Originally posted August 2020; Revised and migrated March 2021
Travel date June 2020
The goal of staying in the Salt Lake City area for over two weeks was to refuel and recharge after spending a month bouncing between National Parks. We needed to take care of normal household tasks that we took for granted in our previous stationary life such as mail, repairs, and shopping.
We travel full-time in our motorhome exploring North America. Now, we can’t walk to our mailbox to collect the mail or book an appointment at our town’s mechanic. Each time we need these services, we have to research and plan ahead. To learn our tested tips and trips for getting mail when traveling, check out this blog.
We’d spent the past month visiting a few of Utah’s amazing National Parks. The downside of those beautiful, remote places is we couldn’t just pop into a supermarket on our way home. We planned to restock our supplies while in Salt Lake City. To learn about our National Parks adventures, check out this page.
We spent two weeks in the Salt Lake City area starting with six nights in Spanish Fork, on the southern side of Salt Lake City. After leaving Spanish Fork, we spent a few nights at Antelope Island State Park before heading to the northern side of Salt Lake City. Sadly, due to COVID closures, we weren’t able to do many of the awesome tourist things in Salt Lake City.
Cheap and Free Camping near Salt Lake City
Most large cities don’t have many camping options unless you’re willing to pay big bucks. We were able to find low-cost and free options near Salt Lake. Using Campendium, I found cheap partial-hookups south of town and free camping north of town.
Cheap Full Hookups south of Salt Lake City
While in Spanish Fork, south of Salt Lake City, we stayed at Canyon View city park campground. For $25/night, they offer water and electric hookups in a parking lot setting. There is also an RV dump on-site.
During our visit, they were only booking every other site due to COVID. It would be very crowded if every site was booked so we were thankful for the pandemic restrictions. The parking lot is attached to a very nice city park with grassy playfields and paved multi-use trails.
Kevin and I enjoyed a few afternoons in the park throwing our frisbee, walking the trails, and napping under the shade trees.
Free Camping north of Salt Lake City
We also spent time camping for free on public land near Salt Lake City. The campsite was about 20 minutes outside the city of Ogden but near a very busy recreation lake, Pineview Reservoir. Weekend campers started arriving shortly after we set up on Thursday.
During one of our evening walks, I counted 13 RVs and 28 tents in the small area. Sadly the area had quite a bit of trash left by previous campers. I collected the nearby trash as best as I could but sadly the area was still trashy.
We talked to the caretaker during our stay, he told us Ogden is the cheapest area to live near Salt Lake City and this free camping spot tends to attract less desirable locals. He invited us to stay beyond the five-day stay limit since the rule wasn’t intended for us.
Bike Shops in Salt Lake City
After a month on the road full-time, our bicycles were not holding up as well as we’d hoped and planned to take advantage of the abundance of bike shops in Salt Lake City. My brakes and gears were not performing well. And, Kevin had damaged his in a fall on the Pleasant Creek trail near Capitol Reef National Park. Click here to read more about biking and hiking in Capitol Reef.
We found a local bike shop in Salt Lake City to do repair work on Kevin’s bike and a tune-up on mine. During the pandemic, many people have started biking for exercise, and bike shops are overwhelmed with work. Most were also sold out of their entry-level bicycles. We were shocked to find some bike repair shops had a 3-week service backlog and had sold out of their 2020 and 2021 stock.
Since my bike only required a simple service it was ready in one week. The gears and brakes were functioning like new after the tune-up. I will not share the name of this bike shop because they didn’t even look at Kevin’s bike during this time.
Kevin’s bike required two different shops and was only partially repaired during this time. The first shop kept his bike for one week without looking at it. But thankfully we found Salt Cycle Shop and they were just as busy as the first shop.
However, Kevin explained our nomadic life and the challenges with a three-week service waitlist. The owner was passionate about biking and asked Kevin how they could get him back riding. Kevin had a long list of mods and repairs but narrowed it down to the key items needing repairs. Salt Cycle made an exception to their service waitlist and was able to do enough repair work to get him back on his bike.
Food and Drinks in Salt Lake City
During our two weeks in Salt Lake, we enjoyed the conveniences of city life. We visited supermarkets, farmers markets and a few local breakfast shops.
Restocking the Pantry
While in Spanish Fork, we were able to re-stock our kitchen. During the past month, we’d been in small towns with only general stores and small country markets. Local food selection was limited and we’d worked through most of our supplies. Rural Utah had worn down our pantry and freezer stocks.
We took the time in the city of Spanish Fork to restock supplies while we had lots of choices. We visited a chain supermarket, Trader Joe’s, Winco Foods, and a local butcher. Our pantry, fridge, and freezer were full when we left Spanish Fork.
Farmers Market in Salt Lake City
Provo Farmers Market
On our first Saturday in Salt Lake City, we went to the Provo Farmers Market. I was disappointed with the selection of fresh produce so we didn’t buy anything.
Ogden Farmer’s Market
On our second Saturday in Salt Lake City, we went to the Ogden Farmers Market. I was excited to find lots of locally grown produce. We walked away with a mixed basket of red Utah Giant and yellow Rainer cherries, zucchini, broccoli, new potatoes, and peas.
Breakfast in Salt Lake City
While visiting Salt Lake City, we were still uncomfortable dining out with the high COVID cases in the area. We did patronize a couple of breakfast shops for to-go goodies, Cowboy Donuts and Hruska’s Kolaches.
While in Spanish Fork, we visited nearby Cowboy Donuts. They had a sign on their storefront claiming they’d been featured on Food Network and I was craving donuts. The young person working couldn’t tell us which donut was featured on Food Network. Honestly, all donuts are tasty but I don’t remember Cowboy donuts as anything special.
Hruska’s Kolaches in Salt Lake City
After a failed visit to the Provo Farmers Market, we walked a few blocks and got kolaches from Hruska’s Kolaches. We’d seen them featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and love kolaches from our time in Texas. The sausage and gravy kolaches at Hruska’s were delicious.
What is a kolache?
Kolaches are a Czech baked good that is fairly common in Texas. They can be sweet (cinnamon cream and pecan brown sugar pictured) or savory (sausage and gravy pictured) but are always made with a soft yeast dough that reminds me of less sweet brioche. When enjoyed warm and fresh, they are delicious.
Brewery in Salt Lake City
After being in Utah for over a month, we’d become accustomed to lower alcohol beers and ordering a snack with our beers (Utah law requires a food purchase with alcohol). During our stay, we visited Talisman and Straptank Brewery. We preferred Talisman as it was more of a traditional brewery focused on beers with a food truck instead of a kitchen. Straptank was a brewpub that offered a full restaurant menu.
While in Ogden, we visited Talisman Brewing which had a nice selection of beers and they were happy to fill our growler. The staff were wearing masks but we were the only patrons who wore masks.
We also visited Straptank Brewery in Lehi. We were disappointed to learn they were not filling growlers due to COVID but we tried a few beers anyway. Our bartender said their brewer was on a sour beer kick and had five sour varieties in addition to a nice selection of ales, lagers, and stouts. My favorite was the coconut strawberry sour.
Motorhome Service in Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is a large metro area with many experienced diesel mechanic options. Kevin booked an oil change for Pippi. Her engine is massive and holds 24 quarts of oil. We aren’t willing to figure out the logistics of changing her oil ourselves but have met other RVers who do.
Also our lithium battery bank was acting up. Kevin had done some troubleshooting and believed one battery was faulty. We planned to stop at the manufacturer while in Salt Lake City.
RV Diesel Mechanic in Salt Lake City
Kevin does not trust all diesel shops to work on Pippi and found online recommendations for Charlie’s Service Center that specialized in diesel motorhomes.
The small parking lot was full of motorhomes but we had an appointment. They started working on Pippi shortly after we arrived. When changing our oil and filters, they discovered an exhaust leak.
They had the necessary parts in stock and were able to replace the faulty exhaust clamps. The exhaust leak left black sooty nastiness everywhere. Using a power washer, the mechanic cleaned the engine compartment under our bed. We spent half the day at the shop and the bill reflected the hours of labor spent. Luckily they plugged us into power which allowed us to stay inside the coach with A/C while they worked on the engine.
Lion Energy Battery Update
On our way north, we made a stop at Lion Energy, the manufacturer of our lithium batteries. They were super helpful in identifying and replacing a faulty battery in our bank. We were there for less than an hour and left with a replacement battery installed. To read more about our solar and electrical upgrades check out this blog.
Things to do near Salt Lake City
We spent two weeks near Salt Lake City during COVID-19 restrictions but were able to enjoy several great attractions including The Museum of Curiosity, hiking Waterfall Canyon in Ogden, and hiking at Snowbasin Resort.
Museum of Curiosity
We visited the Museum of Curiosity in Lehi for free. As annual members at Western North Carolina Nature Center, we receive free or discounted admission to ASTC member science museums and AZA member zoos nationwide.
The Museum of Curiosity is a children’s museum so we aren’t the targeted demographic. We enjoyed the massive koi pond in the garden and the hands-on exhibits about units of measure.
Kevin and I are both life-time learners and enjoy visiting museums. Even though the exhibits were more child-oriented, we learned several fun facts. Fun fact of the day – I weigh more than 210k grasshoppers.
Top Rated Trails in Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City lies in a mountain valley between the Wasatch and Oquirrh mountains. The city is literally surrounded by beauty. According to VisitSaltLake.com, the top-rated hiking trails in Salt Lake City are:
We knew we couldn’t hike all of the top-rated trails in the area and we chose to save our hiking miles for the Antelope Island portion of our time in Salt Lake City. While in Ogden, we did hike Waterfall Canyon trail and Snowbasin Resort Moose trail.
Waterfall Canyon in Ogden
On Saturday morning, we hiked Waterfall Canyon in the city of Ogden. The trailhead was at the back of a neighborhood and was crowded on a Saturday morning. The start of the hike was a steep gravel path that was busy with locals walking and running.
The Waterfall Canyon trail split off from the gravel loop path and was more rugged requiring a little bit of rock scrambling. The waterfall was very pretty but the rocky area around it made me a bit nervous. Other hikers were less nervous and even climbed some of the walls surrounding the waterfall.
Moose Trail at Snowbasin Resort
Our other excursion while in Ogden was Snowbasin Resort, a ski resort that opens on summer weekends for hikers and mountain bikers. Kevin’s bike was still in the shop so he didn’t get to ride the mountain.
During non-COVID times, they also host free movies and blues concerts but this summer they were not doing either. We decided to explore the area around the base of the mountain and hiked 2-miles around the Moose Trail area.
We didn’t see any moose on the trail but the wildflowers were spectacular.
On the road leaving Snowbasin, we saw our first moose of the summer. It was a juvenile without antlers but still an exciting end to our time in Ogden.
Swimming at Pineview Reservoir near Salt Lake City
We tried the Cemetery Swim Beach on Pineview Reservoir but discovered within minutes that we were not built for Utah lakes. Even on an inflated float in late June, I was cold enough to shiver after only a few minutes of the sun going behind the clouds.
The reservoir was very crowded with boats, jet skis, kayaks, and paddleboards. We decided to skip kayaking this location after our chilling swim attempt.
We spent over two weeks in the Salt Lake City area to refuel and recharge after spending a month bouncing between National Parks. The time was primarily spent taking care of normal household tasks but we were able to fit in a few nice hikes.