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Best Secret Fishing Hole
Just outside of Beaver, this scenic 400-acre body of water is a nice way station for anyone wanting the dual threat of accessibility plus lunker fish. At 5,500 feet in elevation, it's also not too hard on the lungs—unlike some of Utah's high-altitude fishing holes. Minersville is open year-round for all levels of sport fishermen and lovers of water sports, whether they're camping for days, or there just to drop a line in one. 12 miles west of Beaver on Highway 21, 435-438-5472
Aptly Named: The Hog's Breath Bar in Milford—in the heart of Utah's bacon belt.
Box Elder County
Best Space Oddity
ATK Rocket Garden
Yeah, somewhere prides itself on a giant Teflon pan attraction and somewhere else boasts a giant spool of yarn. But Box Elder County shoots the moon with the ATK Rocket Garden at the entry to space-gear manufacturer ATK, familiarly known as Morton Thiokol. Star gazers, imagineers and children all marvel at the various pieces of space rocketry that have Utah origins including a space-shuttle booster. Certainly modest, this attraction scores on making the space experience real, not odd at all. 9160 state Route 83, Corinne, 435-863-3511
Time Machine: From the rocket garden, go north on I-84 to Snowville for a classic burger and Coke on tap at Mollie's Café.
Best Oldest Living Tree
Hey, what's a 2,000-foot vertical climb when the reward is a tree that saw its first sun rays the same time as the capstones were being placed on Egypt's pyramids, more than 4,000 years ago? Hikers and mountain bikers consider this easily accessed trail (and mostly intermediate climb) one of the state's "must do" adventures. The payoff at 7,200 feet is the Jardine Juniper—and along the way you'll view some of Northern Utah's most stunning vistas. Trailhead at Woods Camp Campground, 10 miles up Logan Canyon
Wild Things: Logan's Zootah (formerly Willow Park Zoo) is the perfect place to get up close and personal with dozens of exotic species.
Best Accessible Rock Art
Nine Mile Canyon
Given their proximity to highways and towns in central Utah, it remains amazing that the famous petroglyphs of Nine Mile Canyon remain at all. Luckily, these centuries-old messages from the lost Fremont culture remind us still of the human need for expression and self-examination. Always near the top of the list for protectors of the wilderness and environment, Nine Mile Canyon's vast sandstone panel etchings are one of Utah's most inspiring visits. Soldier Creek Road, 20 miles north of Wellington, 435-636-3701, castlecountry.com
Italian Stallion: When everyone else abandoned Price, Tony Basso didn't. He invested. Best reason to buy a car, and nearly anything else, in Price.
Once known as Browns Hole, this piece of 10-scale scenery in remote Daggett County is a fisher's paradise, home to a wonderful bird refuge and, in wilder days, was among the hideouts for the famous Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch gang. Browns Park precedes the Gates of Lodore and the river-running paradise Lodore Canyon. But at Browns Park, the Green runs crystalline with lurking trophy trout easily spotted and admired, caught and released. Remains of historic ranches can be seen—as well as flora and fauna nearly untouched since white settlers arrived. flaminggorgecountry.com/browns-park
Fish Bait: Hire one of the excellent guides at Dutch John and float the Green River below Flaming Gorge. Best. Fishing. Experience. Ever.
Best Innovative Auto Dealerships
Young Automotive Group
Most car dealers put out some cheap signage dotted with tired clichés about having the best service, most courteous sales staff or hottest hot rods and call it a day. That's not the case with the Young Automotive Group, who have heavily invested in savvy tech tools that push the tired car-buying and selling experience into the modern era. Some tools you see, some you don't, but not many car dealerships boast coders among their employees. YAG invests equally in its own people with top-tier sales and management training at their own Center of Excellence. The result? YAG is third-largest car seller in the state. Multiple locations, youngautomotive.com
Mall Time? For an outdoor mall done right, visit Station Park in Farmington. It feels like you've left Utah altogether.
To Hanna over Wolf Creek Pass
The ride over the old dirt traverse from Woodland to Hanna used to require more than an hour of white knuckled, bouncy, rutty driving. More than one muffler was busted up on Wolf Creek Pass. Today, the entire scenic route is paved. Even cyclists make the haul, plus it's a favorite of bikers, too. Get to the farmstead of Hanna for a sandwich, soda or beer (or to launch into other adventures) or keep going to the historic town of Duchesne. Stop along the West Fork of the Duchesne River to cast some flies in that perfect mountain stream. Highway 35 near Kamas on to Duchesne
Wild Child? Head into the High Uinta Wilderness from multiple entries in the south slope Uinta Mountain canyons in Duchesne County.
Best River-Runner Tribute
John Wesley Powell River History Museum
River-running the wild canyons of Utah—Desolation, Gray and Cataract—can be a dicey and dangerous proposition. So when modern recreationists are reminded that the first passage was made by a one-armed Civil War veteran without a map and riding wooden (not inflatable) boats, it seems more than daunting; it seems impossible. But John Wesley Powell and his men did it over three months in 1869—and most survived. Visiting this museum is another good reason to portage in the town of Green River. 1765 Main, Green River, 435-564-3427, johnwesleypowell.com
Road Trip: I-70 through Emery County is one of the most scenic and desolate highways in the USA. Bring a camera and a full tank of gas.
Best White-Knuckle Drive
Hell's Backbone Road
OK, most of the drive isn't too white-knuckle, just parts. But, the dirt road—built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (why can't we do that again?)—eventually meets the Hell's Backbone Bridge with its 1,500-foot drops off both sides. After gripping the seats for fear of going over just one cliff, it's a disconcerting reality that on the bridge, you don't want to go off either side of the wooden structure. It's named one of the world's most spectacular roads. Cutoff of Highway 12 between Boulder and Escalante
Hasta La Vista: There just isn't a better view in the United States than that looking into Bryce Canyon.
Best River Run
Westwater Canyon offers up some of the biggest river-running thrills in the Moab area. Best of all, it's easily accessed and perfect for short-duration trips. While most of the Colorado River cuts through soft red sandstone, Westwater Canyon is comprised of black Precambrian rock. That means all that water that ran slow and wide in sandstone runs narrow, fast and deep in Westwater Canyon. If Mile Long Rapid doesn't wake you up, maybe Skull Rapid will—should you not get trapped in the room of doom.
Artsy Art: The landscape photography of Tom Till in his Moab gallery is unmatched, off-the-charts great.
Best Baby Bryce
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Only 20 miles from Cedar City, Cedar Breaks is an easy add-on to any trip to Utah's famous quadrant of wondrous beauty. Thing is, too many people overlook Cedar Breaks as they rush on to Zion or Bryce Canyon. Those who do stop, though, are in for a high-altitude treat—fewer crowds, same great scenery as Bryce (just smaller with a more eroded amphitheater), and the same great hiking adventures as found in better-known parks and monuments. nps.gov/cebr
Home Cooking: Breakfast or lunch at the Parowan Café is the definition of Utah comfort food.
Best Unknown Summit
About the only people who venture to the western edge of Utah, into the high Deep Creek mountains above Trout Creek, are those rarities who either live or ranch there, or who are there to complete their bucket list of topping all of the state's 29 highest peaks. At 12,087 feet tall, Ibapah is no cakewalk, but the journey is not only worth it for the stunning views into the Great Basin, but for bragging rights that few others can claim. Best route is via Wendover, Nev. So, why not?
Miss Asphalt? There's a small bit of it in Trout Creek—after that, it's 50 miles of dirt road everywhere.
Best Luxury Resort
Like a boat, if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it. But maybe you can, and you certainly want to. Part of the exquisite worldwide Aman group of deluxe hotels, Amangiri offers desert serenity, unforgettable spas and personal touches galore. The special pampering lets you know you've been spoiled forever. It's a remote, elegant Western adventure. So if you do just one thing with your savings ... 1 Kayenta Road, Canyon Point, 435-375-3999, aman.com
Hatari: Take a safari tour into the amazing desert country in and around Kanab.
Best easy Old West stop
Before Utah's interstate highways were built, stopping at Cove Fort was pretty much expected of highway travelers. Now, though a short distance from the intersection of I-15 and I-70, today's travelers often just zoom by. They shouldn't. A stop here is a step back in time to when early white settlers sheltered behind sturdy rock walls that protected living and working quarters. Well worth the short diversion, visit the last standing Mormon settler fort for a look at life in 1800s Zion. 2 miles south of Exit 135 off I-15 and 1 mile north of Exit 1 off I-70, 435-438-5547, covefort.com
ATV Central: Some of the best desert ATV adventures route through the trails and small towns of Millard County.
Best Backyard Remote Park
East Canyon State Park
Utah's Mormon Pioneers (and before them, the ill-fated Donner-Reed party) made passage through this area in the late 1840s. How they did it is a mystery for the ages since even today, it can be a wild traverse getting there from nearby Salt Lake City. At the park, though, you'll find fine fishing, boating and camping, and for those less inclined to rough it, a nice bevy of modern accommodations. Too modern? Well then, try a yurt, cabin or ... the hammock campground. 5535 S. Highway 66, Morgan, 801-829-6866, stateparks.utah.gov/parks/east-canyon
Farm Country: Down canyon from East Canyon State Park lies Henefer, a traditional Utah community if there ever was one.
Best Small Towns
Any in Piute County
There are high schools in Utah with more students than there are people in the whole of Piute County, Utah's second-least populous. So, it's little wonder that the main towns that comprise this small central Utah county are equally small. But, when traveling Highway 89, loop into Circleville, Marysvale, Junction, Kingston, Pittsburg or Greenwich to tank up, buy a soda, get some snacks or a meal, or to just look around. Say all you want for city-life amenities, but you'll soon admit—the less than 2,000 residents of Piute County have it going pretty good. piute.org
ATV: We've crossed this trail before, but some of the best ATV riding in the West is on the Paiute Trail.
Best Cold Country
It hardly matters that Randolph—not Utah's highest-elevation town at just over 6,200 feet—is or is not the state's coldest town. It matters only that it is very, very cold there in the winter, often recording some of the coldest temperatures in the lower 48. Utahns often associate Randolph with freezing cold. Randolph looks cold. However, summer beckons and with it highs into the 90s that put the cold days of January into the rear-view mirror. State Route 16 between Bear Lake and Evanston, townofrandolph.org
Tutti Fruity: Raspberry Days each August at Bear Lake is the best reason to venture north for that special Utah treat—a fresh raspberry shake.
Salt Lake County
Best Mall Makeover
When The Gateway opened nearly two decades ago, it damn near killed Main Street. When City Creek Center opened in the past decade, it almost killed The Gateway. Some called it justice. Others saw a new path—the gradual, but certainly coming, transition of The Gateway from simply a mall to a buzzing downtown destination. This past summer alone saw multiple new events and festivals that attract the young, urban, smooth crowds that other malls have traded in for suburban housewives. A new outdoor stage beckons city musicians, and soon the fun emporium Dave & Buster's will open, too. Gateway is roaring back. 100 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-456-0000, shopthegateway.com
Political Pie: Mostly Democratic Salt Lake County is so effectively gerrymandered into larger swaths of Utah, the county never will realize true representation in the U.S. Congress.
San Juan County
Best "I was there" photo op
It's pretty much a secret that the Four Corners monument is not in the exact location of where the states of Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico all touch. So forget all those pictures of you and the family playing some kind of body pretzel bingo, placing one limb into each of the aforementioned states—you haven't actually been to all four at once. You haven't, but you're close. So what? We get the point and we've driven into the desert and we'll take it for the win. A visit here is unique to map, so smile, bend into odd shapes and smile some more for the photo everyone secretly wants. navajonationparks.org
Aptly Named: The Goosenecks of the San Juan River will leave you marveling at how such a big river made such winding, deep canyons.
Best Next Hot Spot
Going out on a limb here, but for decades Salt Lake County residents have been taking up second-home or cabin residences in Fairview, and it only seems a matter of time before this town takes off full-tilt. It's not that long of a drive—about 90 minutes, all paved, with no serious climbs or curves. And yet, here you're treated to a historic town—and region, actually—that is also looking to into the future. Yeah, horse county. Yeah, and a keen eye on education and tourism opportunities. Take the drive and see. Highway 89 between Thistle and Ephraim, fairviewcity.com/cms
Pikes Peak: Yuba Lake is one more place in Utah where anglers can take on the monstrous, ferocious and imported Northern Pike.
Best Big Macks
Some of the biggest fish caught anywhere in Utah are caught at Fish Lake. Besides the familiar Rainbows, Browns and Splakes (a hybrid of Brook and Lake Trout), anglers are often surprised to learn that Fish Lake is also a fishery for perch and pike. But everyone knows, it's the Lake Trout—the mighty mackinaw—upon which Fish Lake stakes its claim. Though even larger macks are found at Flaming Gorge, monster-sized Lake Trout are the calling card of this gem of a mountain lake. 2 N. state Route 25, 435-638-1000, fishlakeresorts.com
Fireworks: The annual July Fourth Parade in Richfield is a perfect slice of Americana.
Best Serene Community
At mid-point between Salt Lake City and Evanston, most people just cruise on by. But they miss something special. No doubt the stretch of highway that abuts the Weber River is one of the most tranquil left in Northern Utah, and it reminds that the Coalville area will likely become the next Park City, Heber City or Kamas, so the tranquility won't last forever. Next time you're passing through, get off the freeway and make the short jaunt over to the historic old town itself. It might lack a Tabernacle these days, but it makes up for that in bygone charm. At I-15 at the south end of Echo Reservoir, coalvillecity.org
Yump For Yoy: Get to the Olympic Ski Park just north of Park City for some serious winter fun—even in the summer.
Best Hairpin Turns
Utah Motorsports Campus
Formerly known as Miller Motorsports Park, this Tooele County racing facility is the place to really let loose with your fastest cars and bikes. With nearly two dozen Grand Prix- and LeMans-type turns spread over a 4.5-mile course, there is plenty of opportunity to either spill or catch the thrill of a lifetime. Most sane people opt for the latter. Not only can users set their own tires ablaze while honing their personal skills, but the entire Utah Motorsports facility is an ideal setting for corporate events and challenges where team-builders race their lieges around those curves to win not a trophy, but a year's worth of coffee-klatch bragging rights. 512 Sheep Lane, Tooele, 435-277-8000, utahmotorsportscampus.com
Salt Art: You can't miss it, you secretly enjoy it and you certainly have to take a picture beside the 87-foot tall Tree of Life along I-15.
Dinosaur National Monument
Perhaps nowhere else in the country can a visitor come within arm's reach of so many dinosaur bones of so many species. Here you can shake hands with Jurassic Park-approved friends like the Allosaurus and Abydosaurus. The sheer number of bones and skeletons found here are prolific and fill museums across the land. It's of course known for its bones, but the area is also a perfect launching point for camping, fishing, hiking, river rafting and horseback riding. nps.gov/dino
Rock On: In Dry Fork Canyon, just north of Vernal (Hi, Grandma!), you'll find some of Utah's very best (and spookiest) petroglyphs at the McConkie Ranch, right along the road.
Best Tech Center
The name Silicon Slopes seemed like just a way to hitch a wagon to the long-established tech mecca of Silicon Valley. And guess what? It worked—probably far better than expected. Of course, companies like Adobe and Boostability set up shop in Lehi. But the correctly named Silicon Slopes now represents a much broader expanse of Utah smarts, innovation and technical chops—and has threaded itself throughout Utah County and into the south end of the valley. Indeed, the name is so embedded that Silicon Slopes can justly be said to extend from Ogden, through Salt Lake City and into the hotbed of Beehive tech talent in Utah County. The latter has definitely set the bar in tech Utah. Hats off. siliconslopes.com
Best Suds: Strap Tank Brewing Co. in Springville is the first brewery to open in Utah County in more than 100 years.
Best Train Ride
Heber Valley Railroad
Operating from April through October, the Heber Valley Railroad has transported people across the roughly 16 miles around Heber Valley, down through Provo Canyon, and back, since the line was preserved in the 1990s. Nearly 100,000 visitors hit the rails annually. Not only do the historic cars and vintage steam engine hearken to a simpler time, today's rider can also be treated to special entertainment on Monday nights, plus a partnership with High Country Adventures links river rafters and rail riders for one-of-a-kind fun. 450 S. 600 West, Heber City, 435-654-5601, hebervalleyrr.org
Zip Code: Head over to Zipline Utah at Deer Creek State Park for one of the most scenic zip experiences in Utah.
Best Red Rock Meal
It's hard to dispute the Painted Pony's self-described motif as "a culinary island in St. George." So true. For all its development, St. George sorely lacks in great dining experiences except in small pockets—the deepest pocket of which is Painted Pony. We've never once left here disappointed. From sage-smoked quail to rosemary-spiked ribeye steak, dinners are on par with those found along the Wasatch Front's best eateries. Lunch is also very accessible and fairly priced, highlighted by sandwich types that aren't often found in St. George. 2 W. Saint George Blvd., St. George, 435-634-1700, painted-pony.com
Get Wet: It's pretty much a rite of passage to hike even a bit of the exciting Zion Narrows. Just don't do it when it's raining up canyon.
Capitol Reef National Park
The last residents of the historic town of Fruita moved away decades ago, but they left behind one of Utah's most enduring pioneer legacies: the fruit and nut orchards now protected inside Capitol Reef National Park. There you will find several varieties of apples, plums, cherries, apricots, peaches, almonds and pecans. When ripe and when posted, visitors can pay for and harvest fruits for personal use. Some people miss the harvest but never fail to visit when the trees are in bloom. capitolreef.org
Agreed: Who doesn't believe Torrey is one of the coolest towns in Utah? No one.
What began with a humble (but now renowned and award-winning) Herbal Underground, Ogden's Own now bottles up an equally tasty array of flavored vodkas (Five Wives, named for a once-famous Utah lifestyle) and gin (Madam Pattirini, named for the famous singing, gender-bending son of Brigham Young), plus some tasty, good-for-any occasion line of flavored whiskey: Porter's Fire, Porter's Peach and Porter's Apple (named for Mormon strongarm Porter Rockwell). In under a decade, Ogden's Own has grown into not just a local favorite, but is expanding its national footprint as well, thanks to aggressive marketing at every level. Ogden's Own is also known as a good citizen and is a great supporter of all things art and music. 3075 Grant Ave., Ogden, 801-485-1995, ogdensown.com
Best Two Bit: I say it often and loud: There is not a better street in Utah than Historic 25th. There you'll find a great aesthetic, plus fantastic food and drink. CW