Ogden may be best known as a ski destination—with three resorts just 30 minutes from downtown—but it is also a popular destination for fun in the summer. With more than 260 miles of trails, access to water, and a myriad of city activities, Ogden is a unique mountain town that’s small enough to get around easily yet big enough to offer all kinds of city fun. We asked the locals what visitors should look for when it came to an Ogden vacation, and here are the 10 tips the offer to enjoy your time in this mountain retreat.
1. Hike to Waterfall Canyon
You don’t need to climb a mountain to find one of Ogden’s best views. The hike to Waterfall Canyon is a bit strenuous with some scrambling over rocky terrain, but you are rewarded with a view of the 200-foot waterfall at the upper end of the canyon. The hike is a 2.4-mile round trip that starts at the trailhead at the end of 29th Street.
2. Use the Resorts in the Summer
The resorts aren’t just for skiing. Snowbasin Resort, Powder Mountain, and Nordic Valley all offer summer activities from mountain biking to disc golf. Take a ride on the gondola to access hiking and biking trails at higher elevations without the big climb. Take advantage of concerts, mountain-top dining, and a 400-foot water slide (at Nordic Valley).
3. Hit the Trails
Summertime means trail time in Ogden, as hikers and mountain bikers come to explore the huge trail system surrounding the city. Looking to go big? Hike to the top of Ben Lomond Peak, which at 9,712 feet is the highest point in the Ogden area. From the top, you can see from the Idaho border to Salt Lake City. But be prepared for a challenge, in addition to the altitude gain, it’s more than 16 miles out-and-back. But you can find more manageable trails for hiking and biking, and you’ll still get incredible mountain views and summer wildflowers that make this part of the country so popular. Some suggestions are the Bonneville Shoreline Trail for an intermediate hike, or if you’re interested in a relaxing walk downtown, follow the Ogden River Parkway.
4. Tour the Ogden Botanical Gardens
Situated along the Ogden River, these gardens offer a beautiful space to explore in the heart of the city. Make your way through the Entryway Garden before moving on to a half dozen other collections that vary from formal affairs to more informal collections. You’ll be amazed at the color you find at various times in the summer. It’s the perfect place to walk, reflect, and simply take in the beauty of nature.
5. Take Advantage of the Historic 25th Street Shopping
This isn’t much of a secret, but the central shopping district around Historic 25th Street should be on everyone’s to-do list. For a town known for its outdoor experiences, this stretch of boutique shops, restaurants, breweries, and art galleries reminds you that the town has a long history of activity beyond hiking, biking, and skiing. Union Station became a major transportation hub after the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, and the town that grew up around that often had a less-than-desirable reputation (it was known as Salt Lake City’s "devious little sister"). While those days are long gone, it still makes for an interesting place to explore.
6. Discover Dinosaurs
Utah is known for its dinosaur fossils, and the Dinosaur Park is one of the best ways to learn about that legacy. Kids will love the more than 100 realistic, life-size sculptures that fill the 5 acre park. They were all constructed based on the real-life fossils, so they’re as true-to-life as can be. Using robotics, the creatures are brought to life via movement, artistic details and sound.
7. Enjoy Hand-Crafted Beer
The town may have once been known for its speakeasies during prohibition, but getting a cold one now is not a problem. In fact, locally brewed beer is readily available, and Roosters Brewing Company, which was founded in 1995, has a dozen of its craft beers on tap. Or really take in a bit of history and grab a drink at the Shooting Star Saloon. The state’s oldest bar was founded in 1879, and it continues to serve beer—as well as its famous burgers—seven days a week. Much younger (started in 2016) but still impressive is the Talisman Brewing Co., which features a wide variety of hand-crafted beers using traditional, small-batch brewing methods.
8. Take to the Water
Ogden is at the confluence of two rivers—the Ogden and Weber—and is surrounded by more than 13,000 acres of freshwater lakes. Try fly fishing for trout on the rivers, or hit the lakes for a relaxing day waiting for largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, perch, bluegill, tiger muskie, and walleye to grab the line. If you’re not into fishing, take a kayak or paddleboard out on the water and enjoy the mountain views.
9. Climb the Walls
Opportunities for rock climbing are all over the Ogden area—in fact, Rock & Ice magazine named the city one of the top 10 climbing towns in the country. Bear House Mountain Guiding can help you set up a climbing trip if you’re new to the sport, or take advantage of one of the four indoor climbing facilities in the area. For those who may not be serious climbers, consider trying Via Ferrata, a less extreme style of climbing where you’re tied into fixed cables the entire route. It’s more a hybrid of climbing and hiking, taking you to places and heights you wouldn’t otherwise get to go.
10. Don’t Forget the Museums
With all the outdoor activities, it’s easy to forget about the indoor things to do in Ogden as well. Just five miles south of Ogden, the Hill Aerospace Museum is located on the Hill Air Force Base, and it features a collection of nearly 100 aircraft that help tell the history of aviation. Admission is free, and you’ll be able to get up-close looks at aircraft ranging from the earliest planes to today. Other options around Ogden include the Utah State Railroad Museum, which is dedicated to the construction of the transcontinental railroad, and the Treehouse Children’s Museum, a hands-on place for kids to explore art and science.
Written by Jesse Weber for RootsRated in partnership with Utah Office of Tourism.