The natural beauty of the Salt Lake area is a thing to behold – be it fall or any other season of the year. Once your eyes meet the autumn foliage spreading over the mountains and through the canyons, it’s hard not to feel a bit overwhelmed by the sense of oneness with Mother Nature.
Besides an abundance of hiking trails and driving routes, Salt Lake is peppered with family-friendly activities to keep you and your loved ones busy this fall. From corn mazes and pumpkin patches to frightening festivals and scavenger hunts, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
So, grab some hot chocolate to go and your cozy scarf and check out some of the fun fall activities on our list. Let us know if we forget any of your favorites.
1. Take a Hike
One of the best parts of the autumn season is the turning of the leaves. From green to brilliant colors of yellow, orange, and red. Hiking is a great way to witness this miracle of Mother Nature up close and personal. There are many fantastic trails in Salt Lake County, but in the spirit of the season (Halloween that is), check out Ghost Falls.
This is a family-friendly loop that’s just under three miles and is very clearly marked. Be aware that this is a popular spot so you may have company. Grotto Falls is another short trail that’s great for hiking and observing nature. You can bring your pooch along too. Or consider the Willow Heights Trail leading to Willow Heights Lake. It’s a bit of a steep climb so be prepared. You will be rewarded for your efforts with plenty of golden-leafed aspens along the way.
2. Go for a Drive
A fall drive lets you see more in a day with plenty of opportunities to pull off to the side of the road and enjoy the views for longer. A few excellent places for leaf looking are Logan Canyon with its maples and aspen providing brilliant shows of color.
Drive the Alpine Loop between Provo Canyon and American Fork Canyon and you’ll find plenty of spots to stop and picnic. Check out the Tibble Fork Reservoir which you access from the loop. It’s a worthy side trip as you’ll soon discover when you witness the fall colors bursting from the tree branches.
Another choice spot is Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains just east of Salt Lake City. If you have the time, hop out and hike the Stairs Gulch and view the many colors of leaves set against the evergreens. It creates a contrast worthy of photographing. While you drive through the canyon, it will be worth your time to continue to Guardsman Pass for more gorgeous views on a road that leads up over the top of the canyon. You’ll hit a junction once you’re descending again which gives you a choice of heading to Park City or toward Wasatch Mountain State Park.
3. Cheer For Your Favorite Team At the University of Utah Football Games
Break out the red face paint and get ready to tailgate and cheer for your favorite team at the University of Utah Football games held at Rice Eccles Stadium. Flocking to a football game wrapped in comfortable scarves and sweaters has been a long-standing tradition for many fans in the city.
Whether you are a football fan or just looking to spend a day out with your friends and family in a bid to have some fun, this is a great idea for your fall bucket list. It’s a nostalgic sport that thrives on its traditions and is a favorite American pastime, so you know there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
4. Head to the Avenues Street Fair 2022
The Avenues Street Fair held on September 10 at 2nd Avenue between M and R streets is definitely worth a shot if you prefer spending the day out with your family window shopping, listening to live music, snacking on your favorite fall delicacies, and strolling through one of Salt Lake’s most prestigious neighborhoods.
With world-renowned artists like Deborah Day, Mitch Raymond Trio, and The Waldron Brothers among others performing at the fair, music lovers definitely don’t want to miss out on this. From various food vendors on site to a Children’s parade scheduled at 9 in the morning, this fair is packed with many fun and family-friendly activities.
5. Enjoy The Sleepy Hollow Haunted Wagon Ride
If you weren’t told the classic Washington Irving story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” as a child, you missed out on a lot of nightmares. The Sleepy Hollow Wagon Ride is your chance to fix that. Just kidding, this is a fun, family-friendly ride. On your journey through the forests between Springville City and Utah Lake, you’ll listen to the story as you witness spectral sights. Will the infamous Headless Horseman make an appearance? Very likely. Book now because each wagon only holds 15 people and they fill up fast! If you have taken this ride in past years, please note the new location in Utah Valley just off I-15 Exit 261.
6. Light Up The Night Sky At Sky Lantern Festival
If you are looking to experience something new this fall and appreciate a night sky lit with hundreds of glimmering lanterns, then head over to Sky Lantern Festival. Held on September 17 this year, there is much to look forward to at this event besides the lantern ceremony. Lights over America hosts events that propagate the importance of letting go of your fears and carrying new dreams.
Each ticket will get you access to one sky lantern, activity and vendor area, event keepsake, and a photo op. Kids’ admission is $35 per head and adult admission is $95 per person. There is a skip-the-line add-on for $10 that lets you enter the gates without having to queue up at the ticketing counter.
7. Pick a Pumpkin Patch
When that cool fall weather comes in and Halloween approaches, our thoughts turn to pumpkins. A visit to a pumpkin patch should be on everyone’s list of fun fall things to do in Salt Lake and we have some great ones to choose from. Visit the Cross E Ranch and enjoy their Fall Festival which offers plenty of “fall farm fun”. That includes a pumpkin patch and sunflower field in addition to a corn maze and pig races. Other activities for the kids include mega slides, jump pads, and zip lines. Hay is for horses, sure, but it’s also for hayrides, and for building hay pyramids. They’ve got that too.
Another great pumpkin-oriented place to visit this fall is Jaker’s Jack O Lanterns at Hayward Farms in Springville. Stop by Monday through Saturday, September 24 through October 30 from 9 am to dusk, trek through a maze (corn or straw, take your pick), and choose the perfect pumpkin to carve. You can also take the kids on a hayride and visit the petting zoo. The kids will enjoy a romp through the corn pit (think sandbox, but with shelled feed corn instead of sand). There are also plenty of slides to ride and fun for all.