Top Autumn Drives In Utah
While the East Coast generally gets all the ooo's an ahh's about fall color, we like to think our home state of Utah has it's fair share as well. Here's a run-down of the top Autumn drives (in no particular order) in Utah!
1) Big Cottonwood Canyon - Just 12 miles east of downtown SLC and you're away from the hustle and bustle of the city and into some pristine wilderness. Big Cottonwood is a 15 mile-long drive of breathtaking views with several pull-out areas for easy fall-color viewing. Enjoy a picnic at one of the lower day-use areas (some require a small fee) or go all the way to the top and enjoy a walk around Silver Lake for a good chance of seeing a moose (just keep your wildlife distance)! There are several easy to moderate hikes as well for the more adventurous.
2) Guardsman Pass - Just before you get to the top of Big Cottonwood, you'll see a sign to turn onto a small mountain road of Guardsman. Longer vehicles are not recommended for this windy and narrow drive but the views are incredible! Guardsman takes you to a junction of being able to continue to either Park City via the Empire Pass or head into Midway Utah and the spectacular Wasatch Mountain State Park. Be aware that parking on the side of the road is prohibited in many areas and could result in a ticket. Use the pull-out and designated areas for the best viewing or just enjoy the drive through the mountains. Hurry, as this pass gets early snow and typically closes the first of November.
3) Little Cottonwood Canyon - while this drive is slightly shorter than its sister canyon, don't let the name fool you. Little Cottonwood packs a punch with massive granite canyon walls carved out by ancient glaciers. Enjoy a drive up and back down or stop at popular hikes the quarry walk near the river or a short jont up to the spectacular Lisa Falls.
4) The Alpine Loop - A place growing in popularity and for good reason, the Alpine Loop on the Wasatch Back connects American Fork Canyon to Provo Canyon with unbelievable scenery. Keep in mind, this is a fee area, but your America The Beautiful pass will cover the entrance fee. The loop is fully paved though many places are narrow so longer vehicles could have a tough time on turns. With the amount of scenery here, you'll want to plan at least half a day.
5) Scenic Byway 12 - Dubbed one the of most scenic byways in America, this all-American road in the heart of the Southwest will captivate your imagination. While one doesn't normally associate the desert with fall color, that would be a missed opportunity to not see the southwest in full color. Red rock cliffs and rugged terrain as backdrops to large cottonwoods tress in full yellow is a site to behold. Highway 12 is also a great drive to classic locations like Bryce Canyon, Escalante and Capitol Reef so be sure to take your time!
Of course, this is just a taste of what Utah has to offer for fall color. When out enjoying the views, always remember to Adventure Responsibly and leave these place better than you found them!