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Think you know Red Butte Garden? Here are 5 new ways to look at it

The Salt Lake City attraction has more to offer than just flowers.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Though many think water wise gardens means mostly cactus varieties, that certainly doesn’t need to be the case. However the Snow Leopard Cholla from the cactus family at Red Butte Gardens is a striking option for not needing any watering at all. In the upper tiers of the garden people can get a visual representation of “hydrozoning” which arranges plants according to their water needs.

Editor’s note • This article is part of 150 Things To Do, a reporting project and newsletter exploring the best that Utah has to offer. Click here to sign up for the 150 Things weekly newsletter.

Red Butte Garden is well-known for its flora and fauna, but it’s also full of hidden spaces perfect for studying, relaxing or rolling down hills.

Here are some of the best spots at Red Butte Garden, according to Communications Director Jayne Anderson.

Best place to roll down a hill

(Will Neville-Rehbehn | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Courtyard Garden at Red Butte Garden, August 1, 2021.

Just north of the visitor’s center is the Courtyard Garden, which sits below a gently sloped hill. As any kid (and whimsical adults) will tell you, this grassy hill is practically perfect for rolling down, Anderson said.

“This is a nice area for kids to play,” she said.

The Courtyard also offers shady spaces to relax, Anderson said, and she even holds staff meetings here sometimes.

Best place to hear kids laughing

(Kaitlyn Bancroft | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Children's Garden at Red Butte Garden, July 28, 2021.


Speaking of nice areas for kids to play, Red Butte Garden features a stomping ground specifically for little explorers: the Children’s Garden.

This area includes grape vines growing over a wire tunnel, a seasonal learning exhibit called “Meet Your Polleneighbors,” and the all-important splash pad — kids love water, Anderson said, and most of them leave the Children’s Garden “sopping wet.”

She also said many of this garden’s plants are at children’s eye level to help them better appreciate everything around them.

“This garden is really more playful,” she said. “I come up here a lot and see a lot of parents. They bring a picnic or sit down and let the kids just play.”

The Children’s Garden is also close to where Red Butte Garden’s four corners potatoes grow.

These starchy, edible tubers that are no bigger than a copper penny were a powerful source of nourishment for the American Indians living in the state’s Escalante and Bears Ears regions.

Best fall foliage

(Kaitlyn Bancroft | The Salt Lake Tribune) The serviceberry tunnel at Red Butte Garden, July 28, 2021.

Along Red Butte’s Garden Floral Walk, just past the Pear Arbor, is an area staff members call the serviceberry tunnel.

The serviceberry is a deciduous, small tree or shrub in the rose family, according to the Clemson Cooperative Extension Home & Garden Information Center.

Anderson called this area “one of the most beautiful walks in the fall,” and said Red Butte Garden still has plenty to appreciate during the cold months without flowers.

Best place to stop and smell the roses

(Kaitlyn Bancroft | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Rose Garden at Red Butte Garden, July 28, 2021.

If you want to figuratively or literally stop and smell the roses, take a jaunt through, well, the Rose Garden. Bursting with multicolored blooms, the air in this garden is sweet with flowers’ fragrance.

This garden is a popular place for weddings, receptions and other celebrations, Anderson said, but is also one of the places around Red Butte that she finds University of Utah students studying.

“We call [Red Butte Garden] their on-campus backyard because student housing is just down the road,” she said.

Red Butte Garden, as part of the University of Utah, is accessible to all students free of charge, according to the school’s website. It’s available to faculty and staff at discounted admission.

Best place to recharge in nature

(Kaitlyn Bancroft | The Salt Lake Tribune) A view of the Water Pavilion at Red Butte Garden, July 28, 2021.

Anderson said her favorite part of Red Butte Garden is the Water Pavilion Garden and waterfall, located above the Rose Garden.

“The sound of water when you’re trying to just recharge... There’s something about it,” she said. “It’s soothing.”

Anderson said this area has plenty of shady spots for people to read, study or simply relax.

Editor’s note • 150 Things To Do is a reporting project and weekly newsletter made possible by the generous support of the Utah Office of Tourism. Sign up for the 150 Things newsletter here.

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