The biggest decision to make in Utah’s Heber Valley is whether to hike, bike, zipline or go fishing or golfing in warm weather or ski, snowboard or snowshoe in winter. It’s ideal location between Park City and Sundance also offers museums, fine dining, and a scuba diving center that will give you serious bragging rights.
Scuba diving in Utah? Yes. The Homestead Resort Crater in Midway is an unusual geological formation, warm water inside an ancient limestone dome. I’m PADI certified, so I used the resort’s equipment to explore the cave walls and enjoy the play of sunlight on the clear mineral water. There’s also snorkeling equipment available, or just soak in the thermal water, or take the above-ground tour to learn about the crater’s history.
I’m a skier, drawn repeatedly to the “Greatest Snow on Earth” of the Wasatch Mountains, and Heber Valley is a quiet and affordable alternative to slopeside accommodations. The Jordanelle Gondola is the “back door” to Deer Valley, whisking you to the top in less than ten minutes. Plus, you get a picture postcard view en route of the Jordanelle Reservoir.
Deer Valley is famous for its impeccably groomed slopes in winter, and an excellent mountain biking school in summer.
The cross-country and biathlon events were held in Soldier Hollow in the 2002 Olympic Games. Now, it’s part of Wasatch Mountain State Park. In winter, you can XC the trails or go snow tubing, or play golf here in warmer weather. Soldier Hollow is also in Midway.
Spring through fall, ride the historic route of the old Union Pacific railroad on the Heber Valley Railroad. It’s a scenic trip along the shores of the Deer Creek Reservoir in a vintage steam train. A family favorite is the Wild West theme ride, with make-believe train robbers in period dress.
There also are hundreds of miles of maintained trails in the Heber Valley, ranging from easy walks to strenuous, rocky paths for the super-fit.
There are multiple choices at at Zipline Utah. Take tour across water at Deer Creek Reservoir, and Max Zipline, a tree-top canopy tour, to experience impressive views of Mt. Timpanogos, one of the highest peaks in Utah, and the Provo River. It’s tame enough for beginners, and challenging enough for those who like an adrenaline rush.
There are five golf courses in the area, too. Don’t let the dramatic mountain views distract you, and try not to hook a shot into the water at Crater Springs Golf Course or the lakes course at Wasatch Mountain.
The valley’s two main towns, Midway and Heber City, have a small town flavor, and a couple of fascinating small museums. The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum shows the hardships the first settlers faced. The Commemorative Air Force Utah Wing Museum is mostly about the state’s role in World War II, and displays vintage planes.
My two choices for accommodations are:
Zermatt Resort is a modern resort with Swiss-style décor, including stenciled walls and antique furnishing accessories. I love the resort’s an unusual hot tub with a waterfall, and the spa offers European-style treatments. Packages include lift tickets in snow season or golf tee times other times of the year.
The elegant Blue Boar Inn is one of the finest B&Bs in Utah, not just in the Heber Valley. It’s an elegant, upscale retreat ideal for a romantic getaway. The inn’s restaurant also is well regarded for its upscale European dining.
And all of this is just 30 minutes from either Salt Lake City or Park City.
Photo of ecoxplorer Evelyn Kanter courtesy (C) Evelyn Kanter
Other photos courtesy Go Heber Valley