I spent a large portion of my childhood living in Provo, Utah (about half an hour south of Heber)—as a family we drove Provo Canyon quite regularly to visit family or to hike Bridal Veil Falls or enjoy a picnic at our favorite spot among the pines. I love Provo Canyon—it’s one of my favorite places and I know it well, every twist and turn in the road, the best pullouts, the hidden parks and secret trails.
So that’s why I was surprised to take a ride on the Heber Creeper this fall and realize I didn’t really know the canyon at all. Seen from a train, the canyon is a completely different sight!
Starting off, the railroad runs through Heber (and just outside people’s backyards) for the first part of the journey, but pretty soon there are open fields and gorgeous views of the mountains. During a short stop at the Soldier Hollow depot we meet our favorite Heber Valley Railroad outlaws, Sparky and Crazy Annie, who have come to rob the train. The “robbery” is all in jest, but if you’ve got really small children with you, you may want to prepare them for the event (or cover their ears—the “gunshots” can get a little loud).
All the trains include live entertainment, which is a nice touch. Once you get down into Provo Canyon you’ll be bouncing back and forth across the aisle, hanging out the windows because the views down there are breath-taking and sometimes unexpected. As we followed the river we also saw a pack of horses working their way down the steep river bank, vying to get a drink. Speaking of that, be sure to have your camera prepped and ready to go. I was slow with mine and missed capturing that unique vignette.
On our trip, the leaves were beginning to change colors, which made the mountain sides that much more majestic. At the end of the line, Vivian Park, where the train turns around to take the passengers back to the Heber Depot, there’s a 20 minute stop where you can get out, stretch your legs and enjoy the riverside views. Then it’s back on the train for some more live entertainment and scenic views (if possible, switch to the other side of the train so you get a chance to appreciate both sides of the canyon) and you’re on your way home.
Fall is the perfect time to take a train trip down the canyon as the weather is cooler and the train is a great way to admire the leaves up close. For more information on riding the Heber Creeper visit their website or call the ticket office at 435-654-5601. The train runs year round and, in addition to their regular canyon trips, offers many special events. For a list of upcoming special events see a complete calendar here.