When to Go

One of the best reasons to vacation in the Wasatch is that a short drive from the valleys to the mountains will make you feel that you're getting two seasons in a single day. Winter is long in the mountains (ski resorts buzz from November to as late as April) but much more manageable in the valleys. The snow stops falling in April or May, and a month later the temperatures are in the 80s. (Locals joke that if you don't like the weather in spring, wait a minute and it will change.) If you don't mind sometimes-capricious weather, spring and fall are opportune seasons to visit. Rates drop and crowds lessen. Spring may be the shortest season, but it's one of the most interesting. You can ski in the morning with snow still piling up at the ski resorts, and then play 18 holes of golf or hike through fields of wildflowers in the afternoon in any of the Wasatch Valleys or foothills. Spring is also a good time for fishing, rafting on rivers swollen with snowmelt, birding, and wildlife viewing.

In summer, water-sports enthusiasts of all stripes flock to the region's reservoirs, alpine lakes, rivers, and streams to fish, water-ski, windsurf, sail, stand-up paddleboard, kayak, and canoe. The Wasatch Mountains also draw people on foot, bike, and horseback seeking respite from the heat of the valley from June through Labor Day.

Fall's colors rival those of New England. On a walk through a forest or drive along a scenic route, you'll see the yellows, reds, pinks, oranges, and golds of aspens, maples, and oaks against the deep evergreen of fir and spruce. A fall tradition here is to drive along the Alpine Loop east of Provo or up Pine Canyon out of the Heber Valley.

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