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Utah Hang Gliding and Paragliding Site Guide
Utah is a pretty wonderful place to fly, and free flight is a pretty awesome sport. I wrote this guide to help people enjoy the wonder that Utah offers to paraglider and hang glider pilots. Please consult with local pilots and always use discretion as you fly. Each day is different be willing to drive or walk down a mountain
Let's imagine. Let's fantasize about the perfect paragliding Launch. First let's visualize a place that is soarable in both morning and evening, with consistently smooth winds and easy access as well as forgiving ground characteristics. Can such a place really exist? Now let's dream of a perfect mountain flying site with 2WD access no more than a half hour's drive but over 3000 feet above a mile wide LZ. What if it had a nice flat top but good slope after Launch and access to at least 270 degrees of Launching directions. Lets dream that it is soarable and has the option of climbing higher in soarable winds. Say 3000 feet higher. We could throw in consistent house thermals and excellent cross-country potential and just because we are dreaming let's imagine that it has a NOAA weather station and a live feed camera right on Launch, so we can check soaring conditions before leaving home.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Utah.
Home of the Wasatch Front Mountain range that creates consistent coast like conditions almost every day of the year. Welcome to Point of the Mountain.
Welcome to Utah.
Home of Cove Mountain, where a ridge finger extends miles out into and 3300 feet above the Sevier Valley, and creates a soarable take off in three different directions. Where you can climb in evening ridge lift up over 3000 feet and look down on mountain lakes and streams along with 3000 foot shear cliffs and the panorama of Color Country. Where thermals can carry you to the Wasatch Plateau and you can thermal above Skyline Drive, a mountain ridge road that runs 60 miles between Sanpete and Carbon Valley's, and seldom dips below 10,000 feet. Welcome to Utah. Home of the Parker Ridge - 30 miles of unbroken soarable ridge line, with roads at the top and the bottom, Where else can you get a 6000 ft sled ride in butter smooth early morning air from Monroe Mountain or a 5000 foot sunset flight while watching the sun immerse itself in the Great Salt Lake in Glass Off conditions from Francis Peak. Or take the thermal elevator from Inspo over the top of Mt.Nebo or from Hancock and cruise the Fish Lake Hightop Plateau. Whether you are a beginner or a master, or somewhere in between you can find it in Utah.
The following list of Utah launches is a work in progress, and not meant to be a complete list by any means. It should give you a place to start and an idea of what is out there. Just because you know how to get to a site doesn't make flying it a great idea. Always fly with a buddy and contact the locals who understand the site specific details. Always think safety first and approach each new site and conditions with the �launching is optional, landing is required� mindset.
Have fun, live large, and enjoy a long lifetime of freedom, and victory over earth bound existence.
After the name of the Launch I have listed the nearest town or some landmark (where available). Then the launch (TO) altitude with GPS coordinates; then landing (LZ) altitude (with GPS coordinates). You can just put in the coordinates and have fairly good look at how to get there and what is available. Then accessibility, reasons you would want to fly there, some directions, and comments about the site. I have listed Point of the Mountain first and then ordered the rest basically from north to south.
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Utah Paragliding and Hang Gliding Launches
Point of the Mountain , (Draper) World famous flying site because of consistent airflow South in the morning, North in the evening. The Great Salt Lake draws air to it in the morning because the water is warmer than the land around it. The Wasatch Mountains and the Oquiher Mountains funnel this air flow over the perfectly shaped sandy banks of the ancient Lake Bonneville to create an amazingly consistent soarable morning air flow, similar to a coastal site, but you don't have to wait until the fog burns off and you don't have to worry about getting your feet wet. The South Side is one of the best places in the world to learn to fly and people come from all over the planet to learn at this almost perfect training hill.
In the evening the process is reversed and the Great Salt lake exhales as the land around it becomes warmer than the water. The same mountain ranges funnel the not quite so consistent air flow over the North side of �The Point� and this provides a more advanced opportunity for pilots to bench up1000 feet and soar the 2 mile long �Steep Mountian� behind launch.
South side Launch: 5150ft/1570m GPS 40 27'24�N 111 54'06�W LZ: 4850ft/1478m GPS 40 27'15"N 111 54' 02"W.
North side Launch: 5100ft/1555m GPS 40 28'29�N 111 53'30�W LZ: 4800ft/1463m GPS 40 28' 39"N 111 53'40"W Consistent evening soaring. The north side provides an opportunity to bench up and soar the 2 mile long mountain behind launch.
Crawford , (Randolph) Launch: 7700ft/2347m GPS 41 40'17�N 111 05'46� W LZ: 6450ft/1966m GPS 41 40'10"N 111 06' 55"W 2WD drive-up. West facing ridge; 10 miles soarable. Consistent winds, reliable launch for evening ridge soaring.
Francis Peak (Farmington) Launch: 9200ft/2804m GPS 41 01'38�N 111 50'17�W LZ: 4300ft/1310m GPS 41 00'28�N 111 54'47�W 2WD drive-up. West facing launch in a nice meadow, sometimes soarable. Take Shepard Lane just past Lagoon; 45 minute dirt road. 9600 ft ceiling because of air traffic (Bummer). Nearly 5000 ft vert; fantastic view over the Great Salt Lake. (Note: watching the sun sink into the Great Salt Lake while you are flying in glass off conditions. 4000 feet above the Lagoon Amusement Park changes your attitude about what fun is.)
The V , (Bountiful) Launch: 6341ft/1933m GPS 40 54'40� N 111 50'44�W LZ: 4600ft/1402m GPS 40 54'38� N 111 52'35�W 2WD drive-up. West facing Launch. P-2 when conditions are right. One of the less technical mountain sites.
Big Beacon (Mt Wire), (University of Utah) Launch:7047ft/2148m GPS 40 46'15�N 111 47'58�W LZ: 5100ft/1555m GPS 40 45'45�N 111 49'17�W Immigration Canyon, Hike up site. Nice multi directional launch.
The H (Highland) Launch: 5474ft/1660m GPS 40 43'48�N 111 48'36�W LZ: 5150ft/1570m GPS Foothill Dr. 2100 S. SLC. Hike up site, sometimes soarable. P-3
Grandeur Peak , (Salt Lake City) Launch: 5900ft/1798m GPS 40 42'1�N 111 47'01�W LZ: 5100ft/1555m GPS Straight up from 33rd south.. 800 foot vert; maybe a fly to the Point on the right day, thermal site.
Olympus , (Salt lake City) Launch: 5524ft/1684m GPS 40 39'40�N 111 47'56�W LZ: 4900ft/1494m GPS Wasatch blvd; E on Fortuna Dr; S on Mile High Dr. Short hike up, 300 ft vert. Thermal site. The �cool guys� fly Olympus to the Point. It's a right of passage thing. P-4 only. Lousy postage stamp LZ (- but who wants to use it anyway�).
Jupiter , (Brighton ski resort Launch): 9920ft/3024m GPS 40 36' 45�N 111 32'30�W LZ: 9000ft/2743m GPS Late morning site. Thermal potential; Big air; gnarly mountain site.
Snowbird , (Little Cottonwood Canyon) Launch: 10980ft/3347m GPS 40 33'38�N 111 38'43�W LZ 8280ft/2438m GPS 40 34'51�N 111 39'11�W Take the Tram up. Great Thermal potential. P-4 and by invitation only!
Mt. Ibepah , (Calleo) Launch: 11960ft/3646m GPS 39 49'39"N 113 55'11.6" W LZ: 4470ft/1363m GPS"39 53'09"N 113 44'14" W. Utah's 3rd highest launch and biggest vert at nearly 7500 feet. That is a record unlikely to be bested, because nowhere else in Utah is a mountain that high next to a flat that low Mt Ibepah is the highest mountain in the Deep Creek range. It's a six hour hike, but absolutely breath-taking. The landing is less than 300 feet above the Geat Salt Lake, completely desolate. When we launched the temperature was about 40 degrees and on landing it was in the 80's.
Eagle View , (Sandy) Launch: 6123Ft/1870m GPS 40 52'55�N 111 47'46�W LZ 5138Ft/1565m LZ 40 32'54�N 111 48'21�W A 1000 foot hike up launch. Perhaps the best east side hike up and fly around the Wasatch and land at The Point site in the Salt lake Valley. The launch is one spine over from Bells Canyon right on the spine that most consistently produces the house thermals that take you above Lone Peak, high enough to cross Corner Canyon.
Middle Finger Ridge (Herriman) Launch: 5500Ft/1663m GPS 40 29'12.5�N 112 2' 6� W LZ 5231ft/1550m 40 29'18�N 112 2' 5�W Evening ridge soaring site and alternate to the Point when the winds are cross or too strong 300 ft hike up site with the potential to bench up 1000 feet and play in all of the fingered ridges above Herriman
Inspo , (Orem) Launch: 6650ft/2027m GPS 40 17'23�N 111 39'19�W LZ: 4850ft/1478m GPS 40 18'04�N 111 27'32�W Home of the very successful 2009 national paragliding competition, 8 days 8 successful tasks. East on Prove Canyon Rd; South on Squaw peak Rd. Very high cross-country potential, many flights over 50 miles.. 97 miles from Inspo on a paraglider July 11, 2007. Many obstrutions around the LZ; P-4 or instructor supervision recommended.
Y Mountain , (Provo) Launch: 6270ft/1911m GPS 40 14'53�N 111 37'12�W LZ: 4900ft/1494m GPS Take 820 E. to Oak Cliff Dr. Hike up site, good thermal trigger.
West Mountain , (Payson) Launch: 6764ft/2062m GPS 40 05'20�N 111 49'37�W LZ: 4550ft/1387m GPS 40 06'01�N 111 47'47 2WD high clearance drive-up. East facing TO. Take the Benjamin exit; go W on 7300S to 5300W; go North around the turn and follow the road up to the towers. Good first time mountain site. Easy slope launch and open LZ. Morning thermals. Some north and West launch options. Don't land in the fields with animals and don't block off access to gates with vehicles parked in the LZ. Some XC potential.
Lake Mountain , (Saratoga Springs) Launch: 7602ft/2317m GPS 40 16'49.1�N 111 56'06.7�W LZ 4900ft/1493m GPS 40 18'41�N 111 54'34�W Morning thermal site. Very rough, rocky road - (OK not so much a road as a tire eating dragon waiting to devour rubber)
Fire Hazard @ Lake Mountain , (Saratoga Springs) Launch: 5600ft/1707m GPS 40 14' 22�N 111 53'04�W LZ: 4600ft/1402m GPS 4WD drive up. East facing TO. 25 minute drive from the Point. Very soarable when it's East cross at the Point. Good soaring and training site with N. and S. facing training hills. Same type of sandy benches from lake Bonneville as you find at Point of the Mountain.
Mt Nebo , (Nephi) Launch: 11870ft/3618m GPS 39 49'19.1�N 111 45'38� W LZ: 4962ft/1512m GPS 39 49'01�N 111 51'24� W (Mona City Park)The highest peak in the Wasatch mountain range. Utah's fourth highest Launch and 2nd biggest vert.(6909 ft) 3.5 hour hike up and lousy loose rock Launch area (bring a tarp). a launch from the saddle 1500 feet lower is recommended.
Horse Heaven , (Levan) Launch: 8036 ft/2461m GPS 34 29'26.2�N 111 49'56.1�W LZ: 5060ft/1542m GPS 39 30'26.0�N 111 52'17.6�W Good 2WD read. Thermal site. Southeast and west launch options. Wide open LZ
Dinosaur (Vernal) Launch: 8140ft GPS 40 22'16�N 109 5'21� LZ 6673ft 40 21'18.5�N 109 4'8.5�W South facing Thermal site. Listed in Paragliding Earth as a Colorado Site, but it is in Utah.
Meller Canyon (Gunnison) Launch: 5897ft GPS 39 15'20�N 111 50'10�W. LZ 5292ft GPS 39 14'53�N 111 50'42�W South, West, and North soaring faces on a 600ft 4 wheel drive up launch
Devils Back Bone (Axtel) Launch:5893ft GPS 39 1'52.5�N 111 47'15�W. LZ 5277ft. GPS 39 2'16�N 111 47'54�W. 600 ft west facing soaring ridge 4 wheel drive up.
Salina Waves (Salina) Launch: 6001ft GPS 38 59� 31.5�W 111 48'52.7�W. 5201 GPS 38 59'45�N 111 49'24.5�W. WNW facing soaring ridge There are 2 two mile waves. Fun soaring on a west wind evening a quarter of a mile between the waves, if you can jump the gap you have twice the fun. Drive up behind the North Wave to hike 200 feet to the launch. 800 feet vert.
The �V� (Venice), Richfield Launch: 6410ft/1954m GPS 38 48' 15"N 111 58'01�W LZ: 5285ft/1611m GPS 38 48' 01" N 111 58'56�W Short hike (400ft vert) - but a true 360 degree Launch. P-2 site. Easy launches in all four directions. Soarable in three directions. (If an east wind in these parts is strong enough to be soarable you don't want to be flying. I tried it once � it wasn't fun.)
12 minute , (Richfield) Launch: 5733ft/1747m GPS 38 45'32�N 112 00'53�W LZ: 5280ft/1609m GPS 38 45'22.7�N 112 01'13.6�W 4WD drive-up site. West side is P-2. East side is P-3. Nice grassy LZ's both sides. East side is very soarable in a North, down the valley wind that happens often in the spring. Easy 4 stage bench up 1200 ft. West side is a good training hill with a quick turnaround time.
Hepler's ridge , (Richfield) Launch: 6137ft/1871m GPS 38 44'19�N 112 01'21�W LZ: 5280ft/1609m GPS 38 44 47.8�N 112 01 33.1�W 4WD drive-up site.. West and North faces are soarable. Nice grassy LZ. Steep drop off on Launch - probably a P-3 site, although you seldom get to the edge before being lifted.
Cove , (Richfield) Launch: 8731ft/2661m GPS 38 38'03�N 112 03'39�W LZ: 5360ft/1634m GPS 38 38'46.1�N 112 06'29.1�W The Ultimate Mountain Flying Site! 2WD drive-up, but high clearance site. South ,West, and North soarable faces. Wide open lay out area, and literally a mile wide LZ. (O.K. mile long, only a half mile wide). Opportunity to bench up over 3000 feet, just on ridge lift. Most summer evenings provide smooth ridge lift right up till sunset and then the glass off soar out to the LZ is a 20 minute hands off glide that is awesome. There is also huge XC potential; an excellent thermal generator. To the South is the Sevier Plateau; to the West is the Fish Lake High Top Plateau and to the North is the Wasatch Plateau. Meso-West weather station, and live feed camera on launch.
Monroe Peak , (Monroe) Launch: 11171ft/3405m GPS 38 32'29�N 112 04'24�W LZ: 5447ft/1691m GPS 38 35'20.0�N 112 08'01.9�W 2WD drive-up site. Very clean, easy SW facing Launch. Nearly 6000 ft. Vertical (The biggest vert of any drive up site in the continental US) 5 mile wide LZ. Awesome cross country potential with afternoon and evening thermals. P-2 Launch in the right conditions.( Host site of the 2011 R2G Red Rock Nationals)
Poverty Ridge , (Monroe) Launch 6880ft/2097m GPS 38 31'31�N 112 10'23�W LZ 6315ft/ 1925m GPS 38 31'54�N 112 10'13�W Very consistent north soaring ridge. The funnel between the Sevier and Piute valleys directs and concentrates the air flow, nice slope for launch and top landing. 2 wheel drive up with easy retrieve.
Hancock , (Koosherem Reservoir) Launch: 9359ft/2853m GPS 38 33'32�N 111 48'13�W LZ: 7000ft/2134m GPS 38 34'04.1�N 111 50'24.0�W Mostly 2WD drive-up (except the last 50 yards); West facing Launch. Excellent Thermal and cross-country site with a straight shot to the Fish Lake High Top Plateau.
Fish lake High Top , (Fish Lake) Launch: 11,500ft/3506m GPS 38 37'06.3�N 111 44'01�W LZ: 7000ft/2134m GPS use Hancock LZ 4WD drive-up site. West facing launch with a ten mile soarable ridge, in front of a nearly flat table top at 11,400 feet. Drive most of the way to launch.
Parker , (Koosherem) Launch: 8440ft/2573m GPS 38 24'57�N. 111 52'02�W LZ: 6781ft/2067m GPS 38 25'14.3N 111 53'58.0"W 2WD. Excellent first mountain flying site. Easy west facing launch. 30 miles of evening soarable ridge. Excellent afternoon thermal potential. (I caught my first thermal here as a P1 - it was pure luck. My instructor was on the radio saying, �just stay in that circle� and the truck starting to look like a hot-wheels model, the air getting cold - you go tta love this sport.)
Uranium Ridge , (Marysvale) Launch 6746ft/2056m GPS 38 29'28�N 112 12'54�W LZ 5835ft/ 1779m GPS 38 28'50�N 112 13'25�W. South soaring ridge, The funnel is from Piute into Sevier Valley 2 wheel drive up, quick turn around and a beautiful green meadow to land in. (Bring mosquito spray
Mt Edna , (Marysvale) Launch: 11,730ft/3358m GPS 38 23'08.7�N 112 20'12.8�W LZ: 6100ft/1858m GPS 38 26'31.8�N 112 14'48.7�W 4WD drive-up site, true 360 degree launch. About a mile before top there is a closed gate > contact Stacy in advance! Morning thermal site. Beautiful high mountain meadow, easy lay out. Home of Mid Utah radio transmission tower the highest commercial radio tower in the world. (Yes, I said world). Utah's highest drive up launch, highest Hang-glider launch and highest tandem paraglider launch.
Gold Gulch , (Junction Launch) 8520ft/2597m GPS 38 21'32�N 112 15'46�W LZ 6370ft/ 1942m GPS 38 22'01�N 112 14'10�W It looks small compared to Deer Trail mountain next to it but with 2000 feet of vert.... North soaring launch or thermaling on a day when launching at a higher altitude would be ill advised. Fly up to Deer Trail over Mt. Edna and the sky is the limit.
Mt Peale , (Moab) Utah's highest launch. On July 16th 2009 Mario Richard of Moab boldly hiked up Mt. Peale and launched his paraglider where no paraglider has gone before, from just a little over one hundred feet below the summit on a northwest facing scree slope at an elevation of 12,559 feet MSL. He landed 8 minutes later at LaSal Pass, elevation 10,130 feet MSL. The GPS coordinates of his launch are 38 26' 24.29" N 109 13' 41.12" W. Way to go Mario.
Mt.Abajo ,(Monticello) Launch 11250ft/3429m GPS 37 50'26�N 109 27'39�W LZ 8100ft/ 2469m GPS 37 49'28�N 109 24'33�W Beautiful high mountain drive up launch. Soarable in a South wind. Great potential for themaling..
Frisco Peak , (Milford) Launch: 9620ft/2932m GPS 38 31'13�N 113 17'13�W LZ: 5200ft/1585m GPS Drive up site. Big air!!!
Brian Head Peak , (Brian Head) Launch: 11300ft/3445m GPS 37 40'52�N 112 49'48�W LZ: 10500ft/3201m GPS 37 40' 17�N 112 49' 56�W I soared Brian Head one evening in October, it was beautiful, smooth south wind at 11,300 feet. Hawks joining me as I soared. I really thought I had found something special. Then I found out that Thomas Stankowski had flown Brian Head years earlier and Sam Halderman had flown it long before that. Thinking that it might have awesome thermal potential. I consulted with Thomas who reported that caution was prudent and the air could be very tricky as three different valleys could be wicking heat to the peak. I have contacted the ski resort about the possibility of using the lifts. They report that it is expressly forbidden by the forest service, (I'm working on that, because a north flow would make for awesome winter flying) So for now it is a drive up summer south flow launch. Even so 11,300 feet and accessible in a Honda Civic, not bad.
Summit Ridge (Cedar City) Launch: 8863ft GPS 37 43'46�N 112 58'35� LZ 5669ft GPS 37 44'44�N 113 01'58�W. 3000 ft vert and the road is paved to less than a half mile before launch, two wheel drive - Thermal and evening ridge soaring site.
The �C� (Cedar City) Launch: 8201ft/2500m GPS 37 38'33�N 113 02'06�W LZ: 6000ft/1829m GPS 37 39' 36.6�N 113 03' 57.7�W accessible in the winter.
Powell Point , Tropic (Bryce canyon) Launch: 10,200ft/3109m GPS 37 41'16.5�N 111 54'09.2�W LZ: 7280ft/2134m GPS 37 40'1651�N 111 57'06�W Utah's most scenic launch. Incredible views of all colors of the rainbow spires and sheer rock formations. West facing Launch. Evening thermals triggered from the hoodoos and spires create consistent but strong lift. Short hike in long hike out. Lousy LZ. Long turnaround time.
Molly's Nipple , (Hurricane) Launch: 4510ft/1375m GPS 37 07' 40�N 113 17'53�W LZ 3300ft/1006m GPS GPS 37 07' 24�N 113 18'33�W Thirty mile long, West facing ridge. 2WD drive-up site. Good winter site because of the warmer weather, besides it is often blown out in the summer. Long turnaround time (over an hour)!
Honeymoon , (Hurricane) Launch: 4300ft/1372m GPS 37 00'77� N 113 17'55�W LZ: 3520ft/1073m GPS 37 00'12� N 113 18'22�W 10 miles down the same ridge from Molly's, but a much faster turnaround time. 4WD drive-up site; 10 minute turn around.
West Mountain (St .George) Launch:7685ft GPS 37 9'20�N 113 53' 00�W. LZ 4514ft 37 10'13�N 113 55'50�W. SW facing thermal site. Over 3000 ft vert and the wind are usually coming from the SW off the Vegas desert. Big air. Early spring or late fall. 4 wheel drive up site, bring a tarp.