How to Slow Travel in Utah
Avoid the mad scramble and consider slow travel as a better approach to your Utah trip.
After graduating high school, I booked a trip to Europe where I saw five countries in 10 days. Overwhelmed with anticipation, I hopped on a plane to London, but soon my excitement faded. I was so busy scrambling to get from Point A to Point B, I regrettably missed a lot.
When I returned to the states and was asked about Europe, what I recalled mostly was a blur of hotels and train rides. My once-of-a-lifetime (I still haven’t gone back) European trip was mentally and physically exhausting. Instead of filling me with memorable experiences, I was left disappointed I hadn’t visited one or two countries, taken it slow, and savored what each country had to offer.
When you visit Utah, you shouldn’t leave feeling the way I did after visiting Europe. To help you get the most out of your visit, I caught up with interesting Utahns, who by the nature of their work have traveled extensively throughout the state and beyond. They’re on the road constantly, and have some great tips on making the most out of week-long trips.
See the complete check list of advice from frequent travelers
Set an Intention
Lauren Wood is the trip director at Holiday River Expeditions, a company her grandparents started in 1966. Wood grew up on the banks of Utah rivers, and she loves how sections of the Green River wind through pristine dark sky areas over Utah’s Colorado Plateau. When the moon is new and there’s no moonlight, visitors can see the most amazing stars. “You feel this sense of bigness all around you, especially at night,” she says.
He advises visitors to park their vehicles, turn off the keys, then get out and walk around. The places they discover on their own will mean more than stops checked off a list. “You’ve got to leave the road shoulder before you see what you preconceived, the fantasy terrain,” Howe says. “It can be a short stroll or a couple of hundred yards.”
Howe recommends picking up the DeLorme® Atlas & Gazetteer, a state-by-state recreational guide and map. Then he advises learning to read maps as well as the terrain. “Where it’s convoluted, it usually translates to beautiful scenery,” he says. As long as travelers will turn around and memorize how to reverse course, Howe says, there are great adventures to be found in the side explorations along the way.
Sustainable Travel Habits Help Local Communities
Jennifer Leaver, a senior research analyst focused on tourism at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, says that visitors can learn about an area’s local gems through word-of-mouth. On a recent trip, she and her teenage daughter visited Moab. The pair stayed in two different paid accommodations and ate at a variety of restaurants during their five-day trip. They also hired a local mountain biking company to drive them to a popular biking trail several miles outside of town. During the drive, Leaver chatted with their driver and learned more about his mountain biking business and the Moab area.
“On this longer trip, my daughter and I had enough time not only for the more popular hikes and attractions, but also for a beautiful ‘off-the-beaten-path’ hike where we didn’t see another soul,” Leaver says. “Extended stays create room for these kinds of connections and explorations.”