During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Backcountry Slopes
The ski resorts have avalanche control; backcountry slopes do not. It’s not wise to head for the backcountry unless you know what you’re doing. Utah Avalanche Center offers backcountry avalanche and rescue classes. Get educated before you ski, board or snowshoe in the backcountry. Bring along a beacon and rescue equipment.
Trails around (or underneath) waterfalls are wet and covered with moss, lichen and other plant life. People have fallen to their deaths at Bridal Veil Falls and and even the popular family hiking destination, Donut Falls. Some pools at the bottom of waterfalls have dangerous undertows. For instance, Fremont River Falls at Capitol Reef is often closed to swimmers.
3. Bear Country
Black bears inhabit many places in Utah. They mostly avoid people, but in some areas, such as the high Uintas, they’ve figured out that campgrounds and picnic areas are a great source for food. While hiking in bear country, make a little bit of noise so the bears will hear you coming and move away before you make contact. A little bell on your backpack will suffice, or you can sing, whistle or chat with others. When you camp, keep your food stored in a bear-proof container -- never in your tent.
4. Remote Desert Areas
Utah has some pretty remote recreational spots. Before heading out to our desert areas, make sure you have plenty of water and gasoline. A spare tire can make the difference between an hour of inconvenience and a night spent in the desert.
5. Slot Canyons
Utah’s slot canyons are particularly dangerous during flash floods. Before hiking, check the local weather report. If it starts raining during your hike, get to higher ground immediately. Don’t explore the slots alone; you could get injured, stuck (like that guy whose name we are NOT going to mention again) or lost. Always tell someone where you’ll be and don’t deviate from your plans without updating that person.
6. Rattlesnake Territory
Your odds of dying from a rattlesnake bite are extremely rare (the last I could find was in 1980), but bites are more common and they can be pretty nasty. Utah has several species of rattlesnakes, and they’re found all over the state. When hiking, stay on the trail and listen for the warning rattles. Don’t step or put your hands anywhere you can’t see first — snakes love to curl up on rocks to get warm during the day. If you’re bit, stay calm and seek immediate medical attention. In-the-field remedies such as sucking out venom, making cuts at the bite site or putting on a tourniquet can do more harm than good.
7. Canyon Roads
At dawn and dusk, deer, elk, moose and other wildlife cross canyon roads with little or no warning. Drive carefully and stay alert for wildlife — swerving to avoid a deer can send your car careening over a cliff edge, and hitting a moose head-on can total your car.
8. Lakes and Reservoirs
Many of Utah’s lakes are perfect for watersports, but they’re also dangerous spots. Be careful when boating, waterskiing, jetskiing, etc. High speed crashes on water don’t have the soft impact you might expect. Mixing alcohol and watersports is never a good idea. Wear floatation devices, keep a close eye on your kids and use general common sense.
9. Moose Habitat
It’s incredible to see moose in the wild, and you can find them in many spots around Utah. They’re usually harmless, but if you stumble into a moose in a bad mood, you might regret it. Young bull moose can be grumpy, and cows with calves will do anything to protect their young (including running over you). Keep dogs on leash while hiking trails in moose habitat. If you see a moose on the trail, stay calm and back away slowly.
10. Hiking Trails
Stay on the trail when you’re hiking; loose dirt and rocks can cause you to fall. Bring plenty of water with you, and dress in layers for the weather. Hike with friends and tell someone where you’re going. Choose a hike appropriate for your ability; you don't want to suffer a heart attack in a remote Utah wilderness area.