Utah is among the lesser-known vacationing spots in the United States drawing outdoor enthusiasts. But apart from the hiking, skiing and natural beauty, the state also attracts families looking for a more active getaway. If you’re looking for something different this year, start searching the utah vacation rentals and start planning your dream trip. Keep reading and discover these essential things all families should know before visiting the Beehive State.
Hiking and Mountain Trails
One of the reasons Utah attracts such a diverse crowd relates to its vast and accessible wilderness. Hundreds of trails lead through the mountains and canyons to hidden lakes, vantage points and picnicking spots. But this can be both a blessing and a disadvantage, especially for those with more adventurous kids. Some of the landscapes look appealing, and it can be fun to get off the path and explore. But getting lost is much easier than most people think. Dozens of people get stranded out in the open each year in Utah. Don’t become one of them.
If you’re planning to go hiking, have a map and make sure you plan your route carefully. Always stick to the path and follow the signs. When your children want to run around, don’t let them get too far ahead and keep them in your sight. Older kids might want to snap their own photographs. Take care not to lose sight of them and warn them of the dangers of getting lost. It’s always a good idea to aim to finish the trail and return to your car at least a few hours before it starts to get dark. And bring lots of food and water, especially if you’re out in Utah during the summer months. Just be aware that being so far from civilisation means that you’re unlikely to get a phone signal.
Watch out for the wildlife
The next thing all families should know about Utah is the vast and diverse array of wildlife. The elk and deer grazing in the distance appear docile and photogenic. And most of the time they are. But the real threat to hikers and mountain bikers lurk in the undergrowth. If you’re out in the canyons or national parks, always keep your eyes open for snakes, scorpions and spiders. Ask the park ranger for suggestions on how to spot them and warn your children to stay alert.
The biggest concern for outdoor enthusiasts is the number of venomous snakes in the desserts and plains. Rattlesnakes hide in the shrub and can strike without warning giving a deadly bite. Fortunately, they usually only interact with humans after they have been disturbed. A top tip: Knowing how to identify whether a snake is dangerous or not can often be the difference between a deadly bite and passing the snake safely. Typically, the dangerous ones exhibit a triangular-shaped head and long thin pupils. If you see one of these, get away as swiftly as possible.
Spiders and scorpions usually come out to play in the early evening and during the darkness. But as mentioned above, it’s also advisable to get back from the trails well before the sun starts to set. But if you do find yourself out and it’s getting dark, make sure you’re on a heightened alert for the deadly insects crawling around your feet. Other dangers parents should be aware of include black bears, mountain lions and wild moose. However, these are rarely encountered if you stick to the well-trodden routes.
Get a guide
After reading the warnings above, it stands to reason that hiring a guide for the day is the best option for families. But apart from leading you around the trails, they can also prove to be a valuable educational tool. The experts can quickly identify plant and animals tracks, which can become an impromptu lesson for the little ones. Search around and consider what you want to get out of your trip. If you’re going to hit the shorter trails to get views of the canyons, a guide probably isn’t worth it. But those who want to get further away and have a more enriching experience might benefit from one.
Not all outdoor enthusiasts visit Utah during the summer months. A sizable proportion head down in the winter to hit the slopes. Utah hosts dozens of ski resorts with the more popular ones including Alta, Brighton and Park City. Towards the end of winter in late January and early February, it’s not unheard of for the snow to reach several metres in depth. When there’s a lot of snow, it increases the chance of an avalanche. This deadly natural event tends to occur in the less-visited pistes and can often be avoided. Monitor the snow conditions and always follow safety instructions. Parents should also stick to the easier slopes and avoid going backcountry regardless of how old the kids are.
Another aspect of skiing in Utah worth mentioning is the icy conditions on the roads. Mountain roads can quickly turn into ice rinks and sudden blizzards can reduce visibility to practically zero in a matter of seconds. If you do encounter a whiteout, just pull over in a layby and wait for it to pass.
An Outdoor Adventure in Utah with Kids
Utah is about as wild as it gets and families from around the United States flock down for a holiday of fun. Just make sure you stick to well-marked trails, watch out for snakes and consider getting a guide. In skiing season, be aware of avalanches and take care when driving in icy and snowy conditions.