As the Wasatch Front population continues to swell, it's harder to tell where Salt Lake City ends and the next major city, Ogden, begins. In between are a string of towns that serve primarily as bedroom communities. The drive north, through and beyond these communities, bordered by the shores of the Great Salt Lake on the west and the Wasatch Mountains on the east, takes you through a world of recreational options. With a population of more than 84,000, Ogden combines a small-town feel with the infrastructure of a larger city. The oldest town in Utah, Ogden was founded by mountain man Miles Goodyear, who settled here with his family in the early 1840s. The Mormons arrived in the area in 1847, and in 1869 Ogden became a hub for the Transcontinental Railroad. The city quickly became a major Western crossroads. During World War II there was a considerable military presence here. This continues today at Hill Air Force Base. Ogden is also a college town; Weber State University is within the city limits.
These days, Ogden has become a multisport mecca, where outdoor adventure blends with emerging urban chic. You can head east into the Upper Ogden Valley—only 20 minutes from downtown—for climbing, biking, hiking, and world-class skiing, or paddle the kayak park on the Ogden River. After your adrenaline binge, recharge in Historic 25th Street, the metropolitan complement to this recreation-heavy stronghold. During the railroad heyday, 25th Street, directly east of the railroad depot, was infamous for its bars and bordellos. The buildings that once housed them have been preserved and now house restaurants, clubs, crafts and antiques shops, and home-style stores.