Each year, MOTHER EARTH NEWS selects a handful of communities to highlight in our annual Great Places feature. Check out the other towns featured in our 2013 installment of 9 Great Places You've (Maybe) Never Heard of.
Logan, Utah. If a clean, well-organized college town with beautiful parks, farms and great fishing sounds good to you, consider Logan. That it’s located in the lovely Cache Valley and surrounded by the Bear River and Wasatch mountain ranges in spectacularly beautiful northern Utah simply ices the cake. The stately Logan Utah Temple — the second temple built in Utah — dominates the Logan skyline, an ongoing testament to the diligence, hard work and deep faith of the city’s founders.
The city’s carefully laid-out street system allows even the most directionally challenged to make their way around, after they get used to the “Mormon Grid” — named for its designer, early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leader Brigham Young. Practically any imaginable outdoor recreation is available within a few miles of Logan — cycling, skiing, snowboarding, camping, boating, white-water rafting, hunting, fishing and more — and the culture wraps itself around outdoor life.
“Everyone here is outdoorsy,” says Erin Evans, who moved to Logan in 2012 when she and her husband purchased Herm’s Inn, a restaurant that specializes in local food. “I can’t imagine living here and not wanting to be outdoors. The town is small enough that you can walk anywhere, and there’s a ton of trails that are hardly ever crowded, so bike riding is easy. Plus, the city offers free bus service, so it’s simple to get around without a car.”
With more than 2,000 faculty and staff members, Utah State University is the city’s largest employer. Originally a land grant agricultural college, the university is now a major learning and research center, as well as a “space grant” university, which refers to a network of universities with a focus on the study of aeronautics, outer space and related fields. Logan sports several LEED-certified buildings, including those at Wetland Discovery Point, which is the Utah Botanical Center’s newest educational space.
The valley’s fertile soil was what first attracted Logan’s pioneer founders, and its richness still endears it to residents. Don Daugs, owner of Phoenix Tears Nursery, says Logan is a gardener’s paradise, where abundant vegetable gardens are the status quo. Logan’s Cache Valley Gardeners’ Market has grown like zucchini since its founding more than two decades ago, and it now features a wide variety of specialty booths, live music, fruit and vegetable vendors, and a vibrant crowd enjoying each other’s company as they stock their pantries and refrigerators.
One of Daugs’ favorite aspects of Logan has nothing to do with gardening, though. “Sidewalks are required here, and they’re everywhere,” he says. “They make it easy to stop and visit, easy for children to play safely, easy for elderly people to walk. Wherever you go, people stop and visit with each other. It’s a friendly, comfortable place to be.”
Stats: Logan, Utah
Climate: 16.4” annual avg. precip.; January avg. high: 32 degrees Fahrenheit; July avg. high: 87 degrees F
Median household income: $36,018
Median home price: $138,500
K.C. Compton is senior editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, and formerly was Editor in Chief of our sister publications, The Herb Companion and GRIT. A huge fan of the food chain, from molecules to meals on the table, K.C. is passionate about the idea that most of what we need to be healthy can be found in the garden. Find her on Google+.