Recession Recreation: Cheap Summer Activities


In warm weather you can hike and bike in many places for free, but there are lots of other affordable activities you can do during this time of the year. Our favorites are river tubing, kayaking and bouldering and here you’ll find the best, and cheapest, places to do them.

River Tubing

When the weather along the Wasatch Front heats up, cool off by floating down the Provo River on an inner tube. For just $10, High Country Rafting ( will provide you with a tube, life jacket and shuttle service to the river. Groups of about 50 leave every half hour and float six miles down the river, which takes about two hours. Make your reservations a day in advance by calling (801) 224-2500.

What to wear? Swim attire and river shoes. Old tennis shoes will do, but if you have them, wear your water shoes. Chacos, Teva, Vibram and Keen make shoes designed specifically for water sports.


Basic kayaking doesn’t have a large learning curve, so even if you have never attempted it before, you can pick it up easily. Provo River, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Weber River, Jordan River and the Great Salt Lake are ideal places to paddle around. Kayaks vary widely in type so get one that’s suited to your ability and the type of water you will be going through. Kayak rentals are available at sports outfitter stores and range from $15-$30 a day, which includes life jackets, paddles and spray skirts, depending on the type. Better yet, grab a friend or sweetheart and try it tandem. You can rent a tandem kayak for about $20 a day.

What to wear? Swimwear with rash guards, life jackets and quick drying clothes are ideal. You’ll also want sunscreen, water, snacks, bug spray and a waterproof camera. Stash everything in a lightweight waterproof backpack.


Bouldering can be challenging, but getting there isn’t. Salt Lake City, Ogden and Provo have numerous options for novice and advanced climbers alike. Bouldering is a good alternative for folks who are interested in climbing, but shy away from the rock walls because of a fear of heights.

Little Cottonwood Canyon is your best bet for bouldering near Salt Lake. About a quarter of a mile up LCC you’ll find The Secret Garden and the Cabbage Patch. These areas have a ton of routes and vary widely in difficulty. If you’re closer to Ogden, check out the 26th Street Bouldering Field for some stellar routes.

You can rent climbing shoes, harness, helmet and a crash pad for $11-$15, making this one of the cheapest ways to enjoy the outdoors. Local universities provide great rates on equipment rentals for students and community members. Check out the University of Utah’s Outdoor Recreation Program or Weber State’s Wilderness Recreation Center ( for deals on a variety of equipment.

What to wear? Comfortable clothes that are easy to move around in. No jeans, they’ll restrict your movements.

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About Author

Melissa McGibbon is the Senior Editor of Outdoor Sports Guide Magazine. She is an award-winning journalist and is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and the Adventure Travel Trade Association. Her work also appears in Outside Magazine, Lonely Planet, SKI Magazine, Backpacker Magazine, Elevation Outdoors, Scuba Diving Magazine, and Matador Network. She is usually in pursuit of adventure, travel, or some daring combination of the two. IG @missmliss //

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