park City, and the East Canyon Reservoir.
For this trip, you’re heading to Jordanelle State Park. Tent sites at Jordanelle Campground are $20-$30 depending on the day, but you’ll want to book ahead to secure a site.
The park is surrounded by hills and mountains, and with so many stars splayed out above you, it’s easy to forget how close you are to the city.
SUP and AQUA x ZONE
Once you’ve brewed your first cup of Caffee Ibis (made in Logan, UT), and are ready to start the day, your options are endless.
At the Jordanelle, you can rent stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, motorized boats, jet-skis, and more.
There’s also AQUA x ZONE, a floating water park on the lake, which is suitable for all ages, and if you aren’t a child, it’ll bring out the child in you.
If you’re in the area, it’s worth stopping by the quaint little mountain town of Park City, especially on Sunday’s, when “Park Silly,” the city’s open-air market, is on.
From local honey, to handmade jewelry, to street performances and food trucks, this market has something for everyone.
Pick up your walking guide to Park City on Amazon
With a closing time of 5pm, you can enjoy your morning paddle session, and still get a bit of mountain culture in the afternoon.
With hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, and so much more, one weekend isn’t enough for how much northern Utah has to offer, but it’s enough to leave you wanting more.
Megan Walsh runs The Quirky Climber and is an outdoor enthusiast filled with wanderlust.
She’s traveled to 24 countries, 50 states, and always has an upcoming trip planned. When she’s not traveling, you can usually find her with a thermos in hand somewhere along the Wasatch Front.
Follow her at thequirkyclimber on twitter: @megwalsh02 and Instagram: @quirkyclimber