Bear Lake, Utah – A Turquoise Paradise in Snowy Mountains

April 2018 – Bear Lake is a stunning lake in northern Utah that shimmers in gorgeous shades of turquoise, and the drive to get there via Logan Pass is truly dramatic.

Scenic drive towards Logan Utah RV trip-min

Heading north towards Logan Pass and Bear Lake we drove into this view – Wow!

In late April the mountains behind the pretty farmlands were still covered with snow.

Logan Utah scenery on RV trip to Bear Lake-min

Beautiful scenery on the way to Bear Lake.

Farmhouses and snowcapped mountains RV trip Logan Utah-min

.

As we crested the summit of Logan Pass, it started to get foggy, and the snow crept close to the road. Soon we were driving between snow drifts.

Logan Pass Utah with snow on RV trip-min

Approaching the summit of Logan Pass fog rolled in and we saw more and more snow.

Snow on RV trip over Logan Pass Utah_-min

Snow drifts and fog at the top of Logan Pass!

So, when we descended the far side of the pass and the fog began to lift and the snow vanished, it was a fabulous shock when Bear Lake suddenly burst into view. Wow!!

Bear Lake Utah first view on RV trip over Logan Pass-min

After all that snowy scenery, the bright blue of Bear Lake was a wonderful suprise.

As the sun and clouds played hide and seek, the lake changed shades of aquamarine and a rich blue.

Turquoise water Bear Lake Utah RV camping trip-min

Caribbean turquoise in the Rockies!

Bear Lake Utah RV Trip-min

.

Bear Lake is immensely popular in the summertime, and the communities along the shore are filled with ice cream shops and burger joints. But when we were there it felt like we had the lake to ourselves. The village of Laketown at the south end of the lake was really quiet and none of the summertime shops were open.

Bear Lake Utah RV camping trip reflections-min

The reflections of snowy mountains shimmer on the surface of Bear Lake.

Ripples on water Bear Lake Utah-min

Long after a solitary boat passes, waves ripple in towards shore.

There were a few fishing boats out on the water, and a kayak paddled by a family of ducks.

Kayaking with ducks at Bear Lake Utah-min

.

The ducks were unusual looking.

Duck swimming in Bear Lake Utah-min

Now THAT’s a hairdo!!

We heard the haunting cry of loons and then spotted them floating around on the lake.

Loon Swimming in Bear Lake Utah-min

We heard the loons first and then saw them drift past.

Loon shakes feathers out Bear Lake Utah-min

A loon shakes the water out of his feathers.

One day we drove around the lake and marveled at the beauty. Farms and occasional homes grace the shore.

RV trip to Bear Lake Utah-min

The drive around Bear Lake was beautiful

Waterfront farm living Bear Lake Utah

Waterfront living with the cows grazing out back… Wow!

Lakeside living Bear Lake Utah-min

.

One house really caught our eye. It was the home from the nursery rhyme about the old woman who lived in a shoe! We stopped and took a long look and noticed that the walls were painted with murals of nursery rhymes. Jack’s Beanstalk ran right up the back of the shoe!

Shoe fairy tale house Bear Lake Utah-min

“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe…” Who knew she lived on Bear Lake in Utah?!

Farm and ranch land runs right down to the shore of Bear Lake, and as we drove with the windows down Buddy hung out the window to get a good look at the cows we passed.

Puppy in truck checks out cow at Bear Lake Utah-min

Buddy checks out a cow…

Puppy looks at cow at Bear Lake Utah on RV trip-min

…and leans over for a better look!

Early spring can bring some crazy weather, and the lake was quite rough at times. We loved the jade green hues in the curl of the waves.

Rough waves Bear Lake Utah RV camping trip-min

The color in each wave just before it broke was delicious.

As the sun set, the sky lit up over the mountains.

Sunset on RV camping trip to Bear Lake Utah-min

The sky was on fire at sunset.

Mark put his camera down on the ground to capture a dramatic image of waves breaking on the shore with the sun setting behind the mountains. When we looked at it later we both said, “No need to go Iceland for a shot like this… We’ve got it all right here in Utah!”

Sunset with waves at Bear Lake Utah-min

Wow!

Where we had fire in the sky with a bright orange sunset one night, on another afternoon the day slipped away into pastel shades of pink, peach and lavender that reflected in the undulating water.

Sunset Bear Lake Utah-min

Shades of pink, peach and lavender in the sky and on the water.

Sunset on RV trip to Bear Lake Utah-min

.

On a few occasions the water was perfectly calm, and Buddy just loved wading out in it.

Puppy in still water Bear Lake Utah-min

.

Bear Lake is incredibly photogenic, and we had a lot of fun just watching the lake transform before our eyes as we snapped pics here and there.

Photography at Bear Lake Utah-min

Mark is in his element taking photos from the shore.

In early Spring the weather varied from ideal sunny days to blustery cold days to freezing rainy days. For photography they were all sublime!

Wild skies Bear Lake Utah-min

.

During the day we captured some wonderful images of seagulls landing in the water and taking off again. As night fell the birds all flew off to roost. A lone duck made his way across the water in the last light of sunset.

Duck swims at Sunset on RV trip to Bear Lake Utah-min

Good night, Bear Lake.

At night the sky was brilliantly clear. Before the moon rose, the stars were especially bright, and we loved seeing the stars of Orion before the constellation slipped over the far horizon.

Orion Constellation on RV trip to Bear Lake Utah-min

The stars of Orion (four outer ones and three in his belt across his waist) watch over the lake.

If you are traveling through northern Utah, Bear Lake is well worth visiting. The few campers we saw pre-season told stories of how lively and fun it is for families come mid-summer, but even if you get there a few months before or after the warm weather months, it is a great RV destination.

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about Bear Lake:

Other blog posts from Northern Utah:

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

<-Previous || Next->

Utah Back Roads – Lakeside RVing Near Salt Lake City

April 2018 – We have been enjoying an RV travel theme of rivers and lakes since we first camped on the beach at Sand Hollow State Park in Utah six months ago. Over the winter we explored Arizona’s Salt River, Lake Pleasant, Canyon Lake, Lake Havasu, the shores of the Colorado River. In early Spring, as we traveled north, we stopped by Lake Mead and Gunlock State Park and then frozen Strawberry Reservoir in Utah.

Now, as we neared northern Utah, we were looking for a route around Salt Lake City that would avoid the traffic and high speeds of I-15. When we veered off to the east by Park City we got a fabulous view of Jordanelle Reservoir over our shoulders.

Jordanelle State Park Utah-min

Our first lake sighting on this leg of our journey: Jordanelle Reservoir, home of Jordanelle State Park.

There is a state park campground there that we camped at years ago, but on this trip we slipped by and relished the view from a distance.

The 80 mile north-south stretch of greater Salt Lake City from Provo in the south through the heart of Salt Lake City and on to Ogden in the north is bounded on the east side by towering mountains and on the west by the Great Salt Lake.

This makes for a tight funnel of congestion, so we were delighted to find a back road route with almost no traffic to take us along the eastern side of these same mountains and skirt greater Salt Lake City all together. Life was so tranquil on this side of the mountains we’d never guess a huge metropolis lay on the other side of the snowy peaks!

Farm and ranch land in northern Utah-min

In this peaceful farmland it’s hard to believe we’re just outside Salt Lake City.

Our first stop at the shore of a lake was at Rockport Reservoir, home of Rockport State Park. We romped around at a few overlooks and beaches on the western shore and waved to the state park on the far side.

Rockport Reservoir Utah back roads RV trip-min

Rockport Reservoir, home of Rockport State Park.

A little further north we found the town of Coalville which has a fantastic Union Pacific Rails to Trails path that runs alongside the Echo Reservoir.

Union Pacific Rail Trail back roads Utah RV trip-min

The Union Pacific Rail Trail runs from Park City past Coalville to the Echo Reservoir.

The weather began to deteriorate as we continued north, making for some wonderful drama in the skies above the farmland.

Storm clouds over farm Utah back roads RV trip-min

Brewing storm clouds.

We arrived at Pineview Reservoir to find the sun playing with its shadows across the the mountains and the farm houses on the far shore.

Pineview Reservoir Huntsville Utah back road RV trip-min

Pineview Reservoir after a dusting of snow in the mountains.

Pineview Reservoir with snowcapped mountains Huntsville Utah back roads RV trip-min

Pineview Reservoir.

A few miles north of Pineview Reservoir is the town of Eden, aptly named for its truly picturesque spot in a valley between three tall mountains that are now home to ski resorts. This has brought a trendiness and cuteness to the village that wa evident on every corner.

Yoga Tea and Espresso shop in Eden Utah on backroad RV trip-min

Yoga – Spa – Tea – Espresso – Gifts, all in a beautiful Victorian house.
Nearby ski resorts give the pastoral area around Eden a trendy vibe.

Cute log cabin shops in Eden Utah on a back roads RV trip-min

A circle of log cabins joined by a boardwalk has a cute boutique store in each one.

Behind the combination General Store and Mexican Cantina a fence around the outdoor eating area was made of snow skis, lest anyone forget that this area is a winter skiing paradise when they’re hanging out over beers in the summer sun.

Ski fence in Eden Utah on backroad RV trip-min

Ski country.

Despite the chill in the air, Spring was doing its best to get underway. In one garden beautiful hyacinths were beginning to blossom, and a robin was making the rounds looking for worms.

Hyacinth blooming in Eden Utah on back road RV trip-min

Spring is coming!

Spring robin Mantua Utah backroad RV trip-min

A robin reminds us that any snowfall we get should be pretty much the last of the season!

But Spring was playing hide-and-seek with Winter, and one morning we woke up to snow. It melted quickly on the ground but hung out long enough on our RV stairs for Buddy to make some paw prints and get a taste of snow.

Puppy sniffs snow on RV steps-min

Snow on our trailer’s steps capture some paw prints from our furry friend.

Then the skies cleared, and the dusting of snow on the mountains flanking Pineview Reservoir began to light up.

Snowy mountains Pineview Reservoir Huntsville Utah back roads RV trip-min

Pineview Reservoir reflects the mountains after the snowstorm.

Snowy mountains Pineview Reservoir Huntsville Utah back roads RV trip-min

.

As we continued north, following a meandering path, on two occasions our back roads RV trip took us over the mountains separating the Salt Lake and Ogden area from this bucolic wonderland. Fog and brightly lit low clouds hung in the valleys between the mountains as we crossed over in the morning.

Fog and snow on mountains near Ogden Utah on back roads RV trip-min

Clouds and fog light up in the morning sun.

We had gotten a very early start, and when we arrived in the village of Mantua it was a winter wonderland worthy of a Christmas card.

Mantua Utah backroad RV trip-min

The village of Mantua was enchanting.

The town sits on the western shore of the small Mantua Reservoir, and we were delighted to find that there is a wide path that goes along its edge.

Mantua Reservoir in Utah with snow on mountains RV trip-min

An inviting path led us partway around the lake.

As we walked along the path the views ahead of us were just spectacular.

Snowcapped mountains Mantua Reservoir RV trip in Utah-min

How glorious to arrive on the morning after a Spring snowfall.

Thistle and Snowcapped mountains Mantua Reservoir RV trip in Utah-min

.

Horses ambled across a frosted pasture. What a pretty scene!

Farm by Mantua Reservoir on Utah RV trip-min

.

Fresh snow Mantua Reservoir RV trip in Utah-min

.

We had never heard of any of the towns or lakes on this back country route, but this particular morning in Mantua, strolling leisurely along the banks of the Mantua Reservoir, we felt like we were strolling through the pages of a picture book.

Mountain trail Mantua Reservoir Utah-min

A trail wanders up between the mountains.

We made our way back to the village and were mesmerized by the quaint views going in that direction too.

Sun and snow Mantua Reservoir RV trip in Utah-min

Mantua, Utah.

Fall color and snow Mantua Reservoir RV trip in Utah-min

Reminders of last Fall’s golden colors complemented the white snow and blue water.

As we’ve often said, getting off the Interstate and staying off it is our favorite way to travel with our RV. Some of these roads looked really small on the map, but once we were on them, the driving was easy and the scenery was eye-popping.

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about the things along this route:

Other back roads scenic drives in Utah:

Wonderful places to visit in Northern Utah

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

<-Previous || Next->

Escapod Teardrop Trailers – Rugged Campers for Off-Road Adventure!

April 2018 – In our RV travels we love taking small roads from one destination to another because there’s more to see and you never know what you’ll bump into.

As we were towing our trailer in Utah from Strawberry Reservoir to Huntsville, we found ourselves driving through the village of Wanship. As we turned a corner, we noticed several cute tear drop trailers parked by the sidewalk.

Escapod teardrop trailer rugged RV for backcountry off-road travel-min

What a cool looking teardrop trailer!

Our heads whipped around to get another look as we drove by, and we noticed two big red garage bay doors were open and a teardrop trailer was peeking out of one of them.

Escapod Trailers manufacturing facility Wanship Utah-min

There was a teardrop trailer in one of the garage bays.

Did they build teardrop trailers here? We quickly found a place to pull over and walked back to see what this was all about. We noticed a petite trailer frame glinting in the sun and the company name “Escapod” on the building.

Escapod Teardrop trailer manufacturing Wanship Utah-min

Out front there was a trailer frame waiting for a teardrop body.

Manufacturing Escapod teardrop trailer rugged backcountry off-road RV-min

Escapod trailers are ruggedly built with strong frames made from 2×2 inch steel tubing.

We’d never heard of Escapod trailers before, but we LOVE teardrop trailers. So, we went over to one of the models to have a closer look.

Escapod Teardrop trailer rugged backcountry off-road RV-min

Sturdy, tough and ready for back country camping.

Then we heard a voice behind us and a tall, lanky fellow came over and introduced himself. He was Chris Eckel, and he had recently moved to Utah from New York to become a partner in Escapod Trailers alongside the founder Chris Hudak.

“Would you like me to open it up for you?” He asked.

Yes indeedy!!!

Escapod trailer rugged backcountry off-road teardrop trailer RV

.

Escapod teardrop trailer rugged backcountry off-road RV-min

The back end lifts up to reveal a galley with drawers, shelves, a high end cooler and a cooktop.

We were very impressed with the quality of the woodworking and the craftsmanship of the trailer all around.

Galley kitchen Escapod teardrop trailer rugged backcountry off-road RV-min

The woodwork is top notch.

Like most teardrop trailers, the galley is in the back. There is a stove set into a stainless steel countertop, and sliding doors in the back open up to shelving. Three finely crafted drawers are set next to a high end cooler.

Stove in Escapod teardrop trailer rugged backcountry off-road RV-min

The stove is recessed into the countertop.

Chris explained that the origin of Escapod was the desire for a well built and rugged trailer that could handle anything the backcountry might throw at it but could be purchased at a reasonable price.

Too often teardrop trailers are either relatively plush and unsuited to off-road travel or they are sufficiently sturdy yet astronomically priced.

Escapod is filling the void of top quality off-road durability for those who are budget conscious.

Front exterior Escapod teardrop trailer rugged backcountry off-road RV-min

The front of the Escapod is aluminum, ready for tough back country travel.

Hitch and battery Escapod teardrop trailer rugged backcountry off-road RV-min

A Group 27 12 volt battery powers the rig.

There are lots of options that can be added to an Escapod trailer. The unit we were looking at has an awning, but you can even add a rooftop tent to make the trailer a double-decker and have more sleeping options than the residential sized queen bed inside.

Tour Escapod teardrop trailer rugged backcountry off-road RV-min

An awning provides shade and the propane tank is easily accessed.

There is a door on either side of the trailer, and we poked our heads in to see more beautifully finished cabinetry inside. There is storage space at the head and foot of the bed, an opening hatch vent with a fan, opening windows in each door and a fixed window at the head of the bed.

Besides having wonderful air flow through the trailer for hot summer days, Escapod trailers are very well insulated for winter travel as well.

Interior Escapod teardrop trailer rugged backcountry off-road RV-min

Inside: a residential queen bed, storage space with push button latches and a hatch vent with a fan.

Inside Escapod teardrop trailer rugged backcountry off-road RV-min

The doors on either side both have opening windows and the front cap has a fixed window.

What a neat little package!

The foundation of any trailer is the frame, and with large fifth wheel trailers almost all the frames are made by Lippert Components. However, with small trailers like the Escapod and other independently manufactured teardrop trailers, the frames are often made by the trailer builder.

The Escapod frames are purpose-built for off-road travel in the outback.

Escapod Trailer frame-min

The frame is built right here at the Escapod manufacturing facility.

Sideview trailer frame Escapod teardrop trailer rugged backcountry off-road RV-min

.

The Escapod foundation includes high end gear like torsion axles, heavy duty Firestone Transforce AT tires and Mickey Thompson wheels.

Escapod Teardrop Trailers off-road rugged frame-min

Torsion axles ready for the Firestone Tranforce AT tires mounted on Mickey Thompson wheels.

While Chris Eckel told us all about the Escapod teardrops, we saw Escapod’s founder, Chris Hudak, hard at work welding a new frame.

Welding trailer frame Escapod teardrop trailer rugged backcountry off-road RV-min

Escapod founder, Chris Hudak, welds a frame.

A nearly finished Escapod teardrop was in the next bay. Escapod builds two trailers a month, and each one is built to order for a particular customer. When we visited in April they had trailers on order through July, so the wait for a new trailer was about 3 months.

Although all Escapod trailers have the essential basics in common, Chris works with each buyer to understand exactly how they intend to travel with their trailer, and they discuss which options will make the most sense for their particular needs.

Escapod teardrop trailer rugged backcountry off-road RV-min

Somewhere out there an excited buyer is eagerly waiting for this Escapod to be finished!

The GVWR for an Escapod trailer is 3,500 lbs, and the basic model with a few options and a full 20 gallon water tank is just 1,500 lbs. So you have a whopping 2,000 lbs of Cargo Carrying Capacity to work with, making it easy to carry a kayak or bicycles or a rooftop tent system on top or load up the cupboards and cooler with anything that might be needed on a camping trip.

Escapod teardrop trailer rugged backcountry off-road RV-min

These tough little teardrop trailers can take you anywhere you want to go.

Folks who live in relatively gargantuan fifth wheel trailers like our 36 footer may raise an eyebrow at the idea of doing any kind of long term travel in a teardrop trailer. However, it’s feasible. Last year at Sturgis Bike Week we met a man who designed his own teardrop trailer that he could tow with his motorcycle. It had a twin bed inside. He had lived in it for nine years and was truly loving life!

Homemade motorcycle teardrop trailer-min

Home for nine years to a very happy motorcycle camper!

The Escapod motto, “Born in Utah. Bred for Adventure. Tow and Behold” invites customers to go boondocking with their trailers out on America’s public land down remote and precarious dirt roads that those of us with big fifth wheels would never dare try.

And you can go for weeks at a time. Chris told us he took his girlfriend on a six week trip all around the back roads of the west in an Escapod last year and they had a blast.

A hot water heater and shower nozzle hookup are possible, but a solar shower bag is also a great way to go. We used one on our sailboat all through our Mexico cruise on days we’d been at anchor so long that our engine heated hot water was no longer hot.

Slogans Escapod teardrop trailer rugged backcountry off-road RV-min

Born in Utah. Bred for Adventure. Tow and Behold!

The Escapod we looked at came in at just under $14,000, a remarkable deal for a quality trailer. For those who are worried about such a big purchase, Escapod has several teardrops available for rent so folks can try before they buy. Even better, they have plans down the road to build rental fleets and partner with outdoor outfitters in America’s most beautiful locations.

We are so tickled we bumped into Escapod as we rounded the bend in Wanship, Utah. What a neat discovery!

Escapod owners Chris and Chris and dog Milo-min

Chris Hudak (left, he’s the founder) and Chris Eckel (right) and canine camping companion Milo

It turns out that Trailer Life recently did a fabulous article surveying the many teardrops that are being built today. The article is here: Tiny Trailers: New Era Teardrops. Escapod is the third teardrop in the list under a fabulous photo of an Escapod in Utah’s red rock country.

Unlike the market for larger travel trailers and fifth wheels that has less than a handful of independent builders and is dominated by a few conglomerates, teardrop trailers are the wild west of trailer building. Independent builders are staking claim to portions of this unusual market and building trailers to suit their special niche. How fun!

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about Escapod and Teardrop Trailers:

Food for Thought if you’re buying an RV:

Other RV manufacturers we’ve visited:

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

<-Previous || Next->

Strawberry Reservoir, Utah – Springtime Beauty with Ice & Snow!

April 2018 – We left Goblin Valley State Park with big smiles on our faces, but a layer of sand covered everything in the RV! It was time to get away from the dusty desert.

Starvation Reservoir Utah Indian Bay campground RV trip-min

Starvation Reservoir, Utah. Windy, but not dusty!

The fun thing about getting away from the red rock hot spots that are so popular in Spring and going into the greener, more mountainous areas that are filled with RVers come summer, is that we can get ahead of the crowds.

As we headed towards northern Utah, we found ourselves so far ahead of the season that at the interestingly named Starvation Reservoir one campsite’s picnic table was awash in waves!

Picnic Table in water Starvation Reservoir Utah RV trip-min

Pre-season camping sometimes involves unusual situations like waves breaking over the picnic table!

But it was at Strawberry Reservoir where we found true beauty and solitude. This fabulous and enormous lake is surrounded by campgrounds that are filled with weekenders and vacationers in the summer, but when we arrived in April all we found was closed campgrounds and a vast sheet of snow covered ice!

Strawberry Reservoir Utah frozen lake RV trip-min

Strawberry Reservoir was completely iced over with snow on top!

Strawberry Reservoir Utah snow on frozen lake-min

Strawberry Reservoir, Utah – The whole lake was iced over.

Ice and snow Stawberry Reservoir Utah in early Spring-min

.

Strawberry Reservoir Utah in snow and black and white-min

.

It was absolutely beautiful, and we did a slow drive all through the park. The roads weren’t all open, so we had to turn around before seeing everything, but how cool it was to be the only souls there.

Snowy landscape frozen Stawberry Reservoir Utah in early Spring-min

.

Snow and Melting ice Strawberry Reservoir in Utah-min

.

The ice was melting along the shoreline, creating beautiful patterns of white and blue.

Strawberry Reservoir melting ice on lake Utah RV trip-min

There was a thin strip of by the shore.

Strawberry Reservoir Utah frozen in early spring-min

.

Strawberry Reservoir in Utah Early spring RV trip-min

.

Despite the melting ice by the shoreline, there was snow on the mountains and a wonderfully brisk chill in the sun-filled air.

Early spring Strawberry Reservoir in Utah RV trip-min

.

Melting ice Strawberry Reservoir in Utah RV trip-min

.

Melting ice Stawberry Reservoir Utah in early Spring-min

.

Some herons and other water birds were fishing at the shore.

Herons fishing at Strawberry Reservoir Utah in snow and black and white-min

Birds fish by the shore.

And a brave ice fisherman was set up at a fishing hole carved through the ice in one of the coves!

Ice fishing Strawberry Reservoir Utah in Spring-min

An ice fisherman waits patiently by a hole in the ice.

There are boating and camping facilities along the shores of Strawberry Lake, and we drove down to Strawberry Bay Marina. There wasn’t anyone around, although the buildings looked like they must be full of life and activity in the summertime.

The floating docks had been pulled up into the parking lot for the winter. and Buddy hopped up on them and had a look around.

Puppy explores the docks at Strawberry Reservoir Utah-min

These docks will be floating in the lake soon.

At the Strawberry Reservoir Visitor’s Center there’s a nice little nature trail on a boardwalk that runs alongside the Strawberry River and crosses it a few times on the way to a fish hatchery. The Visitor’s Center wasn’t open, and when we first took a look in the morning, the boardwalk was covered frost.

Frost on fish hatchery boardwalk trail Strawberry Reservoir Utah RV trip-min

The boardwalk on the nature trail was frosted over when we first stopped by.

When we returned a little later, the frost had melted and we took a walk through some very pretty scenery.

Walking the boardwalk to the fish hatchery Strawberry Reservoir Utah-min

Frost-free by afternoon, we enjoyed this brief elevated nature walk.

Boardwalk to fish hatchery Strawberry Reservoir Utah snowcapped mountains-min

Several bridges crossed the Strawberry River.

There wasn’t a soul around, and the fish holding pens at the fish hatchery had been drained for winter. But then we noticed a car parked in a dirt lot and saw a fellow emerge from a doorway. It turned out he was a Fisheries Biologist who works at the reservoir year round studying the fish and managing the stock.

We had a fascinating conversation about fish and fish management, and he described the long term study he had been working on.

Boardwalk to fish hatchery Strawberry Reservoir Utah-min

.

It struck me that this isn’t a bad place to work collecting fish lifestyle data and helping the fish thrive, even if it is a little remote and very cold in mid-winter!

There are three primary fish species in Strawberry Reservoir that live at different depths: Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout and Kokanee Salmon.

I was surprised to learn that, when they are ready, the fish migrate out of the reservoir and up the Strawberry River towards the hatchery at night rather than during the day. When they sense the electric field of an electric fence they make the turn that takes them into the hatchery!

Golden willows Strawberry Reservoir Utah with snowcapped mountains-min

Spawning fish swim up the Strawberry River overnight and are then guided to the fish hatchery.

Bushes in the landscape all around the Strawberry River and Reservoir were a beautiful golden hue, and the Fisheries Biologist explained that these were willows that had been planted in huge numbers all around the area to help with erosion.

Colorful willows Strawberry Reservoir Utah early Spring RV trip-min

.

Golden willows and fenceposts Strawberry Reservoir Utah-min

Willows planted to stave off erosion erupt in golden tones in the afternoon.

What we loved was the way these willows lit up our photos. What gorgeous colors!

Willows and snowcapped mountains Strawberry Reservoir Utah-min

.

Strawberry Reservoir is undoubtedly a fantastic Utah destination to visit for boating and fishing during the warmer months of summer. And even though it’s 7,200′ elevation makes it slow to warm up in the Spring, it is still well worth a stop to see the beauty of the lake when it is iced over and the surrounding mountains are covered in snow!

Golden willows Strawberry Reservoir snowcapped mountains in Utah-min

It wasn’t camping season yet, but our stop at Utah’s Strawberry Reservoir was very rewarding!

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about Strawberry Reservoir:

Another fun fish encounter we bumped into:

The Salmon Festival in Stanley, Idaho – A neat celebration of all things salmon, about halfway down the post.

Other blog posts from northern Utah:

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

<-Previous || Next->

Dinosaur National Monument, UT – More than fossilized dinosaur bones!

Dinosaur National Monument has great road cycling

Dinosaur National Monument is great for cycling.

Early September, 2012 – Dinosaur National Monument is a big park that sprawls between NE Utah and NW Colorado. Many visitors buzz through this park, seeing only the bone display at the quarry.

However, the scenery, homesteads and petroglyphs elsewhere in the park kept us hanging around for quite a few days.

Dinosaur National Monument Road Cycling

We had fun on the bikes.

Dinosuar National Monument Lizard Petroglyphs

Lizard images crawl up the wall

We rode our bikes on the ~12 mile road that heads into the western heart of the park. This is a fantastic road for cycling.

Dinosaur National Monument skulls in a tree

Skulls hung in a tree.

Only a handful of cars passed us in four hours of pedaling and stopping for photos, and the sweeping turns, rolling hills and stunning vistas were a total thrill.

Dinosaur National Monument Petroglyph

What’s that on his head??

There are lots of petroglyphs along this road.  Most are a bit faint, and you have to do the billy goat thing to get up close to a few of them, but they are intriguing, with odd designs of people wearing strange things on their heads.

Dinosaur National Monument Josie's Cabin

Josie’s Cabin

 

Someone had hung a slew of animal skulls in a tree that we passed.  It was a little weird and gave the area an air of mystery.

The clearest petroglyphs we found on this road were on a sheer wall filled with lizards (photo above).  They march upwards from the bottom of the wall towards the top.  One six foot long lizard heads off to the right.  A perfect photo op would have been if a real lizard had snuck across the petroglyphs for us, but we didn’t get that lucky!!

Dinosaur National Monument Josie's Cabin

It’s a tiny, wee cabin

At the far end of this road, after it turned to dirt, we came across the Josie Morris Cabin.  This tiny four room cabin was home to a very plucky single woman for fifty years.  Married five times and divorced four, a rarity in her time, she bought this small ranch when she was a single mom nearing 40 in the early 1900’s.  She lived here first with her son and then alone until her death at 90 in 1964.

Dinosaur National Monument McKee Springs Road

McKee Springs Road – Where the artists rocked!

The building is wee, and walking around the property to her chicken coop and pasture, it was hard to imagine what life had been like out here, miles from nowhere.  But she was a tough old biddy.  She brewed apricot brandy during Prohibition and got arrested twice for cattle rustling when she was in her 60’s.

Dinosaur National Monument McKee Springs Petroglyphs

McKee Springs Petroglyphs

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur National Monument McKee Springs Petroglyphs

One morning we came into the park from another angle, taking the road to McKee Springs.  Here, in a wide valley, we found the finest petroglyphs we have ever seen anywhere.

Dinosaur National Monument McKee Springs Petroglyphs

This must tell a story.

Dinosaur National Monument McKee Springs Petroglyphs

Dinosaur National Monument McKee Springs Petroglyphs

A ghostly double? Two sets of arms? Huh??

Like all petroglyphs in this part of the country, they date back about 1,000 years to the Fremont culture, but lord knows what they say. All the figures wore headdresses or spiky things in their hair (antlers? feathers? antennae?). Some had elaborate decorative things around their necks, wore earrings, or dressed up their hair on the sides of their heads.

These petroglyphs are all lined up along the sheer faces of a cliff at eye level, and a path leads from one set to the next.  It is like walking through a museum, but there are no curator’s notes explaining what you are looking at.  That is left up to the imagination!!

Dinosaur National Monument Rainbow Park

Dinosaur National Monument’s Rainbow Park

At the far end of this road there is a tiny campground on the Green River at Rainbow Park.  Not a soul was around.  We thought about bringing the rig down here, but we wanted to get to the other side of the park, and for that we had to go into Colorado and come in from the southern end along Harpers Corner Road.

Dinosaur National Monument Echo Canyon Scenic Drive

The drive to Echo Canyon was beautiful

The highlight of this road was the 13 mile drive down the steep dirt switchbacks into Echo Canyon (4×4 required).  At the top the views stretched on forever, and as we dropped lower and lower into the canyon, the cliffs soared upwards on either side of us.

Dinosaur National Monument Whispering Cave

The cliffs towered on each side of the road.

Dinosaur National Monument Chew Homestead

The Jack Chew Homestead

 

Partway into the canyon we stopped at another early 20th century homestead, this one built by the Chew family.

Dinosaur National Monument Whispering Cave

You gotta stoop to get into Whispering Cave.

 

 

Dinosaur National Monument Whispering Cave

This cave features vaulted ceilings!

Unlike Josie’s solitary life, the Chews brought 6 of their 12 children to live here, starting with a dugout in 1910 and moving into a cozy one room cabin in 1911.  How a family of that size could squeeze into one small room during the long dark winters baffled us.

Steamboat Rock Dinosaur National Monument at Echo Canyon on Yampa River Green River

Steamboat Rock

But this gorgeous, harsh land has sheltered people in tiny places for eons.  The Whispering Caves a little further on had a low entrance but high ceilings inside, and a steady cool breeze blew from between the towering cliff walls.

Steamboat Rock is the centerpiece of Echo Canyon, and we hiked around the valley get a look at it from many angles.  The Yampa and Green Rivers swish around its base, and folks were swimming and kayaking around it.

Dinosaur National Monument Harpers Corner Trail

Views of thousand foot cliffs from Harpers Corner Trail

Instead of swimming, we got our exercise hiking Harper’s Corner Trail, a fantastic out-and-back trail that goes along a ridge overlooking canyons on either side.  From this high vantage point it was easy to see how the rivers had carved out their route between the craggy, horizontally striped cliffs.

Dinosaur National Monument Green River Views

The Green River weaves its way towards us.

 

 

 

 

On the other side of the trail the Green River made its curvy way towards us.  We watched a group of river rafters floating down stream, a thousand feet below us.

The night skies in this park are among the darkest in the country, and when we ventured out of the trailer one night, the Milky Way was a thick white band, like a wide belt, that crossed the entire sky.

Star Trails at Dinosaur National Monument

Star Trails

Mark had been reading up on various photography techniques, and this was a great place to try a star trails photo.  Pointing the camera at the North Star on his tripod, he left the camera shutter open for an hour to catch the movement of the stars in the sky.

Well, he meant to do it for an hour.  He came into the trailer to warm up, laid down on the sofa, and promptly fell asleep.  When he woke up, an hour and a half had passed!  Oh well — it just made the star trails a little longer!!

We were both very well rested by the time we pulled ourselves away from Dinosaur National Monument, and we were ready for a little in-town activity in nearby Fruita, Colorado.

Our story Dinosaurs and Much Much More was featured in RV Life Magazine in the September 2013 issue.

<- Previous                                                                                                                                                                                       Next ->

 

 

Vernal, UT – Colorful Gateway to Dinosaur National Monument

Vernal Utah summer flowers

Flowers decorate the streets of Vernal, Utah.

Early September, 2012 – From the brilliant colors of Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in Utah we dropped south to Vernal, Utah.  The town streets were lined with colorful flowers in planters and hanging baskets, and I hung my head out the window taking photos on the fly.  What a beautifully decorated town!

From our RV window we see a dinosaur welcoming us to Vernal, Utah

A dinosaur welcomes us to Vernal!

We see a lot of small towns in our travels.   Some we like immediately while others grow on us slowly.  Vernal was one of those that made us smile right away.

The dazzling masses of flowers were so inviting.  It seemed like a happy town, and we both said in unison, “I like this place!”

Dinosaur Museum Vernal Utah

Dinosaurs were everywhere!

Some small towns have a theme, especially if it hosts a lot of tourists.  The theme might be something general and a bit vague, like “seaside beach town” or “woodsy mountain town” or “college party town.”   Sometimes you have to kind of hunt around to figure out what it is.

Dinosaur at Best Western in Vernal Utah

Come stay with us at the Best Western hotel!

But Vernal’s theme is right out there, front and center:  This is Dinosaur Town!  Dinosaurs were everywhere.  They were welcoming folks to town, hawking rooms at the Best Western, inviting kids to go swimming, and milling around outside the Dinosaur Museum.  There were so many dinosaurs in this town that we did a special bike ride up and down the streets to capture as many as we could with the camera.  What a totally fun place.

Dinosaur Museum Vernal Utah

Welcome to the Dinosaur Museum

Of course, there is a reason this is Dinosaur Town, besides the townsfolk having a fascination with them.  Vernal is the gateway to Dinosaur National Monument where paleontologist Earl Douglas found a nearly perfect Apatosaurus skeleton in 1909.  It all started when he first unearthed a string of the beast’s vertebrae buried in the dirt in a nice little row.  The skeleton now resides at Carnegie Museum (Andrew Carnegie funded the work of Douglas and later scientists who quarried bones here).

Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus) at Dinosaur National Monument Utah

Apatosaurus

Apatosaurus is a long necked and long tailed plant eating dinosaur that walked on all fours, stood about 16 feet high, and was 70 feet long end to end.  If one of them tried to hide behind a typical one-story ranch style house, the head and tail would stick out either end.  Watch out for that swishing tail!

A Dinosaur in Vernal Utah invites kids to swim at a hotel pool - taking your RV there is fun too.

What a fun pal in the swimming pool…

This big guy has also been known as Brontosaurus, a name I remember from my childhood.

How did that 149 million year old skeleton happen to wind up on a hillside in the vast, empty, rocky area south of Vernal, waiting for a fossil-collecting paleontologist to find it in 1909?  It turns out it was sitting in the middle of what scientists discovered was something of a dinosaur graveyard.

Vernal Utah is a great RV destination with a fun dinosaur theme

Did you know dinosaurs liked watermelon??

Back in dinosaur days, all those millions of years ago, North America and Eurasia were just beginning to go their separate ways, and the climate was dry in this part of the world.  Rivers and flood planes wound through the area.  Dinosaurs ate the vegetation at the river’s edge, and as the water flooded and receded, they died in the muddy riverbed and were quickly embalmed in sediment.  Over time, at a molecular level, the sediment replaced the organic parts of the carcasses, and the bones became petrified, or crystallized, into rock.

RV Blog - dinosaurs in Vernal Utah

Dinosaurs mill around all over town.

Dinosaur in Vernal Utah

In this area a lot of dinosaurs met that fate, and consequently the “Dinosaur Quarry” is a deep and wide field of bones from the Jurassic Period.

The find that Earl Douglas made fired up the imagination of the early 20th century folk.  These were the days before the children’s book “Danny and the Dinosaur,” the Flintstones’ “Dino,” and lovable, purple Barny.

Vernal Utah dinosaur bares its teeth to RV travelers

This one has teeth!!

The newspaper accounts of the time had to follow the word “Dinosaur” with the explanation, “a pre-historic animal-reptile,” since not everyone knew what a dinosaur was.

Shuttle bus rides to Dinosaur National Monument make it feel like a Disney Theme Park

Is this a Disney Theme Park?

Douglas’ dream was to allow the public to see what the hillside looked like when the topsoil was removed — since it is a veritable pile of massive bones — and he envisioned a viewing area built over the quarry that would protect it from the elements and offer shade to visitors. The National Park Service obliged a few decades later.

Wall of bones on display at Dinosaur National Monument

A wall of bones is sheltered by a unique building.

At the visitors center we hopped into one of the open air shuttles that the NPS provides visitors to get to the quarry site. We felt a little like we were at a Disney theme park when we jumped in. It is a short, steep ride to the unique quarry building.

In our RV travels we found a Dinosaur graveyard at Dinosaur National Monument

This was a dinosaur graveyard.

The original building was considered a masterpiece of design, set off with a graceful butterfly roof. But the geology of the area wasn’t fully understood at the time, and natural forces began to wreak havoc with the structure. The National Park Service renovated the building in the early 2000’s and now it will presumably last a long time.

When we walked in the door, we found ourselves staring at a wall of dinosaur bones.

A reconstructed dinosaur skeleton at Dinosaur National Monument

It is hard to fathom how big these guys were and how long ago they lived.

History came alive as we walked along this slab of earth where Earl Douglas and so many subsequent paleontologists have painstakingly studied these layers of bones.

Vertebrae, skulls, leg bones and other intriguing things are all lying there, still encased in the rocky soil.

The National Park Service encourages visitors to touch the dinosaur bones

Mark checks out an enormous bone.

Visitors are encouraged to touch the bones, and putting a hand on an immense bone is quite a thrill.  However, we both still found it very hard to fathom the vast span of time that the dinosaurs existed (nearly 90 million years), and the antiquity of that era (they went extinct about 65 million years ago).  Usually our visits to “ancient sites” take us to places where humans lived just a thousand or so years ago.

A skull on display at Dinosaur National Monument

That is one big head!!

Wildflowers outside Dinosaur National Monument

To our surprise, we found out Dinosaur National Monument is loaded with treasures from those more recent times too.

So we stayed for several days, seeking out some of the best petroglyphs we have seen anywhere, hiking and driving through some spectacular scenery, and wandering through two homesteads from the early 1900’s.

 

Click here for our next post about PETROGLYPHS and CYCLING at Dinosaur NM.

Our story Dinosaurs and Much Much More was featured in the September 2013 issue of RV Life Magazine.

<- Previous                                                                                                                                                                                       Next ->

Flaming Gorge Utah – Fiery canyons, a cool river, and nearly tame bighorn sheep

Flaming Gorge Utah Rainbow over our RV

A rainbow frames the buggy

Early September, 2012 – Leaving the northern half of Flaming Gorge in Wyoming, we settled down near the heart of the gorge in Utah where it is a part of the National Park Service.

Flaming Gorge Utah RV Views

Mark gets a front row seat to the view.

The storms continued to march across the sky every afternoon, and one day, just as the sun was setting, the sky went black and a brilliant rainbow formed right over the buggy.

Flaming Gorge Utah Greendale Overlook

Kids monkey around for the camera

The overlooks and walking paths near the Visitors Center offer the most impressive views of the gorge, and we wandered out to the edge of the cliffs repeatedly to see the breathtaking scene from every possible vantage point.

Flaming Gorge Utah Canyon Rim Hike

The Canyon Rim hike goes through the woods too.

Brilliant mornings complemented the brooding afternoons.  As we paused one afternoon to enjoy the views from one overlook, a crowd of young families showed up.

Flaming Gorge is a perfect area for families, as there are all kinds of things to do, from hiking to biking to camping to visiting with herds of grass-eating animals to taking a tour of the dam.  This group of families was having a ball.  Half the parents were out on mountain bikes somewhere while the other half chilled at the overlook.  The kids romped all over the place in very high spirits, despite the gathering afternoon storm.

RV boondocking view of Flaming Gorge Utah meadow at sunrise

Meadow at sunrise.

They posed for their moms to take a photo, and they were all so cute I had to get one too.  Just minutes after that the skies opened up and we had a downpour that pelted everyone and everything and soaked us all to the bone.  The kids laughed it off, but we felt badly for the late returning dads who had to hurry in the driving rain to get all the mountain bikes back on their bike racks before they drove off in a blur of spray.

RVers coming to Flaming Gorge will find stunning views and camping

Breathtaking views at every turn.

Between storms we were gifted with glorious sunshine.  We hiked the Canyon Rim between the visitors center and the Canyon Rim Campground, taking two photos for every five steps.  What a place!  Rock outcroppings hang out over the edges of the cliffs all along the rim, making for dramatic views (and a little bit of stomach churning if you stand on the edge and look straight down).  Campers can set up in sites with marvelous views.

RV boondocking offers amazing views of Flaming Gorge

Now it’s my turn to perch on a cliff.

The big horn sheep are very much at home in this terrain, though, and a large herd was mingling with the campers in the Canyon Rim Campground.

Another woman watching them through the viewfinder of her camera (just like we were) told us they had been wandering between the campsites  all four days she had been there.

Bighorn sheep at Flaming Gorge's Canyon Rim Campground, an RVers delight

A herd of bighorn sheep hung out at the campground. Rangers track their movement by radio.

As we chatted, the group of sheep stood and stared at us, barely moving.  They formed something of a protective circle, facing outwards.  They stood there so long the young ones got bored, as we did, and eventually two of them laid down behind the shield of their parents’ legs.

Big horn sheep at the Flaming Gorge Canyon Rim Campground

We watched each other carefully.

These guys were very accustomed to humans, and they let us get close enough to see that the largest one had been outfitted with a radio collar.  A large antenna stuck out from the radio on his neck like a third antler behind his head.  Rangers told us they track the herd very closely.

Flaming Gorge Dam

Flaming Gorge Dam

Flaming Gorge used to be a free-flowing river, and one afternoon we took a tour of the Flaming Gorge Dam.  Built in the late 1950’s, it was one of the West’s many water reclamation projects of the mid-1900’s that tamed the west’s wild rivers and provided electrical power to nearby communities.

Flaming Gorge Dam turbine

An original turbine was replaced recently and is now on display.

The most amazing thing about these dams, I find, is that in order to build them the rivers had to be re-routed temporarily.  At Flaming Gorge, as at all the other major western dams, a huge tunnel was dug into the cliff so the water would bypass the dam construction area.  The concrete is so thick in Flaming Gorge dam that it will take 100 years to cure fully at its center.

Turkey vultures dry their wings on the scaffolding outside the Flaming Gorge dam.

When the sun came out, the whole flock dried off its wings.

That means the concrete at the core is only half cured now, and it puts the cure date sometime just before 2060!

A turkey vulture at Flaming Gorge Dam

Seeing an original turbine that had recently been replaced was interesting, but what really caught our attention was the huge flock of turkey vultures sitting on the scaffolding outside the dam.

Sweeping views from the Flaming Gorge Visitors Center in Utah

Flaming Gorge was an awe-inspiring place to visit.

When we started the tour raindrops were falling, and these guys were hunkered down waiting for the typical afternoon deluge.  But when we emerged from the bowels of the dam’s massive structure an hour later at the end of the tour, we discovered the sun had come out and all the turkey vultures were now sitting with wings outstretched, drying off their feathers!

Flaming Gorge is a magical place, and we dallied for a while.  But eventually the lure of dinosaurs drew us away and we drove further south to Vernal Utah and Dinosaur National Monument.

<- Previous                                                                                                                                                                                       Next ->

Bear Lake, UT – The Caribbean of the Rockies

Thistle at Sunset

Thistle at Sunset

Utah has happy barns!

Utah has happy barns!

Early July, 2012 – From the alpine forests of Utah’s Mirror Lake Scenic Byway we crossed the bottom corner of Wyoming and then emerged back in Utah at spectacular Bear Lake.

There’s something about Utah that always puts smiles on our faces.  And we aren’t alone.  Even the barns there are smiling.

The Caribbean of the Rockies

The Caribbean of the Rockies

Bear Lake lake is known as The Caribbean of the Rockies, and its vivid turquoise color is why.  As we looked out across the water at the jet skis and colorful catamarans flying past we had to wonder, is this Utah or are we back in Mexico in the Sea of Cortez again?

Sailing on Bear Lake

There is a campground at the south end of the lake with lots of sites that back up to the water.  It was fourth of July weekend and the place was packed.  Everywhere we looked we saw barbecues, boats on trailers, fishing gear, happy dads drinking beer, and kids running around in bathing suits.  From early morning, it seemed, the air was filled with the delicious aroma of grilling steaks.

Bear Lake Sunset

Bear Lake Sunset

One morning we took our bikes along the lake’s shore and discovered the coolest little trailer park.  It had been built long before the other bigger waterfront mansions began to take over along other parts of the shore, but it had been built in the most choice location.  Sitting high on a bluff, these tiny old single-wides had the best views of the lake.

Moonrise over Bear Lake

Moonrise over Bear Lake

Just 600 square feet or so inside, each one had a fantastic, sprawling deck that looked out over the lake, and it was clear from the elaborate patio setups that these folks spent summers outside on the deck!

We were at Bear Lake during the full moon, and it rose over the opposite shore each night, leaving a brilliant trail on the water.

Happy July 4th

We had been here once before, climbing over Logan Pass from the Salt Lake City area to  arrive at the western side of the lake.  This time we hung out at the south end.  It was only as we were leaving that we realized what a big lake this really is – probably 50 miles around the shoreline.

Continuing north along the border of Utah and Wyoming, our next stop was Afton, Wyoming.

 

<- Previous                                                                                                                                                                                       Next ->

 

 

Mirror Lake Scenic Byway Utah – Fishing and Fun!

Early July, 2012 – After exploring the pretty Provo Canyon and Alpine Loop Scenic Byways we set our sights on another one of Utah’s beautiful drives, the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway.

This road climbs into the mountains on the way out of northern Utah, pausing at a spectacular summit
before plunging into southern Wyoming.

As it winds through the peaks it takes several sweeping curves between the many alpine lakes.

We parked the buggy in a nice secluded spot in the woods and soon discovered that the sound of rushing water we heard was a huge waterfall that was just a little ways down a narrow trail from the rig.  What a find!  Wildflowers were growing along the water’s edge, and we spent many happy hours among them, marveling at the endless flow of crashing water.

During our stay we hiked to several of the lakes in the area, finding each a little different and pretty in its own way.  The Byway’s namesake Mirror Lake was a hubbub of activity on the Sunday afternoon we visited.

Fishermen lined the banks and kids played on the shore.  The water was filled with floating craft of all kinds, from kayaks to inflatable boats, and despite the many people on the trails and in the water there was a serenity to this lake that was infinitely appealing.

We enjoyed a few blissful days in these alpine lakes and then made our way off the mountain to Evanston, Wyoming.

Criss-crossing the Utah and Wyoming state borders in this area, we continued north towards Utah’s beautiful Bear Lake.  The nickname for this lake is “The Caribbean of the Rockies” and we soon knew why.

 

 

 

<- Previous                                                                                                                                                                                       Next ->

Provo Canyon & Alpine Loop Scenic Byways in Utah

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.