How to get your Utah camping fix without actually camping

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You get it — Utah is a great place to get outside, pitch a tent, build a fire, sleep under the stars, climb mountains, live off the land, yada yada yada. But what if camping just isn’t your thing? What if you think the outdoors are just fine but you’d rather stay within walking distance of a bed and a shower, #thankyouverymuch?

We’ve got you covered. If you want to get the outdoors experience without sleeping on the ground, here are six ways to get your camping fix without actually camping.

1. Raft a river

Put on your swimming suit, buckle your lifejacket and get ready for an outdoor adventure — an adventure that will end before dinner so you can make it home to your AC. River rafting options in Utah provide everything from a calm current to white water rapids. Several guided tours are available, and the Beehive State has 16 rivers to choose from. Learn more here.

2. Bike through the mountains

If hiking is a little slow-paced for you, a mountain bike ride will get you in the mountains and sunshine just as well — but at higher speeds. Find an easy, gentle ride or a steep, rocky trail, or something in the middle, if that’s your style.

3. Go wildlife viewing

You might not think of Utah as a wildlife hotspot, but more than 600 species of animals live here. Get up in the mountains or out on the desert with a pair of binoculars and enjoy nature without pitching a tent. Learn more here.

4. Hike to Timpanogos Cave

If you don’t want to travel too far, take an outdoor adventure right here in Utah County. Timpanogos Cave National Monument is just a short drive away, in American Fork Canyon on the Alpine Scenic Loop. This man-made cave connects three natural caves that are uniquely colored, have a wide variety of cave formations, and are totally Insta-worthy. Learn more here.

5. Have a picnic in the mountains

The Pleasant Grove Ranger District (read: the outdoors area that takes in the American Fork Canyon-Alpine Loop recreation area) offers six locations specifically for picnicking. So you can drive up the canyon, bring your cooler, take a hike, and roast marshmallows around the fire and still get home before sundown. See this page for specifics.

6. Go “camping”

Why not go for it and drive to the mountains, find a nice place to swim, take a hike, then sleep in a cozy cabin? You’ll get the rustic feel of spending time outdoors without actually sleeping on the ground (and if you do it right, you might find a place with a continental breakfast). The Homestead Resort is an excellent place to try.

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Breanna Olaveson worked in the magazine industry before taking her writing from full-time to nap time with the birth of her first daughter. Her work has appeared in the Ensign, Liahona and New Era magazines, as well as Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley BusinessQ, Utah Valley Bride and the Provo Daily Herald. She lives in Utah county with her husband and three children. She blogs at www.breannaolaveson.com.

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