For decades, whisperings of beer scarcity kept the outdoorsy masses away from Utah, diverting them to Colorado and Tahoe. But in recent years, skiers, climbers, runners, cyclists, and paddlers are flocking to Salt Lake City as they discover it’s an enticing blend of proper city and rugged ski town. You can mountain bike in the morning, ski in the afternoon, catch an evening symphony, and of course, top it all off with a few local microbrews.
Salt Lake City’s abundant outdoor offerings means folks don’t have to go far to indulge in an active lifestyle. Rock climbers dot the crags above Big and Little Cottonwood roads, while cyclists whoosh down the canyons’ curves and trail runners work their way up peaceful side-canyons. An abundance of specialty gear shops means locals can talk to seasoned mountaineers about climbing gear at IME, chat with pros at the Wasatch Powder House about bindings, or have their gait analyzed by fellow racers at Salt Lake Running Company.
Salt Lake might be best known for its Utah powder—indeed, seven ski resorts lie within an hour of town. But the action spans the seasons: In summer, folks pack their Subarus and high-tail it for the cooler air of Park City and the Uintahs. In spring and fall, temps are prime down in Moab, Zion, and Canyonlands. And when muscles are spent, there’s plenty to do around town—namely, a world-class microbrewery scene and some of the best après-ski spots in the West.
Trails: A vast network of hiking, running, and biking trails surround the Salt Lake valley and extend into its mountains. Runners work their lungs on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, which rides the rolling foothills of the Wasatch. And Park City’s trail network is particularly known for top-notch mountain biking. Up in the Cottonwood Canyons, hikers bask in jaw-dropping summit views.
Water: If you fancy paddling, a short drive takes you to the Jordanelle, Rockport, and Pineview reservoirs. For a proper rafting trip, head south for the Green River, Colorado River, Yampa River, or San Juan River. (Apply early for permits to ensure you can get one.)
Rock: Salt Lake is home to a vast climbing community that congregates at the climbing gym by night and hits the canyon crags by day. An assortment of bolted sport climbs dot Big Cottonwood, while Little Cottonwood skews more toward trad climbing. Drive a little farther for the unique rock of Maple and American Fork canyons—or go big on southern Utah’s epic sandstone cracks.