Homey, familiar, and what-you-see-is-what-you-get all aptly describe the Heber Valley, tucked cozily between the Wasatch and Uinta Mountains. But don’t let the small-town vibe of this Wasatch County ’hood shrug you off. Both Heber City and Midway offer diversions ranging from shopping and sightseeing to world-class golf and fishing and are idyllic day-trip destinations you’ll be glad you made the effort to experience.
Take a spin through the Commemorative Air Force Utah Wing Museum (620 W Airport Rd, 435.709.7269, cafutahwing.org, open Thu–Sun through Oct 31) at the Heber City Municipal–Russ McDonald Field Airport. The museum is bursting with vintage World War II aircraft like the Boeing PT-17/N2S Stearman.
Back in Time
Utah’s storied pioneer history is particularly vibrant in the Heber Valley. Opened in 2011, the Wasatch County Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum (188 S Main St, Heber City, 435.654.3666,wasatchcountydup.org, open Tue–Sat, 11:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. through Sept 30; 1–4 p.m. thereafter) is chock-full of pioneer-era artifacts, from wedding dresses and carpentry tools to handicrafts and more than 130 pioneer portraits, dating from before 1900. The museum’s Biscuits not Bullets exhibit recounts Wasatch County’s Black Hawk War, a conflict that, because of a few baked goods, logged no casualties. Admission is free, and the museum offers treasure hunts for children and can accommodate tours and large groups outside of normal operating hours.
Shopping in Heber City and Midway presents a treasure trove you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Whether your tastes lean toward eclectic Balinese clothing, jewelry, and home accessories from Water from the Moon Boutique (118 S 500 West, Heber City, 435.654.2267); home décor and garden gifts at All That Stuff in the Barn, housed in an authentic 1800s-era barn (168 W 100 North, Midway, 435.654.5889, allthatstuffinthebarn.com); the Edel Weiss Gallery’s (65 E Main St, Midway, 435.654.1772) collection of bucolic area landscape scenes by local and regional artists; or the high-quality secondhand goods at St. Lawrence Thrift Store (84 S 100 West, Heber City, 435.657.0209, stlawrencethriftstore.com), you’re bound to return with a one-of-a-kind memento of your time poking around the Wasatch Back.
Swiss Misses & Rhyming Wranglers
Two of the most anticipating events in this neck of the woods are the Midway Swiss Days and Heber City's annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Get out your lederhosen and dirndl for what;'s likely one of the U.S.'s largest celebrations of Swiss culture, with a parade, crafts, and lots of food, always held on the Friday and Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Stars flicker in the night sky amid the swirling smoke of a crackling campfire. Coyotes howl as cowpokes craft tales of a celebrated way of life. Even though the 1800s are long gone, the spirit of the Old West rolls on at the Western Music and Cowboy Poetry Gathering (October 25−29, 2017, hebervalleycowboypoetry.com), a four-day event that’s one of the nation’s largest, attracting singers, pickers, and poets from near and far.