There will be many reasons to remember the Summer of 2020, but for most of us, far-flung family adventures will not be among them.
For those concerned about large crowds – for whatever reason – the opportunity to get out of Dodge was hampered by the prospect of visitors from across the Western U.S. also clamoring to get out of their respective environs to see something new, if only for a few days. During the summer, crowded tourist hotspots had the potential to also become Coronavirus hotspots, but now that school is back in session, it might be time to head out for a few overnights to one of the many drive-able destinations in Utah or the surrounding states.
Leveraging the benefit of living smack dab in the middle of God’s Country, I polled a few moms to see what their go-to destinations would be to help squeeze a few more drops out of our all-too-short summer in the form of quick weekend roadtrips with their kids as we head into fall.
At the top of most lists was Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A 4.5 hour drive from Park City, some might question swapping one ski town for another, that’s why it’s helpful to look at the ways Jackson Hole is different from Park City, and what those differences have to offer families in the fall.
While Snow King Resort – where plenty of Park City ski team kids head to compete each winter – offers a similar alpine slide and coaster experience as Park City Mountain, they distinguish themselves with their Treetop Adventure Full & Flying Squirrel Courses. Described as “Swiss Family Robinson meets the X-Games,” the Treetop Adventure Center invites you to harness up, clip in and safely ride zip lines, cross swinging logs, scramble up nets, shimmy over suspension bridges and ride an aerial skateboard across seven different courses. Kids must be at least seven years old, and will take to the Flying Squirrel Course, while kids and adults ages 10 and older can test their skills on the full Treetop Adventure Course. Private harnessing to start the course with just your group of 10 or more starts at $699. Visit the Snow King Mountain site to see all of the summer fun they offer!
Another “must do” Jackson Hole adventure is whitewater rafting, and while a few outfitters have suspended operations due to COVID-19, Barker-Ewing River Trips is still providing experiences on the Snake River with a promise of hassle-free cancelations. Horseback riding and hot air balloons are also fun ways to experience the area from a difference perspective.
If you’re headed to Jackson Hole with your camper, the Virginian Lodge features an RV resort with 103 sites with full hookups, plus a pool, saloon/restaurant and liquor store. For a more rugged experience, the Curtis Canyon Campground, located right above the National Elk Refuge, offers 12 sites, but does not have hookups – a tradeoff for the spectacular experience of witnessing herds of elk so close by. Prefer a swanky stay? The Amangani resort offers wildlife safaris to Grand Teton or Yellowstone to spot black bears, elk and bald eagles, while the Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole provides a mix of rustic and luxe from one of the top hotel brands.
A close second to Jackson Hole among local moms was Sun Valley, Idaho. Sun Valley is approx. five hours away, and offers an even more chill version of Jackson Hole, with excellent dining options and killer hotel deals extending into September. Bike enthusiasts recommend the 20-plus mile Wood River Trail (known to locals as “the bike path”) connecting Ketchum and Hailey, and Iconoclast Books is a haven for true bibliophiles.
One mom suggested heading up to Dinosaur National Monument, and camping at Red Fleet State Park. She noted it’s a much quieter destination, and could be perfect for families to relax for a few days after gearing up to head back to school. Another mom concurred, noting a meal at Antica Forma in Vernal never disappoints, offering the “best pizza this side of Italy.” And if you have a fourth grader, be sure to register for the Every Kid Outdoors pass, which grants the student and their family free admission to all National Parks, Monuments and Forests for one year.
Closer to home, Bear Lake grew exponentially in popularity this summer, with the azure waters accessed via a relatively short two-hour drive. The lodging options in Bear Lake range from quaint cabins at the Bear Lake/Marina Side KOA, offering easy access for boat owners, to glamping at Conestoga Ranch, featuring luxury tents and covered wagons with cozy beds and high-end linens. Blue Water Beach offers something for everyone with both hotel rooms and RV sites, plus access to a pool and the beach, with on-site boat rentals.
No trip to Bear Lake is complete without sampling its world-famous raspberry shakes at LaBeau’s, but get there before Oct. 17, or you’re out of luck for the season!
Daytrip adventures are also abundant in and around Park City, and one that’s truly popular is floating the Provo River on a tube. High Country Adventure provides heavy-duty tubes, with the typical float time ranging from 90-120 minutes. Shuttle leave on the hour from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., with trips starting at Deer Creek (just past Heber on the way to Sundance Resort), and finishing at their private take-out and parking area near Vivian Park. To make reservations, visit their website by clicking here.
Whether it’s rafting the nearby waterways, or roadtripping to neighboring resort towns, there are many reasons people Choose Park City, and connecting with Christine Grenney at 435-640-4238, or visiting her website by clicking here, can help you on your way to enjoying the Park City lifestyle year-round.