Did you know there’s such a thing as Nature Deficit Disorder? While not a medical condition, it is a very real problem that is plaguing modern families. Children especially are not developing meaningful relationships with nature and the environment. It is leading to behavioral problems and indifference, and its main cause is distraction presented by our modern and fast-paced world. We are obsessed with news and information being available at our fingertips 24 hours a day. Our children are addicted to technology and the devices that get all their attention. What this leads to is disconnect – from personal, human relationships, mainly with our family members.
One way to alleviate the deficit is to travel together as a family to reconnect and rediscover each other. But where to? An ideal spot for families to unplug and enjoy the company of one another is Heber Valley, Utah. Located in Northern Utah, Heber Valley is less than an hour from Salt Lake City and 15 minutes from Park City. The area is known as Utah’s Little Switzerland because of the mountains, the green meadows, and the cool climate that undoubtedly reminded 19th-century Swiss settlers of their homeland. Thanks to the rugged landscape, Heber Valley offers four seasons’ worth of outdoor adventure! Below is just a sampling of what families can do in Heber Valley to unplug, enjoy, and reconnect with one another.
Marvel at the majestic sunrise over the Wasatch Mountains as your family glides across Heber Valley in a hot air balloon. Skywalker Balloon Company offers rides every day of the year, weather permitting. The minimum age to ride the balloon is 4, and pregnant women are not allowed. If you’d prefer to see the valley from a completely different vantage point, go on horseback! KB Horses offers guided trail rides that are tailored to meet their guests’ riding abilities. Another fun option for families is a wagon ride in warmer weather or a sleigh ride in the winter, each drawn by two magnificent Clydesdales.
Year-round water sports abound in Heber Valley. Its many lakes and rivers offer countless opportunities to be on, or in, the water. Located in the southwest corner of Heber Valley, Deer Creek Reservoir is the perfect place to cool off on hot summer days. It’s a popular spot for sailing, water skiing, and jet skiing. In the winter, anglers brave the freezing temperatures and ice fish for rainbow and brown trout, perch, walleye, and smallmouth bass. At Jordanelle State Park, families can explore the 3,068 surface-acre Jordanelle Reservoir by fishing boat, pontoon boat, jet ski, or kayak. All are available as rentals at Jordanelle Rentals and Marina, located in the state park. Another option is to rent stand-up paddleboards (SUP) at the marina. Riding a SUP is fairly easy to learn, provides a low-impact workout, and is appropriate for adults and older children. When it comes to fly fishing in Heber Valley, the main attraction is the Provo River. This blue ribbon fishery is estimated to have 45,000 fish per river mile, including good-sized brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout.
The mountains of Heber Valley are breathtaking at any time of year, but just imagine how stunning they are covered in fresh winter snow. The mountains also provide options for some prime snow sports. Deer Valley Resort in Park City is probably the most well-known and most luxurious ski destination in Heber Valley. Deer Valley was the first ski resort in North America to provide the first-class service one would find at a five-star hotel. There are 99 downhill runs on resort property ranging from easy to expert.
If downhill skiing isn’t your family’s thing, it’s still possible to enjoy the scenery and crisp air by snowshoeing or cross-country skiing through the Heber Valley winter wonderland. What better place to do that than Soldier Hollow, site of the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games’ Nordic events. Soldier Hollow features 20 miles of cross country skiing and snowshoeing trails, as well as a biathlon range and a tubing park.
Heber Valley is just what the doctor ordered to help families combat Nature Deficit. It’s the perfect place to forget about long work hours, after-school schedules, and especially all those distracting devices. Take the family to Heber Valley to disconnect from technology and to reconnect with nature and, most importantly, with one another.
This post was sponsored by the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce. All words and opinions, as always, are my own.