Winter typically descends on Salt Lake City sometime in November, and lasts well into March. And while the rush of the holidays sustains most people through December, January can often bring a feeling of flatness and restlessness. Skiers have great cause to be excited; the best months of snow conditions still lie ahead. But those who don't ski - or who need an occasional break from the sport - might be looking for a winter diversion.
As modern medicine tells us, physical activity is at least as beneficial for the body as it is for the soul. To exercise your body and stimulate your mind, head to any of these recreation centers for a refreshing sampling of summer outdoor activities - replicated indoors.
iFly Windtunnel in the Salomon Center — Photo courtesy of Rojer
Traditional skydiving involves a plane, a parachute, a 12,000- or 13,000-foot height above the ground, a high degree of skill and balance, cloudless skies, and - ideally - warm weather. The iFly Utah wind tunnel in Ogden's Salomon Center strips it down to the basics. By eliminating the plane, parachutes, and height, and by providing consistently good conditions, it allows you to practice your balance and technique of freefalling, all while never being more than just a few feet above the ground. Suspended by high wind currents, you'll enjoy the assistance of an instructor as you learn how to fall gracefully at high speeds.
More interested in water sports? Pop next door to the Flowrider. This mechanized wave allows you to try surfing in a relatively safe environment. Though the sensation is not exactly the same as the real deal, it's quite close - and is challenging, fun, and exhausting. Plus, your worst worries are a bruised knee or hip - which is child's play when compared with the potential hazards of real surfing. You don't need your own board to play; just make sure you're wearing some kind of long, leg-protecting shorts over your swimwear. (Be sure to call well in advance of your surf date to make reservations, as this popular attraction sometimes fills up days in advance.)
In its short lifetime, the sport of rock climbing has grown and modernized quite quickly. Until just a few decades ago, this was a sport for outcasts, hippies, and borderline bums. To do it, you had to quit your job, move to Yosemite, and climb El Capitan. But today, modern rock climbing gyms allow anyone to try the sport. Salt Lake City is lucky to have The Front Climbing Club, one of the nation's very best bouldering facilities. “Bouldering” is a type of rock climbing in which you don't use a rope; instead you climb safely short walls over large pads.
The difficulty of this type of climbing comes from the size and nature of the hand and footholds (and distance between them), rather than from the length of the climb. So, while bouldering works your body and mind just as much as longer routes, it give you the freedom to climb alone. Not only do you skip out on needing rope, harness, and belay partner, you don't even need your own shoes; you can rent them at the front desk.