Red Butte Gardens visits can be ideal for plant lovers, as well as anyone else who is looking for fun and rewarding things to do in Salt Lake City. Owned and operated by the University of Utah, this inviting botanical garden offers acre upon acre of lovely terrain to explore. Native vegetation covers most of the grounds, and the location in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains only adds to the allure of the overall setting. Various trails wind through the Red Butte Gardens, so it's possible to do some hiking while you take it all in.
The Red Butte Gardens and Arboretum was founded by Dr. Walter P. Cottam back in 1930. The former University of Utah botany professor came up with the idea to use campus land as a plant research center. In the early 1960s, the state of Utah took an interest in the growing gardens and named the center the official State Arboretum. Over time, what started out as a relatively small park and garden grew into a 100-acre expanse that unfolds at the mouth of the scenic Red Butte Canyon. The Salt Lake City area, it should be noted, boasts many fine canyons for locals and visitors to explore, and Red Butte Canyon is one of them.
Various grasses, such as shining mutton grass, can be found at the Red Butte Gardens, and visitors can also expect to see various species of native perennials. The perennial species include sticky geraniums and drought-tolerant prince's plumes, both of which are colorful. Complementing the grasses and flowers are a number of shrubs and trees that are native to Utah, such as Apache plumes and quaking aspens. For those who want to learn more about the plants that are on display at the Red Butte Gardens and Arboretum, nature-based classes and events are offered with regularity, at least during the busier spring, summer, and fall seasons. The center is open year round, so winter visits are also possible should you be looking for things to do during the colder season.
While there really isn't a bad time to visit the Red Butte Gardens and Arboretum, many visitors choose to drop by during the summer. This is the season for the Red Butte Gardens concerts, and it's also when the most flowers are in bloom. Spring and fall are also excellent times to visit, with the relatively cold winter months in Salt Lake City being more ideal for other local activities such as skiing and snowboarding. Various classes and special events are offered by the Red Butte Gardens during the spring, summer, and fall seasons, and many of them cater to kids. In fact, this enticing park and botanical garden is one of the top-rated family attractions in Salt Lake City, though you don't have to be a kid to enjoy everything that it has to offer.
Red Butte Gardens concerts are part of the center's summer outdoor concert series. A number of big name performers headline many of the live music performances, making them popular with locals and tourists alike. Should you be planning on catching one of the numerous Red Butte Gardens concerts, tickets tend to go fast, so getting yours well in advance is recommended.
There always seems to be something going on at the Red Butte Gardens and Arboretum during the peak months of May, June, July, August, and September. As such, keeping an eye on the events calender can be a good idea when planning your visit. In addition to the high-quality Red Butte Gardens concerts, other events include art shows, family nights that feature all kinds of fun activities, and plant sales. The Red Butte Gardens are open daily. Hours vary according to month and season, with the general opening time being 9 a.m. Admission fees apply, but are reasonable.
Image: Eric Schramm