Wednesday, January 30, 2019

What To Do at Cascade Springs in American Fork

Cascade Springs is a gorgeous open space of trail systems located in the Uinta National Forest, east of American Fork Canyon and west of Wasatch Mountain State Park. Cascade Springs is not far from the city of Provo, Utah.

A series of loops take you through cascading waterfalls, small pools of fresh water, lush vegetation, and opportunities to see wildlife. It is a fantastic place to spend an hour or two with the family, friends, or a loved one. The beautiful and peaceful area serves as a great spot to get romantic with a significant other, observe nature, reflect on life and do activities like read or take scenic photographs where seven million gallons of water a day cascade down this wonderful landscape.

Hiking Trails

Lower Pools Loop at Cascade Springs

The lower loop introduces visitors to the open space and is the most easily accessible. The Lower Pools Loop is also the most popular among the guided paths in the Cascade Springs loop system. The paved trail walks visitors through a series of maze-like configurations where guests are treated to crystal clear pools and photogenic waterfalls. An impressive number of trees and plants species call Cascade Springs their home. The Lower Loop is also handicap accessible.

Middle Cascade Springs Loop

The middle portion of the trail is slightly steeper than the Lower Loop but still very accessible. A combination of paved and wood boardwalks take guests deeper into the Cascade Springs wilderness. Trail markers will lead you to the Middle Loop which begins at a wooden bridge situated by a waterfall. It’s a great place to take a short break as the rushing streams run through this section for most of the year. From there you can progress up the hill to the left or right (it's the same loop so you will return to the same location regardless).

Upper Cascade Springs Loop

The Upper Loop, like the name implies, is the most difficult yet not all too strenuous. The trail does require climbing up some wooden steps but the slope is gradual and not too intense. Here, travelers can witness the origins of where the springs start to trickle down the slope and feed the plants and wildlife below. The Upper Loop is a terrific spot to witness new plant growth. Visitors can also see the remains of a 2003 wildfire that got close to the area from this vantage point.


There are countless opportunities to watch and photograph wildlife around Cascade Springs. The crystal clear pools provide amazing opportunities for kids to watch brown trout and native cutthroat swim among its shallow depths.* The native fish are believed to have originated from the Provo River, located nearby.

A variety of other mammals call Cascade Springs their home. They are less frequent yet it's still possible to spot beavers, otters, deer, moose or elk in the area, especially near dawn or dusk. These animals tend to be more shy of people, so the best chances to see them are in a secluded, quiet areas.

As you would expect with an area so richly dense with trees and plants, a number of birds and insects also get on about with their day. Hawks can be spotted from above while wild turkeys may roam the grounds. Several different types of hummingbirds also greet guests with their beautiful sounds.

*Please note, while it’s okay to watch the trout no fishing is allowed within the grounds of the open space.


The geology of Cascade Springs goes back impressively to 30,000 to 10,000 years ago when coarse-grained glacial sediment was first deposited from glaciers that covered higher elevations on the Wasatch Mountain Range. The sentiment deposits contribute to the abundance of water that flows through Cascade Springs to this day, where mountain runoff along with water that seeps out from the ground contribute to the remarkably lush and fertile soil where plant life thrives.

How to Plan

Like any place you visit outdoors, it is always recommended to pack plenty of water and bring extra clothing. Even in the middle of the summer, temperatures can vary in the wilderness and because Cascade Springs is not only at higher elevations, but also densely wooded, a jacket and pants is a very good idea.

All three of the loops take approximately 15 minutes each to complete. So, if you intended to walk all three plan for at least 45 minutes to complete, with an hour or two being more highly recommended since you will want to watch the native trout in the ponds, take photos of the waterfalls, and hopefully see wildlife.


If traveling from the Utah Valley on I-15, take the Highland/Alpine Exit, number 284. Travel east for about eight miles on State Route 92 before reaching the entrance station of the National Forest. Please note there is a small charge for National Forest access. 

From there, follow the Alpine Scenic Loop up American Fork Canyon. At the summit of the Alpine Scenic Loop, which is approximately 17 miles from the entrance station, take the Cascade Springs turnoff. Cascade Scenic Drive winds another six miles before reaching a parking area by the trailhead.

Cascade Springs can also be accessed from the east through Wasatch Mountain State Park. Follow the directions posted in the town of Midway to reach Cascade Springs Drive. Continue about eight miles until you reach the lower parking lot.

It’s important to note that the Alpine Scenic Loop road is extremely narrow. The road is not recommended for vehicles longer than 30 feet or vehicles with trailers, as the switchbacks are tight and can lead to trouble. The area is also occasionally closed in the winter due to weather.

Cascade Springs is not often reported in traditional tourist guides, but is definitely worth a visit. The incredible landscape is a great place to cool down and relax for a couple of hours. The waterfalls make for a great photo op, while the wooded terrain features moderate temperatures even in the heart of the summer. You can cool down further by soaking your feet in the natural water pools while fish swim by.

Since you will likely already be traveling up the Alpine Scenic Loop in the Uinta National Forest, why not take a pit stop at this hidden gem?

Monday, January 28, 2019

Utah Culture & History: Native American Tribes

Utah is home to some of the Americas' original Native American tribes and cultures. There are five major tribes that have all maintained their strong legacies. They include the; Dine (Navajo), Goshute, Paiute, Ute, and Shoshone. Since the ancient days, Utah was well known for its sacred places, dwelling sites, and fascinating rock art messages.

Utah’s tribes still actively live bound by their ancient cultures. They usually invite visitors from other cultures to view them as they come together during the tribal and other gatherings.

If you are looking forward to viewing some free exhibits of their traditional crafts displays such as beadwork, baskets, and carvings, you can get them on display at the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts.

Preserved remains of Ancient cultures – Rock Art & Remains

Utah is well known by American culture lovers as a home of intriguing Native American rock art. It comprises two types; the pictographs – painted on stone, and which even after thousands of years still remain colorful, and the petroglyphs – which were incised into stone walls and boulders.

Because the exact meanings of the rock arts are still unknown, they have often been assigned to different time frames and cultures based on elements of artistic style. The Native American rock art varies widely, from themes depicting successful hunts, to mythic figures which are considered to represent deities and ceremonial practices.

The rock art is also seen to represent other scenes such as domestic life, common and fantastic animals, among other things.

The place where the ancient cultures made their homes and resided, often referred to as habitation sites can be quite obvious. For instance, there are granaries which are well preserved – mainly because of their weatherproof positions below the cliffs.

In southern Utah, you will find many sites where stone dwellings and places of worship have been well preserved, stabilized, and are interpreted to modern-day visitors.

But that is just a mere section of all of it. When you check the Utah Museums page, you will find several other collections and interpretive opportunities scattered in museums statewide. If you are looking forward to spending some quality time in Utah exploring the ancient culture, the local visitor information centers should give you the required head start on getting information related to any specific area of the state.

However, keep in mind that all the Native American relics are protected by the federal law, and touching or taking any of them is strictly prohibited.

Southeast Utah

You will find Wolf Ranch in Arches National park which has some of the finest rock art in the region. The Newspaper Rock is filled with a panel consisting of hundreds of figures and designs crafted onto the southwest-facing cliff.

The ‘bulletin’ stone board has over 350 distinct ancient petroglyphs dating to more than 800 years ago. A perfect example is the figures riding horses and shooting arrows – which are considered a portrayal of Ute Indians who obtained horses in the 1600s. There are also other more recent images attributed to the Ute culture which date from the 19th Century.

The BLM administered site is on State Route 211, and you can easily access it from US 191.
Another place of interest is the Edge Of The Cedars State Park and Museum in Blanding. It interprets the remnants of the ancient Puebloan village with its ceremonial kivas dating between 700 and 1220 A.D. The park strongly showcases the Indian civilization, its transition, and how it flourished in southeastern Utah. The museum houses a collection consisting of various ancient artifacts and pottery – which makes it the regional archaeological repository for southeast Utah.

More remnants of Pueblo culture dating between 300 A.D and 1300 A.D. may be seen on the Trail of the Ancients, which is a 100-mile loop route in the southwest of Blanding.

Grand Gulch Primitive area, accessible via south of the junction of state routes 261 and 95 is another sighting containing hundreds of cliff dwellings. The BLM, however, requires visitors to obtain a permit before being allowed into the rugged area. The area is only accessible on horseback and through hiking trails.

The Hovenweep National Monument near the Colorado border offers visitors solitude as they get to enjoy the sightings consisting of ancient fortress and tower ruins. There are five prehistoric rock art panels near the town of Bluff which are shown on the Bluff walking tour map.

Monument Valley was set aside as a Navajo Tribal Park in 1959. The park is a repository for Navajo archeology, Navajo arts, and crafts. A simple self-guided scenic drive will give you an overview of the park’s most famous formations. If you are looking forward to an in-depth exploration into the Tribal Park, you will require to hire a Navajo Guide at the visitor center.

Southwest Utah

A trip toward the southwestern side of Utah will lead you to Ansazi State Park and Museum – where you will get to see a preserved ancient village of one of the largest Ansazi communities.

Although the village remains largely unexcavated, there are many artifacts that have been uncovered and are on display in the museum.

There’s even a life-size, six room replica of an Answanzi dwelling which gives the visitors a perfect idea of how life was almost a thousand years back.

Also in southwest Utah, there are more petroglyph sites in BLM-administered Parowan Gap, 10 miles northwest of Parowan and Johnson Canyon, 9 miles east of Kanab. You can also find pictographs at Sand Springs, 20 miles northwest of Kanab.

Eastern Utah

There’s the Range Creek Canyon that shelters pristine Fremont Indian rock art and ruins in the rugged Book Cliffs. The federal government purchased the area in the year 2004, and it is now open to limited public visitation. Little is known about the Fremont people and archeologists are still actively studying the place in order to piece together the mystery of their culture.

At Dinosaur National Monument, there are more rock sites. Although some are quite obvious, there are others that require both maps and a willingness to hike.

Dry Fork Canyon is on the lower portion of the Red Cloud Loop north of Vernal and has some of America’s most impressive petroglyph panels.

If you decide to tour these sides, Nine Mile Canyon, a BLM national Scenic Backway is a place you should not miss. The Canyon walls are covered with petroglyphs and pictographs, and will no doubt leave you with one of the best experiences. You should, however, take time to pick up a copy of a detailed self-guide brochure before you embark on this trip.

Central Utah

There’s the Fremont Indian State Park and museum located at the Hw 89/I-70 junction which is 24 miles southwest of Richfield. It has a wide collection of Fremont Indian artifacts from nearby Five Fingers Hill. Follow the short, maintained trails and they will lead you past several impressive panels of rock art figures.

The interpretive center focuses on the evolution of Fremont Indian Cultures between 500 A.D and 1300 A.D.

Northern Utah

It's not much of a tour, but you will be impressed by the rock art created by members of Fremont Culture which was found on the Islands of the Great Salt Lake, and other areas of northwestern Utah’s Deserts.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

7 Inexpensive Family Winter Adventures in Utah

Utah County is a well-known family destination in winter mainly because of its breathtaking sites – perfect for making memorable family moments. Take advantage of these 7 inexpensive family winter adventures while you are in Utah.

1. Bryce Canyon National Park

You will never understand the fun in snowshoeing until you are part of it. One trip to the Bryce Canyon National Park and you will wish you had visited earlier.

Once you get the snowshoes on your feet, you are ready to explore the terrains, views, and peaks of the giant and unwieldy canyons. Afraid of heights? Don’t worry, their experienced guides will take you through the canyons.

Once in the canyon, you will get to wander around the shadows of the hoodoos and other iconic Utah rock formations. Don’t bother carrying any flashlights – they are not allowed.

The 1.2 mile guided hikes are totally free (including the snowshoes and poles!) and usually begin before dusk. You are, therefore, able to enjoy as you watch all the colors change in the canyon. I don’t think there’s anything more breath-taking than the majestic-ness of it all.

2. Homestead Crater

Take a break from the Geography and Nat-Geo sessions and experience it firsthand at the Homestead Crater. Well, the name itself sounds mystical enough to suspend any beliefs – why not give it a try?

A walk through its cavern, heading deeper towards the crater makes you feel as if you are tunneling through the center of the Earth!

The journey itself is not just one winding path. Along the way, you will come across some breathtaking sightings that will leave you grateful for your visit.

There’s a deep geothermal pool in a 55 ft. tall beehive-ish rock with a little hole at the top that allows for sunshine penetration and lets the mystic steam out. Its mineral water is 90–96 degrees, crystal clear and super-deep making it one of the best places you can visit for year-round diving in the US.

Did you know that Homestead Crater is actually the only warm water scuba spot in the continental United States? Yeah, it is definitely one of the coolest places you can visit.

If you are not joining the rest in exploring the depths of the earth, you can stay near the surface with a snorkel – and get to enjoy the view as the sun rays that pour through the rock opening hits the mineral water creating a sapphire blue effect.

3. Provo Canyon

If you are looking for an ice climbing adventure, Provo Canyon located south of Salt Lake City should be the perfect place. It is covered with ice on both sides and is in close proximity to a variety of different routes making it easy to approach.

They also have several tour guides and clinics operating throughout the season (which generally runs from December to February), who are of great assistance, especially to beginners.

You will get to climb the Stairway to Heaven - which is the tallest climb in the area with heights of up to 800ft. There are also other approachable heights including the Miller’s Thriller, Picture Window, and Bridal Veil Falls.

Utah Mountain Adventures will ensure that you had an eventful time during your climb. They not only help you with the cost of all equipment needed for the climb but has also put together a list of rental shops in the area.

They have also put together some short notes that might come into handy in your tour, especially if you are a newbie.

4. Burbot Bash in Flaming Gorge

Should be the perfect event in a winter visit in Utah, particularly for those who enjoy fishing.
Burbot fish have often been confused with the Ling Cod, which despite the similar appearance, are just a close relative.

At Flaming Gorge, they hold the Burbot Bash every winter. The interesting part is that you can win various prizes through participation, regardless of your age.

Even if you don’t emerge a winner, you will at least head back home with some fresh fish – something that is not very easy to come across.

5. Park City Powder Cats

Cat-skiing is usually fairly inexpensive, convenient and quite fancy for a family winter adventure in Utah. The Park City Powder Cats prowl 40, 000 acres of terrain – probably bigger than any park you have seen before!

The terrain is covered in fancy, heated, 10-seat snowcats in which you can thaw out and enjoy a snack in-between the runs. You will get to enjoy the epic tree runs through the aspens and the steep lines of unbroken powder. Surely, that is something you shouldn’t miss on a winter trip to Utah.

6. Skyline Drive in Sanpete County, Utah

How would you feel about skiing or snowboarding uphill while attached to a nature-powered kite? Skyline Drive stands at a 10,000 elevation making it one of the most popular places for snow-kiting in the state.

The high elevation and abundant snowfall, combined with the endless miles of ridgelines, wind lips, cornices, and windy weather makes it the only region where you can cover 100 miles on a ski or snowboard, without having to burn up a gas tank in order to do it.

7. Scofield/Skyline Drive Snowmobile Complex in the Manti-La Sal Mountains

Located in Central Utah, there are over 120 miles of groomed trails for cruising and access to plenty of snowdrifts with open meadows for thrashing.

Feel the exhilarating fun while clinging to the handlebars of the gas-powered cruising machine and get to enjoy nature at a whole new level.

You can choose to cruise down the groomed tracks between the trees or tear through the fresh Utah powder in a wide open bowl. It is absolutely up to you to pick the one you feel will make your family moments the most memorable.