Enchanting visitors and Park City residents alike, fall might be the best time of the year for a scenic drive in and around Park City, Utah. The weather is still warm, the sun is shining, and the leaves are starting to turn,
If you’re going to be in Park City this autumn, try out one or more of our favorite scenic drives this fall. We think you’ll fall in love!
Alpine Scenic Loop
Enjoy a 20-mile drive through the tree-filled Unita National forest and canyons when you drive the Alpine Loop. This paved highway covers Hwy. 92 and Hwy. 189, winding through the Wasatch mountains. Stunning views of glacier-carved Mount Timpanogos and a detour to Cascade Springs are some of the highlights of the trip.
If you want to take a break during your drive and enjoy a picnic, we recommend exploring Cascade Springs. The natural, spring-fed pools and terraced waterfalls are beautiful and have an accessible boardwalk built so visitors of all ages and abilities can enjoy the fish and aquatic plants.
This beautiful drive is usually only open between the end of May and late October, so remember to take some time to experience it before snowfall closes it.
Big Cottonwood Canyon
This drive is about 25 miles one-way, connecting Park City to Salt Lake City. If you are leaving from Park City, you will follow Hwy. 224 to Hwy. 190, entering Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Once in the canyon, you will be amazed by the colorful foliage arrayed in the canyon. There are a few areas where you can pull over and take pictures, but overall, this scenic drive is meant to be appreciated from the car. Also, as the season progresses, watch out for wildlife as they often cross the canyon road.
There are multiple picnic areas and hiking trails just off the route. So bring your map, lunch, and hiking boots for a fun-filled day of adventure.
For a shorter yet lovely drive, you can take Guardsman Pass. This trip follows Hwy. 224, which is sandwiched between Park City and Brighton at 9700’ above sea level. One way, the drive is about 14 miles. Most of the route is paved, but the middle is a maintained gravel road that can be dangerous in a storm.
You will be able to see more of the high alpine trees on this drive, with the dark green trees standing in bold contrast with the gold and orange grasses and scrub trees. If you want to stop and take a hike while in Park City, you can hike Guardsman Pass and connect to other trails, like the hidden gem Shadow Lake trail, which leads to a quiet forest lake.
There are services in a few towns along the way, but nothing in between. This pass will close over the winter months, so fall is a perfect time if you want to experience Guardsman Pass.
Mirror Lake Highway
To reach this scenic drive following the Provo River, you will leave Park City and follow Hwy. 248 to the town of Kamas. Grab some snacks and go to the restroom in Kamas because once you leave on Hwy. 150 on the Mirror Lake Highway, you will have entered the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
There are numerous picnic and camping areas. For the adventurous, there are places to fish, hike, and ride an ATV.
The long, winding forest drive will take you deep into nature, passing many smaller lakes until you reach Mirror Lake. You can choose to turn around once you reach Mirror Lake Campground or keep traveling along Hwy. 150. Be careful you don’t admire the sights for so long that you end up in Wyoming!
If you’re looking to make Park City your home, contact Jensen and Company. We’re a fixture in the Park City community and are happy to help you find your home in this four-season paradise.