Utah’s Heber Valley is a year-round playground for both adrenaline junkies and outdoor enthusiasts. Located at the foot of the 11,752-foot-tall Mt. Timpanogos and just 45 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City, Heber Valley features a wide variety of options for those who like like to go fast, say ziplining, or take their time and soak in the surrounding beauty, whether on the river fly fishing or in the mountains reaching the high peaks. No matter the year, you’ll find outdoor fun in the region. Here are some of the best ways to join in.
Hike Mt. Timpanogos: Mt. Timpanogos is nearly 12,000 feet of pure alpine glory. The hike to its summit is absolutely gorgeous, with a waterfall, lake, and beautiful mountain scenery throughout no matter which option you choose. While the 8-hour, round-trip hike is strenuous, it’s certainly achievable for anyone with a moderate fitness level and an interest in a view from the top of the world. Take the Timpooneke Trail (slightly longer but not as steep) or the Aspen Grove Trail (steeper but shorter) to the top. After 15 miles and about 5,000 feet of elevation, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Utah Valley and Heber Valley as well as the Wasatch Range. It may be an all-day excursion, but you’ll be impressed by the views at every turn.
Fly fish the Provo River: For something a little more relaxing, take to the water. The Heber Valley is one of Utah’s classic fishing locations, featuring three scenic sections of the Provo River separated by Deer Creek and Jordanelle reservoirs. The river starts in the High Uintas Mountains and runs 70 miles from Trial Lake to Provo, and it’s known for its robust trout population. In fact, it’s estimated that you’ll find 4,000 to 5,000 fish per mile in the middle and lower sections of the Provo, including some trophy trout more than 20 inches long. The river also features a great deal of public access (including the entire middle section), meaning that there’s plenty of space for everyone. Fish Heads Fly Shop on Heber City’s Main Street or Rocky Mountain Outfitters can supply you with equipment and a local guide if you really want to learn to fly fish, and the reservoirs offer great fishing from a boat or float tube.
Catch some air by zipline: Take the skies to get incredible views of the region while traveling by zipline. Get the real high-speed adrenaline experience at Zipline Utah, located at Rainbow Bay at Deer Creek Reservoir. Spanning more than two miles without touching the ground, the Falcon Adventure course is the longest continuous zipline course in the world. It also includes the longest zipline over water in the world at 3,900 feet. There are several options for those not looking for something less extreme, making Zipline Utah a great adventure for anyone. Provo Canyon Adventures features the area’s best tree-top canopy tour, and it offers zipline experiences for kids as young as 7 years old. You can also combine your zipline ride with stand-up paddleboarding on the Provo River or horseback riding in the Wasatch National Forest.
Explore the mountains by bike: If you’re looking for world-class, lift-accessed mountain biking, look no further than Deer Valley. With almost 70 miles of trails and 3,000 feet of vertical spread out over six mountains, it offers a fun challenge for beginners and experts alike. For experts, the new Tsunami flow trail offers huge berms, step-downs, and 25-foot tabletop jumps. On Wednesdays in July and August, hours are extended until 8 p.m. for the SCOTT Twilight Series. Or you can explore the newly completed WoW (Wasatch over Wasatch) Trail, which links Deer Valley to the Wasatch Mountain State Park. This 12-mile, mostly singletrack route involves a lot of climbing and technical rail, so it’s best for intermediate to advanced riders. If climbing more than 2,000 feet to an altitude of 8,350 feet seems daunting, consider shuttling to the high point and enjoying the downhill ride back.
Ski at Deer Valley or Sundance Resort: Deer Valley and Sundance Resorts offer world-class terrain and the greatest snow on earth. Known for its luxurious vacation experience, Deer Valley also packs a punch with expert tree and bump skiing along with impeccable grooming. Sundance resort sits at the base of Mt. Timpanogos, one of Utah’s most impressive peaks. A locals’ favorite, it offers a mom-and-pop rustic feel with enough powder stashes to go around. One tip from the locals: The gondola at Jordanelle will get you on the mountain faster than any other ski area in Utah. It’s just 12 minutes from downtown Heber City, and features a shuttle that picks you up at your car and takes you to the lift. You’ll be skiing in no time.
Cross-country skiing and tubing at Soldier Hollow: As the venue for cross-country skiing events at the Salt Lake 2002 Olympics, Soldier Hollow is still in pristine condition as a world-class option for skiers of all levels. The trails are groomed every day, and you’ll find options for every level of skier from expert to beginner—and the trails are never crowded. If you want to try skate or classic skiing for the first time, there’s a complete Rossignol demo center and plenty of beginner trails like City Slicker and Cowboy Way. If you’re experienced and looking for a challenge, try your hand at the Olympic trail. Also at Soldier Hollow is one one of the best tubing venues in the state. You’ll find seven, 1,200-foot long tubing lanes, all accessible by a conveyor lift that makes getting yourself and the tube back to the top a breeze.
SCUBA dive at The Homestead Crater: If you’re looking for a warmer option during the winter, the Homestead Crater is a truly one-of-a-kind adventure destination. It’s a geothermal spring located inside a rock formation, making for the only warm-water SCUBA destination in the lower 48. With crystal clear mineral water at 90-96 degrees, it’s truly the perfect place to get SCUBA certified. Guests can also snorkel or even do some paddleboard yoga.
Snowmobiling at Daniels Summit: Daniels Summit is a family-owned operation just outside of Heber City that offers 40 miles of groomed snowmobiling trails and plenty of off-trail powder for more experienced riders. Go for a 2-hour guided tour for an expert’s perspective, then spend the rest of the day enjoying speed, fresh air, great snow and an amazing view of the surrounding mountains. Whether you’re looking for pure thrills, mountain solitude, or both, Daniels Summit delivers. Consider spending the night at the beautifully rustic Daniels Summit Lodge, or at one of the cabins on the property. Be sure to grab a bite a the Lodge Pole Grill, the excellent restaurant on the property that’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Snowshoeing at Wasatch Mountain State Park: Wasatch Mountain State Park is one of Utah’s hidden gems, though by its size you wouldn’t know it. At 23,000 acres, there’s endless terrain to explore, and Timpanogos provides no shortage of great views. Yet you’re bound to have the trails to yourself—you’ll just never find crowds here. Rent snowshoes from the visitors center or bring your own, and be sure to check out the scheduled guided nighttime snowshoe hikes.
Written by Jed Doane for RootsRated Media in partnership with Utah Office of Tourism.