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ADVENTURES GALORE AWAIT UTAH RESIDENTS THIS SUMMER RIGHT IN THEIR OWN BACK YARD TOURISM: VOLUNTARY BUREAU IS TRYING TO ENSURE THAT SIGHTSEERS AREN'T

ADVENTURES GALORE AWAIT UTAH RESIDENTS THIS SUMMER RIGHT IN THEIR OWN BACK YARD TOURISM: VOLUNTARY BUREAU IS TRYING TO ENSURE THAT SIGHTSEERS AREN'T BLIND TO SOUTH S.L. VALLEY ATTRACTIONS.Each summer history repeats itself.

As schools close and the sun peaks through spring clouds, thousands of kids, bored with the area's typical tourist sites, take to the streets in search of new adventures.What's a frantic parent to do? Call the Jordan Valley Tourism Bureau for help.

Made up of business executives, city officials and community leaders, the bureau was recently organized to "cross-merchandise and cross-market" visitor attractions south of Salt Lake City.

"Everybody thinks of tourism in Utah as downtown Salt Lake," said Carl Mellor, president of the Lehi Chamber of Commerce. "There are people driving to Salt Lake from all four directions and missing us entirely."

However, Mellor said, within 30 minutes of the Point of the Mountain a person can be introduced to skydiving and hand gliding, visit the largest pre-Civil War military installation, listen to jazz music under the stars at Snowbird, swim in the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi or browse through Lehi's Historic District.

Surprised? You're not alone.

You're among many Utah Valley and Salt Lake County residents who haven't yet explored their own neighborhoods for summer fun.

But the bureau hopes to change all that by advertising unique tourist attractions from Murray to Lehi and from Snowbird to West Jordan.

"There are a lot of sites in the South Valley that have real historical value and meaning to people as far as their roots, and also could be of real interest to tourists," said Neil Rollins, manager of the South Towne Mall and brainchild behind the new bureau.

A New Yorker who relocated to Sandy three years ago, Rollins was intrigued by the number of tourist attractions in his own back yard.

And set out to sell them.

With a little help from his friends, the bureau was born and members began an intense education course.

Each month the bureau meets in a different location. One month it's at Snowbird, the next at Gardner Historical Village in West Jordan or at Wheeler Historic Farm in Murray.

"One of the strongest byproducts I have seen out of this is the spanning of relationships between the cities. While we are all competing for economic growth, there is still a real spirit of cooperation within the group," Rollins said.

The voluntary Jordan Valley Tourism Bureau, which is still accepting members, isn't trying to infringe on Salt Lake tourist sites but dovetail with them to ensure that sightseers aren't blind to south S.L. Valley attractions.

"It's just fascinating to get into the history of each area," Rollins said. "There's so much uniqueness and personality."

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(Additional information)

Featured sites

Looking for new places to explore this summer?

Look in the Deseret News.

Throughout the summer, the Deseret News, in cooperation with the Jordan Valley Tourism Bureau, will introduce you to exciting family attractions in your neighborhood.

Tourist sites from Murray to Lehi and from Snowbird to West Jordan will be featured.