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Mountain Drives near Salth Lake City

Ottawa
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Mountain Drives near Salth Lake City

I will be in SLC in July with my wife and 3 girls (ages 8-12)and we would like to spend at least one day exploring the mountains (we are from the flatlands) before driving to Zion/Grand Canyon

Can somebody recommend the best one-day of driving with some mild hiking mixed that we could do?

If we had a second day to explore the mountains, could you recommend a good second route/itinerary?

Thanks,

Doug

utah
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1. Re: Mountain Drives near Salth Lake City

Yep. Do American Fork Canyon / Alpine Highway. It's about 30 minutes south of Salt Lake on the Lehi exit.

Hike up and tour the Timp Cave. (This would be borderline to call a mild hike - there's about 1000 feet of elevation gain, but little kids do it all of the time)

Visit Cascade Springs

Check out Bridal Veil Falls

Stop in one of the many picnic areas

Possibly ride a tram at Sundance and hike to Stewart Falls

If you wanted more, when you get to the Provo side of the canyon after visiting Bridal Veil Falls, head up the canyon to Heber and Park City.

Here's a thread with more details:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g143057-i1449-k426…

Alternatively if you want something more remote there are many options in the Uinta mountains.

I'd also recommend Thanksgiving Point - I think your daughters would love the gardens.

Edited: 11:08 am, May 12, 2011
Salt Lake City, UT
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2. Re: Mountain Drives near Salth Lake City

I agree with bc1_8's suggestion. It's perfect that this loop gets you driving south, and also provides you with MANY options for hiking and destinations that are all very different within one area. Cascade Springs is beautiful (no really hiking "up"- walking along boardwalks once you get up there); The Timpanagos cave tour is interesting and the hike up is pretty, yet not very natural in the sense that it's paved and will be busy. Hiking around Sundance is spectacular- Mt. Timpanagos is one of my favorite mts in Utah. Driving this loop and doing these hikes will be a LONG day, if not enough for 2 days.

Just one other suggestion...there are actually several beautiful hiking areas right from downtown SLC, which you could spend 1-2 hours doing before you started driving south. There are several trailheads (if interested, I can give you more details) just northeast of the state Capitol building, and within 10 minutes of hiking, you're up in the mts looking down over the entire Salt Lake Valley with beautiful views of the Great Salt Lake. (Funny- just realized that my little tripadvisor pic of my dogs is taken during the summer in the hiking area I'm describing!) This could be a nice introduction to the other beautiful mts you can see! :)

Ottawa
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3. Re: Mountain Drives near Salth Lake City

I saw in the Utah travel guide a mention of the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway. How does it compare with the the American Fork Canyon / Alpine Highway drive in terms of the "wow" factor of the scenery..

Salt Lake City, Utah
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4. Re: Mountain Drives near Salth Lake City

The Mirror Lake byway is beautiful. And I would recommend it with a hike to the top of Mt Baldy overlooking Mirror Lake. Or a walk around Mirror Lake. Or a hike from Trial lake to Long Lake for example.

The only problem with going to the Mirror Lake Highway is the drive time. It is about 1 1/2hr one way. Not that it is that long but really American Fork is great and a lot closer.

Another drive you could consider is the Guardsman Pass. Drive up Big Cottonwood and enjoy Brighton and Solitude. Some nice hikes there around Lake Solitude or up to the Twin Lakes. Then drive over Guardsman pass. At the top there are a couple options. You can head to Park City, or into Heber or over to American Fork Canyon. Some of those will have dirt sections, but we've never had problems with them.

And if you want a scary mountain road then you could take Farmington Canyon to the top and then over to Bountiful Peak. Gorgeous views of the Great Salt lake, but a one way narrow dirt road to get there.

utah
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5. Re: Mountain Drives near Salth Lake City

@kbecjeans

I was waiting for you to come on and give your opinion since I knew you have done and recommend both (it's been way to long for me since I've been to mirror lake.)

They said they want to make a whole day of it so the 1 1/2 hour drive each way might be doable for them. If drive time is not a factor, which do you think has the bigger wow factor? (I don't remember anything about the drive to mirror lake as far as how scenic it is.)

One advantage I can think of for the Alpine Loop is that it is a loop so you aren't driving past the same thing twice...

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6. Re: Mountain Drives near Salth Lake City

The wow factor difference is really hard to say. They are both beautiful but in different ways, pretty much like "should I see Bryce or Zions?", they are both worth seeing. The area surrounding Mt Timp is to me more "closed in", more vegetation, and majestic. The Uintas are more open, the highest mountains are above timberline and more coniferous forests, and maybe a bit more "wild". There is just an undefined uniqueness to the Uintas that of course is wonderful to escape to from the hot summer days.

I enjoy the easier access to food in the Alpine Loop. For the Uintas you need to bring your own as there is nothing past Kamas.

If they just want a mountain drive, then really Big Cottonwood to Guardsman Pass to Alpine loop would work great with plenty of time to get out and explore and still get back in time for dinner. The great loop through the Uintas- Park City to Kamas, to Mirror Lake to Evanston and back to Park City on I-80 -would leave less time for hiking/exploring and with that last stretch through the echo canyon just freeway driving. No need to do the whole loop of course. Just to Mirror Lake and back is great too, I just like to stay overnight if I go that far.

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7. Re: Mountain Drives near Salth Lake City

Some good suggestions above. It's hard to go wrong with any of the choices. I'd definitely lean towards the Mirror Lake Highway. Spectacular alpine scenery, reminiscent of Colorado or the northern Rockies, with lots of pine forests and lakes.

The drives in the Wasatch are great too, and the scenery is actually quite different (though no less dramatic). The mountain are more of the Basin and Range type, with very steep ridges, deep canyons, mixed forests, and far fewer lakes. Little Cottonwood Canyon (UT 210) to Alta should be added to the list. It's a very short side trip from the Salt Lake valley.

In July, you'll likely want to get to as high an elevation as you can, as the temperatures lower down can be miserably hot then. This fact would point you to the Mirror Lake area as well, where you can drive above 10,000 feet / 3000 m elevation. Bring the bug spray, though.

Ottawa
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8. Re: Mountain Drives near Salth Lake City

Thanks so much for these suggestions.

I may end up staying even longer than 1-2 days in the SLC area considering that there is so much to see in the vicinity.

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9. Re: Mountain Drives near Salth Lake City

The minute I saw the thread title I thought of the Mirror Lake drive. Lots of short hikes and you can even rent a canoe and paddle in one of the many lakes up there. That would make a great day. We rent our canoe from the University of Utah when we go up there: …utah.edu/campusrec/outdoor_rec/rentals.html or take a chance that the canoe-rental-guy-in-the-trailer will be at Mirror Lake and rent from him. I've done both.

10. Re: Mountain Drives near Salth Lake City

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