Mere birthright alone doth not a Utahn create. What makes a true local? We say it is not the number of years you've lived within Zion's borders, but rather the zeal with which you explore all our state has to offer. If you're new, or if you're questioning your right to citizenship, we're here to help, with this refresher course. Every other week, we'll bring you a quintessential Utah-to-do experience. Check back for another to check off your list.

Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter Director of Conservation, Nell Larson

In the early 1990s, locals joined to preserve wetlands and create what has become Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter. In 2010, the property was turned over to Utah State University, which expanded educational opportunities for the Park City community.

And today, it's another essential place to visit if you want to call yourself a true Utahn. Here's what to do when you stop by:

Green Building Tour

Sounds dull, but you’ll be shocked by the greenness of Swaner EcoCenter, from bamboo floors to photovoltaic generators converting solar radiation into electricity. Grab a flyer at the front desk for a self-guided tour.

Afternoon Hike

Hike the afternoon away on Swaner’s 10 miles of trails. Start with the Wetland Discovery Trail, a path once taken by Native Americans, Mormon settlers and Pony Express riders. A pamphlet explains the history and what birds—from yellow-headed blackbirds to great blue herons—to look for on the trail. A paved trail runs the perimeter of the preserve, and guided hikes and bird walks are available.

Explore the EcoCenter

Rest up in Swaner EcoCenter’s tower, where you can watch the grounds for sandhill cranes, moose, foxes and goats, which help the center by grazing on non-native plants. Then check out the exhibits, including a time-lapse window allowing you to see what the preserve looks like throughout the year. 

Evening Talk

At night, film screenings and lectures on environmental topics are often held at the EcoCenter. Check the calendar at

Swaner by the numbers

1,200 acres of land
10 miles of hiking trails
2,000+ children educated at the EcoCenter each year
35,000+ annual uses of the Spring Creek Trailhead
100+ bird species at the preserve
160+ plant species at the preserve

Read our other How to be a Utahn posts:

See the Twilight Concert Series

Go to the St. Patrick's Day Parade

Swim in The Crater at Homestead Resort

Tour the Beehive House

Go Tubing!

Visit Clark Planetarium

Visit a Salt Lake Film Society theater

Skip work and go to Alta

Eat at Red Iguana

Catch a show at Wiseguy's

See a play at Pioneer Theatre

Visit Ogden's Dinosaur Park

Visit Red Butte Garden

Brew Your Own Beer with the Beer Nut

Get tickets to Salt Lake Comic Con

Hike Delicate Arch

Go on a parade of homes

Run in the Mud

Go to Oktoberfest at Snowbird