Alpine Loop? Try Utah’s, gentler, prettier than Colorado’s

Utah’s canyons have so many pretty spots. Taking visitors through them I always heard about how no one expected such beauty in the desert. So I was excited to see the headline in Sunday’s Dallas Morning News about taking the Alpine Loop.

Autumn aspens in Utahs Alpine Loop - Wikimedia photo

Autumn aspens in Utah's Alpine Loop - Wikimedia photo

Prettiest drive you can make in a day. Start out in American Fork, head up American Fork Canyon, cross over to the backside of Mt. Timpanogos — you’ll see aspen, pines, fir, some of the prettiest streams you’ve ever seen anywhere. Some years back the Utah Travel Council had a spectacular poster showing the colors in the fall — about five shades each of red, gold and green, aspen and cottonwoods against the balsam and Douglas fir and a few scattered pines. Stop and hike up to Timpanogos Cave National Monument. See where the glacier was on the east side of Timpanogos.

End up passing Robert Redford’s Sundance Ski Resort, and down Provo Canyon (when I skied there it was $6.50 for a full-day pass; have the rates gone up?) — finish up with dinner in a good restaurant in Provo (or drive the 36 miles back to Salt Lake City and have world-class sushi at Takashi).

Alas. The article was about Colorado’s Alpine Loop. Who knew Colorado even had one by that name?

I suspect the Colorado version is less-traveled. The author took a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Utah Travel Council photo of the Alpine Loop showing some of the autumn colors -- not the great shot from the long-ago poster, alas.

Utah Travel Council photo of the Alpine Loop showing some of the autumn colors -- not the great shot from the long-ago poster, alas.

Utah’s Alpine loop is paved the entire way, closed maybe only during a winter of very heavy snow. If you’re just passing through, you can do the drive in three hours or less, easily. If you have a day, grab a picnic, and spend some time stopping to enjoy the mountains.

(Go see Rich Legg’s photos of the east side of Timpanogos, here.)

Some time I’d like to check out the Colorado version. Odds are that I’ll be back in Utah County before then, however, and odds are you’ll be closer to the Utah version than the Colorado version, too.

You know the old saying about “take time to stop and smell the balsam, and ooh and aah at the aspen?” The Alpine Loop is what the aphorist was thinking about. Theodore Roosevelt would have gone there, had he known about it. You know about it now.

Windleys Google map of Utahs Alpine Loop, around Mt. Timpanogos

Windley's Google map of Utah's Alpine Loop, around Mt. Timpanogos

3 Responses to Alpine Loop? Try Utah’s, gentler, prettier than Colorado’s

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    See this drone video.


  2. Betty says:

    I lived in Salt Lake City a number of years in the 1970s and 80s. I guarantee you Utah’s Alpine Loop will not dissapoint! If you can stay more than a day,
    there are no less than five canyons you can go up into on a day or 1/2 day trip. You can start at the Capitol and do Emigration Canyon from downtown (we ued to go up for stargazing parties). Going due south from the Capitol you can go up Milcreek canyon, further south you can go up Little Cottonwood canyon and further down, Big Cottonwood canyon. All scenery is indiscribably breathtaking and there is much to do on your way up and at the end of each canyon. Old Park City is historically cool. Head down to Provo and go up Provo Canyon as this site mentions and visit Robert Redford’s complex. Its beautiful. I stood behind him in the food line once and caught his eye in the parking lot as he peeled out. He is there. Every canyon is breathtaking and beautiful on a grand scale. Something every American should get to see. If you want to show your kids America, these places would be unforgetable. And don’t forget southern Utah for outstanding National Parks, MOAB’s ARCHES Nat’l Park in particular is absolutely unique to the universe in its sandstone splendor. THere are other outstanding National parks there too. I lived there 15 years and I deeply miss the Wasatch and Uinta mountains. I hope you can visit even if on the internet. P.S. Don’t forget to see the Capitol and the PIONEER MUSEUM. Best museum I’ve ever seen. Betty.


  3. zhoen says:

    A good plan, for the cooler weather. Been a long time since I hiked Mt.T.


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