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9 Scenic Drives to See Fall Colors in Utah Valley
Fall colors will soon be all out in Utah Valley, and the mountains will get covered with yellow and orange patches. The best way to enjoy the upcoming autumn foliage is to drive through the Utah Valley canyons and mountains. This usually offers some of the best spots in Utah to see fall colors.
With the best color expected in early October, the high season for fall colors runs from late September till around the end of October. Here are nine scenic drives in Utah that will knock your socks will all the fall beauty.
1. Capital Reef National park
Capital Reef National Park is not only a place to enjoy a national park but also autumn and fall foliage. Mormon pioneers who settled in the former city of Fruita planted orchards, and now it's part of the national park. Today you can pick whichever fruit is ripe, particularly the apple during the fall. You can eat whatever you want while you harvest for free or buy your bounty for a small fee.
Apart from orchards, a lot of autumn fun awaits you inside the park, including amazing hikes. Some things to do in Capital Reef National Park's Fruit District include fruit picking in historic orchards and eating delicious pie at the Gifford House.
2. Alpine Loop
Alpine Loop is one of the most popular and spectacular Utah Valley fall drives. This scenic drive has plenty of autumn treasures, like Cascade Springs, a wonderful spring with waterfalls and bridges expressing the affection of Mount Timpanogos. There are also a number of trailheads along the highway featuring some of the best fall hikes in the state.
You can access Alpine Loop either via American Fork Canyon or Provo Canyon. You will have to pay a small fee, $6 if you want to get out of the car and explore the forest or wilderness areas, but it's worth three days. The Alpine Loop usually shuts down in mid-October, so be sure to get there before the peak color period.
3. Nebo Loop
The Nebo Loop is a 38-mile drive that curls through the back of Mount Nebo, the highest peak in Utah. You can access Nebo Loop in the north from Payson or in the south from Nephi. The road meanders around mountains, providing several amazing views, such as pine forests, red rock formations, and canyons.
Driving through the Nebo Loop takes around an hour and a half, but it can take longer if you stop to take pictures or view gorgeous scenery. You can stop along the way at Payson Lakes and be awed by the fall colors reflected in the lakes. Visit this scenic drive around mid-October since this is when the peak season will be for fall colors this year.
4. Historic Highway 68
While Highway 68 might not have what everyone looks for in a fall scenic drive, its unique beauty makes it stand out. There is a short supply of trees with leaves changing colors along the way, but the views it gives make up for that.
Drive along the shorelines for miles from the west side of Utah Lake to enjoy the views of the lake with the boundless Wasatch Mountains in the background. The mountains become snow-capped during the fall, making them even more beautiful from a distance. You can visit in the early morning to watch the sunrise over the mountains for an additional special view.
5. Hobble Creek Canyon
Hobble Creek Canyon is a perfect option for drivers looking for a peaceful and less crowded scenic drive. This trail is located near Springville and offers a soft bike ride or a perfect stroll in the colorful Wasatch Mountains. The scenery is breathtaking, particularly in the fall, and you will never forget to visit when the autumn leaves are in full splendor. It's also a great place to visit for camping, picnicking, hiking, and wonderful sunsets during the summer.
6. Spanish Fork Canyon
Whether you want to go camping at Spanish Oaks Campground or golfing at Spanish Oaks Golf Course, Spanish Fork Canyon offers a chance to escape and relax. This canyon is located on US-6, heading toward Price.
There are a lot of stops to make along the way, such as Fifth Water Hot Springs. This natural hot spring is located off Diamond Fork Road. If you want to drive all the way to Price and beyond, stop at Tie Fork Rest Area and enjoy the fall foliage with a family picnic. You can also stop along Highway 89 to see the flooded ghost town, Thistle if you are a true adventurer.
7. Provo Canyon
Nothing is quite like driving up Provo Canyon, the highest mountain in Utah, which surrounds the winding road on both sides. This canyon offers access to Sundance Mountain Resort, the Provo River, Bridal Veil Falls, Squaw Peak, and Alpine Loop Scenic Drive. The Provo Canyon exhibits the amazing beauty of the Wasatch Range, more particularly, Mount Timpanogos. With ascending elevations of more than 8,000 feet, this canyon is fun in any season.
There are a number of things to do off the main road in the Provo Canyon. These include ziplining, fly fishing, river rafting and tubing, hiking, and exploring art and culture museums.
8. Logan Canyon
Logan Canyon is one of the most beautiful drives in Utah, according to Utah.com. The nearest well-known city to this scenic drive is Logan, and it's a great route to take during the harvest season.
From Logan, the 41-mile picturesque drive runs beside the Logan River until it culminates at 7,800 feet at a vista facing the turquoise waters of Bear Lake before descending into Garden City. This lake is usually nicknamed "the Caribbean of the Rockies."
Much of the trip looks onto limestone cliffs, about one hour drive each way, with maples, aspens, and more ablaze in many hues. This fall foliage fairyland is set with the backdrop of evergreens and the deep blue waters of the area's multiple lakes and reservoirs.
Great stops along the way include Rick's Spring, Bear Lake Viewpoint, Old Ephraim's Grave, and Tony Grove Lake. You can also hit the road for a 5-mile hike to a lone limestone formational known as Wind Cave.
9. Fish Lake Loop
Perched at a sky-high elevation of about 9,000 feet above sea level, Fish Lake Loop is Utah's biggest natural mountain lake. This scenic drive connects Highway 25 and Highway 72 along the Fish Lake Byway with an option to continue to Loa, Utah, in Capital Reef country.
While fishing here is terrific, Pando, the aspen tree, is the real breathtaking attraction. This unique stand of spens is composed of clones, and the grove is believed to be the biggest living organism on earth. The yellows and golds of Pando are more incredible in autumn, especially in favorable conditions. This drive also offers great wildlife viewing opportunities, so be sure to keep your eyes open for deer, eagles, hawks, raptors, and bears.
Summing it up
Utah is one of the best fall vacations in the United States. The weather here is favorable, the scenery is amazing, and there are so many beautiful places to view all of the fall colors in Utah Valley. Explore these scenic drives in Utah for fall foliage paired with fantastic adventure.
With that said, there is no better way to experience Utah Valley shines in autumn than when driving your own car. Therefore, if you don't own a car, consider taking out an auto loan to finance an SUV-type vehicle that can comfortably handle bumpy dirt roads.