Flight Park State Recreation Area
A view from below at Flight Park State Recreation Area
Flight Park State Recreation Area is recognized around the world as one of the best training sites for both hang gliding and paragliding. The Recreation Area is managed jointly by the Utah Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association and Utah State Parks and Recreation. Flight Park has been in use since 1927 and these days sees about 700 pilots per year launch from the mesa. About 30% of those pilots are not from Utah.
Flight Park is located on the south side of Point of the Mountain, a bench formed along the southern edge of Ancient Lake Bonneville. The mesa is composed of compacted sand and gravel. To the west is the valley formed when the Jordan River flowing north from Utah Lake cut through the bench to drain into Great Salt Lake. The north side of the mountain and some of the Traverse Mountains to the east support large sand and gravel mining operations.
What makes Point of the Mountain different is it lies in an area where the prevailing winds come from the south and are forced upward along the southern slope of the mesa. The day I visited there were a few paraglider pilots on the hill, testing the wind to see if it was strong enough for them to soar upwards. Unfortunately (for my purposes anyway), it wasn't. One pilot did launch but he floated slowly downward, going back and forth across the slope until he eventually landed near the bottom. Then he had to pick up his gear and climb back up the hill to get to his vehicle. The other two pilots there had a hard time keeping their feet on the ground with their sails up but the wind was flaky: their sails kept collapsing and there never was enough of a breeze for them to go upward.
Flight Park is open year round, dawn to dusk (weather permitting) and is free to the public. No camping is available (although when I came by there were several campers parked along the north side of the mesa). Pilots must be current members of the UHGPGA with a current H-2/P-2 (or higher) USPGA rating. Students and H-1/P-1 pilots must be with a UHGPGA-accredited instructor. Helmets must be worn, before hooking into the glider. Paragliders must launch and land on the west side of the park. Paragliders only at the top of the mesa, the hang gliding training area is on the eastern side at the bottom of the hill. Gliders with streamers are students: keep your distance.
To get there: get off the I-15 at exit 288, go to the east side of the highway and turn south on the frontage road. Go about 2.5 miles to a dirt road just past the construction buildings (sign says "Point of the Mountain Flight Park") and turn east. Follow the dirt road across the industrial area and head up the hill to the parking area at the top of the mesa. There's a restroom, wind sock and information kiosk at the parking area.
Testing the breeze
At the edge of the parking area