By Lauren Everett Johnson
After nine years in Provo, I recently moved back to my hometown of Fresno, California, where I spent the summer sweltering in hundred-degree heat, hitting up the pool, and paying way too much money for air conditioning.
Now that the weather has finally turned a little cooler here, I find myself really missing Provo — not for its Café Rio pork salads, BYU sporting events, or amazing library, but for the seasonal activities the city happily serves up every fall. The truth is, most towns really can’t compare with Provo when it comes to family-friendly, inexpensive fun. So if you’re lucky enough to be spending your autumn in Provo this year, here are five ways to savor the season:
1. Sunsets at Rock Canyon Park
Head over to Rock Canyon Park on a Friday night, hike to the rim, and wait for the sun to set over Utah Lake. Watch the mountains glow red and orange. Let the canyon breathe a chilly breeze down your back. This used to be a weekend ritual for my husband and me, and now that we live nowhere near mountains, lakes, or any sort of vista from which to clearly view a sunset, it’s one we miss.
2. Strolls down the Provo River Trail
Start your walk with a quick trip to the Provo Bakery for maple bars. Then head over to the final leg of the Provo River Trail, which runs east from Utah Lake all the way to Geneva Road. You’ll get beautiful views of the surrounding fields and mountains, vivid fall colors, and minimal disturbances from longboarders, bikers, and other fast-moving humans.
If you’re someone who appreciates stuff that’s so bad it’s good (J. Lo and Marc Antony’s feature film collaboration Feel the Noise comes to mind), you don’t want to miss this cruise, which takes place on a boat without a motor. I’ll let you find out how they work around that one yourselves, you lucky dogs. Your boat captain will be a stressed out, mid-midterms college student who also moonlights as a guild master in the local medieval club. He will not be funny. The free candy will be cheap and disgusting. Your fellow passengers will be bewildered that anyone would pay money for this experience. And you, my friend, will be having the time of your life, because the whole thing is just so terrible that it’s awesome.
4. The Halloween House
A few years ago, a friend of mine told me about her coworker, a woman who wore only black and decorated her house to the nines for Halloween. “It’s amazing,” she said. “You’ve got to check it out.” So we did. Again and again and again. We even took party guests over on Halloween, when, it turns out, the homeowners hire live actors to freak out visitors. Trust me, it’s pretty thrilling cheap thrills. Check it out at 260 S. 300 East in Orem.
The moonlight ski lift rides at Sundance are the perfect way to interact with the great outdoors: you get breathtaking vistas and that wonderful transcendentalist tingle, all without having to change into clunky footwear or elevate your heartrate. Warning: this activity is pretty popular with the student crowd, so be sure to show up early to beat the rush.
What are your favorite ways to experience Fall in Provo? Any ideas for how I can savor the season in my new (old) hometown?
Lauren Johnson moved to Provo in 2003. After four years of school, three years of teaching writing, and two years of writing for teachers, she recently moved back to her hometown of Fresno, California, where she spends her time mothering, writing, and searching for the perfect maple bar.
*Editor’s note: moonlight rides recommence Oct. 24 and go through Halloween. In general, they typically run from June through September, then open up again for Halloween.
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