The Provo Canyon is a place for students to connect with Utah, nature and each other.
The Provo River Parkway trail parallels the Provo River for eight miles from Utah Lake to the mouth of the Provo Canyon, where it then continues completely paved for seven miles, ending at Vivian Park. The three lane trail accommodates joggers, horseback riders, longboarders, cyclists and basically anything that moves, as it winds through residential and secluded scenery.
In addition to the trail, the canyon itself offers activities such as fly fishing, camping and river rafting. What it offers BYU students, however, is a Utah experience close to campus.
“I think the canyon is a huge part of BYU life and even just Provo life in general,” Samantha Gilbert, a junior in public relations from Lexington, S.C., said. “Being from the East, the scenery in the canyon is a different kind of beauty than I am used to. It is perfect for a big bonfire with friends or taking a Sunday drive on the Alpine Loop in the fall. It’s a big part of the BYU experience.”
With so many recreational options in the canyon, many local businesses have adjusted to accommodate students and help make their experience in the canyon as enjoyable as possible.
BYU’s Outdoors Unlimited has gear and rentals for the various activities available in the canyon, all of which can conveniently be rented on campus and enjoyed just a few miles away.
“We are in an ideal location for students who are going up the canyon,” Gardner Kearsley, manager at Outdoors Unlimited, said. “Summer season is slower for us because there are fewer students, but I think being in this location so close to the canyon helps business.”
Another business, The Shred Shack, a shave ice venue at Will’s Pit Stop near the mouth of the canyon, rents out longboards and bikes for only $5.
“While in school, saving up for tuition is more important than buying a mountain bike,” Josh Thomson, a business major from Henderson, Nev., said. “So it’s cool being able to be so close to several locations that allow me to rent one whenever I want to go biking, as well as living so close to great mountain biking locations.”
The only problem students seem to have with the canyon is being able to find the different parks. This can be a problem as many bonfires, birthday parties and Family Home Evening activities are held up the canyon throughout the year. Plus, some of the parks have no cell service, which adds to the difficulty of getting directions. With a little help, the canyon can easily be enjoyed by everyone.
The nine different parks and their locations, all connected by the Provo River Trail, include:
- Mt. Timpanogos Park — one mile from the mouth of the canyon and home to the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival is a 44-acre park filled with nine pavilions, six restrooms, 10 picnic sites, a hosting center and beautiful scenery.
- Canyon View Park — one mile from the mouth of the canyon has volleyball courts, pavilions, playgrounds, hiking trails, and fire pits.
- Canyon Glen Park — Located 2.5 miles from the mouth of the canyon includes an amphitheater, pavilions, horseshoe pits, volleyball nets, fishing areas and fire pits.
- Upper Falls Park — About 4.5 miles from the mouth of the canyon and is the same exit as the Nunns Park and Bridal Veil Falls Park exit. The exit will lead to an intersection where the parking lot to the right is for Bridal Veil, the road left is for Nunns park, and the road leading straight goes to Upper Falls Park. The park consists of waterfalls, fishing, hiking and plenty of picnic tables.
- Nunns Park — 3.5 miles from the mouth of the canyon. Includes areas for overnight camping, picnicking, fishing, volleyball, fire pits, biking, and hiking trails.
- Bridal Veil Falls Park — 3.5 miles from the mouth of the canyon and just a short walk down the trail from the world-famous Bridal Veil Falls.
- Vivian Park — About six miles from the mouth of the canyon, right next to the Heber Creeper Railroad tracks, and is seen as a mountain getaway with plenty of homes and cabins right on the river.
- South Fork Park — Take the Vivian Park exit and keep driving up the road about two miles. South Fork consists of about six acres of grass, springs, rivers, amphitheaters, fire pits and more.
- Big Springs Park — about a mile or so after South Fork Park, you will come to the last park located along the Provo River corridor. It is four acres of grass, pavilions and shade trees.