How Salt Lake City Is Becoming One of the Best Adventure Destinations in the World

Many of you may remember the 2002 Winter Olympics, hosted in Salt Lake City. They showed that the budding metropolis was a lot more than just another flyover city; and that Utah was not ready to be overshadowed by some of its more popular neighbors. However, as with many Olympic hosts, the games came to Salt Lake and they left, and for a long time that was the end of it. Today Salt Lake is letting its merits speak for themselves: world class skiing and an incredible range of rock climbing; mountains beautiful enough to rival anything in Colorado, and plenty of activities for rest days. For adventure travelers, few destinations have been so enticing yet so untapped. Here’s a list of things to do for Salt Lake City adventure travel.

moab bike trail utah
Moab mountain bike trail, Utah

Activities for Salt Lake City Adventure Travel

Getting to Salt Lake City

Salt Lake hosts its own international airport (that would be the Salt Lake City International Airport), so it’s not difficult to find flights into town from virtually anywhere in the continental United States or international cities within flying distance. Driving distances from other major cities in the area include:

  • Boise, Idaho: 5 hours
  • Denver, Colorado: 8 hours
  • Las Vegas, Nevada: 6 hours
  • San Francisco, California: 11 hours

Skiing Near Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City Adventure Travel ,downhill skiing,snow

Salt Lake’s first claim to fame was probably the incredible skiing, most of which is less than an hour’s drive from downtown. Skiers who are interested in Salt Lake City adventure travel during the winter season should plan on checking out:

  • Solitude Mountain Resort
  • Brighton Ski Resort
  • Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort
  • Alta Ski Area
  • Park City Mountain
  • Deer Valley Resort

All of these locales are within 30 to 45 minutes by car from downtown Salt Lake if you are up for Salt Lake City adventure travel.

Hiking Near Salt Lake City

The very same mountains to the east of Salt Lake City, that host skiing in the winter; also make for incredible hiking and camping during the warmer seasons. Trails like Ensign Peak will satisfy your craving for a simple hike that shows off a great view of the whole city and the mountains beyond. More experienced hikers may want to look further beyond the city limits to White Pine Lake (10 miles there and back), an alpine lake nestled in the mountains that dominate Salt Lake’s eastern skyline.

For adventurers who are really looking to up their hiking game; Salt Lake hosts a bustling trail running community, with mellow trails for beginning runners all the way up to daring backcountry runs through the mountains. If this is your first time trail running, remember to choose good trail running shoes. Normal hiking shoes don’t always offer the grip and support necessary for sustained running on the trail.

Rock Climbing Near Salt Lake City

Grand Wash Trail in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. Salt Lake City Adventure Travel
Grand Wash Trail in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Salt Lake doesn’t always come up when you ask about the best cities for rock climbing in the West, but it should. In the past, nearby cities like Denver (with access to the Rockies) and Las Vegas (with climbing in Red Rock Canyon) come up in discussions about climbing in the Mountain West. But in recent years Salt Lake has shown that it can easily rival anything these two giants can offer, both in quality and variety of nearby rock.

Climbers looking to climb in the traditional way — placing protective gear as they go; should plan on making the short drive up either Big or Little Cottonwood Canyons. Climbers looking for hard sport climbing absolutely must visit American Fork Canyon; where literally hundreds of fully bolted routes have been put on on sharp limestone.

Salt Lake isn’t just great for the local climbing, though. It also creates incredible opportunities for climbing access, with world class destinations like Moab’s desert tower climbing, City of Rocks’ granite; and Rifle’s super-hard sport climbs all within a day’s drive.

Salt Lake hasn’t gotten the recognition that it deserves yet, but its day is near. Adventure travelers or even active individuals who are interested in moving to a new city, absolutely must see what Salt Lake City has to offer.

About Nick Cesare

Nick is a writer and violist. After finding a penpal from Latvia he was struck with passion for the country and decided to study abroad there in 2010. You can reach Nick with questions or comments @cesare_nick.

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