Join the burn the bird trend this Thanksgiving, encouraging people across the nation to embrace the outdoors instead of Black Friday deals. Big companies, like REI have created millions of loyal followers with their outdoor equipment, and even more with this year’s #OptOutside branding. Dozens of other big names have joined the campaign and are offering their own version of Fresh Air Friday outings. Meet Up dot com, is promoting hiking and snowshoeing, while outdoor apparel companies like Kuhl have jumped on board and several National Parks in places like Colorado and Arizona are offering free entrance on Black Friday. Who needs the indoors, when there is a whole wide world out there to #OptOutside? Take a look at 7 of Utah’s most loved outdoor options.
Bonneville Shoreline Trail
Though crowded this trail maintains its popularity with hiker and bikers. Another natural wonder unique to Utah, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail is a remnant of the giant, ancient Lake Bonneville that covered the Salt Lake Valley. The trail has several access points with changing views in Layton, Farmington, Bountiful, Kaysville and Salt Lake.
This is such a well loved trail that there is a citizen backed project in place to increase the 100 mile route to a 280 mile trek from the Idaho border to Nephi, Utah (Central Utah) You can find the proposed route and donate to the cause at the BST website. This is an amazing place for views, and is a relatively flat hike for beginners, though some spots up the mountain can get steep. Just off the foothills of Salt Lake this is a spot used by the locals for evening hikes, to distress, take the family and yes, the pets. During the fall and winter months when the valley air is smothered in pollution trapped by the cold air, the BST can also pop you out of the pollution and give you a place to clear your head, literally.
Lake Blanche Trail
The Wasatch Mountain national forests spread across the beautiful range surrounding the Salt Lake Valley, and are a quick drive from the downtown area. Populated by various trails, it’s hard to find a secluded spot not already taken by other hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who had the same idea you did. The Lake Blanche Trail is centered in Utah’s Twin Peaks Wilderness area, and tops the list for weekend hikers. There is an abundance of wildlife, and an ancient history of the slick rocks that surround the lake. Smoothed over by the glaciers that formed that basin, Lake Blanche can be found at the upper levels of the south fork of Mill B trail.
The photogenic and rugged summits of 11,132′ Monte Cristo, 11,107′ Dromedary Peak and 11,275′ Sunrise Peck surround Lake Blanche. Enjoy hiking that would make your friends envious, and amazing views snowshoeing in the winter. (as long as you take precautions) Remember Big Cottonwood is a no domestic animal area, so leave your furry friends behind. Access Mill B trail head in Big Cottonwood Canyon and follow the signs from there. Get details on National Geographic’s All Trails sites.
Hidden at the base of Bald Mountain this is a favorite Utah spot for fishing, family time, biking, and canoeing. For the trail goers there is great hiking in the High Uintas along with byway. At an elevation of 10,400 feet, Mirror Lake is an oasis among the colorful scenic viewpoints of open mountains, fresh air and ridges speckled in spruce.
There are plenty of recreational opportunities for all levels to work off that Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing. Campgrounds are plentiful, and surrounded by natural features unique to Utah’s outdoors. Mirror Lake campground can be accessed of the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway in a forest of white fir trees. You can enjoy all seasons on the lake with summer being the most popular at a comfortable 70 degrees on average with Autumn months in the 30’s. Time to pack up your gear and get outside. Find more camping options Utah dot com.
Fruita & Capital Reef
You can easily get lost among the sandstone towers and otherworldly terrain of Utah’s Capital Reef National Park. Sought out for it’s hiking and sightseeing, it has also been known to Hollywood types as Little Hollywood. There are plenty of campgrounds and RV camping amenities with stunning scenery. A great place to start is the Cathedral Valley Scenic Backway to swoon over towering rock formations.
Next on the list is Mormon founded city of Fruita, off Highway 24 founded in the 1800’s. You can still visit the old lifestyle of the pioneer settlers, and experience their life in the fruit orchards at the base of sandstone cliffs. Spend your day exploring the outdoors, and expanding your view. Find more on suggested hikes and Fruita’s history at Visit Salt Lake.
A sunrise over Central Utah’s Little Sahara sand dunes is a natural beauty you won’t need any filters for. These expansive dune fields are a reminder of the ancient Lake Bonneville and Sevier River that flowed 15,000 years ago. Full of recreation opportunities managed by the BLM you can opt in for a sport utility vehicle, or do your own exploring in the 164 square miles of sage tinged dunes with some hill running to work those glutes.
There are also vehicle free zones for more natural beauty and plenty of places to scout for wildlife, including snakes and antelope. If you’re looking for a unique place for this weekend’s getaway try the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, and book your camping spot amidst the wind sweep dunes that have been shaped and reshaped millions of times. One of Utah’s most unique deserts. Need a little more advice? Try Dune Guide.
This beach is nestled on the shores of Utah’s little Caribbean and the sapphire blue waters of Bear Lake. The lake was named by a fur trader in 1819, and gets it’s color from the calcium carbonates suspended in the lake. A popular camping spot, it may be a little chilly with winds this time of year, but is worth the drive to capture National Geographic worthy photos and dip your toes.
Rendezvous Beach is on the south shore of Bear Lake on State Route 30. You can find full campsite rules and information on the Utah State Park site. Campgrounds are well kept, with tons of equipment rentals and amenities, or you can opt for the glamping luxury of Conestoga Ranch, with full restaurant and safari style tents. Bear Lake’s State Park closes December 31st through spring, so now is the time to take a peek or return next summer to experience the full Caribbean effect.
Orson Smith Trailhead
Located at the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, this trail head is the access point to multiple hiking and biking trails and the gateway to Cherry Canyon. This is also the perfect trail running spot to show your own support for the #OptOutside campaign. You may even run into some deer or moose. (careful not to spook the latter)
The Orson Smith trail is an old logging trail, that connects the Aqueduct Trail, another portion of the Bonneville Shoreline and access to the suspension bridge over Bear Creek. Join your outdoor lovin’ friends for some great views, or access Lone Peak from the Draper City side. Bundle up because at 9000 feet you’ll feel the chill. Various trails are open for stunning views and all levels of hiking, including well kept kid friendly trails, so create your outdoor monsters early.
Find more on maps, location and elevation at Wasatch Hiker. These locals are also a great resource on other hiking tips.