Utah’s Heber Valley is a destination for all seasons.
Heber Valley is just around the corner from mining-town-turned-ski-town Park City, and right next door to the Mayflower side of Deer Valley, with Robert Redford’s Sundance just down the road. It lies along the eastern slopes of the Wasatch Mountain range with 11,749-foot Mt. Timpanogas watching over the communities of Heber City, Midway, Charleston, Center Creek, Daniels and Wallsburg with a regal countenance you’ll not easily forget.
Having spent time in the Swiss town of Interlaken, I am struck by how the Heber Valley is situated between the two mountain lakes of Jordanelle and Deer Creek, just as Interlaken rests between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, with lofty mountain peaks keeping watch. The fact that the Heber Valley town of Midway celebrates its Swiss heritage through its architecture and annual celebration of Swiss Days makes the comparison even more relevant.
Once you’ve found your nesting place for your stay, now it’s time to go outside and play. You might want to get the lay of the land with a relaxing and scenic ride aboard the historic Heber Valley Railroad. The railroad began operating in 1899, and still makes trips almost daily through the valley. Its route will take you on a scenic round trip along the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, past the shores of Deer Creek Reservoir and along the banks of the Provo River through majestic Provo Canyon. It leaves the station several times a day with excursions ranging from one and a half hours to three hours. It’s a great way to relax and enjoy the scenic beauty of the region while you turn back the clock to the days of steam locomotives and the Old West.
When you’re ready for some outdoor play time, you are limited only by your imagination and energy level. You’ll find that everything from watersports to mountain biking is literally right outside your door.
If golf is one of your weaknesses (or strengths, for that matter), there’s no better place in the Intermountain West to challenge your skills than the Heber Valley. There are five 18-hole layouts that will have you grinning or grimacing depending upon your last shot. Of all the courses I’ve played in the Intermountain West, these five are arguably the most scenic with views of Mt. Timpanogas, Deer Creek Reservoir, and wildlife from eagles to moose vying for your attention.
Choices range from the tree-lined fairways of Crater Springs Golf Course at the Homestead Resort to the well-maintained Lake Course at Wasatch Mountain State Park, and the park’s more difficult (for me) Mountain Course. There are links-style courses at Soldier Hollow, the site of the Nordic events at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The Silver Course is the lower elevation of the two, while the more challenging Gold Course will take you on a mountain climbing tour of the eastern foothills of the Wasatch Mountains with spectacular views to reward your efforts. It’s probably my favorite of the bunch in spite of the higher scores on my card. The award-winning Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at Red Ledges across the valley is private, but you might want to drive over and take a tour of the property. It’s a spectacular setting, to say the least.
Biking and Fishing
If you’re into cycling as I am, you’ll find the Heber Valley to be nirvana. There are quiet tree-lined country roads, nicely maintained bike paths and, of course, miles and miles of mountain bike trails to choose from. The elevation keeps the temperatures comfortable in the summer so you can ride almost any time of day. I’ve ridden pretty much across the whole valley on my road bike and it’s absolutely delightful. One of my most memorable rides was an early morning spin along the road to Soldier Hollow just as the sun crested Mt. Timpanogas. It was breathtaking!
This is also blue-ribbon fly-fishing country with streams easily accessible, including the well-known rushing Provo River. You’ll probably notice cars and trucks off to the side of the road belonging to the many fly fishermen you see as you drive into the valley. There’s nothing like the pursuit of a rainbow trout to make you forget a few errant golf shots.
For watersports, the Jordanelle and Deer Creek reservoirs offer fishing, water skiing, personal watercraft rentals, sailing, kayaking… you name it. Or, for a truly unique experience, you can jump into the geothermal crater at the Homestead Resort, where the naturally heated water is at a constant range of 90-96 degrees. Scuba dive, snorkel, swim, soak or even take a paddleboard yoga class in the crystal-clear waters.
If you decide to eat out instead of cooking, there are plenty of excellent choices around the valley for dining. One of my favorites is Spin Café in downtown Heber City for a juicy Spin Burger or their house-smoked pulled pork. And with Deer Valley, Park City and Sundance right next door, the choices number in the hundreds for everything from eclectic to elegant.
Heber Valley is just 40 miles southeast of Salt Lake City and 28 miles from Provo. The area was settled in 1859 by Mormons, many of whom had emigrated from England. It was named in honor of Heber C. Kimball, a Latter-day Saints leader who had converted many of the settlers to the Mormon faith.
For an RV destination, the Heber Valley is as good as it gets. Relaxing, laid back, incredibly scenic, exciting and full of adventure—all of these adjectives apply. We spend a lot of time in the valley and we’re always ready to return. You will be, too.
Bob Wassom is a writer who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
IF YOU GO:
Once you’ve found your way to this year-round playground, the next step is to park the RV, go outside and play. The campgrounds at Wasatch Mountain, Deer Creek and Jordanelle state parks offer some of the most scenic views in the valley. (stateparks.utah.gov)
For a full-service RV resort within one mile of town, look to Mountain Valley RV Resort in Heber City, with resort-style amenities and 127 full hookup sites. (mountainvalleyrvresort.com)
For a complete listing of lodging and camping areas, local events and activities, visit the Heber Valley website at gohebervalley.com.