Saturday, August 20, 2011

Utah--Provo area

Utah is a fascinating state. There are tons of national parks, there is desert, there are mountains, deep canyons, pancake-flat prairies, forests, and grassland. There is the unbeatable strangeness of the Great Salt Lake. There are the remnants of ancient shorelines (Lake Bonneville), where people now view as prime real estate. There is the exploding population of the Salt Lake and Utah valleys, and then there are miles and miles of nothing. Really, you can't go wrong in Utah. There's something for everyone.

This post is the area around Provo (home of Brigham Young University and Utah Valley State University). It has four seasons and isn't too humid (which makes both winter and summer nice). This is a really rapidly growing area, with plenty of university culture plus tons of outdoor sports and activities to enjoy. The population sits up against the Wasatch mountains, and overlooks Utah Lake, which is pretty much wide and shallow and not easy to get to, actually. On the other side of the lake is the unfortunate Nutty Putty Cave, which is also no longer accessible. (Due to a recent tragic death, the cave was sealed.) But there are ice caves up on Mt. Timpanogos, and you can also climb the whole 11,749 feet of that, of course. You climb to the top (rather steep and very long) and then slide down the glacier on the other side.


BYU. (Apparently they were going to spell out all three letters on the mountain above the school, but got the Y up there and decided that was enough. Now it is sometimes called the Y--as opposed to the U, which would be the University of Utah up in Salt Lake):

The original Brigham Young Academy, which eventually evolved into the modern university. After spending decades as a condemned building/"haunted house"/hangout spot for vandalists, it was restored to become the city library. Well worth a visit. Oh, and if you pick up Shannon and Dean Hale's book Calamity Jack, illustrated by Nathan Hale (no relation), you will also see it featured on the top of page 21. Just saying. :)

The Provo LDS temple at the mouth of Rock Canyon:

Another notable building in Provo burned down in December 2010: the Provo Tabernacle (see here for some really nice photos in and out). As of right now, the turrets are still standing, but the whole site is fenced off and there are supports to keep the thing from falling down. I am still sad whenever I think of this.

If you go up Rock Canyon behind BYU, you can find nice places to rock climb, like the popular spot, The Kitchen (the large, flat, reddish rock):

The rocks themselves are interesting to look at, and it's too steep of a hike. We have taken a stroller on it before, but er, most people do not believe it is stroller-accessible. I guess it depends on the off-road quality of your stroller and how much you want it back afterwards. :)

Near all of this is Provo Canyon (which you have to take to get to the Timpanogos trailhead). There are some nice waterfalls up there. There used to be a restaurant or something at the top, and a cable car to get up there, but it is now gone.

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