Weekly 5: Free water attractions


The lines are long. Entrance fees are expensive. Water parks are fun, but people may not have the patience or the pocket books to visit them frequently. Luckily, there are some free, adventurous alternatives for people looking to get in the water this summer.


1.  Alpine rock slide

A creek runs at the base of Lone Peak, just north of neighborhoods in Alpine. Water from the creek falls over smooth granite rocks, forming a natural water slide. The slide drops about 15 feet into a calm pool at the bottom.

“I’ve been before with family,” said senior Jenalyn Thiriot. “The water is cold, but on a warm day you dry up really fast.”

To find the slide, travel north on Main Street in Alpine and take a left on Fort Canyon Road. Continue to the trail head marked by a gate on the left enclosing a field full of construction equipment. From there, the hike to the slide is approximately one-half mile.

2. Splash pad parks

These are the perfect option for families with small children. Different from playing in a pool requiring “floaties” or life jackets, playing at these pads is more like running through the sprinklers.

Utah has more than 30 public splash pad parks, and most of them are free. Provo City opened a new splash pad this spring in Pioneer Park.

Visit enjoyutah.org for a full list.

3. Mona rope swings

Swimmers flock every weekend to Burriston Ponds in Mona, approximately 45 minutes south of Provo. Trees surround the ponds, and the branches hang out over the water, making the ponds an ideal setup for rope swings.

The swings are set at various heights. Some provide a more extreme ride than others. In addition to the rope swings, people use the ponds for fishing, floating and kayaking.

5. “Shooting the tube”

Near the mouth of Parley’s Canyon in Holladay, I-215 converges with I-80. Parley’s Creek passes under the road and continues east through Parley’s Historic Nature Park. Thrill seekers ride the creek through an aqueduct to a natural pool on the west side of the freeway’s base. The ride is commonly referred to as “shooting the tube.”

Eighteen-year-old Xavier Streeter of Holladay came down the tube sitting on a plastic garbage-can lid but explained various ways to take the ride.

“You can float down pretty much any way you want,” Streeter said. “You can bring a tube, a sled, a kayak — whatever you prefer.”

To maximize speed, riders stop the water at the top of the aqueduct using large sheets of plywood. After the water rises, the wood is removed and the creek flushes down the tube, carrying the riders more than 100 yards to the bottom.

5. Fifth Water Hot Springs

These hot springs in Spanish Fork Canyon are best in the evening after temperatures have cooled off. Senior Zach Haag recalled hiking to the springs his freshman year.

“I just remember having tons of fun and loving it,” Haag said. “The hike takes longer than I would have expected, but it wasn’t super hard. If you go with a group of friends, I think it’s worth it.”

To find the springs, turn left onto Diamond Fork Road while headed east on U.S. 89 through the canyon. Drive another 9.8 miles, and the trail head will be on the right.

The hike is mildly strenuous and takes about 45 minutes each way.

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