Trails and Tunes


Bike or Hike Within Earshot of Utah’s Best Summer Music Festivals

Utah summers offer many blessings: endless singletrack biking trails, rivers and lakes to cool off in, high peaks to hike, and towers to climb in every corner of the state. (We hear there are other temples where blessings can be found indoors too.)

The summer music scene is one of Utah’s best gifts, and the shows are typically affordable—or completely free—and have the bonus of BYOB venues with nearby outdoor activities to enjoy before getting your groove on. Try these five outdoor summer music events paired with hiking, biking, and more.

Snowbasin Music festival stage and crowd

Snowbasin Blues, Brews & BBQ

Ride or hike after you claim a lawn spot
Dates: Now–September 30, 2018

Every Sunday, Snowbasin’s base area pumps up the volume with FREE music, excellent BBQ food ranging from burgers or brisket to loaded fries, plus cold local beers on tap—hence the name.

Each show features three acts made up of local and nationally touring artists. Past performers include Andy Frasco, Los Lobos, and Big Sam’s Funky Nation. The festivities kick off around noon and run until 5:30 p.m. making the ‘Basin a perfect way to finish out the weekend. Locals in the know claim their spot on the lawn and head up the Needles Gondola for a hike or bike ride, or hit some cross-country riding on Middle/East Fork Loop or the easier Green Pond Trail.

The event includes activities and games for the kids: Spider Jump, climbing wall, and a playground. Chairs and umbrellas are allowed in the rear of the venue, but good old-fashioned blankets work great on the plush lawn too. Just wear sunscreen as it can be hot and sunny without an umbrella.

In addition to the BBB events, the TrouBeliver Fest comes to Snowbasin August 3–4, a new singer-songwriter festival with a more intimate format than the typical festival.

Deer Valley Music Festival crowd and stage at night

Deer Valley Music Festival with the Utah Symphony

Pre-show bike ride; post-show nosh
Dates: Now–August 11, 2018

One of the state’s crown jewels of performing arts, the Utah Symphony makes its summer home on the lower flanks of Deer Valley at the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater. Seeing world-class musicians perform outdoors in the mountains is a must-do at least once a summer.
Before the show, especially on weekends, participate in Deer Valley Resort’s summer activities: lift-served sightseeing, hiking, mountain biking, and stand up paddleboarding at Pebble Beach.

Time your adventure to arrive back at the base the moment gates open and snag a primo spot. Low-back chairs are allowed, as well as blankets, and BYOB’ing a spread of food and wine pairs perfectly with the mountain air. Pro tip: Order a Deer Valley Picnic Bag ahead of time and pick it up on your way toward the viewing area for a high-quality, effortless concert eats.

Traffic leaving concerts can take a bit of time, stop by the St. Regis or Brass Tag for a nightcap to wait out the taillights.

Red Butte Garden stage and crowd

Red Butte Garden Concert Series

Where picnicking’s a sport—if you can pedal it there
Dates: Now–September 17, 2018

The only thing more majestic than this concert series’ setting at base of Red Butte Canyon and its perennial list of all-star acts are the elaborate picnic spreads Salt Lakers unpack from their coolers and totes. Wine holders that stake into the ground, self-leveling tables, collapsible Tupperware—I’ve seen it all at Red Butte.

Hit up the downtown Caputos or Harmons and load up on charcuterie before heading up the hill, or plan ahead the night before to put together a mini-feast as once you are in the gates—you’re in—there is no re-entry. It’s customary to line up outside in the early afternoon to be one of the first in to stake a claim on a tract of lawn. I know, I’ve been that guy.

The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is nearby and depending on where you park and how much you have to carry, you can stretch your legs a bit on the way to the show. Another smart tactic is to arrive mid-afternoon, snag a rockstar parking spot, and head up for a trail run or spin on the BST. You’ll have an excuse for over-imbibing during the show, and have an easier exit—just don’t forget the DD.

If you have the quads for it, pedaling up is a great workout and a smart way to beat the exit traffic as well. Your reward is a free bike valet, courtesy of Salt Lake Bicycle Collective. Pack wisely though!

This summer’s lineup includes Galactic, Trombone Shorty, Gary Clark Jr, and much, much more. If your favorite show sold out too fast to snag tickets, an outdoorsy alternative is taking a quick, yet steep hike, up to the Living Room. Enjoy cozy seating and some distant tunes paired with a sunset over Salt Lake City.

Ogden and SLC Twilight Series

Is bar hopping a sport?
Ogden: Thursdays, Now–August 9, 2018
SLC: Thursdays, August 16–September 13, 2018
Schedule: Ogden and SLC

Though these two festivals are not related, they have much in common: Thursday evenings, urban locations, popular lineups, and low-cost tickets ($5–10 a show).

The Ogden version has improved each year and is headlined this summer by Flaming Lips. The venue is easily accessed by FrontRunner, which is included in your ticket price. The Ogden Amphitheatre concert venue is conveniently located on 25th Street, a location that will change your opinion of Ogden—check out Alleged. Riding your bike is an option too; the Series offers a free bike valet.

Salt Lake City’s Twilight moves to Gallivan Center this summer, featuring five shows in the heart of downtown. The goal of the move is to take all of the best aspects of the Pioneer Park version and less of the cluster that overwhelmed the park and atmosphere. Take TRAX or ride a GREENbike so you don’t have to worry about locking up yours. Then ride and pub crawl Main Street and 300 South after the show.

Park City’s Mountain Town Music Festival

Hike/bike/trail run before the show
Dates: Now–August 10, 2018

Park City offers free music available almost every day of the week in summer. Tuesdays at Newpark (Kimball), Wednesdays at Deer Valley, Saturdays at Miners Plaza (Main Street), and Sundays at Park Silly Market and Billy Blancos.

With Park City’s new bike share system, you can get to the show on two wheels no matter if you parked at the distant transit center or just left your whip at home for the evening. Park City life is on full display as groups of friends and families roll off the trails and into each of these locations—just in time to catch some tunes and the sunset. If you are wondering, yes you can squeeze a boozy beverage, a wedge of cheese, and some cured meats into a Camelback to literally go from trail to tunes. Bonus points for remembering flip flops!

Road Trip to a Desert Music Fest

Moab Music Festival
Dates: August 27–September 13

Take a drive down to Moab, Utah for world-class music in stunning red rock venues at this fest featuring chamber music, jazz, and traditional concerts. Outdoor adventures abound from hiking in for music in a grotto to jet boat rides to secret concert venues. If you have the time and funds, venture out on the multi-day Cataract Canyon rafting trip paired with music sets on the riverbank.


About Author

Nick Como escaped the skyscrapers of NYC for the tall peaks of the Wasatch. Climber, skier, canyoneer, mountain biker, and lover of food. Just don’t think of offering him pizza with pineapple on it.

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