In the spring of 1859 pioneer settlers from the Salt Lake Valley in Utah discovered for the first time a hidden gem in the mountains, a valley that would eventually be known as the Heber Valley. Those earlier settlers found a beautiful valley surrounded by towering mountains with a wide river cutting across the valley floor. This new home still had hidden treasures to discover which still entice people to explore the valley today. Though new to the area, those pioneers weren’t the first to discover this land.
Native Americans from the Ute tribe in Utah had been coming to the valley for generations for hunting and gathering. As conflicts arose for between the pioneers and the Native Americans a peaceful solution had to be found. In 1867 the leaders of the pioneers, Joseph Murdock, and the Ute tribe, chief Tabby-To-Kwanah, met over a feast to discuss a peace treaty. The two came to understand each other, respect for one another grew and peace was established. After that day the two remained great friends for the rest of their lives.
Even though those early pioneers and native tribes loved the Valley for the natural landscape, they couldn’t imagine the treasures adventure seeking outdoor enthusiasts would find, or the way the valley’s local dining scene, with over 30 local restaurants, would continue to bring people together. They had no idea the places they called home would become the stories that season the history of Heber Valley.
Murdock and those early pioneers were attracted to this mountain valley rich with rivers, streams, lush green mountains, and unique natural features. Residents and guests to the valley still find those things attractive, but now with more adrenaline pumping adventure. Hidden in these mountains are hot springs ranging in temperature and depth. The largest and most popular in the valley is the Homestead Crater. Burrowed inside a 55-foot calcite dome, the 95-degree Caribbean-blue mineral waters are soothing for a soak, swim, or even paddleboard yoga. Scuba divers all over the world converge on the Crater to take advantage of the 65-foot-deep water, as it is the only place to warm water scuba dive in North America.
The power of a good meal has the ability to bring people together and create more understanding over a shared experience. Just as Chief Tabby and Murdock found peace and understanding over a good meal, the tradition of good food bring people together still lives on today. For a small community of just over 35,000 people the Heber Valley boasts over 30 local restaurants with chefs crafting delicious flavors sourced right here in Utah. From fresh trout that is native to the rivers and lakes of the region at places such as Wildfire Smokehouse and Midway Mercantile, to pizzas at Café Galleria topped with cheese from the four-generation, family-owned Kohler Creamery, to beef and other vegetables found locally, farm to table is in the valley’s heritage.
The stories of the past give meaning to the present. Within the homes of these early settlers, they passed down family traditions and shared stories around comfortable fire in the hearth. Today many of the historic homes and buildings of the valley are sharing new stories and passing on new traditions. Some of these homes have become restaurants, others have become boutique shops, and others remain in the original families. Celebrated by the community through an historic tour called the Volksmarch, guests can learn more about the stories only the walls could share if they could talk.
Explore the hidden gems and flavors that season the history of this mountain valley in Utah at gohebervalley.com.