Compete in your favorite sport—or try out a new one—at the 25th annual Utah Summer Games.
All through the summer months, Utah plays host to dozens of marathons, cycling races and other competitions. But whether you’re a serious athlete or a weekend warrior, one event stands out from the pack: the Utah Summer Games. From June 9-27 this year, nearly 10,000 athletes will come together in the southwestern corner of the state to try their skills in sports from archery to wrestling.
What makes the Summer Games different? For one, they’re affiliated with the U.S. Olympic Committee. And for participants, that means a chance to experience the pomp and circumstance of the “real” Olympics, without the years of single-minded training. “The opening ceremonies [scheduled for June 10 this year]include an athlete march, fireworks and a torch lighting ceremony,” says Casey McClellan, executive director of the Games. “It’s a chance to come together with other athletes and celebrate the spirit of true, fair competition.”
Despite their USOC affiliation, the Utah Summer Games aren’t just for elite athletes. In fact, their family focus means many sports are open to young participants. Most events include difficulty classes for everyone from rank amateurs to dedicated competitors. “Many athletes use the Summer Games as a springboard for new activities,” McClellan says. “They may come to compete in a sport they’re familiar with, but then they find other activities that fit their time frame and give them a try.”
With the Summer Games’ diversity of events, there’s no shortage of new sports to try—some of which you may never have heard of before. Take Cowboy Action Shooting, a particular favorite of McClellan’s: “It’s a shooting sport that includes costumes and a course that’s set up to look like something straight out of the Old West,” he says. “Even for those who aren’t shooters, it’s a great event to watch—and for the participants, it gives grownups a chance to feel like kids again.”
Gunplay not your thing? Maybe horseshoes, table tennis or pickleball (a game played on a badminton court with a ball similar to a whiffle ball) will grab your interest. Or, for a break between competitions, play spectator for a day instead. Stroll by the arena to watch equestrians putting horses through their paces, or stop by Sand Hollow Marina to watch bass fishers try for a record-breaking catch.
The Utah Summer Games celebrate their 25th anniversary this year, and they’ll also host the State Games of the West this summer. Athletes from 13 Western states are eligible to join in the lively competition and the warm, friendly atmosphere. Get the full schedule of events and register now at utahsummergames.org.
Cedar City is a four-hour drive from Salt Lake City via I-15. Coming from another state? You can fly into Las Vegas and rent a car for the three-hour drive.
From full-service hotels to rustic campgrounds, the Cedar City area offers a range of lodging options. Contact the Cedar City/Brian Head Tourism & Convention Bureau at scenicsouthernutah.com for a complete list of choices.
All Utah Summer Games events are open to residents of Utah, as well as to residents of those Western states (Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming) that don’t have their own state-level Summer Games. Residents of other Western states are eligible if they’ve first competed in their own state-level Games.