on the western edge of the suburban sprawl that is Salt Lake City, lies a
hidden gem … the Cross E Ranch. Each fall,
as the air turns crisp and the leaves change color, locals flock to experience
the natural charm of the ranch's much-anticipated Cross E Ranch Corn Maze, sunflower field
and celebrate the fall season.
The Cross E Ranch offers a comfortable family atmosphere and panoramic vista on 200 acres of what still has to be classified as “rural” land despite its proximity to the city. It is the perfect backdrop for something that has become a wonderful tradition for our growing family.
It is located at: 3500 2200 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84116. Looking at all the construction going on nearby …warehouses, logistics centers, an Amazon warehouse … one has to wonder just how long the owners can hold out before selling this remaining patch of land. Seems depressingly inevitable.
Whether it’s the giant bouncy slide for kids, the soothing view of the colorful sunflower field or the gigantic stalks of corn that you can lose yourself amongst, it is a little bit of amusement and tranquility on the edge of the city.
A Corn Maze
The Corn Maze is actually part of the bigger Fall Festival at Cross E Ranch. The crown jewel of the ranch's fall activities is the Cross E Ranch Corn Maze. It is an elaborate network of winding paths carved out of towering cornstalks.
Each year brings its own unique maze pattern that provides some fun-filled moments of problem-solving, teamwork, being told “you’re going the wrong way” and the occasional playful fright if dared in the dark. It is open until 9:00 P.M. (10:00 on Fridays).
This fall festival is full of lively activities like hay rides, tractor rides, archery, rock climbing, ropes courses and pig races. There are actually more than 30 activities to enjoy!
The farm is set up in a well laid-out series of stations to
make access easy and move visitors along without bunching up or causing large
lines. Except for the donut line. People seem to be happy to stand in line for
For the more adventurous, venturing through the corn maze after sunset might be the perfect thrill. Equipped with flashlights and full of anticipation, visitors weave their way under the hopefully moonlit skies. Another memory to add to the more adventurous family's fall traditions.
Not Just A Corn Maze
But the corn maze isn't the only noteworthy offering at Cross E Ranch. Before you plunge into the labyrinth of corn paths, don't forget to stop by the pumpkin patch. Or even better, do it on your way out. You can choose your own depending on size or color and then, of course, fork over the cash.
sea of bright orange, this lively patch brings an opportunity to select your
perfect pumpkins for Halloween jack-o-lanterns or, for the more ambitious, that
delicious homemade pumpkin pie. The
prices are a little steeper than the grocery store … maybe even double
according to my wife … but it’s a lot more fun here.
Amidst the laughter and excitement, a sudden uproar signals the beginning of the crowd-pleasing pig races. And yes, the little amphitheater was full and the crowd was loud. Pigs of various sizes … although matched up against their own size … “ran” several races.
The announcer assured us that lambasted with friendly cheers, these swift little animals usually race around the track to the finish line. Unfortunately, they weren’t swift and weren’t in the mood for racing when we were there last Saturday.
The announcer had to run … actually, he was walking as he couldn’t seem to catch his breath … herding them along. Their only actual time running was usually for the last 10 yards trying to get back into their pens. Still fun to watch though.
Perhaps one of the most impressive parts of the Cross E Ranch experience is its annual Sunflower Festival which occurs in September. The sunflower fields stretch out in a large field across the road from the rest of the ranch. It is a wonderful sight offering some interesting photo opportunities. We never did make it over there.
way they describe it, “Explore 1 million+ sunflowers in full bloom.” This past weekend … and I’m assuming through
the Sunflower Festival also … you got a free sunflower with your admission. All you had to do was walk over to the field
and pick one.
Whether you come for the early fall vibe of the Sunflower Festival, the challenge of the Corn Maze or just a day trip to appreciate fall in a different setting, there is a lot to keep you and your family occupied at the ranch. Obviously it’s a great place to let kids run around and blow off some energy.
One of the highlights of a visit to Cross E is to stand in line and indulge in some of the scrumptious, warm, delectable apple cider donuts. I’m not a big lover of sweets or carbs but these freshly baked treats are too hard to pass up especially the glazed ones.
People will stand in a long line just to pick up a dozen or so. I’m convinced that some people come just to get those donuts.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
They have the usual array of food and drink. Their grass-fed beef burgers … from beef raised right on their ranch … are extremely tasty if you love meat like I do. The fries … another once-in-a-blue-moon treat for me … are equally tasty.
The parking area at Cross E Ranch exemplifies the ranch’s intention to offer visitors a stress-free experience. There is enough parking space that, from what I could tell, ensures you will never have to worry about finding a suitable spot for your vehicle. The lot wasn’t even close to being full on a busy, crowded, sunny October Saturday.
Controlled Ticket Sales Means It’s Not Overcrowded
One big advantage the Cross E Ranch enjoys over Cornbelly's at Thanksgiving Point … in my opinion … is that it's much less crowded and there is significantly more parking. The feeling of not being crowded allows for a more relaxed visit. My family feels the same way.
All tickets must be bought online so they can control how many people will show up at any particular time. It is apparent that they manage this quite well.
noticed that not only does the Cross E Ranch Corn Maze promise fun galore but
it provides something more - quality family time. It allows families to create special memories
together, to strengthen bonds and to share laughter in a relaxed, welcoming
It seems like there’s a commitment by the owners or managers of the ranch to provide an engaging and fun-filled experience. It is laid-out quite nicely. The ranch consistently draws favorable and enthusiastic feedback from patrons who enjoy their visit and return each year.
Great Fall Family Setting
The Cross E Ranch Fall Festival is not merely a fall outing. It represents the warmth of families, the advent of my favorite season and even a little bit of a return to tradition. There’s a sense of unity in the excited chatter, collective problem-solving in the maze and eruption of applause in the pig “races.”
is hard not to be in a good mood in this warm, sunny fall setting. But choose your visiting date well. We’ve chosen poorly a couple years not
checking the weather forecast and ended up walking around in mud and rain. There was no fun to be had in that.
For the first-time visitors, the festival seems to leave a positive impression beckoning them to return. It has been true for us for at least the last 5 years. The allure of the vibrant sunflower fields, the thrill of the corn maze, the taste of the warm donuts … all conspire to draw us back.
As my Utah Utes enjoyed a bye to try and heal up some bodies, this past weekend was a perfect one for us to visit. Especially since the sun was shining and the temperature was in the low 70’s.
Reflecting on the Cross E Ranch and what it offers, the image that we’re left with is one of helping you get into the fall mood … if you want to be. Fall is my favorite time of year and it seems like some years it is over before it starts. Just like the football season.
screams “fall is here” in this setting: the
whiff of fresh donuts, the sight (and smell ) of energetic pig races, the
artistic appeal of the pumpkin patch and corn maze, the orderly rows of
sunflowers, the blue sky overhead and the blazing red and golden leaf display on
the east side mountains.
There's no arguing about the unadulterated charm of the Cross E Ranch Corn Maze and Fall Festival or the serenity infused by the earlier Sunflower Festival. A visit to the Cross E Ranch with family or friends will very likely bring you back next year.
The charm, the activities and the shared enjoyment help you forget the rest of the world for a little while especially if you visit with kids. I recommend it as a great family place for creating delightful autumn memories. It may become a tradition for you also.
Ticket prices vary from $11.95 for some kids’ tickets to $18.95 for a peak time weekend adult ticket. All ticket sales are online so they can limit the number of visitors. This is what ensures that they are able to control the size of their crowds.
If you want more information directly from the ranch, go to: https://www.crosseranch.com/
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