Utah's Complicated Great Outdoors

Perhaps the first two characteristics that come to mind when someone mentions Utah are “Mormons” and “the great outdoors.” Although Alaska and California are tied for the most national parks (with eight each), Utah has five national parks and is not even among the ten largest states. Because California is twice as big as Utah, and Alaska is eight times as big, the fact that Utah ranks third in number of total national parks speaks to the diversity of outdoor recreation that can be found in the Beehive State. Outdoor recreational activities—which can be found on mountains and ski slopes and sand dunes, in canyons and lakes and rivers and hot springs, beside waterfalls, and deep within forests and caves—are vital to Utah’s economy. Such sites need to be protected so that hikers, skiers, rock climbers, kayakers, and campers will return year after year. Although some of Utah’s great outdoor sites are under threat, all of its sites have fascinating histories that most visitors and nature enthusiasts wouldn’t even know about. Those outdoor adventurers who are interested in adding an extra layer of insight on trips through canyons, up mountains, or to Utah’s national parks should read on.

The Bomber Peak Crash Site

On March 9, 1955, a World War II-era B-25 bomber took off in Great Falls, Montana, refueled at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, and attempted to cross the Wasatch Mountains as it made its way towards a base in Riverside, California. However, snowy…

The Legend and History of Bridal Veil Falls

According to a contested Native American legend of dubious origin (see Farmer, 360, 375-77), a girl named Norita fell in love with Grey Eagle, a young man from a rival tribe near Provo Canyon’s Bridal Veil Falls. The couple planned to elope, but…

Camp Steiner: The Holy Grail of Scouting

At Camp Steiner, the highest-elevation Boy Scout camp in the United States, “hundreds of boys have earned thousands of merit badges” since its opening in 1930. Many of the camp’s activities are held at Scout Lake, where boys can sail small boats,…

Charles Steen’s Former Hilltop Mansion

Each year, over 1.5 million outdoor enthusiasts visit Arches National Park, a mountain biker, hiker, and rock climber paradise, located outside of Moab. One popular restaurant where adrenaline junkies and nature lovers can refill is Sunset Grill,…

Eugene “Timp” Roberts’ Annual Timpanogos Hike

Shortly after marrying Sytha Brown in 1906, Eugene L. Roberts and his newlywed bride decided to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Swiss Alps. One evening, near Einsiedeln, Switzerland, Roberts watched as 5,000…

Moab’s Uranium Mill Tailings Pile

Outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to Moab because of its location along the Colorado River and its proximity to both Arches and Canyonlands National Park. The federal government has taken an active role in the conservation of land and wildlife in the…