A well known and popular ridge-soaring site to paraglide in Utah is the Point of the Mountain. This location is within driving distance of Salt Lake City. Sometimes, depending on the season, Point of the Mountain can be a good launch point for long cross country flights for those who have had plenty of thermalling experience.
The weather in Utah, particularly in the vicinity of Point of the Mountain, is consistent and predictable. A southerly airstream prevails in the mornings and generally switches to a northerly airstream in the afternoons. Very convenient for the many who come here to paraglide in Utah. During the middle of the day, particularly in Summer, conditions often become ‘unstable’ as gliding types say. Cumulus clouds may pop up across the sky, marking thermal locations and inviting paraglider pilots to ‘join the dots’ and fly across the country from thermal to thermal. Great weather to paraglide in Utah!
At Point of the Mountain, paragliding suits learners to a tee on the southern side. There is a sizable, smooth ridge, just 100m (330ft) in height that faces the southerlies. Learners can take their lessons here in easy conditions, often from about 7 am to mid to late morning.’ Sled rides’ to the bottom to begin with, then a bit of soaring as confidence grows and wind conditions permit. Actually, the winds are so constant that even beginners can fly for several hours if they want to. Preferably in their own paraglider so the teaching process isn’t held up.
This brings up a point – it’s a very good idea to own your own equipment, at least before your flying course ends. That way, you become familiar with your own gear which helps the development of your flying skills. And, if the opportunity arises for long flights, you can just go for it without holding anyone up.
On the north side, ridge flying goes up a notch or two, literally. It’s a 2 tiered slope system, with a launch site on the lower slope. However, if northerly wind strengths are good, it’s quite possible to get a bit of height and fly back onto the 300m ridge behind the launch and ride it to the top.
Wow, nice view across the suburbia and plains from there! Imagine a sunset flight… This sort of flying happens mainly in the evenings.
Thermal conditions often prevail during the middle of the day, which makes launching trickier, and bumpier air along the slope. But nothing to stop more experienced pilots from trying to ‘get away’ in a nice thermal and dash off downwind for a cross-country attempt.