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I love me a good scenic drive, I mean, who doesn’t? So when we were planning one last trip up to Salt Lake in October, I knew it was time to do the Alpine Loop from Provo to American Fork. I had learned about the drive earlier in the summer when we were up there looking at cars, but we just didn’t have the time then. What better time to go than fall to see the leaves change? Well, maybe a week earlier while they were still on the trees.
For this visit we were staying in Sandy, so we headed out to the start of the drive in Provo, that way we came out closer to where we needed to be. It was the perfect mid-day drive. It was sunny, the temperature was wonderful and the road wasn’t super busy. I’m not sure how busy it usually is, though, so I have nothing to compare it to.
From end to end, the Alpine Scenic Drive is 20 paved miles taking you past the famous Sundance Mountain Resort, around Mount Timpanogos. If you want to visit Timpanogos Cave National Monument in American Fork Canyon, this is the road you want, but from American Fork, not Provo. Either way, you’ll get there, American Fork is just closer.
There were a few Geocaches I wanted to stop at along the way because why not. When would I be doing this drive again? The first one I almost gave up on because the only information available about it is the title: “The following takes place between…” and a picture of Jack Bauer. Uhh, ok. After looking around a bush for way too long, it clicked and I realized where we were. I appreciated the name and description much more once I realized where it was.
We continued on the winding road, making our way around Mount Timpanogos, stopping for a Geocache here and there. One that I stopped for was “in a grassy spot in the woods” so in I go. I was searching for like, ten minutes in this grassy area, but I couldn’t find it, so I tried to get back out to the road and could barely follow the tiny little trails that got me in there. I ended up plowing my way through the brush and getting covered in little plant bits.
The drive was really pretty, but most of the leaves were already off the trees, so we didn’t quite get the fall experience we were hoping for. A few golden leaves here and there, sure, but not much else. I think if we went a week earlier, it would have been perfect. This, of course, is tough to plan and time just right unless you live in the area and can actually see what it looks like when.
The road isn’t very wide, so you definitely need to be careful going around corners and you can’t really drive too fast. The actual condition of the road, though, is totally fine and any car should be fine on it. I just wouldn’t take a motorhome or anything like that one it. It’s recommended not to take vehicles over 30 feet. There are camping areas and hikes along the road, but there are also areas that are private property, so you can’t always just go wander around, which could be tough in the woods anyways.
Overall, I would say if you’re in the area, it’s a great scenic drive for almost any car. I wouldn’t go way out of my way for it, but if you’re planning a trip to Salt Lake City in the summer or fall and have a little spare time, I’d check it out. It doesn’t take long to drive the whole thing. I would give yourself at least two hours just to add in time for stops (if you plan to make any) and slower driving, since it is a windy mountain road.
Tips for driving the Alpine Scenic Drive:
- The whole drive is 20 miles from Provo to American Fork outside of Salt Lake City. The route follows Highway 92.
- The entire road is paved and it is only open late May to late October. It is not open all year.
- A recreation pass is required to use this highway and is $6 for 3 days or $12 for 7 days. This is also good for Mirror Lake Highway. I’ve read the America Beautiful National Park Pass works, too, but I can’t find the website I saw that on, so I’ll update this when I find it. We started from Provo and didn’t have to show our pass or buy one, but we did see a fee booth on our way out on the American Fork end. They didn’t ask us to see anything.
- Vehicles over 30 feet are not recommended to use the road.
- Sundance Mountain Resort, Cascade Springs, and Timpanogos Cave are all on the Alpine Loop.
- It can be kind of hard to Google and get the right Alpine Scenic Loop. I had the most success with Alpine Loop Provo, Alpine Loop Utah, and Alpine Loop Salt Lake. Alpine Loop Scenic Byway is 50/50 on either this one or another one in Colorado.
Have you done the Alpine Loop in Provo? When did you go? What did you think of it?