The Heber Valley generally stays cooler than the surrounding parts of the state, thanks to its elevation. However, sometimes during the hottest part of the year, even the valley gets too hot. That’s when you jump in the car and drive further up into the mountains seeking the cooler temps and beautiful scenery. Here are our top 5 favorite drives.
The elevation for this highway is so high that it’s only open for a few months of the year. The rest of the time it’s closed up with snow and ice, making it a snowmobiler’s paradise. The real beauty of the area can be found in the summertime when the plants and animals are out in full force and the breathtaking vistas can be admired. Whatever you do, do not forget your camera on this drive.
Don't miss the overlook at Provo River Falls where walking paths and picnic tables make for a great stop.
A small fee is required when entering the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway for use of facilities on the route; however, there is no charge to simply drive the highway between Kamas and Evanston. The drive is 56 miles from Kamas to the Wyoming state line.
Up in the mountains past the Wasatch Mountain State Park is Guardsman Pass. The road takes you past fields of wildflowers, flanked by evergreens, aspen trees and other lush mountain foliage. Views from the ridge overlooking Heber Valley, Snyderville Basin near Park City, and the Salt Lake Valley are stunning.
The pass meanders through the mountains, eventually drops into Big Cottonwood Canyon, winds its way along towering canyon walls, following the creek, to reach Salt Lake Valley. The drive from Midway to Guardsman Pass is approximately 7 miles along a rough, paved road with some steep drop-offs.
The wide flat water of the Provo River, consistently full of fishermen, creates a feeling of peace along this drive. Above the canyon, the highway passes Deer Creek Reservoir, tucked at the base of towering Mount Timpanogos and dotted with sailboats and sailboards most days of summer. The reservoir's sandy beach is a fun stop and a campground on the shoreline is available for overnight stays.
One of the highlights of the drive is Bridal Veil Falls. Lots of parking and a trail to the falls make for a delightful stop.
Up past Robert Redford’s famous ski resort, Sundance, is found the Alpine Loop Scenic byway. The most notable stop on this trip would be the Mt Timpanogos cave. Open for tours during the summer, visitors reach the cave by a 2 mile, steep paved trail. At the top of the trail a ranger guides you through the cave sharing geological facts and Indian lore. If a hike isn’t in the plan, the Loop still provides beautiful scenery and pullouts for picnics.
The Alpine Loop is closed during winter months, although Sundance Resort is still accessible from US Hwy 189. There is a small fee to access the Loop, which is payable at a ranger station found at the beginning of the Loop.
A short half-mile nature trail wraps around the natural springs, their streams and waterfalls, along boardwalks and paved pathways. Signs along the trail explain the geology of this small natural wonder. A parking area, picnic tables and restrooms are available at the trailhead.