How to soak up every hour of the summer solstice
Published by Salt Lake City Weekly | 2014
The summer solstice, the longest day of the year, is our one chance to truly max out on daylight fun. This year, June 21 falls on a Saturday, so there’s no excuse to while the day away indoors. Catching the sunrise and tracking that golden orb to sunset is required for a self-respecting solstice celebration; here are a few ideas for all those long hours in between.
With a little more than 15 hours of daylight to burn, the first day of summer is an ideal time to conquer an extra-long bike or hike trip. See how much of the 95-mile Bonneville Shoreline Trail you can pedal in a day. Or, tackle a tantalizing peak like Mount Nebo; at 11,929 feet, it’s the tallest in the Wasatch Range. The North Ridge is the “easy” route. Ten miles long, it takes nine to 12 hours to complete. The sun will be up for it—are you?
For more information, call Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest at 801-466-6411
The Sunrise to Sundown Lounge
Always out on an epic? Switch it up. Take an all-day picnic, lounge around and watch the sun and its shadows slowly shift around you. While any favorite outside spot with long views and a bit of shade will do, watching the Caribbean-like Bear Lake sparkle blue and bluer under the shifting sun is so mesmerizing you might as well take all day to do it. Hit up Bear Lake State Park at sunrise. Yes, it’s early, but you’ve got all day to nap. Stake out a spot with some shade and set up shop.
Bear Lake State Park, 940 N. Bear Lake Blvd., Garden City, 435-946-3343, $8 vehicle entrance fee, StateParks.Utah.gov
The Hat Trick
Utopia for outdoor-adventure lovers, Utah has a bit of it all. How much can you fit into one day? We figure at least a three-fer; it’s all about proximity and well-considered logistics. Moab’s River Road (Highway 128) is an excellent example.
Hike: Take a sunrise tour of the Fisher Towers.
Boat: Jump on the Colorado River’s Moab Daily section from Hittle Bottom to Take-Out Beach through the heat of the day (if you go with an outfitter, take an afternoon half-day trip).
Boulder: As the canyons cool, mosey south one bend down the road to Big Bend for a boulder session. Mix and match options: Bike the new Moab Canyon Pathway bike lane along the River Road, or hike to Morning Glory Natural Bridge through Negro Bill Canyon. For more information, call Moab Information Center at 800-635-6622
Throw the Sun a Party
Come on, it’s finally summer; throw the sun a party! You can celebrate the bounty that the sun provides by hosting a locavore potluck featuring fresh local foods. Wake up early and greet the day with a cup of joe. The beans weren’t grown in the Beehive State, but try to seek out a local roaster. Head to the closest farmers market for breakfast, find a list at Utah’s Own (UtahsOwn.Utah.gov), and search out ingredients for your feast. Expect inspiration such as spicy arugula and scallions, cooling basil, lip-staining cherries and sweet, juicy blueberries. Head home to whip up your offering. The invitation should read: “backyard sunfest, lunchtime to sunset, bring food and drink to last.”
Check the Solar Calendar
Modern life has built walls, towers and subdivisions obscuring the horizon. What better way to reconnect than to contemplate man’s longstanding connection to the sun’s journey across our sky?
Take the Solstice Panel at Hovenweep National Monument (970-562-4283, NPS.gov/Hove) in southwestern Colorado for example. At sunrise on the summer solstice, cleverly positioned circular petroglyphs etched in the sandstone by Ancestral Puebloans are sliced in half by two horizontal beams of light, which slowly meet as the sky brightens.
The Sun Tunnels (UMFA.Utah.edu/suntunnels_selfguide), a more modern take, adorn the Great Basin Desert. Among the earliest examples of land art, they were installed in 1973 by Nancy Holt (who died in February) to illuminate our connection to the environment. The four concrete cylinders—18 feet long, 9 feet in diameter—form a cross and are each aligned to frame either the summer or winter solstice sunrise and sunset. This year, expect crowds commemorating Holt’s achievement and life’s work. The only shade out there is offered by the tunnels themselves, and late June is plenty hot, so plan appropriately.