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Beaver County in southwestern Utah is the perfect place for a family outdoor getaway. It’s filled with wild places—rugged mountains, sharp canyons, placid lakes, and wildflower-covered meadows—that offer plenty of memorable adventures for kids. Camp beside a lake surrounded by aspens and firs, hike a twisting trail to spot wildlife, search for precious gemstones, ride a mountain bike down a ridge, strap on skis and cut turns through fresh powder, or hear echoes of the past in abandoned towns. These outdoor adventures in Beaver County will become touchstones for your kids, and they’ll want to return again for new experiences. Here are six ideas to get you started:
Located 18 miles east of Beaver, Puffer Lake is the largest natural lake found in the Tushar Mountains (although it has been enhanced with a small dam to help maintain water storage for irrigation). When full, the lake covers 65 acres with a maximum depth of 50 feet, and it’s a perfect location for a family fishing trip. At an elevation of 9,672 feet, the alpine lake is a beautiful place to visit on its own, plus the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources stocks the water with rainbow trout and brook trout each year. Around the lake, you’ll find cottages to rent, boat rentals, horseback riding, and a campground—making it an excellent spot for either a long weekend or a fun day trip.
Eagle Point Ski Resort, a 20-minute drive east of Beaver, is not only southern Utah’s best ski area, but it’s also kid-friendly and affordable. The resort offers lodging packages that give kids under 17 free lift tickets for big savings. The area boasts 650 acres and 40 runs served by five lifts, terrain and snow tubing parks, and over 350 inches of fluffy powder snow. Kids love the long groomed beginner and intermediate runs, diverse terrain, and no crowds. The ski school teaches both half-day and full-day lessons, including the Eaglet program for kids 4 to 6 and the Learn to Soar program for 7- to 14-year-old youths.
Located just south of the Tushar Mountain Peaks in the Fishlake National Forest, Big John Flat is known for its large meadows and spectacular scenery. You can access the Skyline National Recreation Trail here, as well as the Paiute 01 ATV Trail, for those who enjoy off-road motoring. Surrounding the large meadow you’ll find groves of aspen, spruce, and fir trees, in addition to wildflowers. Come in July to see the waves of larkspur and lupine. The 8.3-mile Skyline trail follows the peaks of the surrounding Tushar Mountains. While the trail does include some steeper climbing that may be hard for younger kids, you can find relatively flat sections to explore on it and other surrounding trails. Plus the meadows are fun to explore on their own. In the summer, you can ride ATVs, hike, go horseback riding, and camp in the national forest (although there are no campgrounds, just dispersed camping.) In the winter, it’s a popular spot for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. To access the Big John Flat, take State Route 153 from Beaver, Utah, also known as the Beaver Canyon Scenic Byway, for 16 miles before the turnoff. The trailhead is four miles further on road #123.
The Indian Creek Reservoir is another beautiful option for families looking to explore the Fishlake National Forest. Located northwest of Beaver, the reservoir (and the Manderfield Reservoir located next to it) offer a good bit of solitude for those who want to do some alpine fishing with the family, as the reservoir is stocked with rainbow trout in the summer months. Dispersed camping is permitted, with a vaulted toilet at the reservoir. You’ll also find the access to the Indian Creek Trail, which spans 20-miles to the Cove Creek Trailhead. But you have lots of options when it comes to hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding here, with numerous trails branching off east into the Tushar Mountains. To access the area, travel north from Beaver, Utah, on Highway 357. About two miles north of Manderfield, turn right onto the frontage road. After three miles on this route, access Forest Road 119 and follow this route east to Indian Creek.
Mountain bikes bring Eagle Point Ski Resort alive in the summer. Cyclists can travel 41 miles on 12 designated trails, including six novice rides that are great for kids. The 1.1-mile Observation Point Trail is a fun ride that begins by the lodge and climbs through woods to great views at Observation Point. The 3.9-mile Tushar Ridge Trail (#179) is a long easy downhill ride that loses 1,443 feet from the Puffer Lake Trail. The upper section is singletrack through trees while the lower part alternates between forest and ski runs. Set up a shuttle ride with the resort to get back to the trailhead and your car.
Every kid likes finding cool rocks to display at home. If your kid is a rock lover, then the Mineral Mountains are the perfect spot for a rockhounding adventure. The Minerals, one of Utah’s most mineral-rich areas, offers excellent gem and rock hunting along its western base. Avid collectors come here to find spectacular chunks of rock like smoky quartz, opal, azurite, pyrite, gold, silver, obsidian, and blue beryl, a prized gemstone. It’s best to explore the Rock Corral area, with nearby documented rockhounding sites including the famous banded purple opal dig and another littered with black obsidian or volcanic glass. Look in the tailings of old mines for azurite and malachite. After a day of rockhounding, spread the shiny rocks on a picnic table and admire the haul. Maybe one of the kids just found a precious stone that will finance her college education.
Written by Stewart Green for RootsRated in partnership with Utah Office of Tourism and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image provided by Intermountain Region USFS