The scenic beauty of the Salt Lake area is a thing to behold any time of year, however, fall is even more special. The autumn foliage that begins spreading over the mountains and through the canyons is truly exceptional. Many hiking trails and driving routes await you, but not only that, the towns in and around Salt Lake County offer fun family-friendly activities to help you enjoy the season. From corn mazes and pumpkin patches to frightening festivals and scavenger hunts, there’s something for everyone.
So, grab some hot chocolate to go and a sweater and check out some of the fun fall activities on our list. Let us know if we forget any of your favorites.
1. Take a Hike
One of the best parts of the autumn season is the turning of the leaves. From green to brilliant colors of yellow, orange, and red. Hiking is a great way to witness this miracle of Mother Nature up close and personal. There are many fantastic trails in Salt Lake County, but in the spirit of the season (Halloween that is), check out Ghost Falls. This is a family-friendly loop that’s just under three miles and is very clearly marked. Be aware, this is a popular spot so you may have company. Grotto Falls is another short trail that’s great for hiking and observing nature. You can bring your pooch along too. Or consider the Willow Heights Trail leading to Willow Heights Lake. it’s a bit of a steep climb so be prepared. You will be rewarded for your efforts with plenty of golden-leafed aspens along the way.
2. Go for a Drive
A fall drive lets you see more in a day with plenty of opportunities to pull off to the side of the road and enjoy the views for longer. A few excellent places for leaf looking are Logan Canyon with its maples and aspen providing brilliant shows of color. Drive the Alpine Loop between Provo Canyon and American Fork Canyon and you’ll find plenty of spots to stop and picnic. Check out the Tibble Fork Reservoir which you access from the loop. It’s a worthy side trip as you’ll soon discover when you witness the fall colors bursting from the tree branches.
Another choice spot is Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains just east of Salt Lake City. If you have the time, hop out and hike the Stairs Gulch and view the many colors of leaves set against the evergreens. It creates a contrast worthy of photographing. While you drive through the canyon, it will be worth your time to continue to Guardsman Pass for more gorgeous views on a road that leads up over the top of the canyon. You’ll hit a junction once you’re descending again which gives you a choice of heading to Park City or toward Wasatch Mountain State Park.
3. Find Family Fun at Cornbelly’s
Cornbelly’s is all about family fun and the fall is a great time to visit. Activities include corn mazes and pig races. What more could you want? How about some bouncy fun on a gigantic trampoline or in a bounce house? There are also wagon rides and slides to enjoy. Cornbelly’s now has two locations, Lehi and Spanish Fork with a corn maze at each location. The flagship location is at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi and that’s where you’ll find Insanity Point. While family-friendly (kids 12 and over is the recommended age), this spot is for Halloween fright-seekers and features such creepy offerings at Big Top Terror, the Eerie Acres Haunted Maze, Big Top Terror, Hayloft Horror, and Hysteria Hay Maze. You’ll encounter plenty of ghoulish creatures so be prepared. For the younger kids, there’s a maze that isn’t haunted plus fireworks to enjoy.
4. Witness Witchfest
You don’t have to be a witch to enjoy Witchfest at Gardner Village in West Jordan. This 45-day event in September and October celebrates witchy-ness in all its frightening glory. Activities include Breakfast with a Witch, Witchapalooza Music Dinner Theater, Mystique Dining, and The Prestige: Parlour of Magic. For the more athletic witches in your group, there’s a 5k Run/Walk. Be sure to catch Witches Night Out, it’s the event that started it all.
5. Enjoy The Sleepy Hollow Haunted Wagon Ride
If you weren’t told the classic Washington Irving story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” as a child, you missed out on a lot of nightmares. The Sleepy Hollow Wagon Ride is your chance to fix that. Just kidding, this is a fun, family-friendly ride. On your journey through the forests between Springville City and Utah Lake, you’ll listen to the story as you witness spectral sights. Will the infamous Headless Horseman make an appearance? Very likely. Book now because each wagon only holds 15 people and they fill up fast! If you have taken this ride in past years, please note the new location in Utah Valley just off I-15 Exit 261
6. See the Scarecrow Festival
If you live in the Salt Lake area but still haven’t been to Thanksgiving Point you should rectify that at your earliest convenience. This nonprofit organization runs an amazing outdoor farm and garden as well as a museum in Lehi. In addition to the many events hosted year-round, the Scarecrow Festival in the Ashton Gardens is not one to miss this fall. From October 11 thru October 16 you’ll get a chance to create a scarecrow with your friends and family and vote on your favorites made by others. While you’re at the Point, check out the Festival Market October 14 thru 16, from 10 am to 6 pm, and shop the booths of local vendors and participate in hands-on educational activities at the Waterfall Amphitheater.
7. Pick a Pumpkin Patch
When that cool fall weather comes in and Halloween approaches, our thoughts turn to pumpkins. A visit to a pumpkin patch should be on everyone’s list of fun fall things to do in Salt Lake and we have some great ones to choose from. Visit the Cross E Ranch and enjoy their Fall Festival which offers plenty of “fall farm fun”. That includes a pumpkin patch and sunflower field in addition to a corn maze and pig races. Other activities for the kids include mega slides, jump pads, and zip lines. Hay is for horses, sure, but it’s also for hayrides, and for building hay pyramids. They’ve got that too.
Another great pumpkin-oriented place to visit this fall is Jaker’s Jack O Lanterns at Hayward Farms in Springville. Stop by Monday through Saturday, September 24 through October 30 from 9 am to dusk and trek through a maze (corn or straw, take your pick), and choose the perfect pumpkin to carve. You can also take the kids on a hayride and visit the petting zoo. The kids will enjoy a romp through the corn pit (think sandbox, but with shelled feed corn instead of sand). There are also plenty of slides to ride and fun for all.