Make it memorable! Plot something special, or plan some serious lassitude. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Best viewing time for star gazing is the week of, or before, the new moon (June 23, July 23, August 21), when moonlight does not compete with starlight. The Salt Lake Astronomical Society calendar lists star-gazing opportunities at Stansbury Island, Wheeler Farm and beyond. Bryce Canyon, “last grand sanctuary of natural darkness,” offers constellation tours, telescope basics, “planesphere” practice and an annual astronomy festival (June 21-24). Or just go camping and stare up at the stars on your own.
Then there’s the total eclipse of the sun, visible only within a narrow swath of land across the country, including Wyoming, on August 21. “Close is not close enough,” according to Eclipse2017.org, so check out their map and plan a trip north now.
Utah’s Holiday River Expeditions is offering a Dark Sky Stargazing Trip Series this summer in partnership with the Clark Planetarium, including a Gates of Lodore trip with Dr. Fabio Falchi, a leading scientist on light pollution and the disappearing dark sky. BikeRaft.com
Can you spell bioluminescence? Yes, fireflies are being seen more and more frequently in Utah. Find them from May into early July around Salt Lake City and Park City particularly near wetlands. For a map of sightings: https://nhmu. utah.edu/utah-firefly-sighting-submission-form
Green grilling for a better cookout
We noticed a preponderance of grills (both gas and charcoal) in this year’s neighborhood cleanup piles. To help you take care of the grill you’ve got, grilling guru Derrick Riches provides a troubleshooting and repair guide, as well as a list of grills that last. (If you fire up frequently, consider a natural gas version.) www.thespruce.com
S’mores with a local twist
Want the best s’mores ever? Utah-made Madysson’s Marshmallows contain all natural, kosher ingredients without preservatives. Available at Whole Foods @ Trolley and The Store in Holladay. Or pick up some handmade Camp Robber marshmallows (made in Idaho), available at Liberty Heights Fresh.
Choose from the abundance of fabulous local chocolate bars (our favorite is Solstice).
As to the graham crackers: We still like the Honey Maid of our childhood. The more ambitious among you might make your own. Try the new certified organic, non-GMO bread flour from Utah’s own Lehi Roller Mills ($16/25 lbs.).
It’s social: Hang out with your friends, swing and chat. It’s potentially romantic: Two of you in a hammock (provided it’s not too hot out).
Relax, take a nap: something about the swinging motion puts us out like a light.
Good for your brain: Napping helps improve concentration and learning… but even if you don’t fall asleep, the rocking motion helps synchronize your brainwaves.
Super easy: Go get yourself a hammock and start hammocking! Swing solo in your yard or on your porch, socialize in parks or take it camping.
For basic hammocking, get yourself a simple, lightweight, hammock you can attach to trees. Available at REI and Dancing Cranes. For ease in attaching anywhere, pick up a hammock suspension system. ($30 at REI).
An ancient tradition: Watch a sunset
If you have a smartphone with a weather app, you know sunrise and sunset times. Get high enough for a good view (downtowners often head for the hills behind the Capitol and Avenues). Give yourself enough time. Bring something to sit on, and maybe a beverage or a picnic. Skip the smalltalk.
Go on a wildflower walk
The best time to see wildflowers on the northern Utah trails depends on two factors: temperature—warm enough but not too hot; and elevation—the higher the elevation, the later the blooming season. The five best trails to see wildflowers in Utah, according to Wanderookie.com, are:
- Timp Basin Meadows aka the Flower Garden: The second highest peak in the Wasatch also has one of the best wildflower meadows.
- Albion Basin: Looking for a kid friendly wildflower hike in Utah? Try Cecret (not a typo) Lake trail located in the Albion Basin near Alta Ski Resort (Little Cottonwood Canyon).
- Silver Lake in American Fork Canyon: Not only does this trail have wildflowers, it also has waterfalls and two alpine lakes (one at the beginning and one at the end).
- Timp Caves Trail: This trail is typically known for the Timpanogos Caves National Monument, but it also has a good selection of colorful wildflowers. In fact, the visitor’s center has information on a wildflower scavenger hunt for the trail.
- White Pine Lake in Logan Canyon: Described as one of the best hikes in northern Utah, White Pine Lake in Logan is covered in a rainbow of wildflowers.
(Thank you, Zach and Maria of Wanderookie.com!)
Cool off in a cave
Located in a picnic ground in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Ledgemere Cave is easily accessible.
Timpanogos Cave is a popular geologic wonder. Purchase tickets in advance: $8 from www.nps.gov/ tica/planyourvisit/fees.htm
Deep fun @ Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch
On the edge of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, a few miles from the Burr Trail lies the 173-acre Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch. The ranch is a permaculture project in the making, complete with beaver dams and swales. Last year co-owner Brandie Hardman spearheaded the restoration of Sweetwater Creek which flows through the ranch, in a project lauded by both the Natural Resource Conservation Services and U.S. Fish Wildlife & Parks.
The main lodge is home to Erik Arballo’s Sweetwater Restaurant, where all meat is local, organic and pasture-raised. There are also private cabins, Native American-style tipis, fully equipped “cowboy tents” and camping accommodations.
This year BMGR is stepping up its special event/workshop schedule. Check their website throughout the summer for activities—retreats related to various aspects of permaculture, yoga, bodywork, wildcrafting, spiritual practice, music (a state of the art recording studio nears completion) and more.
It’s also a wonderful place if you just want to get out of the city, to relax, hike and eat good food. It is also a spectacular place to stargaze. Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch is our favorite get-away. www.bouldermountainguest ranch.com