Unearthly Utah, Pt. 2: The Mountains

Now that you’ve explored the boundless beauty of Utah’s red rock deserts and breath-taking canyons, it’s time to explore the North.  Here are some incredible things to do near Salt Lake City and in the adventure-filled mountains of Utah…

Explore Big & Little Cottonwood Canyon

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Directly outside of the city lies the insanely gorgeous canyons; Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood.  Both canyons are full of killer views, unbelievable hiking, rad ski resorts, beautiful waterfalls, sheer cliffs, rapid waters and more!  There’s no shortage of thrills in these parts and I, personally, was floored by these majestic mountains.  Before this trip, I had never imagined these mountains being SO DAMN GORGEOUS (and BIG!).  I always thought such mountains were reserved for Colorado, Wyoming, Montana (you know, those states).  I never realized how fantastic the mountains of Utah really are – and, THEY ARE!

Little Cottonwood Canyon is smaller, but steeper – you’re tightly enclosed by massive rock walls.  When we went, there was a mysterious fog clouding the scenery – it induced an intense curiosity and intrigue as we adventured on through her.

 

 

We had an utter blast hiking in Big Cottonwood, the larger / wider canyon, the next day as the fog dissipated and the sun came out to play.  I highly recommend hiking Broads Fork Twin Peak Trail (the views she provides are out of this world)!

Broads Fork Twin Peak Trail is rated difficult and is a steep hike the whole journey  – but, nonetheless, is WORTH every ounce of sweat.  The trail follows a raging creek and sports a pretty waterfall where you cross over the creek via a small, wooden bridge.  Wandering through aspen groves and budding meadows, you can’t help but pick your jaw up off the ground around every corner.   Another perk of this awesome trail – she’s less trafficked than the more popular hikes of Big Cottonwood Canyon, such as Lake Blanche etc.  Thus, you’re not inundated with human noises and crowds pushing past you.   You’re able to enjoy nature without human disturbances – it’s peaceful and rejuvenating.

 

I recommend packing a picnic and relaxing at the base of Twin Peaks.  When we were here, Twin Peaks was still snow covered and utterly dazzling!  We sat beneath her for over an hour, soaking in all her glory as nearby marmots scurried amok.  This was one of my favorite moments spent in Utah, hands down.

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Broads Fork Twin Peaks Trailhead is located in the same parking lot as the Lake Blanche trailhead. This trailhead is on the west side of the parking lot and is visibly marked.

 

Hang out with wildlife on Antelope Island

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Photo by: Doug Michaels

Antelope Island was on the top of my list of places to visit near Salt Lake City because, well, I’m OBSESSED with wildlife, DUH!  However, I was unexpectedly surprised by the scenery of this place as well.  Antelope Island transported me to another country, a blend of Scotland and Iceland, with her rolling green hills meeting the sandy, Salt Lake beaches  and her overcast weather – all this combined WITH the wildlife, I was in a dream.

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Despite the winds and drizzle, to say I enjoyed my visit to Antelope Island is a vast understatement.  We saw antelope and bison, up close and personal.  And, if you know me, you know my love for bison!  This place left me grinning, ear to ear, and I can’t wait to return one day to hike her through and through.  Perhaps I shall even explore her via horseback?  Sounds like a grand adventure to me!  Do not skip this gem!

For more information – activities, nature and wildlife, camping, etc – visit the state park’s site: Antelope Island State Park.

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Hit up Salt Lake City’s many breweries

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Salt Lake City has an abundance of breweries to try – perfect place to cool down and unwind after a day of hiking in the mountains!  Proper Brewing Co. and Wasatch Brew Pub are two of my favorites!

At Proper Brewing Co., you and your friends can spend the night playing a multitude of games while sipping on their delicious brews (I’m obsessed with their Salted Caramel Porter).   While drinking one of the tastiest beers of my life, we played ski ball, pool, and shuffle board for hours!  Hungry?  The place next door serves food and brings it into Proper Brewing for you!  So convenient.

 

Photo May 12, 1 04 14 AM
Cody & Doug playing arcade games at Proper Brewing Co.

Wasatch Brew Pub ALSO has some extremely delicious beers, my favorite being their Chocolate Rye Stout on Nitro, AND has a wonderful menu!  We sat outside on a stunning SLC evening and dined, chatted and soaked in the Sugarhouse atmosphere while, of course, enjoying some cold ones.  Check out their amazing menu for yourself: Wasatch Brew Pub Menu.

 

Spend the day in Park City, Utah

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Drive about 30 miles east of Salt Lake City and you’ll arrive in Park City, Utah – a charming mountain town full of art, shops, restaurants, skiing and.. of course..more hiking and gorgeous scenery.

We began the day by wandering around all the crazy cool art shops in town – there are a TON!  It’s legit a free art museum on every block; photography, paintings, sculptures… you name it!  And all the works are so beautiful – I couldn’t get enough.  Even the streets and alleys are lined with rad artwork.

And we obviously had to check out the prime theater of the Sundance Film Festival – The Egyptian – because, well, we’re film nerds! 😛

 

After an artful morning, we went shopping for a bit as we waited for the rain to pass.  You MUST, at the very least, shop at the silly but AWESOME, Sock City!  That’s right.. a shop purely dedicated to awesome SOCKS. Check out my sweeeeet purchases below.

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Once the rain finally subsided, we moved onto my favorite pastime – hiking!  We hiked Iron Canyon Trail and encountered countless moose tracks and mule deer, came across LOTS of big horn sheep scat and even some coyote dung.  To my excitement, we even found moose shavings and moose fur on the forest floor.  I thought, for sure, we’d encounter some wildlife…but, we did not.  However, with THAT many signs among the trail, I’m sure others will be so lucky.

 

Iron Canyon Trail is a moderate hike that passes through unbelievable Aspen forests and offers spectacular views of Park City and Deer Valley below.  The trailhead is a bit tricky to find as it sits among a housing plan.  We had to park along a row of houses and walk to the trailhead located at the end of a round-about (which sports signage reading, “No Parking at anytime”).  Type the following address into Google Maps to find the trailhead:  1-99 Iron Canyon Ct, Park City, UT 84060.

 

Photo May 13, 10 01 03 AM
Photo by: Doug Michaels

 

Dessert!

Enough said.

But seriously, you have to try both Waffle Love and The Baked Bear.  Even though they’re small chains (and I’m typically opposed to chains) they’re both sooooo dang delicious, you can’t deny stopping in!   Now, I’m sure there are LOADS of locally owned dessert places as well that are downright incredible – so feel free to share your recommendations with me in the comments! :-).

I devoured the Red Wonder dessert waffle while admiring the ceiling art in Waffle Love.

 

At The Baked Bear, I divulged in Bear Batter (one of their thirteen craft ice cream flavors) sandwiched between two fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.

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As always, thank you so much for reading and Happy Travels!

-Mindy

P.S. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out the comprehensive and AMAZING first Utah blog: Unearthly Utah: The Ultimate Road-trip Guide, Pt. 1 for a ton of information on exploring Southern Utah and the Big 5, then some!

Soon to follow: Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Mountains VLOG.  Stay tuned xoxo.

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