Monday, August 26, 2019

Horseback Riding in Utah: 8 Incredible Trails to Get You Started!

Horseback Riding in Utah: 8 Incredible Trails to Get You Started!

Horseback riding and travel are inevitably linked. Once upon a time, they were one and the same, in the old wild times of the West. Now, we travel through other methods, but that doesn’t mean we’ve lost the desire and the will to get back to nature and go for a good ride. That being said, some of the best places to ride require a bit a of travel to get out to, unless you’re lucky enough for them to be close to home that is, and it’s important to plan ahead when looking for vacation or riding destinations. And, no rider or western loving cowboy at heart can do better than the rustic trails of Utah. Utah is the kind of place where one can see canyons, rivers, mountains, prairies, and more, and all on the same trail. It’s a true dream for lovers of travel and adventure.

When in need of a good ride, and maybe hankering for a setting reflective of the good old days of horseback travel in the Wild West, look no further than these eight amazing trails in Utah.

a horse and rider in the sunset

1. Old West Outfitters offers a wide variety of horse-riding fun, including cattle drives and gorgeous views of Southern Utah to explore. Go on your own, or with groups of up to 12 to experience six different trails of local National Parks and locales across Navajoland. Some locations of note are the Navajoland ride that tours the remnants of the ancient Anasazi peoples of the area, and the Canyon de Chelly. This service comes with meals, lodging, and transport to and from the location for about $1500 - $2900 per head.

man helping a young girl learn to ride horses

2. Zion National Park is a wonder to behold all on its own. But, with the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, and on horseback, the experience is far more than just one to remember. The area that is now Zion National Park was first discovered by Native Americans and later explored by Mormon pioneers. It’s a place right out of history. Today, the park finds itself as one of the top horseback riding trails in the nation.

Young children under eight years old are not allowed on the regular horse rides, but resort wranglers offer special guided tours for young riders as well – promising a safe and fun ride for kids with a bit of the west in their hearts.

a dog alongside horseback riders

3. Paria River Ranch brings the added benefit of being allowed to bring a horse of your own, if you are so inclined, or choosing to take part in a guided adventure of the local area.

The ranch is located right near the Paria River, and the bottom of the Grand Staircase Escalante Nation Monument in Utah. They’re within 50 miles of Kanab, Utah, and a wide variety of rustic western trails and sights are on display for riders to remember. Don’t forget to bring a camera, because these are some sights you won’t want to soon forget!

a single-file group of horseback riders

4. Jacob Lake Trail Rides shows off the surrounding Kaibab Plateau, a short distance from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon itself and offers an enthralling experience for riders new and experienced alike.

Again, riders under the age of eight are not allowed on horseback, but Jacob Lake Trail Rides offer old fashioned wagon rides as well, promising something for the entire family. Prices range from $30 for a half-hour ride, per person, up to two hours for $60 per head.

5. Allen’s Trail Rides bring riders storied western locations such as Peekaboo, a thrilling slot-canyon trail great for a bit of a spookier and more enclosed atmosphere, the Kanab Movie Fort, Diana’s Throne, and Pughe’s Canyon. Riders can book trips out for as short as an hour, or as long as several days ride out into the rugged west.

horseback riders navigating switchbacks

6. Red Rock Ride brings travelers the unique experience of a long-haul ride, offering seven-day guided rides for vacationers to enjoy. The tour will bring riders through locations such as Zion, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and the Paria and Red Canyons of Utah. Reserve now if interested, because reservations take place in the Spring and the Fall, and typical book a full year or more in advance. It’ll cost you approximately $2295 per person, and include a variety of niceties and accommodations, such as shuttle services to and from Las Vegas, and meals for the whole duration.

7. Duck Creek Horse Rides takes travelers through the peaceful Dixie Nation Forest out near Duck Creek Village on Cedar Mountain. Dixie National Forest stretches for a whopping 170 acres across southern Utah, taking up an area of nearly two million acres in all, and is the largest National Forest in the state. The location promises canyons, forests, rivers, and plains. All the best of Utah can be found here.

guides leading horses with new riders

8. Mystic River Outdoor Adventures can be found north of Glendale on Hwy 89. Besides being a prime place for horseback riding, the crew at Outdoor Adventures offer eight-person carriage rides alongside the river, and more, such as zip-lining over a 1600-foot drop, and shaved ice to cool down from that Utah heat!

three generations of women on horseback

One thing is clear, wherever riders choose to travel, Utah is the place to be. All eight of these travel locations offer scenic views, many with lodging and resort-like stays present, and promise a grand time for the individual and family.

Nowhere else in the world brings such rustic and storied location to life quite like the horse riding trails of Utah. It’s a place no rider should miss in their lives, and the people are ready and welcoming of visitors to their great state. Lovers of travel, horse riding, and the rugged west will find a place to remember upon the riding trails of Utah, that’s for sure.

Monday, August 19, 2019

The 9 Best National Monuments to Visit in Utah

The 9 Best National Monuments to Visit in Utah blog cover image

If you’re hoping to take a vacation this year that is both entertaining and relaxing, Utah is the ideal destination for you. Not only will you explore new scenery and beautiful sites, but you can also learn about Utah’s various National Monuments and what makes them so unique.

Check out the 9 best monuments you have to stop and see the next time you’re visiting Utah:

visitors overlooking the red rock from a vista point

1. Cedar Breaks National Monument

This monument isn’t as popular as most, so it’s often overlooked. Many people will speed right on by to Las Vegas without giving it a second glance but this is a very beautiful destination.

The rocks at this monument are known to be more colorful than most. This is because many of the other parks and monuments in this state contain more of a desert look and feel.

You’ll notice several bright and vivacious colors reflecting off the limestone rock formations. A unique fact about the colors is that they can change depending on the season, so it’ll feel like you’re seeing a whole new monument every time you come back. The sunset is also known to be an incredibly gorgeous mixture of colors.

crumbling brick structures in the sunset

2. Hovenweep National Monument

Since this monument is located farther away than most, you may have a secluded feeling when you step foot here. This monument is over 10,000 years old and is known to be a fairly underrated tourist destination spot. You’ll feel the history throughout this area. It used to be the home of over 2,000 different residents at one point in time.

You’ll find different structures formed as far back as 1200 AD that overlook several majestic canyons. Gaze down at the wondrous canyons beneath you as you venture through the various older structures. If you’re searching for a place to hike and explore, this is the location to do it. There are several hiking trails available to you for exploring.

As you journey down the hiking paths, you’ll find many popular or rare birds sitting along the tree branches ready to tweet a friendly “hello”. If you’re enjoying your time there and would like to stay a little longer, you can pay $15 a night to camp on the grounds. If you’d just like daily access to the park, it is free for everyone.

white formations hanging from the cave ceiling

3. Timpanogos Cave National Monument

Are you a brave and adventurous mountain climber? Then this is the monument made for you. This park features Mount Timpanogos. It’s a mountain you can climb that isn’t too extremely challenging, so even beginner climbers can make the journey up.

This is when you can start to explore the insides of the mountain you just climbed as you enter the Timpanogos Cave. This cave also provides a guided tour for only $8.

black and red steam engine with brass acents

4. Golden Spike National Historic Site

This site has some major history behind it. In 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad had finished its construction. This brought together the East and West areas located at Promontory Summit. To learn more about this site, you can head over to the headquarters to see different replica steam trains and different exhibits explaining the history here.

5. Dinosaur National Monument

This monument combines the best of both worlds that you and your kids are searching for: fun and learning. Unleash the dinosaur-lover inside you by visiting this monument with over 1,500 unique Jurassic fossils. You’ll also uncover all kinds of skeletons that are still preserved and available for viewing.

After you’ve learned all there is to know about dinosaurs, hop on over to the trampoline section of the monument. You and your family can jump on the different trampolines they have available in the park.

red natural arch glowing in the daylight

6. Rainbow Bridge National Monument

The adventure immediately begins as soon as you arrive at this park. When you first show up, you’ll notice a giant arch that stretches over a large majority of the land. Once you get to the park, you’ll need to park your car immediately. Then you’ll hop on a boat or begin your hike up to the arch to get the full view and experience.

Boating or hiking are both acceptable options to pursue. The hike is a little under two miles to reach the top, but others would still prefer to take the boat. This is because the view on your way to the bridge is breathtaking.

7. Natural Bridges National Monument

This park is known to be a special one. It was proclaimed Utah’s very first national monument in the year of 1908. This area was once inhabited by Native Americans. The current bridges found at this monument now are named Owachomo, Kachina, and Sipapu. Whichever bridge you choose to explore and stand on will give you a pretty view as you look out at the various canyons and deserts.

This is the ideal place to get active and experience beautiful sites along the way. There are approximately seven trails available for hiking in the park. You’ll find several hiking trails and bird species sitting along the trail as you stroll.

8. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

This area consists of a fairly small town. The surrounding land is fairly more rugged than the others. It’s one of the latest monuments in Utah to be discovered. Once you explore more of what this area has to offer, you’ll see different thin canyons along the way and two rivers. Though it isn’t super populated, you’ll see this area is still beautiful and contains a lot of heart.

9. Bears Ears National Monument

If you’re searching for a monument destination that will include different artifacts and gorgeous canyons, check out Bears Ears National Monument. You’ll get the chance to discover various canyons made of sandstone. You can also explore and view the different forests in the park.
Discover art made from rocks, ancient images and other wondrous souvenirs and artifacts from the monument.

While Utah contains several different types of National Parks and places to explore, the National Monuments may be the most wondrous. If gorgeous views and adventures are what you’re looking for, pack your family and friends up in your car and head on out for a road trip to the majestic state of Utah. Engage in a tour of these National Monuments to learn, see and do a lot of incredible things throughout this adventure.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

6 Best Places to Stand Up Paddleboard in Northern Utah

two women paddleboarding on the lake

The beautiful National Parks of northern Utah have become a popular tourist site over the past few years for those who enjoy stand up paddleboarding. Stand up paddleboarding, sometimes shortened to SUP, is derived from surfing. However, unlike surfing, the paddleboarder does not need to wait for a wave. Instead, they use a paddle to move. This makes paddleboarding perfect for places that do not naturally have large waves, and for people who want a more relaxed experience.

cars parked behind the beach and dock

Tibble Fork Reservoir

For those interested in a relaxing and affordable experience, Tibble Fork Reservoir is a great option. At only $6 for a day pass, the price is quite affordable. The reservoir is known for its scenic views and calm waters and winds. This is a great option for those who are just starting out or simply want to take in a view without stressing about rough waves. For those who are camping, the Granite Flat Campground is nearby.

Tibble Fork recently got a few upgrades to make it even nicer for standup paddleboarders. In 2016 the park added a dock to make it easier to access and created a beach. The only downside is that Tibble Fork is no secret - it might be worth it to get there early or late in the day to avoid crowds. Still, for those looking to get started paddleboarding, Tibble Fork is a great option.

looking out over the water and rolling hills

Jordanelle Reservoir

Jordanelle Reservoir is one of the most famous and popular in Utah. It is not only popular with paddleboarders, but also kayakers, swimmers, and others. Located only around 40 minutes from Salt Lake City, it also makes for a convenient getaway for those visiting the city. However, this also means that it is more crowded than some of the other options on this list.

There are several different areas that paddleboarders can enter the reservoir. One option is the Hailstone day-use area, which costs $10 on weekdays and $15 on weekends. Once in the reservoir, there are a few different places to go, including a no-wake zone for beginners. Jordanelle is a great option for those who are looking to get a little more experience and then venture out of the no-wake zone for more of a challenge.

paddleboarders and boaters on the blue water

Pineview Reservoir

Pineview is a great option for those who want to both paddleboard and fish (even at the same time!). The beaches also make for a great option if there are family members or friends who are not interested in paddleboarding. There are also areas reserved for swimming.

The scenery at Pineview is absolutely lovely, and since it boasts the warmest waters in Northern Utah it is easy to take some time to relax while paddleboarding or swimming to enjoy the view. There are also places where paddleboarders can get in for free.

Around an hour's drive from Salt Lake City, Pineview can get pretty crowded, so it is wise to get there early.

gray mountains standing above the water on an overcast day

Willard Bay State Park

Another warm water option is the Willard Bay State Park, located about 90 minutes from Salt Lake City off I-15. Willard Bay boasts some of the most extensive amenities of any park on this list, with dry storage, concessions, fish cleaning stations, restrooms with showers, and covered pavilions. The area is popular with birdwatchers as well as paddleboarders and fishers. The historic city of Ogden is also only about 12 miles away.

The mountains that surround Willard Bay make the location a uniquely enjoyable one to simply look at while paddleboarding. For those interested in fishing, the park is home to catfish, crappies, and smallmouth bass. However, before allowing a boat to be launched the park requires certification that it is free from any mussels.

Highland Glen Park

Highland Glen Park's Highland Pond is an ideal spot for beginning paddleboarders to get their feet wet. There is nowhere in the pond that is too far to swim to shore from (although there are no lifeguards). Inexperienced paddleboarders who go to Highland Glen will not be alone, as it is one of the most popular options for those new to the hobby.

The sandy beaches are great to take a break on or to just take in the view. The beaches also feature lots of options aside from paddleboarding, including a beach volleyball court, pavilions, and a playground for the kids. There are plenty of bike paths near the pond for those who want to branch out and enjoy multiple activities in the same area. The pond is populated with rainbow trout and channel catfish.

Highland Glen is also closer to Salt Lake City than many options on this list - it will only take a little over half an hour to get there from downtown.

Lower Provo River

This option stands out a bit from the others. Paddleboarding down a river is a different experience from a lake or pond. It is recommended to bring an inflatable paddleboard for this trip, since fiberglass boards may be damaged. This trip is recommended only for more experienced paddleboarders, and even then it is important to use a life-vest and paddleboarding leash.

The river sports small rapids, and at one point there is a bridge that some paddleboarders choose to portage around. For paddleboarders who are less experienced or just a bit nervous, there are guided tours available through local agencies. However, for more experienced paddleboarders, the river sports great scenery and an interesting challenge. When the river is calm, it can be a breathtaking and relaxing time to just float down the river and appreciate the scenery. Be aware that insuring paddleboards may not be possible for those who want to go out on the river.

Paddleboarding is a growing hobby that nobody should be afraid to give a try! For those who are considering getting started, the above options are a great place to start. Anyone who lives in Utah or is planning to take a vacation there should take a day to take advantage of all of the fun that can be had with standup paddleboarding.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Strawberry Reservoir: The Best Stillwater Fishing in Utah

Strawberry Reservoir: The Best Stillwater Fishing in Utah blog cover image

Ready to escape the hectic city life and enjoy a weekend away that’s filled with relaxation, family time and catching all sorts of unique fish? Then Strawberry Reservoir could be the perfect spot for you and your family to take a trip to this summer. Every year, tons of families and fishermen pack up and head out to “The Berry” to explore everything the best Stillwater fishing in Utah has to offer.

a small fishing boat moving slowly through the calm water

Where It’s Located

About an hour and a half outside of Salt Lake City, you’ll find Strawberry Reservoir waiting for you. As you drive, there are gorgeous views along the way. Take in wonderful sights like Heber Valley and Mount Timpanogos as you head to Strawberry Reservoir ready to start your exciting weekend.

You can even stop and fish along the way as Jordanelle Reservoir and Middle Provo River are both on the way to Strawberry. These are some great spots for mini fishing breaks before you make it to your final stop at Strawberry Reservoir.

a fishing net and a trout being held

What Kinds of Fish You’ll Find

Many streams located in the Uinta Basin will run into Strawberry. The spots at Strawberry Reservoir and even some of the stops along the way are very low-traffic but contain plenty of varieties of fish. You can find all different kinds of fish and insects such as damselflies, rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, crawfish, Stillwater mayflies, cutthroat trout, and large scuds.

a fishing canoe on the water at sunset

Getting Accustomed to the Strawberry Reservoir Lingo

While walking around the reservoir or if you’re purchasing different fishing supplies or bait in the shops, don’t be afraid to mingle with the local fishermen. You can learn about some pretty fascinating phrases they say that can be helpful to you on your trip. This is why it’s best for you to understand their turn of phrases. It can help increase your chances of catching more fish.

One phrase you're sure to hear are the words, “ice off.” This means that the ice sheet located on the Reservoir is melting away. This results in the fish going on a search to find a good meal and water that is a lot warmer. You’ll soon see very large portions of rainbow and cutthroat trout headed your way along the banks of the Reservoir. Get ready to catch as many of these fish as possible.

looking at the shoreline from the water

How to Fish For Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout

Since they’re desperately searching for warmth and a meal, these fish are ready to eat almost anything that comes their way. You’ll see as you engage in the first couple weeks of the “ice off” that these fish will eat almost anything thrown at them.

If you decide to come out to The Berry at this time of year, this is when you’ll have the best opportunity to catch some of the largest fish available to you. You can also use this time to experiment with all sorts of different flies and streamers since these fish aren’t too picky with what they eat this time of year.

There are a few flies that some fishermen have found the best success in when catching these fish such as streamers and wooly buggers that are found in different colors like white, olive, and black. Normally when these flies are used while fishing, they’re placed on a sinking line.

Many have found impressive results with the types of fish they catch and will see fish at around two to five pounds. This isn’t the only way you can successfully catch these fish. Some fishermen have found great success in using different types of topwater flies like poppers or mouse patterns and saw more fish that way as well.

a fisherman wading in the water, casting his line

Other Seasons to Fish

Once winter and spring start to fade, summer and fall will come along with other new ways to fish Strawberry. This is when you’ll find mayflies buzzing around and even better - fish ready to gulp those flies down. They like to do this early in the morning when the sun has first started to rise.

You can find them on the surface of the lake that is a little calmer in the morning before it starts to get hit by windy weather. This is where they will be feasting on mayflies and other insects, so this is a great spot to begin your day of fishing.

As the weather starts to heat up, the fish will want to cool down. This is when they will try to find water that’s colder so they move down into the deeper depths of the water. This is why your best fish-catching tool for this season will be a sinking line. The following are the best types of flies or streamers that will best be used with this line:

  • Damselfly
  • Scud Patterns
  • Wooly Bugger

Another pro fisherman tip would be to take the damselfly and scud pattern flies with you to the weed beds as you fish along their edges and try your best to catch whatever bites over there.

When fall hits, the fish are preparing for the cold to strike again. They will swim back over to water that is located a little more in the shallows to stay there for a few months, waiting for winter to arrive.

Other Things to Do At Strawberry Reservoir

Although Strawberry Reservoir is known as one of the best fishing spots in Utah, there’s much more that you can do there to truly make it a fun spot for the whole family. Bring your powerboat or pontoon along with you and have an exciting ride on the gorgeous water. Or grab some tubes and float along the Reservoir as well. Once you’ve finished your day fishing, boating, or tubing, grab your tent and pitch it with the family for a fun night of camping out and stargazing.

As you explore your campsite, you’ll see numerous crawfish crawling around on the ground or hiding on rocks in the water. Grab the kids and teach them how to hunt crawfish. It’s a fun adventure for everyone in the family to experience. As a bonus, crayfish are also delicious when boiled.

Whether you’re fishing in the spring, summer, or fall, Strawberry Reservoir is the place to visit. Enjoy your getaway by packing up and going on vacation with your family to boat or camp. Or use it as a relaxing vacation away from everyone else as you spend your days quietly fishing on the water. No matter what, you’re guaranteed to find enjoyment and relaxation at this Stillwater lake.