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10 Tips from Locals on How to Make the Most of Your Time in Heber Valley

10 Tips from Locals on How to Make the Most of Your Time in Heber Valley

Heber Valley is one of the most beautiful sections of Utah—and it’s filled with a variety of options for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. Where do you get started? We went straight to the source, asking locals what they would recommend for first-time visitors to Heber Valley. Here are the 10 tips they came up with:

1. Get a Guide to Take You Fly Fishing

The Provo River has its start in the High Uintas Mountains, and it runs 70 miles from Trial Lake located in Summit County to Utah Lake in Provo. It’s the source of two of the valley’s large reservoirs—the Jordanelle and Deer Creek—which provide both power and irrigation (not to mention recreation) to people in the Wasatch region. It’s also home to some of the best fly fishing in the county. For first-timers in the valley, go ahead and use a guide service to find your best fishing options on the river. Both Fish Heads Fly Shop and Rocky Mountain Outfitters can set you up with a guide to take you to the best sections of the river and make sure you have what you need to pull in those fish.

2. Explore ATV trails

Go off-roading on scenic mountain trails via a single-rider ATV or a spacious side-by-side that fits a whole family. Drive up to panoramic views of Heber Valley’s reservoirs, hopefully spotting deer, elk, or even a moose along the way. More than 10,000 acres are open to motorized exploration, and you can cover ground fast to see the sights in a few hours.

3. Take a Ride on the Heber Valley Railroad

Take a relaxing ride on the historic Heber Valley Railroad.
Take a relaxing ride on the historic Heber Valley Railroad. Alex Marinenko

One of the most popular attractions in Heber Valley is the historic Heber Valley Railroad. The 16 miles of track between the valley and Vivian Park in Provo Canyon offer access to some of the most spectacular scenery in the state. The scenic excursions range from one and a half hours round-trip, to three hours round-trip. Seasonal activity rides are also available. Heber Valley Railroad's popular excursions include Monday Night Train, the North Pole Express, Murder Mystery, the Tube 'n Train (snow tubing and train ride) and Rafts 'n Rails (river rafting and train ride).

4. Get a Big House

Because of all the family-friendly outdoor experiences, Heber Valley has become a popular spot for family reunions. It’s a great area of the country where you can rent a big house and spend some quality time together. Got a big family? That’s not an issue with the Silver Springs Lodge in Heber City, Utah, which can accommodate more than 40 people. This luxury lodge features 10 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, a game room, a media theater room, and a private pool and spa. Outside the home there’s plenty of room to play, with a large nearby pond for canoeing and fishing. You’re also just minutes away from trails for hiking, mountain biking, and ATVing. It’s become a popular spot for both family reunions and destination weddings, with staff available to assist with the planning if desired.

5. Explore the Mountain Biking Trails

Choose from plenty of interconnected singletrack options for mountain bikers in Heber Valley.
Choose from plenty of interconnected singletrack options for mountain bikers in Heber Valley. Monique Beeley/Heber Valley Tourism

Located just southwest of Midway, Utah, is the Dutch Hollow Canyon Trail System, which features a series of interconnected singletrack loops, each about one to three miles long. In total you can find more than 14 miles of unique trails, which start at an altitude of 5,750 feet and rise to 6,800 feet. But you don’t have to do a lot of climbing (unless you want to), as there are smooth, relatively flat trails for beginners. If you want to challenge yourself, there are plenty of options that feature tight singletrack with roots, rocks, and stumps, in addition to the climbing.

6. Go Scuba Diving

Scuba diving’s not the first sport that comes to mind when you think of Utah. But Heber Valley is home to the continental United States’ only warm water scuba diving destination: a 55-foot tall beehive-shaped, natural limestone formation called Homestead Crater, which hides a geothermal spring. The 65-foot deep water maintains a steady bathtub temperature of 90–96 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, making it an ideal place to certify before diving in more tropical locales. You won’t find Nemo here—the Crater’s a fish-free zone—but you can perfect your diving and ear-clearing skills here for the real world. After stripping off your wetsuit, stick around to soak in the therapeutic mineral waters.

7. Ride the World’s Longest Zipline

Heber Valley has two zip-lining options that will thrill the whole family. Zipline Utah, located in Deer Creek State Park, features an open-air zipline course that includes wide-open views of the Deer Creek Reservoir and the surrounding mountains. Adventurous types will want to try the Screaming Falcon course, which features a 3,900 foot zipline over Rainbow Bay, the longest zipline ride in the world over this size body of water. The course also includes a total of 10 ziplines and seven aerial suspension bridges. Zipline Utah is targeted at older kids, with a minimum size of 75 pounds to ride.

While offering plenty of thrills on its own, Adventure Zipline Utah in Provo Canyon offers tree-top canopy tours that are accessible for younger adventurers with a minimum weight of 45 pounds. But those seeking excitement will find plenty to love here as well here in the Wasatch Mountains overlooking the Provo River.

8. Take Advantage of the Jordanelle Reservoir

Paddle around the Jordanelle Reservoir.
Paddle around the Jordanelle Reservoir. Eric Ward

If you enjoy the water, head to this state park where you can swim, paddle, and play at this reservoir—all just 15 minutes from Heber City. Surrounded by Wasatch peaks and home to sandy beaches, Jordanelle’s a swimmer’s dream. For solitude and less development, visit the quiet Rock Cliff Recreation Area on the reservoir’s eastern shore where views of the Provo River flowing into Jordanelle await. It’s the best swimming spot thanks to a long "wakeless" bay, and a training destination for triathletes.

Can’t get enough of Jordanelle? Spend the night at a Floating Campground and enjoy the lake life after dark. The two-level secluded structures are accessible by boat and are akin to rugged houseboats. Make s’mores on the gas fire pit or stare up at the starry sky on the upstairs deck. Then pitch your tent or fall asleep peacefully under the stars, knowing that you’ll be the first ones on the water tomorrow.

9. Visit Cascade Springs

Located along Utah’s famous fall leaf and scenic byway, the Alpine Loop, Cascade Springs is a must for families. The short, paved trail leads to mini waterfalls cascading off rocky ledges, and the area’s filled with interpretive signs designed to teach you and little ones about local wildlife and vegetation. In summer, look for colorful wildflowers blooming along the trail. Note that lower paths are stroller- and wheelchair-friendly and accommodating for all ability levels.

10. Explore the Arts

The Heber Valley has a small and thriving arts community. Year-round, you'll find theater and dance performances given throughout the valley. In the summer, plays are performed by High Valley Arts in a beautiful outdoor theater, under the majestic shadow of Mount Timpanogos. Or, if you prefer indoor performances, the historic Social Hall houses the performances of Timpanogos Valley Theater. Discover history in one of the local museums or browse through galleries to find the best local artists, photographers and designers.

Written by Jenny Willden for RootsRated in partnership with Utah Office of Tourism and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

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