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
cliffs. It is beautifully
constructed with three lanes,
allowing for two directions of
bike traffic and one lane of
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 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
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
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
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.