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May 18, 2023 12:00:00 PM 7 min read

Scenic Byways of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest is one of Utah's invaluable natural gems. Spanning over two million acres of geological and ecologically-diverse landscapes, the forest encompasses the Wasatch Mountains, bordered to the south by the High Uintas Wilderness and west by Salt Lake City Metro Area. It's a haven for adventurous travelers who love exploring the Utah scenery and engaging in world-acclaimed outdoor activities. Visitors take part in everything from snowmobiling and downhill skiing to mountain biking and hiking. However, the forest's abundance of scenic byways makes it a popular destination all year round for those who prefer a more relaxing experience.


The network of paved tourist routes consists of National, State, and National Forest scenic byways. These all intertwine into fascinating paths through the forest's most unique and beautiful terrain. Expect to tour through dramatic mountainous landscapes and awe-inspiring overlooks of the surrounding valleys. In autumn, the leaves change color, transforming the forest into a breathtaking landscape with a sublime blend of captivating colors. For more information about the national forest, check out The Ultimate Guide To Visiting the Uinta National Forest.

Perhaps you are looking for scenic byways to enhance your Utah-Idaho road trip, or you want the perfect natural landscapes to shoot instagrammable photos. There is always a reason to take a scenic drive on one of Uinta Wasatch-Cache Forest's scenic byways and enjoy the beauty of Utah scenery. Accommodation near the forest is made easy at Daniels Summit Lodge, which borders the south-western side of the forest. Below is a list of the most popular scenic byways visitors love to check out on their drives.

Mt. Nebo Loop National Scenic Byway


If you are a nature-focused photographer, you will find Mt. Nebo Loop National Scenic Byway a dream come true. Stretching 38 miles through the national forest in between the cities of Nephi and Payson, the road travels through the backside of Mount Nebo, the highest peak in Utah Valley. This scenic highway boasts stunning landscapes with many overlooks and wildlife viewing spots as it runs along the Wasatch range. 

The paved road elevates to an altitude of 9,000+ ft., providing a great vantage point to take beautiful photos of the Wasatch Mountains and Utah Valley. It is important to note that the road is closed seasonally when it snows, but can still be accessed by snowmobile. Along this scenic byway, travelers can explore various amenities, such as campgrounds, horseback riding, and trail systems. The crown jewel of this scenic route is the Devil's Kitchen Geologic Interest Site, which features picnic areas, an observation deck, and a paved trail. The stand-alone red-colored rock formations are comparable to those of Bryce Canyon. The eroded sandstone formations add drama to the natural scenery with their amazing red color that deeply contrasts with the surrounding greenery.  

Related Reading: Beginner’s Guide to Snowmobiling

Mirror Lake Scenic Byway

Mirror Lake Highway sits about two hours from Salt Lake City, and heads east from the city of Kamas through Wasatch-Cache forest. The scenic byway runs 42 miles along state Route 150 and ranks among Utah's most popular mountain driving routes. From Kamas, the highway winds through farms and ranch lands as it climbs high into the Uinta Mountains. A fun fact to note when driving through the Uintas is that it’s one of the few mountain ranges in the US that span east to west, instead of north to south. The road reaches its highest point (10,715 ft.) at Bald Mountain Pass. As it descends, it passes through the rugged Hayden, Kletting, and Holiday Park peaks before meeting the Wyoming border. 

The scenic highway has many overlooks, picnic areas, campgrounds, and trails. Travelers can see the stunning Mirror Lake, the route's namesake known for its sparkling and reflective waters. Provo River Falls is one popular stop along the holiday route, where you can swim and wade in shallow pools. Afterwards, visit the historic Bear River Ranger Station and explore the newly restored tie-hack cabin.  

Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway

This 41-mile scenic road stretches between the historic Cache Valley and Bear Lake, spanning through the Wasatch-Cache National Forest towards the border of Idaho. Traveling along this highway offers the opportunity to witness the surrounding 500-million-year-old geographical formations and the lower canyon's deeply incised, and nearly vertical limestone walls. 

It is no question the route offers spectacular Utah scenery year-round. However, if you want to see the landscape in its full glory, many recommend driving this byway in autumn. There is something about how the lush green trees blend with the brilliant reds  and yellows that create an irreplaceable experience.

The picturesque byway begins at the mouth of the canyon, near Logan – a charming town known for the Jensen Farm, its modern cheese factories, and the Utah Festival Opera Company. During your trip down the highway, it is important to be wary of a few things. First off, there are no gas stations along Logan Canyon. The road travels through remote canyon, so fill up on gas in Logan City on the west or Garden City on the east before heading out into the drive. Second, reception is very spotty once you head into the wilderness. It is best to look up the attractions you want to visit ahead of time and mark them on either a downloaded or printed map. Do your research and be prepared to make the most of your trip!


Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byway

This 15-mile scenic byway begins at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon, which lies just 22 miles from Salt Lake International Airport and stretches east on state Route 190. The canyon narrows almost immediately, revealing Utah's rich flora as it heads into breathtaking alpine scenery. 

Formed through glacial activities and stream erosion, the ancient canyon boasts two world-class ski resorts: Brighton and Solitude. Both have full service, year-round facilities. In the winter, avid skiers can experience the thrill of epic backcountry ski runs, and access to picnic areas. In summer, hikers and mountain bikers can hit the trails to the historic mining country of the Old West. They will explore the ghost towns that were once vibrant cities during the gold rush. If you are going to be doing a lot of hiking, prepare by researching day hiking essentials. Other summer activities include camping, rock climbing, and fishing. From Brighton, there are several easy trails leading to various lakes: Twin Lakes, Lake MAry, Lake Martha, and Dog Lake.


Besides the major scenic byways, Uinta Wasatch-Cache National Forest also boasts other scenic backways that feature unique points of interest and natural vegetation. If you are the type to take the road less traveled by, consider the following scenic backways. 


Cascade Springs Scenic Backway

Cascade Springs Scenic Backway lies in the mountainous area north of Provo between Midway and Hwy 92. Covering 25 miles, this holiday route begins at the peak of the Alpine Scenic Loop to Wasatch Mountain State Park. Being a gravel road, travelers are advised to drive on the backway between May and November. 

Alpine Loop Scenic Backway

Beginning at American Fork Canyon on US-92, the Alpine Scenic Loop Backway stretches down through beautiful aspen groves to US-189 in Provo Canyon. Although the 24-mile backway is paved, trailers aren't allowed due to the steep elevation and narrow corners. 

North Slope Scenic Backway

North Slope Scenic Backway is a 38-mile gravel road that begins at the Utah/Wyoming border on state Route 150 and heads east to China Meadows before going north to Stateline Reservoir. Visitors taking this route pass through stands of lodgepole pine mixed with spruce, aspen, and fir. Additionally, there are several viewpoints where guests can wallow in picturesque views of the surrounding peaks of the Uinta Mountain Ranges. 

Bountiful-Farmington Loop Scenic Backway

As the name suggests, this scenic backway connects Bountiful to Farmington through a steep, rugged road. It's one of the best routes if you'd like to enjoy views of the magnificent Great Salt Lake and the western desert's mountain ranges. 


Explore Northern Utah's Natural Scenery with Daniel Summit Lodge

No matter your reason for visiting Utah’s scenic byways, you will not regret exploring The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Make your trip as convenient as possible by staying at Daniels Summit Lodge, which lives just outside the national forest. Since 1998, Daniel Summit Lodge has been a snowmobiler's paradise, creating memorable adventures for the outdoor traveler. With over 200 miles of groomed mountain trails, guests can rent a snowmobile and take a tour to enjoy endless trails and play areas. We offer cozy accommodations with picturesque views overlooking the beautiful Utah scenery. Contact us today to book a snowmobile tour or lodging and experience northern Utah's breathtaking outdoors.