Now that school’s out for summer, escape the heat and head for the hills. The quiet mountain towns of Heber Valley are less than an hour from Salt Lake City, Utah, and made for outdoor exploration. From hiking to paddling to ziplining, there’s no shortage of fun ways to spend a day outside.
Whether you’re looking to chill on the lakeshore or take a daring ride on the world’s longest over-water zipline, there’s a Heber Valley experience to keep you busy from sunup to sundown.
1. Hike to Heber Valley Overlook
Minutes from the Swiss-themed town of Midway, the** **Dutch Hollow Trail System in nearby Wasatch Mountain State Park has hikes from one to five miles roundtrip with doable options for small children. The best all-arounder is the one-mile Heber Valley Overlook loop that kids love. There’s an educational panel a half-mile in and panoramic views of Heber Valley, the Provo River, and Mount Timpanogos from the ridgetop.
2. Paddle in Strawberry Reservoir
Though it’s just an hour from Salt Lake City, this pristine reservoir feels worlds apart. Fishing’s been a popular pursuit here for over 60 years, but the local paddling community’s also taken notice of the stunning Uinta Mountain backdrop, clean mountain water, and lack of crowds at this reservoir. Bring the kids to paddle in kayaks around calm Strawberry Bay then pitch a tent at a campsite and make a weekend of it.
3. Zipline in a Tree Canopy
Feel the cool mountain air rush by as you whizz through the tree-tops on a zipline tour with Provo Canyon Adventures. Watch fly fisherman cast for trout as you soar over the Provo, a popular fishing and tubing river, and the Wasatch Mountain’s towering giant, 11,800-foot Mount Timpanogos. Here tiny tots can even ride tandem with a grownup.
For an adrenaline rush, take teens to Deer Creek Reservoir and complete the country’s longest continuous zipline course at Zipline Adventure Tours. This high-flying, 2-mile adventure features 10 lines and seven aerial suspension bridges that keep you off the ground from start to finish. Take in incredible views of Utah’s mountain peaks then zoom across Rainbow Bay on a 3,900-foot span—the longest in the world over a body of water. Your kids won’t stop talking about it for years.
4. Nature Walk at Cascade Springs
See 7,000,000 gallons of water cascading daily down these rocky ledges as mini waterfalls into Provo Deer Creek River. This leisurely paved and boardwalked trail is stroller friendly, popular with young families, and filled with interpretive signs that teach about the area’s rich vegetation and wildlife. See willow, birch, maple, oak, and aspen trees and seasonal wildflowers as you walk or rest on a bench. Located on the scenic Alpine Loop Road, just past Robert Redford’s iconic Sundance Resort.
5. Slip ‘n’ Slide at AquaXZone Inflatable Water Park
Kids and the young at heart will get a kick out of sliding and bouncing around this on-water playplace at the AquaXZone Inflatable Water Park at the Jordanelle Reservoir. Fly high on trampolines, climb walls, and cross slippery obstacles that would likely really hurt you if you tried them sans water. Splash-land safely instead, and lay out on the sandy beach when you can’t keep up with the kids any longer.
6. Snorkel at Homestead Crater
Adventurers have long visited therapeutic springs to rejuvenate after a long day, but the Caribbean blue waters of Midway’s Homestead Crater have extra mystique due to their unique location. This geothermal spring is hidden inside a 55-foot tall beehive-shaped dome of limestone rock and is believed to have formed over 10,000 years ago. A natural hole on the top lets in light, but a tunnel was dug years ago so you can skip a long rappel to access the springs. Come soak in the 90–96 degree waters while the kids snorkel. Unfortunately, there are no fish to see, and fortunately, no sharks, but plunge your face in the warm water and you can make out tiny dots of scuba divers practicing their skills 65 feet below.
7. Stand Up Paddleboard or Kayak at Jordanelle
A jewel of Heber Valley, Jordanelle’s blue waters are a convenient launchpad for paddlers, thanks to the reservoir’s location near SLC and Park City. Rent a stand-up paddleboard on-site and enter the water the semi-enclosed bay on the Hailstone side. This keeps kids safely away from motorized boats, and the big wakes they leave behind. While SUPing looks tough, you can gain your footing fast. Go with a guide to learn proper paddle stroke, and have them take you the secret spots where locals paddle. Find the calmest water in early evening as you watch the sun set behind the Wasatch Mountains.
8. Explore Backcountry Trails By ATV
ATVing doesn’t need to be a scary, high-adrenaline rush. Spacious side-by-side ATVs fit the whole family and are a fun way to reach destinations you couldn’t otherwise see. Experience sweeping views of Heber Valley’s reservoirs and towns as you climb up over 10,000 acres of backcountry terrain by ATV. Bouncing over dirt roads delights the littles, and the side-by-side safely contains them.
Originally written for Utah Office of Tourism.