You may fall in love with this place. Don’t worry—it’s normal. This high alpine valley just 10 minutes east of Ogden, Utah is what puts the “mountain” in the oft-heard phrase about Ogden…“mountain-to-metro.” It’s part of the unique mix of urban and mountain life that tends to turn first-time visitors into repeat visitors and, quite often, full-time residents.
In the charming little hamlet of Huntsville, located on the eastern shores of Pineview Reservoir, you’ll find the oldest continuously operating saloon west of the Mississippi River: The Shooting Star Saloon.
This cash-only, burger-and-beer bar is a required stop on any Ogden Valley itinerary. The place is open when they want to be and closed when they feel like it. Sometimes you’ll have a server, but not always. It’s best to simply belly up to the bar and place your order, which should always include the Star Burger: a grilled polish sausage atop a hearty cheeseburger, and a pitcher of your favorite draft beer. Be sure to get a couple of bucks in quarters from the bartender to feed into the pool table and vintage jukebox full of classics from Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Dolly Parton.
To ensure the Ogden Valley gods smile on the rest of your adventure, look for the booth with the stuffed Saint Bernard over it. If it’s unoccupied, step up on the bench and give him a kiss for luck. You’re halfway to being a local now. If you want to immortalize your visit, sign your name on a dollar bill with a Sharpie and leave it with the bartender to join the thousands of similar bills on the ceiling.
There will probably be a couple of friendly dogs roaming the place, and their local owners are usually pretty cool about you petting them. You may be getting the idea that this is a place without rules, and you’d be mostly correct. However, there is one rule: be nice and don’t take yourself too seriously.
Head to the north side of Pineview to the even smaller town of Eden and its main landmark: the four-way stop. From there, you’re only a couple of blocks from the area’s newest distillery, aptly named, New World Distillery. This craft distillery specializes in gin and agave spirits, but also produces an excellent vodka and cherry liqueur.
Tours and tastings are available to the public three times a day on Friday and Saturday. Private tours can be scheduled nearly any time for groups of 10 or more. Even if you don’t do the full tour, bottles of their amazing spirits are available for purchase, along with other great items in their gift shop.
Head back to the four-way stop in Eden and hang a left onto the road leading to Powder Mountain. As you approach Wolf Creek Resort, you’ll find Club Rec North. This is the place for visitors to gear up for any and all of the activities that abound around Ogden Valley.
Winter visitors can rent snowshoes, cross-country skis, or fat bikes all the way up to snowmobiles for nearby tours atop the Monte Cristo range. Summer visitors can rent ATVs and Jeeps, and personal watercraft for a day on Pineview.
Head to the base of the colossal mountains at the northwest end of Ogden Valley, and follow the signs that lead to North Fork Park. Technically, it’s only going to be blue if you get there before sunset. After that, it’s going to be star-speckled black. This 2,740-acre, county-operated park was recently designated as the world’s first bronze-tier International Dark Sky Park.
Expect unparalleled stargazing. Willard Peak and the rest of the Wasatch Range creates a barrier to the light generated by the residents along the Wasatch Front, so you can readily spot constellations and take in stunning views of the Milky Way.
During the summer, the area has abundant hiking and mountain biking as well as several campsites and picnic areas. After the snow flies, the park’s pathways are groomed for cross-country skiing and fat biking, and the whole area is a favorite among snowshoers.
So now that you’re covered with something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, you’re ready to say, “I DO” to Ogden Valley.