What can you do in Salt Lake County? Just about anything!

May 12, 2022, 11:49 AM
Salt Lake County KSL On the Road...
FILE: Stand up paddleboarders at sunset on the Great Salt Lake State Park Photo credit: Tom Smart, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — To help celebrate KSL NewsRadio’s 100th birthday, we are broadcasting live from several counties across Utah during the month of May. And we’re starting with the big one, Salt Lake County.

It’s the most populous county in the state — with nearly 1.5 million people living in it.

Salt Lake County has been around almost as long as the state itself. Historians say the first formal meeting of the county government was in 1852. That’s about two years after the Utah Territory was first established by the U.S. Congress.

Where does Salt Lake County begin and end?

If you’re in the Salt Lake Valley, you’re basically in Salt Lake County. Specifically, if you’re no farther north than about 2300 North and no farther south than Bluffdale.

The county’s eastern boundary extends to the Brighton and Solitude ski resorts of Big Cottonwood Canyon. To the west, the county stretches to the Oquirrh Mountains.

Enveloping the capital city, Salt Lake County is a mix of urban and suburban communities. And it boasts a wealth of activities that anybody living in Salt Lake County (or those passing through) can and should check out. 

A marketing campaign once famously proclaimed that Utah was a pretty great state. After a tour of the county that contains the capital city, visitors will likely begin to understand that elegant understatement.

The Cross E Ranch

A little north and a little west of Salt Lake City, the Cross E Ranch is a year-round farm. Its mission is to educate people about where food comes from and the importance of farming. It’s a working cattle ranch, but they offer a lot of fun activities too including summer camps.

There’s also a baby animal festival in the spring, a sunflower festival in the summer, and corn and pumpkin festivals in the fall.

The Cross E Ranch is close to Salt Lake City, but some might say it’s a world away, too.

Rio Tinto Kennecott Copper (Bingham Canyon Mine)

About 7,000 feet in elevation in the Oquirrh Mountains sits the largest man-made excavation in history.

The Bingham Cayon Mine operated by Rio Tinto Kennecott Copper is breathtaking. Astronauts report they can see it from the space shuttle. Visitors revel at the huge trucks used to haul copper ore to a crusher.

Ask anybody who has been to the Bingham Canyon Mine if they got a picture of themselves with the gigantic tire and the answer will likely be yes! 

Temple Square

Temple Square is in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City and surrounds the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This five-block area of the capital city is steeped in the history of the Latter-day Saints. The temple was completed in 1893, and is said to have represented the spiritual and physical center of the religious pioneers that founded the state of Utah. Today, Temple Square is the site of a biannual gathering that draws thousands of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Utah. 

At the time of publication, construction and renovation continued in the area of Temple Square, and many of the locations frequented by visitors were still closed to the public.

Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons

Discover Utah Magazine describes two of the canyons found in the Wasatch Mountains that hug Salt Lake County’s eastern border as Salt Lake’s Twin Giants.

Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon are side by side and are about 35 minutes from downtown. The canyons themselves offer opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, road cycling, camping, fishing, and more. And of course, for those who ski and snowboard, the four resorts of the Twin Giants (Brighton and Solitude in Big Cottonwood, Snowbird and Alta in Little Cottonwood) offer world-class skiing in what is described as the greatest snow on earth.

Why do they call it that? Come skiing, and find out!

Great Salt Lake State Park

The Great Salt Lake by itself is a sight to see, and usually, the best vantage point is by air.

What you would see by air is the largest lake west of the Mississippi and the largest salt lake in the western hemisphere. You’d also be looking at the remnants of ancient Lake Bonneville that used to cover 20,000 square miles.

These ideas are some you might ponder if you take the short drive west from downtown Salt Lake City on I-80 to Great Salt Lake State Park. While there are some outdoor activities that are offered, this park may be more enjoyable for those who enjoy just looking and listening.

What you’ll see are legendary sunsets and millions of migratory waterfowl in the spring and fall. It’s likely you’ll hear them too!

Natural History Museum of Utah

Located in the foothills above the University of Utah, the Natural History Museum of Utah is the perfect place to begin discovering Utah’s prehistoric and Indigenous past.

The permanent exhibits reveal more about Utah’s eight federally recognized Indigenous tribes. They explain the varied geographic regions of Utah. They tell an amazing story of the Great Salt Lake. Perhaps the most visited is the Past Worlds exhibit which explores and exhibits Utah’s rich dinosaur history.

If you have a child that knows more about dinosaurs than you ever will, this is a must-see for them. And for you!

Liberty Park

Salt Lake City’s oldest park, Liberty Park, was first a farm and a grist mill. Brigham Young, the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, purchased the property. He directed the park to be sold for pennies to the city of Salt Lake in his will. 

Today, within the boundaries of this large park are the Tracy Aviary and a swimming pool. You’ll also find basketball and tennis courts, volleyball, and even a museum. The Chase Home Museum is billed as the only museum in the country that displays a state-owned collection of contemporary folk art. It’s located in the middle of Liberty Park.

Walkers, runners, rollerbladers, dog-walkers, and bicyclists all use the park. And for those who are less inclined to exercise outside, the dozens of fully mature trees offer shade opportunities in the heat of summer for people and dog watching. 


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What can you do in Salt Lake County? Just about anything!