Saturday, May 17, 2008

Utah State Parks- There's One Near You

In one of my previous posts, I talked about the benefits of buying memberships. When you purchase a membership and then you go a few times, the membership more than pays for itself- especially for families. The other benefit of memberships, which I mentioned in that same post, is the reciprocal agreement. Many memberships have benefits that allow you to get into multiple attractions with one membership.

Well, here's a deal that's nearly too good to pass up!

Utah State Parks has a membership deal that will get you, and up to seven guests in a private vehicle, into any of the state operated parks for one year.

Here are the parks you can get into:
Anasazi State Park Museum
Antelope Island State Park
Bear Lake State Park
Camp Floyd/Stagecoach Inn State Park
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park
Deer Creek State Park
East Canyon State Park
Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum
Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
Flight Park State Recreation Area
Fremont Indian State Park and Museum
Goblin Valley State Park
Goosenecks State Park
Great Salt Lake State Marina
Green River State Park
Gunlock State Park
Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail
Huntington State Park
Hyrum State Park
Iron Mission State Park Museum
Jordon River OHV Park and Modelport
Jordanelle State Park
Kodachrome Basin State Park
Millsite State Park
Otter Creek State Park
Palisade State Park
Piute State Park
Quail Creek State Park
Red Fleet State Park
Rockport State Park
Sand Hollow State Park
Scofield State Park
Snow Canyon State Park
Starvation State Park
Steinaker State Park
Territorial Statehouse State Park Museum
This Is The Place Heritage Park
Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum
Utah Lake State Park
Wasatch Mountain State Park
Willard Bay State Park
Yuba State Park

If you were counting, that's 43 state parks you can get into for a yearly membership fee of $75. You don't even have to go to all of them to save money. Pick your favorites and go a few times. Now, get out there and have some fun!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Free Events on Saturday, May 17, 2008

Get "Rockin" at the Museum of Anthropology

The Saturday activity series continues at the Museum of Anthropology. This Saturday, the museum will offer 'Rock Art' workshops for kids. All ages are invited. Children and parents can visit the museum any time during the event hours and the museum staff will lead activities that include a take-home rock art project for kids. Tours and information on the many kinds of rock art found in Utah and the world will be featured.

Place: Museum of Anthropology
Location: Old Main, Utah State University, Logan, UT
Phone: 435.797.7545
Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: FREE

The Living Traditions Festival

The Living Traditions Festival celebrates the diversity of our city through music, film, crafts and food. The festival is being held at Washington Square (City/County Building) in downtown Salt Lake City. Saturday's events are as follows:

Films and Storytelling in the Main Library (across the street from Washington Square):
11:30 a.m.: Hawaiian storytelling, Lower Urban Room
12:30 p.m.: American Indian storytelling, Lower Urban Room
1 p.m.: Film screening, Korea, Tessman Auditorium
1:30 p.m.: Latin American storytelling, Lower Urban Room
2:30 p.m.: African drumming storytelling, Lower Urban Room
3 p.m.: Film screening, France, Tessman Auditorium

Entertainment on two stages:
North Stage-
Noon: Liberian Culture Troupe, Dances of Liberia
12:45 p.m.: Chinese Performing Arts Group, Chinese dance
1:30 p.m.: Wesleyan Tongan Church of America in Utah Brass Band, Tongan music and dance
2:30 p.m.: Swiss Chorus Edelweiss, Swiss music
3:30 p.m.: Kausachun Peru, Peruvian music
4:30 p.m.: Los del Sur, music of South America
5:30 p.m.: Tongan Singers of Utah, Tongan music and dance
6:15 p.m.: Okinawa Kenjinkai, Okinawan dance
7 p.m.: New Zealand-American Society, Maori dance
8 p.m.: Son De Maderam Son Jarocho music from Veracruz
9 p.m.: Buille, Irish music

South Stage-
Noon: Salt Lake Scots, Scottish music
1 p.m.: Hui O Hawaii O Utah, Hawaiian dance
1:55 p.m.: Rinceori Don Spraoi, Irish dance
2:30 p.m.: PAAU, Philippine dance
3:15 p.m.: Poleviyaoma Hopi Group, Hopi dance
3:40 p.m.: Rastko Serbian Dancers, Serbian Dance
4:10 p.m.: Sewa Cultural Dance Troupe, dance of Sierra Leone
4:45 p.m.: Latin Dance Heritage, Latin American dance
5:45 p.m.: Kanamu Productions, Tahitian dance
6:30 p.m.: Vientos del Sur, dances of southern South America
7:30 p.m.: Dionysius Greek Dancers, Greek dancers
8:15 p.m.: Hispafric, music and dance of Equatorial Guinea
9 p.m.: Ballet Folklorico Citali & Sol de Jalisco Mariachi Band, Mexican music and dance.

Event: The Living Traditions Festival
Location: Washington Square, 200 East 400 South, Salt Lake City, UT
Time: 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Cost: FREE admission and entertainment

A Concert Honoring Veterans

The Choral Arts Society of Utah and the Utah National Guard 23rd Army Band perform at the Murray Park Amphitheater. The program offers Sousa marches, Broadway favorites and Big Band swing tunes, capped by a fireworks show.

Event: Veterans Concert
Location: Murray Park Amphitheater, 296 East Murray Park Lane, Murray, UT
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: FREE

But, I Don't Want To Go THERE!

Probably, the most annoying question after, "Are we there yet?," has to be, "Why do we have to go THERE?," or some variation, accompanied by a high pitched nasal whine, the likelihood of a few tears, and some possible rolling on the ground.

Now, I've never had to deal with any of this because my trips go to only the funnest places AND my kids never whine. Ok, Ok, Drew, cut the crap. I've picked places to go that my kids found boring and the whining never seemed to end. So, how do you avoid having this happen with your kids?

When I first conceived of my "Adventure Days" with my kids, the basic idea was to get them out of the house once a week so my wife could have a break. The first time I put them in the car, my intention was to take them to the park for an hour or two. Instead we ended up at the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine, looking down into one of the largest holes in the world- and they loved it.

Subsequent "Adventure Days" were done with only slightly more planning (and still with the intention of giving my wife a break). I would find a place, somewhere in Utah that sounded kind of neat and we would hop in the car and drive there. This is the way we ended up on Antelope Island, at the Park City Silver Mine Adventure, Hogle Zoo, the Ogden Eccles Dinosaur Museum, and quite a number of other places.

I soon discovered two things- a) I had to be more careful about how much these little adventures cost, and b) I had to be a little more prepared, both in terms of where we were going and how to keep the kids interested in each adventure.

I quickly learned that there were many places that were inexpensive or free where we could have a good time- thus, I now share with you, "Things To Do, Utah."

I also learned that, knowing where I was going a few days ahead of time, let me prepare to help the kids enjoy the adventure. So here are just a few suggestions that I have come up with to help the kids enjoy every "Adventure Day" you go on with them.

1. Know before you go. If you plan to take them to, say, a dinosaur museum, get some books ahead of time about dinosaurs. There is this FREE thing called a library that has lots of great books about a lot of different subjects. Read stories to your littlest ones about dinosaurs. Get the older kids to pick out a book of their own on dinosaurs and challenge them to learn something BEFORE the trip. Knowing something about what you are going to see or do makes the activity a lot more fun. Take the books along with you when you go.

2. Many locations, such as museums, exhibits, libraries, parks, etc., have days with activities specifically for kids. When the kids can get involved in these free programs by making some crafts, participating in a lecture, or just by coloring something, they take home a much greater appreciation of the place they visited.

3. Even if there may not be a formal activity time for the kids, some places will put information up on their websites to help you have a fun visit with the kids. For example, the Utah State government website has a printable "Museum Treasure Hunt" form. Print this out and give it to the kids each time you go to a museum. If you visit five museums for example, each time you go, they can take their form along with them and try to find the "treasures" that are listed. It may take visits to several museums to find all the "treasures."

4. Prepare yourself. Read up a little on dinosaurs, or the old west, or railroads, etc. If you are able to answer some of your children's questions while you are on an adventure with them, they will enjoy it more. Plus, it makes you look really smart.

5. Have fun. Get involved with your kids as much as possible. When they can see that you are enjoying the adventure, they will be much more likely to enjoy it themselves.

If you have any other ideas on how to help kids enjoy a day at a museum, a cave, a park, on a hike, or anything else you can think of, leave a comment and we will share it with everyone.

Feedback Fridays- May 16, 2008

  • Up to 5 miles
  • Up to 10 miles
  • Up to 20 miles
  • Up to 40 miles
  • More than 40 miles

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Free Event of the Day for May 16, 2008

Do you like a good Fiesta!? Then party on.

The Utah Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley City is holding the fifth annual Fiesta!- a spicy evening of entertainment, excitement and education celebrating Mexican heritage and culture in Utah.

Come and celebrate the one of the great cultures of the state of Utah.

Place: Utah Cultural Celebration Center- Fiesta!
Location: 1355 West 3100 South, West Vally City, UT
Phone: 801.965.5100
Time: 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Cost: FREE admission and entertainment (food and crafts cost extra)

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Distance from:
Salt Lake City: 8.3 miles
Ogden: 43.6 miles
Provo: 41.6
Logan: 88.3

Utah Trivia Thursday- May 15, 2008

Beaver, Beaver County, Utah is the birthplace of two famous Americans.

The first was Robert LeRoy Parker, born April 13, 1866. You might know him better as Butch Cassidy, the notorious western outlaw who teamed up with Harry Longabaugh, the Sundance Kid to lead the Wild Bunch.

The other was Philo T. Farnsworth, born August 19, 1906. He was the inventor of the first completely electronic television set. Without him, you may not be sitting back in your easy chair watching a football, baseball or basketball game. All hail Philo!

Museum of Natural Science- Oh, That's What That Was

Years ago, I attended Weber State University. Back in those days it was known as Weber State College. I lived in a dorm on campus, hung out at the Union with my friends, slept in the library daily from 10:30 a.m to 11:15 a.m., went down to the pond late at night (and got chased away by security), and, oh, yeah, went to classes.

One of my favorite classes was chemistry. In fact I took two chemistry classes while I was there. Both of the classes were taught in the Lind Lecture Hall. Now most lecture halls on campus (and many other campuses I've been to) are pretty sterile places. They are rooms, tiered like a theater or sporting arena, filled with tables and chairs, and other than the lectures that take place inside, there is usually nothing exciting or memorable about them. The Lind Lecture Hall was different. At the time, I didn't realize it was a museum, I just thought it was a cool place to hang out until class started.

The Lind Lecture Hall is the home of the Museum of Natural Science at Weber State. It features exhibits on exploration, native cultures, geoscience (all about the earth), the animal world, the plant world and, finally, the physical world (or the things human have created).

The Lecture Hall is round and so the pathway through the museum takes you in a circle. Start anywhere, learn something neat, and move on until you are back where you started. The dinosaur skeleton is always a hit with kids. The rainfall of Utah map gives you a better idea were our water comes from and how it is stored for our use. There are skeletons from all parts of the animal world. The exhibit on exploration tells us about the early explorers of the Americas, including Fathers Dominguez and Escalante and Lewis and Clark.

You wouldn't think that all this information along with some really outstanding exhibits could be packed into the center of a university lecture hall. But it is. And when I was going to school, all I thought it was, was a cool place to hang out before class started. Who knew? Apparently not me.

Place: Museum of Natural Science
Location: Lind Lecture Hall, Weber State University, Ogden, UT (on campus, follow Edvalson Street up the hill to the northeast corner of campus)
Phone: 801.626.6653
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday
Cost: FREE

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Distance from:
Salt Lake City: 33.8 miles
Ogden (downtown): 3.4 miles
Provo: 75.4 miles
Logan: 50.8 miles

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Free Event of the Day for May 15, 2008

Are you a history buff? Know someone who is?

The Brigham City Library is currently hosting an amazing traveling exhibit about Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of our nation. The exhibit is traveling to only 40 libraries across the country, and the Brigham City Library is the only library in Utah to host it.

This traveling panel will introduce you to a man whose legacy lives on in modern America through his effects on economic, constitutional, social, journalistic, political, and foreign policy.

In conjunction with the exhibit, a series of lectures on the importance of Hamilton's life a legacy are being given now through May 22, 2008. On Thursday, May 15, 2008, Professor Michael Nicholls from USU will be speaking on the Constitutional battle between Jefferson and Burr and the eventual creation of a National Bank. This a great chance to learn more about an enigmatic man.

Place: Brigham City Carnegie Library
Location: 26 East Forest Street, Brigham City, UT
Phone: 435.723.5850
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: FREE

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Distance from:
Salt Lake City: 59.5 miles
Ogden: 24.8 miles
Provo: 101 miles
Logan: 24.9 miles

Marble Park: It's Not What You Think

Marble Park. Most people have visions of a park set in an old marble quarry or even a place where the local kids gather to play games of marbles (do kids play marbles anymore?). The assumptions would be wrong however. This park received its name from the man who created it, Boyd Marble.

This park was created from an old gravel pit in a folk art style, using things such as old wagon wheel rims, old metal tractor seats, milk cans, and huge timbers from a railroad trestle that crossed the Great Salt Lake. This is more than just a pleasant and curious park, it's a showplace where people can gather for barbecues, family reunions and weddings.

Don't miss the display of rebuilt and restored horse drawn wagons and machinery from the 1800's under the large gazebo built from the timbers of the train trestle. The gazebo has a large fire pit and is a great place for a picnic. Once the kids are fed and the displays in the park no longer catch their interest (which takes quite a while), there is a playground for them to enjoy.

Be sure to look for the Utah History Timeline and the Bicentennial Arch, both made from welded pieces of scrap metal, tools and farm implements. If you or your kids are at all interested in the old west and what life was like before planes, trains and automobiles, this park is the perfect place for a relaxing afternoon.

Place: Marble Park
Location: 11150 West 11200 North, Bothwell, UT (follow State Route 102 straight west from Tremonton)
Phone: 435.854.3618 (for reservations for special occasions)
Hours: Dawn until Dusk
Cost: FREE

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Distance from:
Salt Lake City: 80.2 miles
Ogden: 43.1 miles
Provo: 119 miles
Logan: 29.3 miles

Free Event of the Day for May 14, 2008

Get a look at the best the Utah Museum of Fine Arts has to offer.

A free 30-minute tour, "Highlights of the Collection," begins at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening. This is one of great art museums in the state of Utah. Get a chance to get a glimpse of it for free.

Place: Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Location: 410 Campus Center Drive, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Phone: 801.581.7332
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Cost: FREE

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Distance from:
Salt Lake City: 2.8 miles
Ogden: 40.2 miles
Provo: 46 miles
Logan: 84.9 miles

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Book Talk Tuesday- May 13, 2008

Though not a guide book, Utah On My Mind is a great book for seeing some of the spectacular places around the state. This is more of a traditional coffee table book, full of color pictures by great photographers, including, Tom Till, Scott T. Smith, Jack Dykinga, and Howie Garber.

The photographs in the book cover the state from top to bottom and east to west. The rich, hot colors of the Colorado Plateau contrast with the cool greens and blues of the mountains and forests of northern Utah. The state's largest cities get some coverage as well as the smaller towns and rural settings. All four seasons are represented in a variety of landscapes.

If you are looking for a great book filled with the rich landscapes that Utah has to offer, this is a great book for you. If you have visited Utah and want a reminder of some of the places you have been or you have never been here before and want to see why you should visit, Utah On My Mind is the perfect book. For those of you who live in Utah, this book gives you reasons to explore the state even more.

This is a must have book. 5 out of 5 stars.

Gardner Village- Wander Through the Past

If you are looking for a place to wander, to get lost for a little while, either by your self, with a date or spouse, or even with the kids, Gardner Village is a place that has a little something for everyone.

When I was much younger, I remember driving by the old, dilapidated Gardner Mill on 7800 South in West Jordan, wondering what that old place was and why it didn't get torn down. I'm glad it stayed. What has happened in its transformation has been truly spectacular.

Gardner Village is an old, turn of the century style village, filled with modern shops and amenities. It is anchored by the Gardner Mill building which now houses Archibald's Restaurant and Country Furniture and gifts. The village behind the mill is filled with fun and interesting shops to explore.

The Village Christmas Shoppe has Christmas decorations and ideas all year round. Take the kids into the store in July and get them excited six months ahead of time. The Naborhood Bakery makes fresh goodies everyday and just walking by the store and smelling the bread, doughnuts and chicken soup is enough to make your head spin. One of my favorite shops is Sweet Afton's. This is an old time candy shop with all the old fashioned and modern candies you could ever dream of. If you like fudge, this is the place to go. They make fudge in dozens of different flavors. My favorite is the Snickers fudge. Don't forget The Storybook Nook with a great collection of children's books and toys.

The kids will enjoy the Barnyard Buddies Petting Zoo and Pony Rides. Your kids will love petting the rabbits, pigs, goats, llamas, cow, donkeys and more. Cost is just $2.00 per child. If you'd like to give them the chance to ride a pony, it is an extra $3.00. And for your peace of mind, hand washing stations are available.

The Jordan River Parkway is just around the corner from Gardner Village, under the railroad bridge, and is connected by a walkway. Enjoy a nice evening walk on the parkway and then head on over to Archibald's for a relaxing dinner.

Place: Gardner Village
Location: 1100 West 7800 South, West Jordan, UT
Phone: 801.566.8903
Hours: Jan. & Feb. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mar. to Dec. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Closed Sundays. Some parts of Gardner Village have slightly different hours. Check before you go.
Cost: Visiting Gardner Village is FREE- Barnyard Buddies Petting Zoo, $2.00 per child; Pony Rides, $3.00 per child.

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Distance from:
Salt Lake City: 12.5 miles
Ogden: 47.9 miles
Provo: 34.8 miles
Logan: 92.6 miles

Monday, May 12, 2008

Free Event of the Day- May 13, 2008

Make a Secret Garden! National Children's Book Week Event

As part of National Children's Book Week, started in 1919, the Weber County Library, North Branch wants to get children inspired by the beloved children's classic, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Learn how to get your own spring garden started. All supplies will be provided.

Place: Weber County Library, North Branch
Location: 475 East 2600 North, North Ogden, UT
Phone: 801.337.2650
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Cost: FREE

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Distance from:
Salt Lake City: 46.1 miles
Ogden: 6.0 miles
Provo: 87.7 miles
Logan: 40.2 miles

Jurassic Museum- BYU Earth Science Museum

When it comes to museums, one favorite, particularly of kids (and kids at heart, of course) are dinosaur museums. They set the imagination loose. These large skeletons of creatures that once actually existed, loom large and foreboding in the minds of children. They love the fantastical idea that these bones could come alive. The sheer size of the monsters is enough to both frighten and excite. Just think about the recent movie "Night at the Museum." A favorite character for kids was the T-Rex.

Utah is one of those great locations when it comes to dinosaur museums. We have an armload in the state, so no matter where you live, there is probably one fairly close to you.

The BYU Earth Science Museum is one of those really cool museums. I remember as a child going to BYU to see the huge skeletal remains of dinosaurs. The Earth Science Museum is one of those treasures in our own backyard. It is one of the top five collections of fossils from the Jurassic Period in the entire world.

At the museum you can see a T-Rex skull, the fossilized imprint of dinosaur skin, or even touch fossils and dinosaur bones at the Touch Table. There is a full Allosaurus skeleton standing near a mural of what Utah might have looked like during the Jurassic Period. Check out the giant sloth that would have weighed 5 tons when it was alive- that more than two of your families cars put together! You can even see paleontologists working in the lab, removing fossils from rocks.

Head out to the museum to see an amazing collection- just wait to watch "Jurassic Park" until after your visit. You don't want the little ones too scared.

Place: BYU Earth Science Museum
Location: 1683 North Canyon Road, Provo, UT (just west of LaVell Edwards Stadium)
Phone: 801.422.3680
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Cost: FREE

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Distance from:
Salt Lake City: 43.9 miles
Provo (downtown): 2.1 miles
Ogden: 79.3 miles
Logan: 124 miles

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Free Event of the Day- May 12, 2008

How about a family game night?

Game Night Games, a game store in Salt Lake City that specializes in strategy board games and card games, particularly Euro games like "Settlers of Catan," has a Family Night on Mondays. Any family coming to Game Night Games for the first time to play games will get to play for free from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. Five dollars will cover any subsequent visit by the entire family. Come in and try playing your favorites or try something new. You never know, Game Night Games might just become a family tradition.

Place: Game Night Games
Location: 2030 South 900 East, Suite E, Salt Lake City, UT
Phone: 801.467.2400
Hours: 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Cost: FREE for the family's first night, $5.00 for each subsequent visit for the entire family.

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Distance from:
Salt Lake City (downtown): 3.6 miles
Ogden: 42.1 miles
Provo: 42.4 miles
Logan: 86.8 miles

Minnetonka Cave- See Miss Piggy's Tail

Sometimes, just sometimes, fun things to do in Utah aren't in Utah at all, but just beyond the borders of the state. No, we're not talking about Disneyland or Las Vegas. For this excursion, we have to set our sights on Paris. Well, not all the way to Paris, but close- to St. Charles, Idaho, just south of Paris, Idaho.

Minnetonka Cave is located to the west of Bear Lake in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. It is a beautiful drive up St. Charles Canyon to the cave. There is a paved road right up to the parking lot. Here at the parking lot you purchase your tickets, then you walk a couple dozen yards to the entrance of the cave. That right. Unlike Timpanogos Cave, where you must hike 1.5 miles to the entrance, Minnetonka Cave is easily accessible by car.

But be prepared. Minnetonka Cave is a little cooler than Timpanogos, at about 40 degrees, so bring a sweater or jacket, even in the summer. Also, Minnetonka Cave has a lot more up and down climbs inside- more than 400 steps. So bring some shoes with good treads to help prevent slipping.

Minnetonka Cave is every bit as fascinating as Timpanogos. The tour through the cave is about 90 minutes long and covers nearly a half-mile through 9 different chambers. The Ballroom is the largest of the chambers at about 300 feet across and 90 feet high it is truly impressive. The Treasure Room chamber, where "gold coins" are spread across the floor is also amazing. My children's favorite chamber was the Wedding Room, especially when they found out that people had actually been married here. You can also descend 71 of the steps on the "Stairway to Heaven" to enter the "Devil's Kingdom."

Of all the formations in the cave, one of the most interesting is known as "Miss Piggy's Tail." This is a soda straw formation that instead of hanging straight down like most soda straws do, this one curls around and around, looking much like a pig's tail.

The drive just over the border into Idaho is well worth the look at this fascinating cave, not to mention the scenic drive by Bear Lake, and for most of us, through Logan Canyon. Although this is a little longer drive that might have the kids asking, "Are we there yet?," after they have seen the cave they will be asking, "When can we go back?"

Place: Minnetonka Cave
Location: Follow Highway 89 north by Bear Lake past St. Charles, Idaho. Just past St. Charles is a turn-off for the Minnetonka Cave Road. Follow the signs.
Phone: 435.245.4422
Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day, 7 days a week, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Cost: $5.00 for adults (16 and older), $4.00 for children (6 to 15 year old) 5 and under is FREE. If tickets for your family will cost more than $20, get the Family Pass for $20.

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Distance from:
Salt Lake City: 143 miles
Ogden: 108.7 miles
Provo: 185 miles
Logan: 61 miles