Park City’s spectacular fall season provides a wonderful excuse to push the pause button on the hectic pace of life. One way to do that is to hop in the car and go for a scenic drive. With crisp air streaming through golden aspens and hillsides illuminated with brilliant red leaves and a dusting of snow on the high peaks, you might find it more of a challenge to focus on the road. So pull over on these scenic autumn drives that our home has to offer and enjoy a hike as well. Some of these high passes are only open for another few weeks so don’t delay! Whether you’ve got a quick afternoon to kill or a whole day to explore, here’s where we recommend you take your next ride.
If you’re looking for a quick fall drive, Guardsman Pass is a perfect choice. This 14-mile (one way) excursion follows Highway 244 and connects Park City to Brighton in one direction and Midway in the other. There are countless sights to see along the way, including expansive views of the Wasatch wilderness, wildlife, alpine forests, and wildflowers. The road is mostly paved but you will encounter well-maintained gravel portions along the middle. If you want to stop and explore on foot, there are plenty of trailheads that branch off from the road too! As always, bring your camera and keep an eye out for those magnificent moose.
Plan for drive time one way to be 1 to 1.5 hours.
Alpine Scenic Loop
If you have a couple hours, consider traversing the winding roads of the Alpine Scenic Loop. This 27-mile road traverses through the towering Wasatch Mountain range with views of Mount Timpanogos soaring overhead. Be transported to another world while driving past spring-fed creeks and cascading waterfalls. This leisurely drive is one you won’t want to speed through. Not only because the twisting turns will keep you from doing so, but also because the breathtaking landscape and natural surroundings along this road will make you wish it would never end. Follow the road all the way through to Alpine and Highland or loop back around towards the Provo Canyon.
Plan for drive time one way to be 1 to 2 hours.
This list wouldn’t be complete without including Provo Canyon. As one of the most scenic drives in all of North Utah in any season, taking a ride through this majestic canyon during fall is especially legendary. The fabulous route begins about 20 minutes south of Park City and takes you along the thundering Provo River, Deer Creek Reservoir, and Bridal Veil Falls. The entire drive will send you south from Heber City, and you’ll emerge near Provo. If there was ever a time to open up that sunroof, this would be the drive to do it. Extend your day and visit Sundance Mountain Resort for lunch at their deli or Foundry Grill.
Plan for drive time one way to be around ½ to 1 hour.
Mirror Lake Byway
Venture eastward towards Kamas for a high altitude cruise along the Mirror Lake Byway. This drive is lengthy if driven to its full extent. The 65-mile byway travels up into the Uinta Mountains, Utah’s highest peaks, and reaches an altitude of nearly 11,000 feet at Bald Mountain Pass. There are numerous hiking trails and wildlife to experience during this trip. Drive up to Mirror Lake for a stroll around scenic waters or go all the way to Evanston, WY. Either way, you’ll see Utah from a whole new perspective.
Plan for drive time one way to be 1.5 to 3 hours.
Wolf Creek Pass Loop
Experience the literal highs and lows of Utah backroads with this long adventure. Wolf Creek Pass explores the flat lands of Tabiona and Hanna, dives through Strawberry Reservoir, and offers views of the Jordanelle Reservoir. Head towards the majestic Wolf Creek Pass and continue on to view incredible landscapes, wildlife, open terrain, soaring mountains, and endless ribbons of road. The 119 mile loop ends just south of Park City.
Plan for drive time to be 5 to 6 hours.