Chasing waterfalls close to home in Utah

Jun 3, 2024, 3:00 PM

Bridal Veil Falls at the mouth of Provo Canyon is but one of the incredible displays of powerful wa...

Bridal Veil Falls at the mouth of Provo Canyon is but one of the incredible displays of powerful water available to those in Utah who can commit to a little hiking. (Scott Taylor)

(Scott Taylor)

Editor’s note: This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — We’ve spent a significant amount of airtime at KSL NewsRadio over the last month emphasizing and educating listeners on the dangers of the fast and very cold water coming in the form of runoff as our winter snowpack melts. Unfortunately, we’ve also reported on a few lives lost. And we’ve attempted to learn from mistakes that were made in those incidents. 

Today however I’d like to focus on the seasonal opportunity that same runoff brings in the form of beautiful Utah waterfalls that are close to home. They may also inspire a hike and the chance to explore new territory along the way!

Bridal Veil Falls

A view of Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon on Saturday, May 18, 2019.
Carter Williams, KSL.com

Waterfalls close to Salt Lake City, Utah

I’m always reminded of the mid-90s hit “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls” by TLC. But unlike the lyrics telling listeners to “stick to the rivers and lakes you’re used to,” my message is to “chase away” before the runoff completes its annual journey downstream.

Everyone knows about the “usual suspects” when it comes to northern Utah waterfalls.  Like Bridal Veil Falls at the mouth of Provo Canyon with its 600+ foot “veil” of water cascading to the river below. It’s so easily accessible! Just a short drive up SR 189, and the path begins at the parking lot.  

Provo River Falls is especially spectacular in late spring and early summer and again requires very little hiking, if any. It’s located just 23.5 miles from Kamas up the Mirror Lake Highway with a great parking lot and viewing area of the upper or lower falls.

A few of my favorite family-friendly waterfalls in Utah

Just a heads up that you will want to double check accessibility as the snowpack continues to melt but here are a few of my favorites!

Donut Falls

Not all waterfalls exist through an entire summer season. The ones that do usually don’t put on quite the show that mother nature brings with the volume of water available during runoff. 

One of my favorites is Donut Falls up Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Donut not only provides a unique structural setting but is also a very family-friendly 1.5 mile, up and back hike that the whole family can enjoy!

Back to safety for just a second — it’s tempting for kids (of all ages) to get a bit too close, so make sure not to underestimate the power of the Donut Falls waters.

stress and anxiety

Donut Falls is a great trail for the whole family that features a beautiful waterfall.
(YourHikeGuide.com. via Deseret News)

Gloria Falls

Little Cottonwood Canyon is the gateway to Gloria Falls, which is accessed at the White Pine Trailhead a little more than five miles from the mouth of the canyon.  Clocked at just over 2 miles roundtrip, it too can be a great idea for the whole family and an afternoon hike. It is often missed by passersby, unaware of its existence just off the main trail.

Bell Canyon Lower Falls

If you and the family are up for a bit more of an adventure Bell Canyon Lower Falls, with access right from the Bell Canyon Preservation Trailhead at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, checks in about twice the distance of the first two suggestions. It’s 5.4 miles round trip, and is a bit steeper and difficult. The Bell Canyon Lower Falls hike offers an elevation gain of almost 1,500 feet so consider a family member who’s a little older tagging along for this one. 

Believe me, the payoff will be worth the effort in the end!

Other waterfalls in northern Utah

There are many other choices and plenty of online resources to get detailed information on how to get there!  

  • Heughs Canyon
  • Hidden Falls
  • Moss Ledge Waterfall
  • Lisa Falls

So, by all means, chase some waterfalls!  But do it with safety in mind and remember to leave no trace!  Pack out what you pack in and consider cleaning up after others who aren’t as environmentally conscience!

Tim Hughes is the co-host of Utah’s Morning News and the host of the KSL Outdoors Show on KSL NewsRadio. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram. 

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Chasing waterfalls close to home in Utah