My Views of Utah

Alpine Loop Scenic Drive

Between Provo Canyon and American Fork Canyon,
behind Mount Timpanogos

Photos taken June 2002

Photos by Venita*

small map

If you are looking for an excellent scenic drive, consider Utah's Alpine Loop. The route begins in Provo Canyon at the Sundance turn and ends at the mouth of American Fork Canyon. (Alternatively, one can begin in American Fork Canyon and end at Provo Canyon road.) The road itself is a narrow, steep, twisty, two-lane paved by-way through some of the most beautiful alpine scenery in the Wasatch mountains. It is not suitable for the faint-of-heart driver or for longbed recreational vehicles, and is closed from November to May because of snow. Designated pull-out areas are provided for inspirational vistas and photo opportunities. Otherwise, there is no room to stop along the drive that ultimately rises to just under 8000 ft. in elevation. Trail maps are available for those interested in hiking or mountain biking in the area. A small fee is due at the entrance to the national forest.

view of Sundance

Above: The turnoff to Robert Redford's Sundance Ski Resort/Arts Center is just two miles up the road. Another three miles brings us to the Aspen Grove Family Camp and Conference Center. Just ahead is the entry to the Uintah National Forest and the beginning of the Alpine Loop. another mile farther and around a hairpin turn we find a pull-out, perfect for looking back at where we've been. This view shows some ski trails and the roofs of a couple of the cabins in the Sundance village. The distant snow covered peak is Cascade mountain.

Aspen Forest

Above: We have left the conifer dominated forests and are now surrounded by the fluttering green leaves of Quaking Aspen groves. All of the Aspens in this forest are said to be clones, each one having the same DNA as all the others. They propogate themselves in this climate by sending up shoots from their lateral roots. These older trees show the marks of lovers' (and others') initials, easily carved into the soft white bark.

Aspen Forest 2

Above: Another part of the forest is populated by younger trees, all seeming to be about the same size! Apparently, an avalanche had killed the previous stand of trees some years ago and the new "sprouts" have filled the vacancy. Notice the lush undergrowth of ferns, grasses and wildflowers.

Aspen tree tops

Above: Unlike many trees, Aspens don't grow large trunks as they age, but they do continue to grow taller. This group is definately reaching for the sky.

Northeast side of Mt. Timpanogas
Above: Nearing the end of the Provo Canyon stretch of the road we can look back at majestic Mount Timpanogos from the northeast. Although smaller than usual this year, because of the drought, the permanent snowfield is visable in the basin just above the tree line. Many have hiked the trail to the highest peak then delighted in a slide down the ice on the way back down. The challenging hike features visits to waterfalls, lakes and streams on the way up and spectacular views of both Utah Valley and Salt Lake valley upon reaching the summit.

From the crossroads

Above: Near the summit of the drive we leave the forests and enter an open area providing a wide vista of the mountains all around. This view is looking south with the late afternoon sun lighting the distant peaks.

This point also marks a fork in the road. We can take the main fork down American Fork Canyon, or turn right for a side trip to beautiful Cascade Springs. Please click on your choice!

*Unless otherwise noted, all photos on this website were taken by Venita, who also holds the copyright. Should you wish to download any of them for any reason (other than your own enjoyment), please credit  Venita  as the photographer and add my URL:

Comments are appreciated!

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