Surrounded by the Tushar Mountains and Fishlake National Forest, Beaver, Utah, is a four-season adventure basecamp for outdoor lovers. Located about 200 miles south of Salt Lake City along Interstate 15, Beaver welcomes hikers, bikers, ATVers, rockhounds, skiers, and adventurers. A long weekend visit is ideal for exploring, and here we’re sharing the goods on where to eat, sleep, and play while you’re in town.
Day 1: Explore the Present and Visit the Past
On your first day in Beaver, you can start by hitting the trails. Choose from multiple biking or hiking options near Beaver, all of which offer some incredible views along the way. Head for the Tushar Mountains, which include a series of high peaks, including 12,169-foot Delano Peak, the highest point in Beaver County. Mountain bikers will love the 12-mile singletrack section of the Skyline Trail that travels from the Big Flat Trailhead on the south to the Big John Flat Trailhead to the north. It’s a challenging ride, but one well worth the effort for intermediate and advanced riders. Expect some steeper climbs paired with fast, flat sections and surrounding meadows. You can also hike the trail. Or for more of a challenge, take on the summit of Delano Peak or 12,137-foot Mount Belknap.
Another great outdoor option is the nearby Eagle Point Resort. While it’s best known for its skiing and snowboarding in the winter, the resort is filled with summer activities as well, including mountain biking, hiking, and fishing. You can even engage in a game of paintball on its impressive outdoor battlefield with natural obstacles and barriers.
After time exploring outside, you can step back in time with a walk to see some of the more than 100 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From the red brick Beaver County Courthouse to old cabins to the Beaver Opera House, there are plenty of sights to see in town. In summer months, step inside the courthouse to see a museum filled by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, which features displays on the area’s first settlers. Visit the old cabins of famous faces hailing from Beaver, including outlaw Butch Cassidy and the inventor of television, Philo T. Farnsworth. Go inside the Farnsworth Cabin in summer months to see a museum dedicated to his achievements.
After the long day, check out Beaver’s most charming eatery, Maria’s Cocina. Located in a cabin in a campground, this inexpensive restaurant specializes in simple but tasty Mexican fare.
Day 2: ATVing the Paiute Trail
Start your second day with a full belly at Timberline Inn, an American eatery specializing in homemade cinnamon rolls, pancake stacks, and fresh-made omelets. Bring your ATV for an all-day ride on the Paiute ATV Trail. At over 900 miles long, it’s one of the country’s most scenic and extensive off-roading trails. Its 72-mile Beaver Side Trail is a beautiful loop through the Tushars with forests, meadows, and high ridges.
Day 3: Rockhounding and Ghost Town Touring
Before venturing out for the day, start with breakfast at family-owned Arshels Cafe. Open since 1944, Beaver locals and visitors come for affordable diner fare and hearty breakfast. Now it’s off to the Mineral Mountains for a rockhounding adventure. If you’ve never hunted for gems or rocks before, this is the place to get hooked. Collectors come in search of beautiful stones like smoky quartz, opal, azurite, pyrite, gold, silver, and obsidian. While it’s not common, collectors will occasionally spot blue beryl, a brilliant colored, rarer gemstone.
For those who enjoy fishing, stop at Minersville Reservoir at the Mineral Mountains to reel in a rainbow or brown trout. Cast from the shore or a boat and even stay for the evening at one of many campsites.
Follow up fishing with a stop at one of the spookiest ghost towns in Utah: Frisco. Once deemed the “Murder Capital of the Old West,” the mining town of Frisco was as famous for its shootouts as its silver deposits. In its heyday, Frisco was home to 21 saloons, hotels, a red-light district, and gambling halls, but today, just the ruins of this 1880s wild west boom town remain. Go to see old charcoal kilns, building shells, and a mining-era cemetery. Just be sure to stay out of old, open mines that are dangerous to enter.
On your way back home, stop for fresh cheese curds and road treats at The Creamery. Recently revamped and expanded, dairy lovers come for Cache Valley specialty cheeses, ice cream cones, and a full-service eatery with foods featuring local ingredients.
Where to Stay
Beaver is home to a variety of hotels that fit for every budget, or you can venture into the great outdoors to camp with amenities at the Beaver KOA. Set in a mountain-surrounded valley, the campground features a swimming pool, basketball and volleyball courts, and even an arcade keep the kids entertained. For more rugged camping, visit Mahogany Cove Campground along the Beaver Scenic Byway or Anderson Meadow Campground in the Fishlake National Forest.
No matter where you stay, you’ll find that Beaver is filled with natural beauty, history, and adventure—and hardly any of the crowds that fill up so many of Utah’s other top outdoor destinations. Spend three days here and you’re sure to find plenty of ways to explore this lesser-known—but most impressive—section of the state.
Written by Jenny Willden for Matcha in partnership with Beaver County, UT.
Featured image provided by J. Stephen Conn