Fall in love with autumn as you explore the visual splendor of bright colors all around Heber Valley, Utah. Be among the fall foliage within minutes or appreciate the colorful mountain views from the valley floor. Here is a roundup of our favorite scenic autumn drives (and some short activities or light excursions for each):
Total drive distance: approximately 50 miles roundtrip
Travel time duration: 1 hour 35 minutes drive time, but can vary (depending on number of stops and time spent at each stop)
This gorgeous paved backway winds through rugged alpine canyons along the Wasatch Mountain Range, offering spectacular views of Mount Timpanogos (the 9th tallest peak in the state at 11,752 feet or about 3,582 meters) and other glacier-carved peaks. Looking for a rigorous hike? Plan ahead for the 15-mile strenuous hike to the top of Mount Timpanogos. Allow 7+ hours to complete the out-and-back excursion.
Starting in the charming town of Midway, Utah, visitors can easily access this route (open summer and fall seasons only), and can explore natural water features and waterfalls along the way, including the pristine flowing waters at Cascade Springs. This large artesian spring sees over seven million gallons of water a day flow through its limestone terraces and pools. All water is protected by a series of paved walkways and wooden bridges and boardwalks. This is a great area to spend 30 minutes to an hour and explore.
The route continues near the incredible Timpanogos Cave National Monument where visitors can explore the interior caves (with advanced reservations). There are three limestone caves: Hansen Cave, Middle Cave, and Timpanogos Cave that make up this national monument and local treasure. These exquisite caverns are decorated with an elaborate display of helictites and anthodites in a variety of colors.
The drive continues past the pristine and world-renowned Sundance Mountain Resort (open year-round) where guests can park and explore this quaint and magnificent resort property. Onsite restaurants offer tasty menu options. Summer and fall guests can enjoy scenic chairlift rides, hiking, mountain biking, or enjoy an art class at the onsite art studio. Consider taking the 3.5 mile moderate hike to Stewart Falls - a 200-foot waterfall (accessible year-round).
Continue on to the impressive Provo Canyon Scenic Byway (aka Hwy-189). Head west for approximately three miles and exit to the south of the highway at Nunn's Park. Enjoy complimentary parking and an easy paved trail to the base of Bridal Veil Falls - a 600-foot, multi-tiered natural waterfall that astounds visitors and locals alike.
After this stop, head east and back up the canyon on Hwy-189 toward Heber Valley. Take in the beautiful views of Deer Creek State Park and Reservoir as you arrive back in Heber Valley.
Total drive distance: approximately 11 miles one-way
Travel time duration: about 25 minutes to the top (more time needed if you plan to stop and explore along the way)
This is a popular drive in both summer and fall seasons. This paved scenic drive climbs approximately 7 miles to the summit at 9,717 feet elevation in the Wasatch Mountain range. This well-trafficked pass is open during the summer and early fall seasons (closed winter and early spring).
Start in historic Midway, Utah and enter through Wasatch Mountain State Park. Notice the two 18-hole golf courses (very popular in the summer and fall months), and enjoy the views as you climb. This road can be very busy with two-directional and multi-user road traffic (vehicles, UTVs, bikes, hikers, dogs, etc.), especially on weekends, so go slow and enjoy the drive.
Once you get near the top, you will come to a three-way intersection. If you go left and head west, you will reach the Guardsman Pass summit. There is a dirt parking lot along this section of the drive, which accesses the hiking trails for Bloods Lake and Lackawaxen Lake. These hikes are highly recommended, but can get busy on weekends. Continue on and you can drop into Big Cottonwood Canyon, where Brighton Resort and Solitude Resort are located in Salt Lake County. If you go right at the intersection and head east, you will crest the Empire Pass area and can drop into the Deer Valley area and on to Park City. You can loop back to Heber Valley on Hwy-40, or make it an out-and-back drive by staying on the same road.
Fun fact: the road becomes a great snow-covered trail for snowmobiles, snowshoes, and cross-country skiers in the winter season.
Total drive distance: approximately 170 miles roundtrip
Travel time duration: 3 hours 15 minutes, but may vary (depending on number of stops and time spent at each stop; plan at least a half-day for this scenic drive experience)
Located just 20 miles away is the primary entry point for the well-known Mirror Lake Scenic Byway. This 74-mile stretch of paved byway is open in the summer and early fall seasons only. With winding roads and lots of wildlife viewing, as well as hundreds of lakes, hikes, and camping sites, this section of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest is a popular destination for day trips and overnight campouts. Those looking to get more "off the grid" can find it here. With no cell service along most of the drive, visitors can disconnect and enjoy the jaw-dropping views and summits along the route. The road runs all the way up to Evanston, Wyoming and drivers can loop back via I-80 or enjoy an out-and-back on this stretch of scenic byway.
Popular stopping points include Provo River Falls, Bald Mountain hike, and Mirror Lake. But there are several hikes, lakes, and areas along this route that provide solitude and gorgeous views. We recommend you plan extra time to explore along this route.
Total drive distance: approximately 4 miles
Travel time duration: 30 minutes (drive time and exploration time at the top of the hill)
This short one-mile dirt road takes you to the Midway hilltop and site dedicated to those who have served in any United States military capacity while a citizen of Wasatch County. Those who have been to Memorial Hill have long enjoyed the peaceful feelings and beautiful scenery that this special setting gives. The access road and hilltop are open to vehicles, bicyclists, and foot traffic. The valley views are unbeatable from this location.
Explore more in the area and check out the other scenic drives and day trips that surround Heber Valley, Utah. If you want more information, tips, or activity ideas, stop by the Heber Valley Visitor Center at 475 North Main Street in Heber City. We are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. We love meeting visitors, locals, and area business owners. We look forward to seeing you in Heber Valley!