In 1849, settlers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints established Provo alongside the Ute culture and Utah Lake. That colony arguably got the most dramatic Wasatch Front backdrop in Mount Timpanogos, whose nearly 5,300 feet of prominence and 11,752-foot summit make for an inspiring citadel of solid rock, the centerpiece to the Utah Valley stretch of the Wasatch Front.
Backing up a couple of decades, Provo launched its status as a haven for outdoor adventure in the west when its namesake, explorer and fur trader Etienne Provost, established a trading post on the shores of Utah Lake in 1824. Today’s adventures are less in the fur trade and more in high tech, health care, education and any manner of getting up and down the backyard mountain range.
The Provo River cleaves the range in the city's backyard, forming Provo Canyon, and serving as the setting for scenic fly-fishing, kayaking and floating. The surrounding mountains cradle an extensive network of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and mountaineering. Both River Ranch Adventures and Sundance Mountain Resort host zip lining. Also visit Sundance for exceptional skiing and boarding on some of Utah's most stunning slopes before settling into rustic and sophisticated accommodations or workshops at the Sundance Art Studio.
The Heirloom Group headlines the culinary scene with their farm-to-table (and appropriately named) Communal Restaurant, Pizzeria 712 and Mountain West Burrito. The Black Sheep Cafe combines flavors of the southwest with Native American cooking traditions. Black Sheep uses local producers when possible and emphasizes the Three Sisters of squash, corn and pole beans. Also find great Indian food at India Palace or Bombay House, Chilean cuisine at Pantrucas and Sri Lankan at The Banana Leaf.
Though there is plenty of parking in downtown Provo, events like the Art Stroll, Provo Farmers Market and Taste of the Valley are all within walking distance of one another, venues like the Covey Center for the Arts and Velour Live Music Gallery and several of the area’s best restaurants.
Propelling the Provo economic engine are two major educational centers in Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University. Brigham Young offers a portfolio of museums with free admission include the Museum of Paleontology, the BYU Museum of Art and the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum.
In fact, thought leaders like Forbes regard the Provo-Orem metropolitan area as one of the nation's best for well-being and quality of life, frequently ranking in the top five, thanks to safe, family-friendly communities, an active and young demographic, and a surging technology sector led by billion-dollar firms like Qualtrics, Ancestry.com and Vivint. National Geographic Adventure magazine's notice of the Provo-Orem area as a cultural hub in their “Where to Live and Play” issue continues to ring true.
In such a dynamic outdoor and business environment, it is strangely fitting that Provo is home to the Crandall Museum, which has the world’s only fully working authentic Gutenberg Press, complete with a full set of movable type. Utahns have long respected their heritage. Look no further than the Family History research tools provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. With the Crandall Museum, Provo nods to the innovation that ushered in an age of information and Renaissance. With so much innovation supported by an invigorating outdoor setting, one wonders what Provo has up its sleeve for the coming years?
Provo is accessible via several exits off I-15, about an hour south of Salt Lake City International Airport (which also places Provo about an hour closer to Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks, including Arches and Capitol Reef, each less than 3 hours away). The Utah Transit Authority’s FrontRunner Commuter Rail stops at Provo Central Station, less than a mile from the Utah Valley Convention Center and Center Street dining and nightlife. Provo Airport offers nonstop flights through Allegiant to Oakland, Phoenix and Los Angeles.
Provo Canyon features Bridal Veil Falls, Vivian Park and the Provo River Parkway, among other stops that collectively are a fantastic year-round destination for outdoor recreation. In the summer, Bridal Veil serves as the scenic backdrop for abundant biking, mountaineering, rafting and hiking opportunities and in the winter is a must-visit destination for ice climbers the world over. A great way to see it all is to run or ride the Parkway, a paved trail from Vivian Park in the canyon to the Shops at Riverwoods. It's about 8 miles one-way to the mouth of the canyon, and a very scenic ride along the Provo River. It's possible to continue the ride through town all the way to Utah Lake. River Ranch Adventures, Runoff River Adventures and other private outfitters in the area offer horseback riding, zip lining, bike, kayak and tube rentals.
Brigham Young University
The Brigham Young Academy was founded in Provo in 1875. This school grew into what is now Brigham Young University (BYU), whose student ranks today swell the town's population by about 30,000 each school year. Enjoy free admission to museums of art, life science, paleontology and more. Visit the BYU Creamery, hit a lecture series or head for the hills and hike Y Mountain to the largest collegiate symbol in America.
Thanksgiving Point houses the North American Museum of Ancient Life, one of the largest dinosaur museums of its kind, featuring one of the most valuable Jurassic dinosaur collections in the world, including a 150-million-year-old dinosaur egg. There’s also the Johnny Miller-designed Thanksgiving Point Golf Club and two gorgeous garden displays with activities for every season. The Museum of Natural Curiosity features more than 400 interactive experiences, adding even more options for education and discovery into your visit to Thanksgiving Point.
Sundance Mountain Resort
Robert Redford's Sundance Mountain Resort is a haven for winter and summer recreationists, as well as artists and nature lovers. Enjoy skiing, riding, biking, fly-fishing, comfortable lodging, luxurious spa accommodations and award-winning dining. The Owl Bar is a must-visit watering hole for both the libations and the history.
Utah Lake State Park
Utah Lake State Park provides access to Utah's largest freshwater lake provides fishing access for channel catfish, walleye, white bass, black bass, and several species of panfish. Spend an evening RV or tent camping, then powerboat, canoe, or sail the day away on Utah Lake.
Timpanogos Cave National Monument
Timpanogos Cave sits high on the northern slope of Mount Timpanogos in the Wasatch Mountains. Consisting of three linked and spectacularly decorated caverns, the cave tour encounters unique colors and dazzling formations. Visitors hike to the cave entrance on a wide, paved trail, gaining over 1,000 feet in elevation. The visitor center and trailhead are in American Fork Canyon. The cave is open May-October.
Mount Nebo Loop Scenic Byway
A winding drive between Payson and Nephi, this 32-mile scenic drive crosses the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and provides views of Utah Valley, the Wasatch Mountains and spectacular vistas of 11,928-foot Mount Nebo, the highest mountain in the Wasatch Range. Check out Devil's Kitchen Geologic Interest Site, which features red rock formations set against brilliant foliage that is a summer and autumn favorite. Check out our Alpine Splendor itinerary for ways to extend your mountain retreat, including visits to American Fork Canyon and the heritage, nature and events of the nearby Heber Valley. Heavy snows close the Loop in winter.
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is at the urban heart of the metropolitan Wasatch Front in the northern part of Utah. SLC is a gateway for travelers making the quick trip to Utah's ski resorts, southward to Utah’s renowned red rock country or northward to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Increasingly, SLC is giving travelers reasons to stay and enjoy the comfortable urbanism of this vibrant city. SLC’s compact downtown makes for easy walking between local restaurants, bars and nearby attractions in the city center, including Temple Square. Use TRAX light rail from the airport, across downtown and up the hill to the cultural attractions near the University of Utah and Foothill Cultural District. Explore trailheads to the extensive Bonneville Shoreline Trail system in a few minutes’ walk or ride from downtown.
Provo / Utah Valley
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Provo River Fly Fishing
Nebo Loop Scenic Byway
Lavell-Edwards Stadium at BYU
Thanksgiving Point Gardens
Sundance Mountain Resort
American Fork Canyon
Timpanogos Cave National Monument