Your Guide to Memorial Day Weekend in Utah

May 21, 2018
By: Ann Whittaker

Memory, all alone in the moonlight, you can dream of the old days — you were beautiful then. But luckily, since you’re not a sad cat in a Broadway musical, you can make new memories while celebrating old ones. Memorial Day, unofficially the first day of summer, is the perfect time to dust off your photo albums, fire up the grill and/or hit the road. Whether your holiday plans have you dancing on rooftops and shouting “Tradition!” or wondering what’s around the riverbend, we’ve got you covered, with itineraries for staying put or wandering. If nothing else, at least this tortured musical mixed metaphor is over!

A Day of Remembrance

How to pay tribute to the brave men and women who fought (and fight) for our freedom:Before you get the wakeboard out of the garage and start buffing it with hotdogs grease, take a moment to remember the actual significance of Memorial Day: honoring those who died fighting for freedom and American ideals. Here are a few of the special events around the state that pay tribute to the sacrifice of those brave men and women.

Fort Douglas Museum (Salt Lake City)

Memorial Day program at Fort Douglas Cemetery

Monday morning 9:15 a.m.

Music, wreath laying, gun salute, memorial prayers and remarks

Memory Grove (Salt Lake City)

Visit memorials for Utah's veterans and a replica of the Liberty Bell

City Creek Canyon road is great for walking, jogging and cycling

Veterans Cemetery & Memorial Park (Bluffdale)

Staycations

This holiday, keep it simple by keeping it close.

Ogden

A hop, skip and a FrontRunner ride north of Salt Lake City, Ogden has it all — miles of hiking trails, straight shots to ski resorts and a downtown so cute you’ll want to squeeze it to death. Start your weekend by heading to the hills and hiking your heart out. Meander by springs on Birdsong Trail, or kick it up a notch and scale iconic Ben Lomond. Swap two feet for four wheels and drive up scenic Ogden Canyon, which passes fishing holes, ski resorts and reservoirs on its tree-lined path. Head back to the city and bring the outdoors inside with Ogden’s premier selection of extreme (indoor!) sports. Get vertical at iRock, an indoor climbing gym with routes for beginners and experts. Get wet at Flowrider Utah, a 10,000-gallon wave that double-dog dares you to surf it. Get airborne at iFly, a (you guessed it) indoor skydiving center where you can take to the air in safety. Speaking of taking to the air, don’t forget to stop by Hill Aerospace Museum to learn about the history of human flight. End the day on historic 25th Street for some shopping, dining and drinks.

Utah Valley

With miles of mountains and trails, a yawning cave and a nearby star-studded ski resort, it’s no wonder they call this place Happy Valley. Get your smile on with our two-day itinerary, which takes you from the dinosaur museum at Thanksgiving Point on Friday to dinner in downtown Provo Saturday night. In between, try spelunking at Timpanogos Cave, where you can gawk at stalactites (or is it stalagmites?!). Rest your weary legs by driving the Alpine Loop, a scenic drive from American Fork Canyon to Provo Canyon that will make you realize where all those screensaver pictures came from. Slow things down with a high-elevation picnic (read: scarfing on sammies and chips) and stretch your legs on a hike to Stewart Falls. Stop by Robert Redford’s Sundance resort for some treats (and celeb sightings) before heading to downtown Provo, where you can mingle with the college kids and tuck into some fine cuisine. Elevate your Italian game at Pizzeria 712, keep it family-friendly at Brick Oven or savor some contemporary Native American cuisine at upscale Black Sheep. Work off those calories with a walk on the Provo River Trail, then put them back on with ice cream at Rockwell’s. Happy Valley, right?

Heber Valley

Get the Swiss Alps without the chalet budget in Heber Valley, a pastoral swath of earth squished between mountain peaks. Once upon a time, a bunch of Swiss immigrants set down roots and made the whole place look like a milkmaid’s paradise. The valley is cool in the summer and cozy in the winter, with a bevy of recreational activities to match. Are your boots made for walking? The nearby hills are alive with the sound of hiking, (yeah, we know The Sound of Music is in Austria, but it’s still the Alps, okay?). More of a sitting-sport type? Saddle up and take in the sights on a horse, or drive the scenic routes through the nearby mountains, where a whole world of lakes and ponds is waiting for you and your fishing pole. Expecting the unexpected? Head over to the Homestead Crater, a geothermal hot spring tucked into a 5-story rock dome, where you can snorkel, scuba dive or paddleboard. Tired from all the fun? Rest your weary head at one of the many Swiss-inspired bed and breakfasts and hotels, where you can definitely justify eating chocolate at 10:00 a.m.

Destinations

Memorial Day is the perfect time to take your first road trip of the year. Here are a couple awesome endpoints.

Kanab

In a world of mind-bending redrock, the little town of Kanab is what the kids these days call an influencer – it’s way cool and is close to all the right people national parks, national monuments and canyons. Kanab is the jumping-off point for everything from Zion to the Grand Canyon, but it’s got its own thing going, too. Follow our three-day family itinerary and you can’t go wrong. Start with a visit to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, a menagerie of rescued horses, bunnies, puppies and birds (treatment for cuteness shock is the same as for regular shock: elevate the legs, keep warm and comfortable, etc.). Now that your heart is full, fill your stomach with their 5-buck vegetarian buffet. Next, lace up your boots ’cause there’s hikes in them thar hills! Break Instagram with shots from The Wave, an undulating swell of red rock ocean, or suck in your stomach and slide through that narrowest of slot canyons, Peekaboo! Rest up at one of the nearby motels or bed and breakfast spots, then start the next day with a picnic in Jacob Hamblin Park and some hikes 30 minutes away in Zion National Park. Bike the paved Pa’rus trail, take in the Toadstools hike or strike gold at the Silver Bear rock shop. Go home happy (and maybe with an adopted horse?).

Castle Country

You’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. You’re in Castle Country, a red rock swath of high desert in eastern Utah. As always, we’ve got your three-day itinerary on lock, which takes you from a morning in Arches National Park to lunch in nearby Moab before a drive to San Juan County that is packed with as many ruins as there are ogle-able overlooks. Hit up House on Fire rock and the Anasazi ruins outside Monticello, then picnic your way to Blanding, where you can contemplate your smallness next to the preserved Indian dwellings at Edge of the Cedars and Hovenweep. Finish your day with a scenic drive and some hiking in the Valley of the Gods, where you will likely have the divine rock formations all to yourself, then stop by Nine Mile Canyon, where you can see some of the West’s best panels of native rock art. Not bad, Castle Country. Not bad.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon is a high-elevation cathedral and reads like the who’s who of hoodoos — skinny spires of orange rock that defy both gravity and your teenager’s determination not to be impressed by anything. Take the scenic byway into the park and then take a hike. Revel in the scenery on the Navajo Loop trail, a series of switchbacks that will make your heart pump and your head spin (in a good way). Still not tired? Take the Fairyland Loop Trail to the Tower Bridge (9 out of 10 fairies can’t be wrong), or chill at the overlook and watch the sunset. If you want 100 more things to do (not a joke), peruse our unabridged guide for more Bryce Canyon shenanigans. And don’t forget dinner and an overnight at one of the surrounding inns and motels!

Camping/Hiking

You finally had that persistent eyebrow twitch examined and you’ve been diagnosed with cabin fever. We’re so sorry. In lieu of flowers and soup, take this list of campgrounds and hiking trails. Feel better soon.

Camping with kids? Start with our Tips for Camping with Kids article to learn some sweet tricks to keep those littles entertained and outta trouble.

CAMPGROUNDS & HIKING TRAILS

 

CAMPGROUNDS

Salt Lake City Campgrounds

Park City Campgrounds

Ogden Campgrounds

Zion National Park Campgrounds

Arches National Park Campgrounds

Bryce Canyon National Park Campgrounds

Canyonlands National Park Campgrounds

Capitol Reef National Park Campgrounds

HIKING TRAILS

Salt Lake City Hiking Trails

Park City Hiking Trails

Ogden Hiking Trails

Zion National Park Hiking Trails

Arches National Park Hiking Trails

Bryce Canyon National Park Hiking Trails

Canyonlands National Park Hiking Trails

Capitol Reef National Park Hiking Trails

Events

Utahns knows how to have a good time. We pretty much invented dry wedding receptions, after all. Here are a few ongoing shindigs into which you can dig Memorial Day weekend.

Antelope Island Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering

Antelope Island State Park | Fielding Garr Ranch

• A 4-day event with the best western musicians and cowboy poets in the state of Utah

• Take a historic wagon ride, visit booths with saddle makers, hat makers, spurs, chaps and other cowboy collectibles

• Two dinner shows (Friday and Saturday evening)

• Cowboy Church on Sunday morning

• Potluck Campfire sing-along Sunday evening

• Games and educational activities for kids

• Western food for breakfast, lunch and dinner More info here.

Bryce Canyon Country Rodeo

Rodeos are held nightly, Wednesday – Saturday all summer long

Get tickets at Ruby's Inn or at the gate

Bull riding available for any interested adults

Steer riding and sheep riding available for the kids

Salt Lake Bees Baseball

Summer time? Baseball time. Kick off your summer with a night at the ballpark.

Heber Valley Railroad's Wild West Days

Train ride, magic show, Wild West show, photography and all things fun for the family

Golden Spike Railroad Reenactment

When two railroads really, really love each other they link together and become one. Then they seal their union with a golden trinket, put up a museum and reenact the occasion all summer.

The Golden Spike ceremony happens Saturdays and holidays at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. from early May to mid-September, and locomotive demonstrations with replicas of the original Jupiter and No. 119 run daily from May 1 to mid-October.

Related Articles

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Top 5 Overnight Backpacking Trails in Utah

 

Why Heber Valley is Family Vacation Bliss

 

Hiking Trails in Utah

The best way to experience the diverse landscapes of Utah is by hiking through them. Find information on hiking trails in Utah here.

 

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