Traditionally, if you wanted to find out the length of a giraffe's tongue, you'd have to hide in a tree with a ready hand and a yardstick. Utah's Hogle Zoo has streamlined the process, however: one of its animal encounters allows guests to feed the long-necked creatures alongside a keeper, who will happily tell you that their purple tongues stretch for 20 inches. The giraffes are just one of more than 800 animals inside the zoo grounds. Spanning 42 acres of verdant hillside property, the exhibits strive to showcase fauna in arenas that mimic their natural habitats.
The polar bear inside Rocky Shores—the zoo's largest exhibit to date—lumbers through a landscape inspired by North America's western coast, with a pool that affords guests underwater views of the bear’s attempts to secure its swim cap. Snow leopards, Siberian lynxes, and amur tigers prowl the Himalayan-inspired scenery of the Asian Highlands. At Elephant Encounter's African Lodge, visitors can touch an elephant skull or a rhino horn before glimpsing the pachyderms in the flesh. Summer shows send eagles and hawks swooping overhead in the Wildlife Theatre. From loping wolves and toothy crocodiles to the sagely gorillas of the Great Apes house, the beasts all benefit from the staff's enrichment efforts, which encourage learning as well as instinctual behaviors.
As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Utah's Hogle Zoo demonstrates a commitment to wildlife conservation that extends beyond its gates. Many of its special events contribute funds to preservation programs. For example, the Orange Utahn Art show raises donations for endangered primates, selling original works by both local artists and the zoo's orangutans, who compose colorful paintings. Guests can even get a closer look at imperiled species by saddling up on top of one—the Conservation Carousel arrays 42 hand-carved sculptures of at-risk animals, such as the red panda, the giant panda, and the false panda, which is just a black poodle that rolled in some paint.
Benjamin Allen believes outdoor pursuits can positively influence those in need. This belief has led him all over the continent, building a ropes course for an orphanage in Mexico and setting up two courses for troubled youth at Provo Canyon School, a bit closer to home. Wanting to share his knowledge of nature with the public, he set up a course, CLAS Ropes Course, near Utah Lake nearly 20 years ago. Benjamin and his crew have since erected more than 50 ropes courses around the country, continuing to inspect ropes and train others how to run them.
CLAS Ropes Course continues to grow each year, creating obstacles such as a giant swing that releases passengers 40 feet in the air, a 400-foot zipline that whizzes through forest canopy, and a "leap of faith," where adventure seekers jump from a treetop platform to a trapeze. A log balance beam hung 30 feet above the ground and a 24-foot-tall rock-climbing tower test agility and endurance, and a fleet of 20 canoes lets paddlers navigate a mile and a half of river. Many of these structures play host to team-building activities focused on developing a group's creativity and tolerance for hearing one another sing. Staff members tailor their instruction to families, dating groups, or athletic teams. They often apply their approach to athletes, such as a professional golfer who traveled all the way from Texas hoping to conquer her fear of not qualifying for tournaments. She defeated the log balance beam, departed victorious, and qualified during her next tryout two weeks later.
All instructors at Cavorite Aviation have a minimum of four years teaching experience, and draw from this know-how to provide their students with fun and flexible lessons. Learning takes place both on the ground and in the air, behind the controls of an Alrus CH2T Trainer, a top quality aircraft that provides students with a safe learning environment.
As featured on the Travel Channel, Castle of Chaos conjures screams and scares for all those who enter its nightmarish realm. Spooks await visitors within the mansion, asylum, and dungeon at the Friday the 13th-themed Taylorsville location while the Riverdale facility coaxes guests into its creepy 3-D carnival and a haunted house modeled after the seven deadly sins. Riverdale participants can also settle into a coffin for a simulated journey from mortuary to graveyard or explore a menacing midway's games, live entertainment, and concessions. Continually rearranged rooms at both houses ensure that feng shui is maintained and repeat scare-seekers will frequently embark on new trips of terror.
It can be tough to visit dinosaurs and outer space in the same day without a time machine and a rocket ship. But Visit Salt Lake's Connect Pass provides a loophole. It grants access to 13 Utah attractions, encouraging families to explore Salt Lake City and beyond. Those using the Connect Pass can see savings of up to 80% on combined admission costs.
At Clark Planetarium, for example, visitors go far beyond the Great Salt Lake and Earth itself, becoming dwarfed by the cosmos inside the Dome Theatre. The Leonardo Museum brings them back to civilization by merging science and creativity with exhibits such as Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out and a Pixel Playland where kids can manipulate electronic artwork.
Other venues emphasize the beauty and fun found in the natural landscapes of our home planet. Red Butte Garden's 100 acres of local flowers, plants, and trees includes scenic hiking trails, whereas the Utah Olympic Parks lets you choose one of three outdoor adventure courses. And, for those intrigued by animals, Utah's Hogle Zoo presents wildlife that ranges from big cats to sea lions who nuzzle their keepers, similar to the dinosaurs at The Museum of Ancient Life.
Utah didn't always look like Utah. Far back in the geological timeline, America's west was home to living, breathing, and roaring giants: dinosaurs. Today, Ogden Eccles Dinosaur Park pays tribute to the state's earliest residents.