Best Of Utah 2014: Outdoors & Recreation | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City

Best Of Utah 2014: Outdoors & Recreation 

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Best Skiing
Many skiers are certainly fond of Alta in part because it remains a rarity among Utah resorts as a ski-only mountain, with no snowboarders permitted. But in its 75th-anniversary year, Alta also pulls in powder-hounds thanks to its higher-altitude location and an average 560 inches of seasonal snowfall over its 2,200 skiable acres. And while it’s always appealing to veteran skiers, the 65 percent of runs set aside for beginner and intermediate skiers make it the perfect place to fall in love with the thrill of downhill for the first time.
210 Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, Alta, 801-359-1078,
2. Snowbird
3. Brighton

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Best Recreation Destination/ Best Summer Getaway
This Southern Utah gem scored with our readers as the place to go in the summer and as the top destination for recreation, period. And no wonder: Moab has much to offer the four-wheeling, hotel-staying, motorboat-towing folks as well as the BLM-land-camping, river-running, mountain-biking, rock-climbing and hiking minimalists. The area’s abundant sunshine, untold acreage of red rock and access to multiple national parks, plus the Colorado River, which bends along the outskirts of town, makes Moab a crossroads of adventure for international tourists planning to spend weeks with the arches, and Wasatch Front residents looking for a change of scenery. As Fox 13 reporter Ben Winslow says, “It’s so close, yet far enough to force me to unplug from the Matrix for a weekend.” And at the end of each day, the journalist, foreign tourist, Jeep tour guide and dory rower can discuss their differences over a beer and debate the best ways to soothe that blistering Moab sunburn.
2. Park City
3. Lake Powell

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Back Country Mules

Best Mule Ride
Back Country Mules

Riding on a mule under the achingly bright blue sky of Moab’s red-rock country, trekking across a landscape as majestic as it is harsh, is the only way to truly absorb the beautiful terrain. That’s according to John Hauer, who owns and runs Back Country Mules with his wife. “In a car, you’re boxed in; hiking, you have to watch your step,” Hauer says. But when you’re on a mule, as Hauer points to where classic westerns like Rio Grande were filmed, you start relaxing into the surrounding vistas, feeling the peace and beauty of the rivers and creeks that you and your mule ford.
435-259-8015, Moab,

Best Feet of Fury
Tiger Crane Martial Arts

About every strip mall in Utah has a tae-kwon-do studio inserted next to a smoothie shop, which might make it hard to decide where you want to go when you want to learn the science of kickology (in Korean, tae-kwon-do means “the foot-fist way”). A good starting place is Tiger Crane Martial Arts, where Master Oliver Vernon breaks down the physics and body mechanics of devastatingly effective kicks in a way that anyone can grasp. Whether you’re looking to learn a martial art to make you deadly or just fit, this laboratory of kicks holds the key.
1288 N. Highway 89, Farmington, 801-661-6220,

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Best Running
Liberty Park
Statisticians need not study the place Liberty Park occupies in the hearts of Salt Lake City’s runners. If the sun is shining and the temperature is anywhere above freezing, brightly clothed runners of every fitness level populate the park. The roughly 1.5-mile loop is just long enough that it can be circled several times before it feels monotonous, and by that time, it’s time to stop anyway. Want to run on smooth, flat pavement? Check. Want grass? Check. How about wood chips? Check. With three surfaces, the best water fountain (it taps into an artesian well and flows all year) and enough characters and scenery to keep any runner’s mind occupied, Liberty Park is the place for amateurs and pros alike to log miles.
600 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City
2. Bonneville Shoreline Trail
3. Jordan River Parkway

Best Frolf in the Mountains
Solitude Mountain Resort Disc Golf

It’s time to take your lazy-summer-day Frisbee-tossing to a higher level—or maybe we should say a higher altitude. Solitude Mountain Resort boasts an 18-hole disc-golf course with uphill and downhill shots winding throughout the course, with holes ranging from 300 to 500 feet long. Make sure you’ve got your hiking shoes and spare discs in case your disc skips into the wilderness. If golf is a good walk spoiled, then a day of disc golf at Solitude is a good hike made even better.
12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon, Solitude, 801-534-1400,

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Avenues Yoga

Best No-Pressure Poses
Avenues Yoga

Yoga is supposed to be relaxing and mind-clearing, but as with starting any new hobby, embarking on the practice can feel like a mission to infiltrate the CIA. You have to study, purchase new clothes and baffling accoutrements, and study the habits of the people who already know what they’re doing. At Avenues Yoga, though, you can leave the special-ops gear at home; simply show up in comfy clothes to the cozy restored bungalow and you’ll be all set. Yoga mats, blankets, blocks and straps are all provided, and the atmosphere is welcoming and laid-back. Ease into the scene and the stretches with a weekend basics class in the sunlit front room alongside attendees of all ages, genders, sizes and flexibility; then graduate to more intense but no-less-enjoyable classes like Yogalates.
68 K St., Salt Lake City, 801-872-9642,

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Best Winter Getaway
Park City
When Park City’s mining fortunes died, the mountain hamlet reinvented itself as a ski destination. And in recent decades, Park City has again remade itself, transitioning from a town entirely reliant on the fortunes of skiing to one that, even without a single flurry of snow, provides an abundance of recreation, dining, clean air and shopping. And, if it needs any more endorsement, former Utah Jazz head coach Frank Layden digs PC: “Park City’s a great place to walk around, the air is good—even in the winter, I find it so invigorating. We enjoy going up there and shopping and eating. It’s just so different than anywhere else.” Park City’s lap of luxurious restaurants, spas, hotels, bars and galleries—not to mention the two-week celebrity circus/cinema bliss that is the Sundance Film Festival—will keep it on the map for those seeking a winter getaway for decades, and perhaps even centuries, to come.
2. St. George
3. Moab

Best Desert Diving
Bonneville Seabase

When the winter’s inversion and extremities-destroying temperatures have you in dire need of a tropical vacation and your lack of funds leaves you down in the dumps, just head west and dip your toes in the tropical waters outside Grantsville. A geothermal pool keeps the waters at the Bonneville Seabase at a nice tropical temperature, which gives you the opportunity to scuba dive or snorkel with tropical fishies ranging from puffers, clownfish and angelfish to large nurse sharks—even Steve Ray, the friendly stingray. Within the Seabase’s multiple bays, you can feed tropical fish lettuce from your hands, explore a sunken sea vessel and imagine yourself in sunnier, more exotic climes. Now, if only there were a cruise ship to Grantsville.
1600 N. State Road 138, Grantsville, 435-884-3874,

Best Camping for a Cause
Utah Tar Sands Resistance

The organizers of the Utah Tar Sands Resistance are all about holding rallies, but they also realize how important it is for people to know what they’re shouting about. The group has come up with the genius tactic of taking people to camp near PR Springs in central Utah to show them exactly what is at stake if multinational energy companies are allowed to develop the majestic area—near Utah’s beautiful Book Cliffs—to get at the tar-sands oil beneath the surface. The group takes activists, outdoors enthusiasts and families to enjoy hikes, stargazing and even yoga, building a wider appreciation for the land they’re fighting for.

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Best Outdoor Events
You can almost leave your wallet at home when you head to Snowbird for one of the resort’s premier summer events. Friday nights, you can catch free family-friendly movies on the Plaza Deck, and starting in June, Snowbird hosts the free Cool Air Concert Series, which features big-name acts playing almost weekly in Snowbird’s unparalleled setting. And after the concerts wrap up in August, the free-to-enter two-month Oktoberfest begins. There’s no better place than in these majestic mountains to strap on your lederhosen, snack on sauerkraut and sausage and jam to German bands.
9600 Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, Snowbird, 801-933-2222,
2. Red Butte Garden
3. Gallivan Center

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