5 family-friendly outdoor must-sees in Northern Utah

Saturday , March 18, 2017 - 12:00 AM

STEPHANIE CHAMBERS, outdoors columnist

In just four short months I’ll be singing, “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Not because I am originally from there — I was born and raised in good ole’ Clearfield, but my husband is going there for work from July to June. We’re packing up for an adventure. At the end of our 10 month stint we’ll return to the land of milk and honey, and our outdoor heaven here in Utah. Until then, I have a feeling I’m going to miss winter. ...Maybe.

Last time we lived in Alabama, it was for 6 weeks in 2009 for a similar work training. During that first week, I found a brochure about Alabama’s outdoors and, when I wasn’t in a heat-induced coma, I went through it and planned weekend visits to the most desirable outdoor places.

Although some of our excursions were a little iffy, like the “lake” we visited that gave off a gangster/drug exchange/used condom vibe, most were a fun way to see the state. We rode a ferry into the swamps, swam in an alligator-free lake, and visited some beautiful beaches. 

Today, in the interest of good karma, I thought I’d list six destinations in Northern Utah that are a good showcase of our great outdoors and have been fun and accessible to my family.

We aren’t afraid of a little adventure, but want to stay safe (and avoid whining). So the criteria for these spots is:

  • Family-friendly
  • Low or No cost
  • We’ve been there and had a good time

Antelope Island — Hiking, biking, picnicking, photography, wildlife viewing, birdwatching, floating — this place has it all. One of Utah’s 43 State Parks, it’s surrounded by the Great Salt Lake, “America’s Dead Sea.” The Fielding Garr Ranch is a fun place to peek back in history and it’s hard not to see a bison if you drive around the island. We’ve made some fun family memories here. NOTE: Don’t visit April-June, unless you plan on wearing a fine-mesh head net — the bugs are resistant to insect repellent. (There is a $10 fee to get on the island; call 801-725-9263 or go to stateparks.utah.gov/parks/antelope-island/)

Pineview Dam — This is a picturesque reservoir surrounded by mountains. It’s a great place for boating, but also for swimming and lounging on a few beaches. Windsurfer beach is our favorite place to swim, but we also enjoy playing on the beach and in the water at Cemetery Point. I’ve never camped at Anderson Cove, but friends tell me it’s a great way to experience Pineview Dam. (Learn more at www.utah.com/pineview-reservoir)

Snowbasin — If you want to see the Northern Utah mountains, this winter ski resort (as well as Power Mountain and Nordic) also offers summer hiking and biking. It’s a great way to catch some spectacular views and experience skiing or hiking in Utah. In the summer and fall you can choose to ride the lift up and bike down, disc golf, or just explore family-friendly trails from the base of the mountain. And in the winter and through most of spring, the skiing can be whatever level you choose. Find out more about summer at Snowbasin at www.snowbasin.com/events/detail/summer-opening-day1

Logan Canyon Stokes Nature Center — Located a short hike up a dirt trail next to the Logan River that winds down Logan Canyon, it’s a charming little spot that highlights area wildlife, has a nice play area for exploring the river, and a tree swing. Our family had a great time picnicking, exploring the trails, and taking off our shoes and socks to splash in the river. In the winter, they rent snowshoes for trail exploration. Go to www.logannature.org for more information.

Bear Lake —The gorgeous topaz blue lake that crosses the Utah/Idaho border is a fabulous place to explore. It has sandy beaches and shallow water that allow for lots of family fun. We’ve only been in the summer. Rendezvous beach is a great place to spend the day, but the Idaho-side state park is fun too. Go to www.bearlake.org/ for more information.

We will miss all these places when we leave, but we’re hoping to find some good outdoor spots to fall in love with in Alabama.

Do you know of a great adventure in Alabama? Stephanie Chambers can be reached at chambers.steph@gmail.com

Sign up for e-mail news updates.