Best of Utah 2013: Active Life | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City

Best of Utah 2013: Active Life 

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Best Biking
Park City's Mid Mountain Trail
It’s not just a great Utah biking trail: The International Mountain Bicycling Association has granted Mid Mountain Trail the coveted “Epic” designation. And it’s not for the faint of heart—or out-of-breath—as its single-track course takes bold riders on 3,000 feet of elevation change, peaking at around 8,000 feet. Accessible via several trails around Park City Mountain Resort, the loop trail is not just a physical challenge—it’s a thing of beauty, with picturesque moments of riding through the mountain trees and emerging into stunning views of the world below.
2. Moab
3. Millcreek Canyon

Best Adventure Blog began in 2007 as a means for consummate hiker/backpacker Nick Woolley to blog about his travels and love of the outdoors. The website has become a vibrant community forum for enthusiasts to share their own adventures, secret spots and photos. Woolley and the website’s 600-plus members provide trip reports and trail guides for regional adventures, from Island in the Sky and Stansbury Island to The Subway and the San Rafael Swell. The site’s logo is a cairn—a stack of stones marking a trail—and if you follow this site, you’ll certainly find your way to some sweet adventure spots.


Best Snowboarding
Brighton Resort

Year after year, snowboarders locally and nationally rave about Brighton’s snowboarding pleasures. While the mountain itself is shradical, riders also take advantage of the rails and jumps in Brighton’s multiple terrain parks, plus t he regularly groomed halfpipe. And as exciting as it is for experienced boarders, Brighton is just as great for those getting started—weekly classes are available for kids as young as 4, and the Pee-Wee terrain park provides a safe place to learn tricks and jumps among other rookies.
8302 S. Brighton Loop Road, Brighton, 801-532-4731,
2. Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort
3. Solitude Mountain Resor

Best Dancing in the Streets
Downtown Provo Dance Walk

Why walk when you could do a little dance? Inspired by a funny YouTube video of national reporter/comedian Ben Aaron “dance walking,” Kaneischa Johnson, the “queen of the Provo scene,” decided she needed to “churn the butter,” “push the lawn mower” and “shake it like a Polaroid picture.” In partnership with Velour Live Music Gallery and Downtown Provo, Inc., Johnson launched the first Dance Walk in conjunction with the First Friday Gallery Stroll in July 2012. The monthly summertime event began at the Utah County Historic Courthouse and scooted along, with 60 to 120 people in tow, on a scenic tour of downtown Provo, ending in time for the Rooftop Concert Series. Boogie on, Provo people.

Best Cave Meditation
Park City Yoga Adventures

Americans will take any sport and make it more extreme (except cricket, because it’s too confusing). Take yoga, for instance—more specifically, the physical asana. American yogis have been known to practice poses on cliffs, while suspended by fabric from ceilings or even deep within a 55-foot-tall, beehive-shaped limestone crater near Midway that’s home to a 96-degree hot spring. If that weren’t enough, Park City Yoga Adventures has folks doing the upward-facing dog on floating paddleboards. In normal practice, if you fall, it hurts; here, at least, it’s warm and soothing.
700 N. Homestead Drive, Midway, 435-695-4502,

Best Hiking
Millcreek Canyon
Is the best hiking spot one that caters to newbies? Or one with the most challenging trails or the most spectacular views? Maybe it’s a little bit of all of these things—which is what Millcreek Canyon provides. Beginners and families with younger children love the Pipeline Trail, with its gradual rise over 6.7 miles. Or, there’s the challenge of Grandeur Peak, rising 1,700 feet to the saddle for a payoff of a gorgeous scenic look at the valley. And, unlike many other hiking areas, Millcreek Canyon is dog-friendly (even off-leash for selected days of the week).
2. Moab
3. Big Cottonwood Canyon

Best Sport Support

The mission of SheJumps is to help women of all abilities—couch potatoes to elite athletes—get outside and recreate in whatever sport or activity they feel passionate about. The Utah-based organization lobbies for funds to support women’s sports and creates a community for women who want to get or stay active, with everything from nights at a trampoline park to ski days to avalanche training. The idea has taken root, and SheJumps has branched out with events in towns across the country.

Best Club for Beard Enthusiasts
Utah Beardsman Alliance

The Utah Beardsman Alliance is not exclusive to those with the ability to grow robust mouth mittens—all that’s required is a passion for the facial-hair lifestyle. Created by a group of young men and women who love the all-natural look of a man’s face, the group hosts local charity events, competes in national bearding competitions and, of course, goes fishing, camping and anything else that looks awesome with a beard.

Best Spot to Get Your Pong On
Table Tennis Training & Event Center

Everyone has that one friend who thinks they’re really good at pingpong (sorry, “table tennis”). If you’re looking to put said friend in his or her place, head to the Table Tennis Training & Event Center, where you can build your strength against great players or get an education in the sport—it’s like a pong dojo. There are weekly leagues, training coaches, camps and even an automated pong-bot that can fire off 3,000 different spins.
3572 S. 1950 West, West Valley City, 801-866-1415,

Best Guided Tour of Salt Lake City
Grimm Ghost Tours

Even though this tour is ghost-themed, you’ll also get a huge dose of (actually interesting) historical facts. Grimm Ghost Tours does an enormous amount of research to highlight the bloodier, messed-up elements of Salt Lake City’s past. The result is an entertaining hour-and-a-half murder tour. Even if you’re not a believer in the paranormal, Grimm will make you see Salt Lake City in an exciting, darker light.
18 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-508-4746,

Best Backcountry Skier Resource
Wasatch Snow Forecast

The Weather Channel is for tourists and weather-guessers who care more about highway closures than powder runs. Luckily for powder hounds, there’s Wasatch Snow Forecast. Updated daily and operated by Utah skiers and weather junkies, Wasatch Snow Forecast predicts and pinpoints local snow accumulation to an almost uncanny level of accuracy. Whether it’s dumping or dusting outside, you’ll know which resort, canyon and tree well is packing the most white stuff.

Best Fitness Classes
Pinnacle Performance
At Pinnacle Performance, the focus is on replacing the achy, creaky, inflexible you with someone schooled in “intelligent movement.” Manual physical therapy can help loosen you up and prepare you for the re-education of your body in how to move properly, combining physical-therapy principles with a full range of exercises. Individual sessions can help evaluate posture, balance and general movement for specialized training; group classes include Pilates at a variety of ability levels, and specialty classes with more focus on cardio, yoga and even prenatal/postpartum fitness.
1515 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-583-5692,
2. Salt Lake Power Yoga
3. Pure Workout

Best Heavenly Patch of Green
Granite Park

Nowhere in the Salt Lake Valley is quite as majestic or as beautiful as this park nestled below the Wasatch Mountains, with the twinkling lights of Sandy descending to the west. With the early-morning rooster crows—there are a few small farms and horse stables nearby—and the clip-clop of horseback riders, this park provides an oasis of calm. By dusk, the park is almost ethereal in its beauty, the sky a cavalcade of colors and moods, and the mountains a riot of changing colors throughout the year.
2900 E. Mount Jordan Road, Sandy, 801-483-5473

Best Pace-Setters
Girls on the Run

Persuading kids to exercise isn’t always easy in this age of iPods, tablets and Netflix. The Girls on the Run nonprofit has a solution in its 10-week programs taught at Salt Lake County public schools. Volunteers train with girls ages 8 to 13, using running workouts to enhance emotional and physical development and build self-esteem. The programs culminate with a 5K race in Sugar House Park. Exercise never seemed so much fun.

Best Downtown Bursts of Color
Salt Lake City Parks & Recreation

When we’re not choking on the inversion, there’s an unexpected joy to be found in the streets of downtown Salt Lake City in the summertime. The flower beds, bursting with everything from pampas grass and tulips to daffodils and margaritas, are dazzling displays of color and life that bring energy and heart to otherwise drab streets. The folks at Salt Lake City Parks & Recreation, who care for these gems of much-welcome floral delight, contribute to what makes living and working downtown in Salt Lake City such a pleasure.

Best Yoga Party
Yoga Dance

The Utah Krishna community’s dance parties put the trance in transcendental. The all-ages yoga “raves” combine yoga sessions interspersed with consciousness-expanding ancient mantras set to a techno beat. The sessions usually start with a 45-minute yoga session, followed by a manic mantra dance party, all capped off with another 45 minutes of yoga. The monthly events cost just $5 and include juice and vegetarian finger foods to keep you going through a night of peaceful meditation and joyful dance.
965 E. 3370 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-4005,


Best Terrible Lizards
Ogden Eccles Dinosaur Park

Every kid who ever played with plastic dinosaurs has wondered what it would be like to walk among them. If you’ve got one of those kids—or maybe used to be one—Ogden offers a chance to be (safely) part of their world. Life-size replicas of dinosaurs, constructed from the fossil record, move and make sounds throughout the winding paths of the eight-acre park, tucked along the banks of the Ogden River. Witness a battle between an allosaurus and diplodocus, or gaze up at a 20-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex. Then, head inside the adjacent museum for more exhibits and hands-on learning opportunities.
1544 Park Blvd., Ogden, 801-393-3466,

Best Outdoor Events/Concerts
Red Butte Garden
For 2012, the performers alone would have been sufficient—a terrifically eclectic lineup that spanned decades of classics from Al Green to The Shins, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band to Wilco and the B-52s to Bon Iver. But this venue makes great concerts even better, with the gorgeous amphitheater adding to the joys of the music. It’s even cozier and more intimate when you can settle into your patch of lawn with a picnic and turn a concert into a truly delightful evening.
300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, 801-585-0556,
2. Gallivan Center
3. Twilight Concert Series

Best Jungle Gym on Wheels
The Tumble Bus

The wheels on the bus may go ’round and ’round, but on the Tumble Bus, the kids jump up and down, swing from monkey bars and vault over beams. This innovative business has converted a school bus into a gymnasium designed to give preschoolers a workout in basic gymnastics. The bus travels anywhere in Davis and Weber counties to give kids access to a gym where they can safely swing from rings, perfect their balance and get all their wiggles out.

Best Yoga Studio
Centered City Yoga

The place where people decide to practice yoga is more deeply personal than deciding where to have lunch; for some, it’s like deciding where to go to church. Centered City brings a relaxed, casual mindset to the practice, taught by skilled instructors, some of whom were trained by founder D’ana Baptiste. Classes are welcoming for beginners trying to decide if yoga is right for them, with breathing and meditation classes for all ability levels and specialty courses just for kids, men, larger bodies and more.
918 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-9642,
2. Bikram Yoga
3. Salt Lake Power Yoga

Best Secret Soak
Crystal Hot Springs

Tucked away in the quiet northern Utah town of Honeyville lies Crystal Hot Springs, a campground resort that, according to the owners, boasts natural spring pools with the highest mineral content of any hot springs in the United States. There’s a hot spring and a cold spring pool, plus slides and regular swimming—making Crystal a just-right weekend getaway, year-round.
8215 N. Highway 38, Honeyville, 435-279-8104,

Best Golf Course
Old Mill

In a sport with a long, rich history, it’s one of the state’s younger courses that appeals most to our readers. The public Old Mill course, designed by award-winning course architect Gene Bates, is a 6,731-yard, par-71 course. The challenging back nine will keep players of all abilities on their toes, while the elevated tees help contribute to great driving distances. And there’s nothing quite like playing through the gorgeous course while enjoying the dynamic valley views from the east bench.
6080 S. Wasatch Blvd., Salt Lake City, 385-468-1440,
2. Bonneville Golf Course
3. Thanksgiving Point Golf Course

Best Guided Tour of Space
Salt Lake Astronomical Society Star Parties

It’s a big universe out there, and plenty of us have no sense of our place in it. That’s why it’s wonderful to have an organization like the Salt Lake Astronomical Society, which hosts Star Parties throughout the warmer months. SLAS members set up their telescopes and can help laypeople get a sense for the stars and planets at events held from April through October at local parks, Harmons grocery stores and the Stansbury Park Observatory near Tooele.


Best Bridge-Building Artistry
Bridge Over Barriers

An Interstate 15 overpass used to divide Salt Lake City’s Guadalupe and Jackson neighborhoods with gang graffiti. But more than seven years ago, the communities came together with the help of nonprofit NeighborWorks to start replacing the crude tags with a community mural. Completed in 2012, images of Father Time and Mother Earth now welcome visitors from either side of the street, while mosaics and paintings of community members decorate the supporting columns, symbolic of the folks holding up the neighborhood.
300 N. 700 West, Salt Lake City

Best Skiing
Alta Ski Area
Dedicated Alta-holics around the world have noticed the pretty convincing statistics—a base elevation of 8,530 feet, more than 500 inches average annual snowfall, more than 2,000 skiable acres—that make Alta, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in January, one of the most desirable destinations for skiers looking for the best conditions. The “snowboard-free” slopes certainly appeal to a certain segment of the client base, but lift and ticketing upgrades over the past decade have made the resort even more appealing, along with the ongoing partnership with Snowbird that allows combining two great ski areas in one season pass.
210 Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, Alta, 801-359-1078,
2. Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort
3. Brighton Resort

Best New Animal Encounter
Hogle Zoo's Rocky Shores

Utah’s Hogle Zoo took a step toward the big time with the long-awaited Rocky Shores exhibit, which debuted in 2012. Polar bears, sea lions, otters and other animal inhabitants of coastal North America populate the magnificent new enclosures, which feature naturalistic environments and exciting underwater viewing. This is an impressive new direction for exhibits at the zoo, one that makes the planned opening of the new African Savanna exhibit in 2014 a highly anticipated event.
2600 Sunnyside Ave. (800 South), Salt Lake City, 801-582-1631,

Best Stretching for a Cause
Yoga for People

In this modern day, the ancient Indian spiritual discipline and exercise of yoga has become the perfect solution to a stressful day at the office and a great way to lose holiday pounds. But yoga instruction doesn’t often reach those who could use it the most—people in homeless shelters, jails and domestic-violence shelters, and other at-risk and vulnerable populations. Now, the collective of do-gooder yoga gurus at Yoga for People are working to bring yoga to those who could use the balance and healthy benefits of the practice the most.

Best Spray of Color
Farmington Station Park Fountain Show

The new Station Park office and retail complex in Farmington upped the ante for entertaining visitors with a dazzling water, light and music show. Construction company Outside the Lines, the creative engineer behind the World of Color show at Disney California Adventure, oversaw the 5,000-square-foot area in which 58 nozzles and LED lighting spray up to 60 feet high. These hourly shows are choreographed to music by artists including Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and Puccini.
320 N. Station Parkway, Farmington, 801-451-5993,

Best Excuse to Be a Zombie
SLC Zombie Walk

Utah doesn’t present a lot of opportunities to dress up and be scary, so when they do come along, mobs of horror fans show up to roam the streets, covered in fake blood, their clothes torn, their skin “decaying.” In the past few years, the August event has become an all-out gore fest for costume fans trying to one-up each other’s designs and effects. Some even pretend to be survivors on the run before being “attacked” and, with the help of makeup kits, morphing into the undead. It’s practically an interactive play.

Best New Roller-Derby League
Happy Valley Derby Darlins

When roller derby came back to life, no one really expected to see it branch farther south than Salt Lake City. But in defiant derby fashion, a group of determined Spanish Fork women started a league in the heart of Utah County in early 2011. Over the past year, the Darlins have become a credible league with the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, had fierce battles with “rival” leagues up north and have expanded their roster to two regulars and an all-star team.

Best Secret Cycling Event
Velo Weekend

The brainchild of the dedicated staff of Velo City Bags, this two-day event secretly invaded the streets of Salt Lake City in late June 2012, bringing out the bike enthusiasts in droves. The weekend featured a high-speed alley-cat race through the city streets, fixed-gear freestyle competitions, tall-bike jousts and a dance party. The popularity of the event showed cyclists across the city that they’re not alone in this SUV-dominated town.

Best Genius Exhibit
The Leonardo's da Vinci
—the Genius
From late September 2012 through January 2013, The Leonardo science & technology museum celebrated its namesake and the ultimate Renaissance man with Da Vinci—the Genius. On display were more than 200 pieces, including 75 life-size machines, all based on Da Vinci’s codices and scribbles. A scientific analysis of Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper” showed how each was created and how time has affected the works. The massive breadth of Da Vinci’s work was almost too much to fathom, and challenged viewers to consider what we each could do if we each got off the couch and started looking closely at the world around us. You know, as if the future depended upon it.
209 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-9800,

Best New Memorial Trail
Ann's Trail

The newest trail added to the recreation area in the south end of the valley in the foothills above Draper is named after the late, great Ann Parr, the activist who spearheaded the campaigns to get Draper to procure and secure huge tracts of developable lands as open space. City officials recently honored Parr at the dedication ceremony of a tunnel that links Ann’s Trail with both the Bonneville Shoreline and Clark’s trails to create a beautiful 10.2-mile loop.

Best Urban Fishing
Provo River
The only thing wrong with the Provo River actually indicates what’s right with it: It’s such a terrific spot that you’re often fighting the crowds of other anglers who know it’s a terrific spot. No matter the time of year, sportsmen find it hard to stay away from the ample supplies of brown and rainbow made possible by the Jordanelle Dam tailwater. Plenty of easy access points are available; consider hiring a guide to show you to prime spots, then explore by yourself in a beautiful, convenient setting.
2. Ogden River
3. Jordan River

Best Jordan River Parkway Stretch

This popular 40-mile trail stretching from Salt Lake to Utah County provides outdoor enthusiasts with a retreat that’s close to Mother Nature without requiring extensive travel time. The trail is scenic throughout, but no other stretch is as serene as Murray. Safer and better-kept than some areas of the parkway, the Murray section is often recognized as bramble-free—allowing for continuous bike rides without dealing with dreaded flat tires. Our hats off to Murray city for keeping it clean.
593 W. 4800 South to 1200 W. 6400 South, Murray


Best Recreational Club for Adults
Beehive Sports & Social Club

Who among us isn’t looking for a dodgeball, cornhole and Wiffle-ball league? Dave Marquardt has thought about it and was surprised to discover that Salt Lake City had zero adult recreational leagues. Instead of pouting, he started the Beehive Sports & Social Club in 2010. The co-ed club brings together somewhat-competitive drinkers with alternative sports like bocce ball, ultimate Frisbee and capture the flag.

Best Salty Surf Shop
The Salt Lake Surf Company

While you won’t find surfboards to ride the mean waves of the Great Salt Lake, you will find the state’s greatest selection of stand-up paddleboards, which you stand on as you would a surfboard and propel yourself with a large paddle, cruising crystal-calm lakes or navigating some of Utah’s toughest white-water rapids. The Salt Lake Surf Co. also features a wide selection of white-water kayaks for those not quite ready to surf a river rapid.
1117 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-819-6949,


Best Grown-Up Bounce House
Airborne Trampoline Arena

Airborne is the perfect venue for parents who are sick of their kids bouncing off the walls at home. But the wall-to-wall trampolines and foam pits for crash landing aren’t just for children. Adults can enjoy defying gravity on the trampolines too, and also take part in dodgeball competitions for cash prizes or sign up for the arena’s Airobics classes, where you can burn calories while you bounce.
12674 S. Pony Express Road, Draper, 801-601-8125,


Best Roller-Skating
Classic Skating

If you’re over the age of 5 in Utah—or the parent of someone over the age of 5—chances are you’ve found yourself at a Classic Skating birthday party. The appeal is obvious to those looking for a high-energy way to have family fun. The Sandy location features a 13,000-square-foot classic wood floor with music and lighting, plus the InterSkate 15 street course. Special deals are available on various days of the week, and with other entertainment options at the Orem and Layton locations—games, rock walls and more—you’ve got a great way to spend your time, even when you need to rest your wheels.
Multiple locations,
2. Hollywood Connection Family Fun Center
3. Liberty Park

Best Way to Teach a Hungry Child
Sandy Youth Fishing Club

For six weeks each spring, Sandy Urban Fishery Park’s man-made pond becomes a magical land of learning. During those weeks, for just $20 ($15 if you live in Sandy), volunteer instructors gather with young children and teach them the basics of the noble art for a half-hour each Thursday. Children cast out their lines, overcoming their squeamishness about baiting their hooks with live worms and gutting fish. The teachers are eternally patient with knotted lines, gore-adverse parents and the endless questions of inquisitive, fascinated children.


Best Fishing Supply
Fish Tech Outfitters

An angler’s oasis, Fish Tech Outfitters has every lure, jig, hook, sinker, reel, fly, ant, cheese, egg and rod that a fisherman or -woman could possibly ask for. And the staff are super-friendly fishing enthusiasts with knowledge to share. Lifelong worm fishermen can learn how to get started with flies and lures, where to fling ‘em and how to get stocked up without breaking the bank. Fish Tech Outfitters can also add line to a newly bought reel and keep you posted on the latest reports of what’s biting in Utah’s lakes and rivers.
6153 S. Highland Drive, Holladay, 801-272-8808,

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