Best Of Utah 2014: Outdoors & Recreation | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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Best of Utah

Best Of Utah 2014: Outdoors & Recreation



Best Local Sports Franchise
Real Salt Lake
Perhaps Jazz fans could learn a thing or two from the insanely passionate soccer hooligans who make up Real Salt Lake’s fanbase. In RSL’s match against L.A. Galaxy on the second leg of the 2013 Western Conference finals, while it was the players who put the balls in the net, it was the fans who lifted the home team’s spirits, showing them that they did, indeed, “believe.” The passion of a stadium belting out the team’s anthem, “Believe,” willing the Cobalt & Claret to ever-greater heights, was something to behold.
2. Utah Jazz
3. Salt Lake Bees

Best Swimming
The Salt Lake City Sports Complex
Formerly known as the Steiner Aquatic Center, this still-laid-back fitness mecca has definitely grown into its more impressive title. For a low fee, lap-swimmers, pool-splashers, sunbathers and people-watchers can enjoy two pools—indoor and outdoor, plus a hot tub—in a beautiful setting on the University of Utah campus. And with indoor strength-training facilities, 100 cardio machines, two ice rinks, and fitness classes, an afternoon at the pool can become an entire day of full-body fun.
645 S. Guardsman Way, Salt Lake City, 385-468-1925,
2. Fairmont Aquatic Center
3. Cottonwood Heights Aquatic Center

Best Yoga Classes
Centered City Yoga
It seems that the definition of yoga changes depending on whom you ask. It’s stretching. It’s exercise. It’s a religion. It’s definitely not a religion. It’s challenging. It’s relaxing. Well, at Centered City Yoga, it can be all of those things. Newbies, wannabe-meditators, athletes of other disciplines, moms & babies and those looking for a more spiritual connection will all find classes that seem to have been designed specifically for them. The studio hosts classes 12-plus hours a day, seven days a week, so no matter your schedule, you can find the perfect balance—whether that balance is Core & Restore, which pairs intense ab work with relaxing stretches, or Sweat & Soul, which pairs sweaty movement with introspective stillness.
926 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-9642,
2. Salt Lake Power Yoga
3. Bikram Yoga SLC

Best Peach Party
Brigham City Peach Days

There are many ways to enjoy Brigham City Peach Days—including eating yourself to death. Here’s how: Start in the food court with a bowl of peach cobbler. Top that off with a few peach-salsa tacos. Grab a peach milkshake—or two. When you’re fully sated and ready to trek home, take Highway 89 instead of Interstate 15 and stop off at one or several fruit stands for a few pounds of peaches. Eat some of those peaches on the way home. Once home, eat many, many more for dinner. Wake up in the morning, slice three peaches, drown them in half & half, consume. Repeat, repeat and repeat until the peaches are gone. Peaches this good come around only once a year.
Sept. 3-6, 2014, downtown Brigham City,

Best Snowboarding
The playful, renegade spirit of snowboarding practically demands new ways to be tested on a regular basis. The multiple terrain parks at Brighton make that kind of discovery easy, with features changing throughout the season to provide a new experience every time. Beginners can get accustomed to the rails and boxes in the Pee-Wee park, then graduate to the jumps and jibs at Candyland, My-Oh-My or Upper and Lower Majestic. And the impressive half-pipe is cut almost daily to provide a smooth ride and soaring jumps.
8302 S. Brighton Loop Road, Brighton, 801-532-4731,
2. Snowbird
3. Solitude

Best Urban Renewal Project
Granary Row

From June to November 2013, an area just west of downtown was transformed into a vibrant walkable zone. Granary Row hosted concerts, art installations, a Uinta Brewing beer garden and food vendors, and was home to retail startups in repurposed shipping containers. The idea was to allow local entrepreneurs to affordably launch their businesses, and it worked. Granary Row’s Diabolical Records and Just Fold have moved on to brick & mortar locations. We can’t wait to see what the pop-up market has in store for 2014.
336 S. 700 West, Salt Lake City,

Best Way to View the Valley
Birdman Academy

Imagine if you could soar high above the Wasatch Mountains like an eagle or a shirtless Vladimir Putin. Birdman Academy offers classes and tandem flights for local adrenaline junkies who are interested in hang gliding or paragliding. Launching from Point of the Mountain or Randolph, Birdman Academy is the only outfit in Utah that offers gear for both paragliding and hang gliding, so you can decide which is the best way to fly: sitting or Superman-style.


Holiday River Expeditions

Best River-Running Guides
Holiday River Expeditions
Dee and Sue Holladay started Holiday River Expeditions in 1966. A generation of river runners later, the company now leads expeditions on a wide inventory of Western rivers, with the company’s operations spanning from Southern Utah to northern Idaho. Holiday offers trips through canyons on the Green River, the Colorado River and the San Juan River, and, of course, takes customers down the Grand Canyon. Prices range from $165 per person for a day on the Colorado to $2,000 a pop for several days on the 100-mile Middle Fork of the Salmon. Flying the family out to Disneyland for a week would strain the finances just as much, but anyone who’s ever been on a river trip will testify that there’s nowhere else they’d rather be.
544 E. 3900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-266-2087,
2. Adrift Adventures
3. Red River Adventures

Best Soccer Scene
Dimple Dell Youth Soccer

In the spring and autumn, children of all ages gather on a wide stretch of grass in Sandy next to the Dimple Dell Fitness & Recreation Center to kick a round ball up and down a pitch. Part of the joy of this most amateur of leagues is the passion of the volunteer coaches who give their time to try to instill a little bit of order and structure into the soccer dreams of youngsters ages 5 to 12. The parents who roam the sidelines, cheering on their little ones, get to witness their offspring learning what it means to be part of a team, with the full glory of the Wasatch Mountains providing a superlative backdrop.


Deer Valley Resort

Best Biking
Deer Valley Resort
Though Deer Valley has declined to embrace snowboarding, it has given a big warm bear hug to the fat-tire set. Three lifts at Deer Valley connect to 70 miles of twisted paths on its property, some of which link up with Park City’s roughly 400 miles of trails. If you get tired of riding, pay a visit to one of the resort’s restaurants, bars or boutiques, or just plop down somewhere and people-watch. You never know what famous face you’ll see. A full-day adult summer lift pass runs $40 while a single ride pass is $29—probably the least expensive way to experience the posh place called Deer Valley.
2250 Deer Valley Drive South, Park City, 435-649-1000,
2. Moab
3. Millcreek Canyon

Best Golf Course
A golf course is only partly about the design of the holes; it’s also a complete geography that makes for sublime moments between swings. Bonneville Golf Course’s east-bench location makes it one of the most appealing walks of any kind in the state, with stunning views of the valley. And the course itself is a challenging 6,872-yard par-72 with rolling greens nestled between lush trees. It’s hard to resist a glorious municipal course this convenient to downtown Salt Lake City.
954 Connor St., Salt Lake City, 801-583-9513,
2. Old Mill
3. Thanksgiving Point

Best Outdoor Concerts
Red Butte Garden
It doesn’t matter who’s performing at Red Butte; just being there on the grass—shoes off, blanket spread out, a 30-rack of Busch and some takeout from Cafe Rio by your side—is worth the ticket price alone. Of course, some people prefer the wine & cheese route, but that’s what’s so great about this outdoor stage—there’s something for every audience. In summer 2013, Red Butte booked a record 28 shows that spanned everything from Vampire Weekend to rock legend Kenny Loggins and country maverick Dwight Yoakam. This year, expect another 28 reasons to kick off your shoes.
300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, 801-585-0556,
2. Usana Amphitheatre
3. Twilight Concert Series

Best Hike to Bring the Kiddies On
Silver Lake

Sometimes it can be quite a hassle to wrangle all the kids and whisk them away for a little sojourn into the Great Outdoors. But Salt Lakers who aren’t taking advantage of the short drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon to the picturesque Silver Lake are missing out on a beautiful hike for the whole family, complete with picnic tables and benches. With a wooden boardwalk surrounding the lake, this short 30-minute hike is just tiring enough to work the wiggles out of your kids and put them to sleep for the ride down the canyon.
14.2 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon

Best Race Against the Undead
Eureka’s Zombie Chase

What better setting for a 5K chase by zombies than the historic Eureka ghost town? Not that you will have much time during the run to soak up the history. This nighttime race pits you against zombies who are nipping at your heels, giving you that extra motivation to make good time, and adds obstacles like a graveyard and cargo nets. But you’ll have the chance to even the odds—you can arm yourself with a paintball gun to mow down the undead and clear a path to the finish line.
Sept. 13, 2014, 888-606-8880,