The Wasatch Mountain range lies to the east of Salt Lake City. This 160 mile mountain range extends from the Utah-Idaho border down into southern Utah. We had never been to said mountains before. We learned that our friends Joann and Charlie, who we met first in Alaska, were camp hosting for several months at Wasatch Mountain State Park. They encouraged us to come explore this beautiful part of Utah. We were glad that we did.
Established in 1961, the Wasatch Mountain State Park consists of 21,592 acres. The park is at 5,900 feet and many folks from the Salt Lake City area come to enjoy both the cooler temperatures and outdoor activities. The park offers hiking, camping, off roading, mountain biking, and golfing. There is a golf course, Soldier Hollow, at the park. Wildlife, such as moose, elk, deer, and wild turkeys, are found throughout the park. While we were there, the weather was very pleasant during the day and cold during the night. We actually had to pull out our long pants and fleece in the evenings. We were told that these temperatures were unusually cold for June. They had some snow flurries the week before and there was still snow remaining on the mountain tops.
The first full day that we were there, Charlie and Joann gave us a tour of the area. We drove up Pine Canyon to the Wasatch Over Wasatch (WOW) trail to do some hiking. This trail is a favorite among mountain bikers but there were also some hikers on it. Its a 9.2 mile trail that drops 2,000 feet down to the town of Midway. We only hiked a section of the trail but it was beautiful. One of the great things about this trail was that it afforded us some amazing views of the Heber Valley below and the surrounding mountains. The trail took us through stands of aspen trees and it was littered with blooming wildflowers. It was great to be hiking with Charlie and Joann again. The first time that we hiked together was in Denali State Park in Alaska. We also saw them last summer in New Mexico and this fall in Arizona. Funny how our paths keep crossing.
After our hike, we drove over Empire Pass to Park City. Park City is a well known winter skiing area and was one of the sites of the 2002 Winter Olympics. This year, due to coronavirus, many of the Ski Resorts had to close early. It appears that many of the local residents opted to go to the nearby state park at Jordanelle Reservoir. We saw large crowds of people along the shores who were sunbathing, picnicking, and enjoying the warm weather. Unfortunately, very few were practicing social distancing so we did not tarry there.
Wasatch Mountain State Park is near the small town of Midway. Settled in 1859, the town boasts about 5,000 residents but it is growing quickly. There were lots of new homes being built all over the town. After touring Midway, we could understand its appeal. This cute town has Swiss-themed buildings downtown and it has an annual celebration called Swiss Days which brings thousands to the town in the fall. We enjoyed walking around the downtown area.
Midway was also the site of the cross country and biathalon events for the Winter Olympics. In fact, the Wasatch Mountain State Park also hosted some of the Olympic events.
Just beyond the downtown area lies Memorial Hill. Atop a tall mound sits a memorial to all of the veterans from Wasatch County who have served in any U.S. military conflicts. The Memorial and the flag that flies above it can be seen for miles.
Another favorite near Midway is a family owned dairy called Heber Valley Artisan Cheese. This dairy provided milk for the region for almost 100 years. In 2011, the family began producing artisan cheese and they have won several national awards. Although we love fine cheese, the reason that we went there was for the ice cream. They are said to have the best ice cream in all of the Heber Valley. One afternoon we went there and sampled it. The ice cream was delicious.
We are so glad that we got to spend some time in the Wasatch Mountains. Many thanks to Charlie and Joann for being such great hosts and for encouraging us to come visit this lovely part of Utah.