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Are you itching to get out of the city for a bit of outdoor adventure and fun? We’ve got you covered. As much as we absolutely love to spend time in Salt Lake, there’s nothing quite like an outdoor getaway to help you feel refreshed and renewed. Whether you’re a solo traveler, couple or are out for a day of outdoor fun with the family, these day trips from Salt Lake City are sure to keep everyone happy.
Best Outdoor Day Trips From Salt Lake City
One of the best ways to enjoy all that Utah has to offer is with a simple outdoor day trip. All of these day trips from Salt Lake are kid friendly, and are great day trips for families.
Just a short 25 minute drive from Salt Lake and you’ll find yourself in the mountains of Park City. If you’re looking for outdoor fun, you’re certain to find it here. Whether you want to go for a nice hike or bike ride, cruise down the alpine slide at Park City Mountain Resort, or for the challenge of a high ropes course at the Utah Olympic Park, you’ll find it in Park City.
For simple trips where you won’t have to spend a thing, hiking and biking are both abundant in Park City. If you’re looking to go for a hike, the Iron Canyon Trail will give you great views of the valley and is only 2 miles long. If you’re wanting to go for a bike ride check out Round Valley for some simple mountain biking trails, or head out for a longer ride down the pathway of the Park City Rail Trail.
Antelope Island State Park is less than an hour away from Salt Lake, but it’s a place that most locals have never been to. Out at the island you can check out the bison, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn. You’re right along the shores of the Great Salt Lake, so there’s really no better time or place to take a dip into this fabulously salty body of water. Tip: If you go in the summer, the bugs can get quite bad, so make sure to take bug spray with you.
Tucked into a corner in the Heber Valley, Midway is one of the most charming towns in Utah. With its Swiss themed houses and decor, and mountain setting, you’ll find no shortage of ways to spend your time. In the winter, make sure to check out the town ice skating rink, as well as the Ice Castles. Year round, you can enjoy swimming in the hot spring crater at the Homestead Resort.
While you’re in Midway, make sure to stop by the Midway Bakery for amazing breads, Judy’s Donuts for amazing donuts and coffee, and our personal family favorite – cookies at Suus!
Just outside of Midway, you’ll find Wasatch Mountain State Park which is great for hiking and mountain biking. The pond right by the visitors center is regularly stocked with fish, so it’s a great place for family fishing.
Whether you’re looking for a nice scenic drive out of Salt Lake City or you are wanting to go hiking or fishing to really get away from it all, the Uintah Mountains are the perfect place to go. Located about an hour outside of Salt Lake, access to the Uintah forest and wilderness areas is most easily found through the town of Kamas.
If you’re looking for a great fishing spot in the Uintah’s, Mirror Lake is a great place to start, but you’ll quickly learn there is no shortage of small ponds and lakes in the area.
If you want to go hiking in the Uintahs, the Lofty Lakes hike is a great loop that will take you past several different lakes in this high alpine area. The easiest hike in the Uintahs that’s really kid friendly is the trail up to Ruth Lake.
Bonneville Salt Flats
Ever feel like you just want to escape to another world? Well, then a visit to the Bonneville Salt Flats is just about as close as you can get to feeling like you’ve been sent off to another planet. The salt flats are absolutely desolate, and while there’s not much to do, it’s a place you really need to visit. Run around, take some pictures, and make sure to pack a picnic.
The Salt Flats has an area where vehicle racing is very popular, so if you’re interested in that, you can get a chance to see some racing as well.
Hike in American Fork Canyon
American Fork Canyon is located just outside of the city of American Fork in Utah County. While American Fork Canyon can get busy on the weekends, it’s an incredible place to explore, as well as get access to some great trails and wilderness areas. If you’re feeling like you’re up for a major challenge, hike up to the top of Mt Timpanogos. The 12 mile hike covers some serious altitude, but guarantees some of the best views in the Wasatch Front.
If you’re hoping to cool down, you’ll enjoy visiting Tibble Fork Reservoir up AF Canyon. If you sign up in advance, you can also get a tour of Timpanogos Caves National Monument.
Bridal Veil Falls
Located up Provo Canyon, Bridal Veil Falls flows year round. Just a short drive up the canyon from Orem (about 5 miles), you’ll find the falls on the south side of the road. This area is popular with picnicers, and adventurers alike. If you’re looking to get up high, the upper falls trail is a great option, or you can just scramble up the rocks to the middle of the falls.
Our personal favorite way to see Bridal Veil Falls is from the Provo River bike trail that runs beside it. The section from Canyon View Park to Vivian Park will take you right by the falls along a nice paved trail. As a bonus, large portions of the trail are shaded so it’s a suitable ride even on hot summer days.
Snowbasin Resort is another great gem that’s only about an hour from Salt Lake. Obviously you can go skiing here in the winter, but in the summer there are lots of great trails to enjoy as well. During the weekends in the summer, you can take the gondola up to the top and hike around the upper portion of the mountain. The views in all directions are simply stunning.
While you’re at Snowbasin, make sure to stop in the lodge for a trip to the bathroom. Yes, the bathrooms in the basement of the lodge are absolutely gorgeous! Another trail that we love that’s near Snowbasin is the Green Pond Trail. Access is easy and the hike is short and simple so it’s a perfect little escape.
Little Cottonwood Canyon
Little Cottonwood Canyon is right outside of Salt Lake, but you’ll be completely escaping the city life once you get into the canyon. Little Cottonwood is well known as being the home to Snowbird and Alta, but there is really so much more. If you’re wanting to give rock climbing a try, this is the perfect place to go. In the summers the hiking is fantastic here as well. Our favorite Little Cottonwood hike is up at Alta to Cecret Lake.
Big Cottonwood Canyon
Even though Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood are right next to each other, the canyons are very different. Big Cottonwood Canyon is more open and wider, making the terrain less jagged and steep. Home to both Solitude and Brighton Resorts, snow sports abound in the winter. In the summer, hiking and biking are the most popular activities here. If you’re looking for an amazing hike, we absolutely love going to Donut Falls, since the trail is pretty easy and the falls are incredibly impressive.
If you’re looking to take a scenic drive, during the summer, the roads are open and connect into Midway and Park City, so you can take a giant loop drive.
Geode Hunting at the Dugway Geode Beds
Did you know that there’s a place near Salt Lake where you can go and collect your own geodes? It’s seriously amazing. The Dugway Geode beds are about 2 hours west of Salt Lake in the middle of nowhere. You’ll want to take plenty of food and water with you since there is really nothing around. We carried our own shovels and hammers and found dozens of geodes when we went there. We all felt like we were treasure hunters and came home with a pile of sparkly geodes, and covered in dirt and dust.
Bonneville Shoreline Trail
If you’re looking for a great spot for mountain biking, check out the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Going along what would have been the shores of the ancient lake Bonneville, this dirt trail will give you some amazing views of the city below. There are several trailheads in Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties for access, so you can really stay as close to home (or not) as you want.
Heber City is a great little escape from Salt Lake City with plenty to keep you busy for the day. If you’ve got kids, they’ll absolutely love a ride on the Heber Valley Historic Railroad (the 90 minute ride suits most kids well without taking your whole day). Heber Valley Artisan Cheese offers tours of their farm as well as some of the most delicious cheeses in their shop as well (if you need lunch, their grille cheese sandwich is amazing).
There are so many hikes to do in the area, that we wrote a whole article just about hikes in the Heber City area. If you want a great view in a quick walk, the Overlook at Dutch Hollow packs a lot of bang for your buck (but there isn’t shade, so don’t plan on doing this hike in the middle of a summer day).
If you’re interested in boating, head to Deer Creek or Jordanelle Reservoirs, both just outside out town.
While you’re in town, make sure to stop for a milkshake too. Between Granny’s and Dairy Keen, which are both delicious, there’s no reason to leave town hungry. The town of Midway is right next door, so it’s easy to visit both in one day.