Provo Canyon & Alpine Loop Scenic Byways, UT

Cows greet us in the morning in Thistle, Utah.

Cows greet us in the morning in

Thistle, Utah.

The Wood Hollow Fire creats an amazing sunset.

The Wood Hollow Fire

creates an amazing sunset.

Wood Hollow Fire Bridal Veil Falls, Provo Canyon, Utah.

Bridal Veil Falls, Provo

Canyon, Utah.

Bridal Veil Falls, Provo Canyon, Utah.

Bridal Veil Falls.

Bridal Veil Falls, Provo Canyon, Utah. South Fork Park, Provo Canyon, Utah. Provo Canyon is a great spot for cycling.

Provo Canyon is a great spot for cycling.

Heber Valley Railroad at Vivian Park.

Heber Valley Railroad.

Heber Valley Railroad at Vivian Park.

They said they like their jobs!

Provo River Parkway, Provo Canyon, Utah.

Provo River Parkway.

Provo River Parkway, Provo Canyon, Utah.

Provo River Parkway.

Cool bike rack.

Cool bike rack.

Waterlilies, Provo Canyon, Utah.

Waterlilies

Water play.

Alpine Loop Scenic Bywa, Utah.

Alpine Loop Scenic Byway.

Chair lifts at Sundance Resort, Utah.

Chair lifts at Sundance.

Downhillers & their bikes get a ride up at Sundance Resort, Utah.

Downhillers & their bikes get a ride up.

Wildflowers, Sundance Resort, Utah. Flowers, Sundance Resort, Utah. Wildflowers on the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway (American Fork), Utah. Wildflowers on the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway (American Fork), Utah. On break from shoot-em-up birthday entertainment at Sundance Resort, Utah.

On break from shoot-em-up birthday

entertainment.

Alpine Loop Scenic Byway, Utah.

Another wildfire.

Wildflowers on the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway (American Fork), Utah. Wildflowers on the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway (American Fork), Utah. Cascade Spring on the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway, Utah.

Cascade Spring on the Alpine Loop

Scenic Byway.

Ahhh….!

Wildflowers on the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway (American Fork), Utah. Wildflowers on the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway (American Fork), Utah.

Provo Canyon Scenic Byway & Alpine Loop Scenic Byway, Utah

Late June, 2012 - We continued our travels north from Fish Lake, Utah with "scenic byways"

on our minds.  We had enjoyed many officially designated "scenic roads" in our travels this

season, and were ready for more -- and the Utah map seemed to be filled with them.  Little did

we know that the "Energy Loop" up Eccles Canyon from Fairview starts with an 8% climb for 8

non-stop miles on a skinny winding road with a steep drop off and no guardrail.

Oops!! The truck struggled mightily, Mark's

knuckles turned white, and I nervously

glanced at the map wondering when the

road would flatten out.  It never did.

At the 6 mile mark we finally spotted

a large pullout and we stopped to let

the truck catch its breath.  Another

truck towing a horse trailer stopped

with us for the same reason, and

the driver assured us there was

great boondocking up top, after just

a few more miles of 8% climbing.  It

sounded tempting, but before I

knew it Mark had headed the buggy straight downhill off

that mountain.  So much for that scenic drive!

At tiny Thistle, Utah, we got a visit at our trailer from a herd of

friendly cows the next morning.  By late afternoon a wildfire had

started in the distant mountains.  It made for a spectacular

sunset, but soon became a devastating blaze.  Within the next

few days it consumed nearly 75 square miles, killed a man, and

destroyed 52 homes.  We later learned it was caused by arcing

power lines that had been laid bare by a thief who stole the

protective copper wire from the poles, although officials said the

power surge was likely too great for even those protections, had

they been in place.

Moving north, we thought the Provo Canyon Scenic Byway looked

promising and ventured that way.  The road was under

construction, but the heavy traffic didn't detract one bit from lovely

Bridal Veil Falls.  Kids played in the pools at the bottom of the falls

while lovers embraced and posed for cameras part way up.  It looked

like a great spot to get engaged and start planning

for that wedding dress and bridal veil.

As we drove we noticed a paved bike path was

accompanying us, and the next day we took a

bike ride along the Provo River Parkway.  It starts

at Vivian Park, and just as we got onto the bike

trail the Heber Valley Railroad train showed up (check out the gorgeous photos at http://

hebervalleyrr.org).  It was on its daily excursion from Heber City, bringing tourists past the mountain/

lake views across Duck Creek Reservoir and through glacier carved Provo Canyon to Vivian Park.

The bike path winds

alongside Provo River

between towering

cliffs.  It is beautifully

constructed with three lanes,

allowing for two directions of

bike traffic and one lane of

foot traffic.

Despite being mid-week the

trail was quite busy all the

way to town.  When we got

into Provo we noticed a

clever bike-shaped bike

rack standing outside one

business.  Another

business had beautiful

landscaping with a huge

lilly pond right out front.  It

was filled with blooming

waterlilies of all colors.

Getting further into the city we

found the entire toddler set from

town was cooling off in the

fountains at the mall.  It was perfect

summertime fun.

As I mentioned, this area is ripe with scenic

drives, and our map highlighted the Alpine

Loop Scenic Byway forking off from Provo

Canyon.  This time we went without the trailer

in tow, and that was the right way to go.  The

road climbed and snaked towards snow-

capped peaks, passing by Robert Redford's

famous ski retreat, Sundance Resort.

What a thrill to see snow-capped mountains!

The snow wasn't thick like last year, we

were told, because of light snows over the

winter, but it was very pretty.  Families

packed themselves into the wide chair lifts

to the tops of the mountains, while downhill

bikers sent their bikes up ahead of them

and followed a few chairs behind.  Those

guys have guts -- the mountains were very

steep!

Wildflowers and landscaped flowers were

in bloom all over the place, and we

entertained ourselves for quite some time

taking photos of their smiling faces.

We hunted around for

"Bob" but he wasn't at his

resort that day.  However, one lucky fellow was celebrating his 70th

birthday by hosting his entire extended family for a long weekend of

fun and entertainment at Sundance.  We met up with two actors who

were on break between the birthday boy's afternoon and

evening entertainment shows. They were dressed to the

nines for a cowboy shoot-em-up.  Stepping out of character

for a few minutes, they told us they had lived and worked

around the resort for ages and had never gotten a glimpse of

"Bob" either.

Continuing on the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway, we

wound up and down on curvy roads through heavy

forests and out onto mountain ridges with wonderful

views.  Wildfires were engulfing all of the west, it

seemed, and another one burned in the distance.

A spur road took us to Cascade Springs where

thickets of wildflowers grew in clumps along the

peaceful banks of a brook.

The water was just too cool and clear to resist, and at

the end of our sweaty hike Mark commented that he

was going to get a bath in the stream.  Mid-laugh I

realized he wasn't joking as I watched him throwing cold

water over his head.

We had gotten a delicious taste of Utah's

alpine forests and snow-capped peaks.

Our next scenic drive along the

Mirror Lake Scenic Byway would take us to

Utah's alpine lakes.