“You visit a heritage site, such as Anasazi State Park Museum. You exchange stories with an owner of a bed and breakfast. And you enjoy the food that's grown at local farms and delightfully prepared in the area, all of the activities done slowly and over a few days or a week. Now, you know the place, its community and geography in an intimate way,” Diamond says.
When visiting an urban center, Diamond sees if there’s an interesting event, such as a local fundraiser or concert, that will allow him to be in the community. He also visits the local ranger stations or Bureau of Land Management office. “It’s a wonderful thing to create room for spontaneity within the context of a trip, to allow serendipity and the unexpected to come,” he says.
Maintain a Sense of Flexibility
Lexi Dowdall is a fifth-generation Utahn of pioneering and ski-bumming stock. She’s director of Freeride for the nonprofit International Freeskiers & Snowboarders Association (IFSA), the governing body for competitive Freeride skiing and snowboard events in North and South America. She’s also a contributing blogger for Ski Utah.
Dowdall recently traveled to Kappl, Austria, for the Freeride Junior World Championship, as well as Australia and Canada. Locally, Dowdall is partial to Little Cottonwood Canyon, having grown up skiing the slopes of Snowbird. “My partner works on Ski Patrol at Alta and I’m often on the slopes enjoying the greatest snow on Earth at either Alta or Snowbird,” Dowdall says.
Dowdall loves fleeing summer heat in the turquoise waters of Bear Lake State Park. Her grandpa often took her and her sister up into the Uintas to go fishing. In quieter months like May or October, she takes her paddleboard and launches from the marina at Antelope Island State Park, where “the sunsets are ethereal!” she says.
When she was a child, Goblin Valley State Park was the most magical place she had ever seen. She recalls a memorable game of hide and seek among the hoodoos, pretending the rock formations were aliens.
On road trips, Dowdall enjoys camping or using home-share rental properties. She appreciates hosts who leave recommendations for local sights and food choices for their guests.
For a trip floating the Gates of Lodore on the Green River, Dowdall had prepared by researching the region’s history and landscape. “As I was floating, it was rewarding to recognize the landmarks I had read about and my understanding of the rich geology made my journey that much more meaningful,” she says. (Watch: Rafting the Gates of Lodore)
Adam Clark, who is based in Salt Lake City, is the senior photographer at POWDER magazine. He says he loves hopping on Google Maps, finding a place he hasn’t been, doing research online, and then spending a weekend exploring the area with friends.
For close-to-home trips, he likes to explore the West Desert (Read: Forgotten History and Wild Horses in the Heart of the West Desert), drawn by beautiful views of the Stansbury Mountains. For longer weekends, he escapes to the San Rafael Swell. (Read: San Rafael Swell Throughout the Seasons).
Clark travels with his girlfriend, Anastasia, and his French bulldog, Theo. They like to stock their van with good food, and then take off to explore someplace they haven’t been. They camp and cook most of their own food, but also make a point of visiting nearby towns to try out local restaurants or coffee shops.
Before traveling, Clark researches by reading blogs, travel articles and social media to draw up his own lists of spots he thinks would make for good adventures or photos. “And always have plenty of water,” he advises. “Sometimes you want to spend more time than you expected to explore something.”
Discovering Places on Your Own
Steve Howe is the owner and head guide at Redrock Adventure Guides, and a former longtime field editor at Backpacker Magazine. After traveling all over the world on assignment, he knows what it’s like to rush a trip.
His team would shoot a half-hour or one-hour show, which meant six days on the ground, shooting everything in a rush. He might as well have read about Switzerland or Tasmania or other places online, he says. Those assignments were mostly useful to him personally as scouting trips, because he never had the time to experience the place as a traveler.