The writer, Deer Valley Resort communications coordinator, Katy McEver, has lived in Park City just over a year and a half with her dog Ellie. As a transplanted Southerner, she plans to keep finding new adventures in the mountains and deserts of Utah.
Last summer, I made the mistake of keeping my adventures limited to hiking nearby local trails. This is a tragic mistake and every local and visiting tourist should make the effort to explore! Nearly finishing my second summer here in Utah (and in case you were wondering, I definitely caught the local bug called ‘came for the winter and stayed for the summer!’) I decided this summer to jump feet first into finding adventures located right in my very active backyard.
A month ago, I had the pleasure of experiencing one of the ‘must-do’ summer activities in Utah—rafting! My friend and colleague, Kyle Hooker, owns Park City Tubing and when I asked where he would recommend a novice rafter (I don’t even own a pair of Tevas or Chacos, oh the horror!) to start he quickly pointed me towards the Weber River. Luckily for me, just down the road in Morgan, Park City Rafting offers guided rafting tours from two hour to full day trips. Its sister company, Barefoot Tubing is also located in Morgan and offers tubing rentals that are a huge hit with locals on the weekends. Both companies put in on the Weber River, a 125-mile long river starting in the Uinta Mountain range and dumping into the Great Salt Lake.
I asked my friend Cindy, a veteran river rafter, to join me. She’s someone who knows a thing or two about rafting and just prior to our tour had gotten back from a eight day trip down the Grand Canyon! While I wasn’t ready for anything that adventurous, I was looking forward to our day trip which last about two hours depending on the water height and the rapids.
We arrived at Park City Rafting and were greeted by Kyle’s son who was manning the post while Kyle tended to the Barefoot Tubing operation and filled out necessary paperwork. We needed to wait just a bit for the groups in front of us to make it back before we could start our tour. While we were waiting I wanted to get to know our fellow rafters. It was a family affair with two families, one local and the other visiting who were just as excited for their rafting adventure.
Our guides (who are all very skilled and certified in First Aid and CPR) met us to drive us the very short distance up the Weber to our drop in point. It’s amazing how short the drive is and yet how fun river miles can be while paddling! Our guide helped us into our boat and off we went –dead-last behind the two other groups!
Right away we helped him navigate through Rock Alley (a fun obstacle course of rocks that caused our guide to yell out, “all forward!” or “all back” at any given moment while he steered at the rear of the raft).
While in between rocks or rapids we talked about the history of Weber Canyon, the river and the areas we passed. Our guide was more than willing to answer my questions about the “Devils’ Slide” an interesting rock formation that looks just like you could slide down the mouth of the rock and about the beautiful willow trees that seemed out of place in the middle of the desert. We also learned that the railroad track that runs along the river is actually the original track laid during the building of the Transcontinental Railroad by Union Pacific! Another fun fact, due to how difficult terrain was in Weber Canyon, the railroad was only able to build two feet of track per day. Learning about my new home in Utah is always fun. I like to test the knowledge of local Utahns with interesting facts I have picked up here and there.
I mentioned earlier that we started off third (dead last) on our tour, but since there were only three of us in our raft, we made good time (and I believe this is due to our amazing paddling skills). We passed both groups and picked up a bit of water when we splashed through the Taggart Rapids and ended up at the take-out spot. It was refreshing to feel the cool water and enjoy a couple of hours doing an activity less than an hour from Park City. I plan on floating the Weber in the near future and continue to feel like one of the luckiest people in the world that I can call this area my playground!