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Utah's Alpine Scenic Loop Backway

Drive a 34-mile stretch near the Wasatch Mountains for Timpanogos Caves, Bridal Veil Falls, Sundance Resort, and Cascade Springs.

Alpine Loop map, illlus. by Michael Klein
Photo caption
An hour-long drive let's you experience autumn and a rugged terrain.

A crisp autumn day. Hills ablaze with bright gold quaking aspens. Where are you? On a 34-mile ramble that links Utah's Route 92—the Alpine Scenic Loop Backway—to a slice of U.S. Highway 189. It takes just an hour (start where I-15 meets 92), but allow most of a day to savor the sights. Pick up AAA'sSalt Lake City–Park City Guide Map.

  • TIMPANOGOS CAVE NATIONAL MONUMENT A one-hour tour takes you through three caves studded with stalagmites and stalactites and laced with limpid pools. Comfy shoes and a light jacket are a must. (801) 756-5238.
  • UINTA NATIONAL FOREST Looking for a splendid lunch spot? Take a detour onto Road 144. At Echo Picnic Area, eat under a canopy of maples and aspens. Or stop at Roadhouse Picnic Area for a bite beside the American Fork River. (801) 342-5100,
  • TIMPOONEKE CAMPGROUND In the heart of the Wasatch Range, you might ask, "What hike today?" Try the Great Western Trail for a stroll by the South Fork of the American Fork River or take the Timpooneke Trail for a more rugged trek through the evergreens.
  • CASCADE SPRINGS A seven-mile side trip down winding Road 114 offers panoramic views of Mount Timpanogos. At the springs, some 5.5 million gallons of water bubble up each day and spill over travertine ledges into sparkling pools full of flora and fish.
  • SUNDANCE RESORT In 1969 Robert Redford bought this small vacation spot; he later remade it as an environmental and artistic haven. A two-hour pottery workshop runs $80, but there's no fee for watching Mexican glassblowers turn recycled bottles into gorgeous vases. (800) 892-1600,
  • BRIDAL VEIL FALLS Five or so miles from Sundance Resort off Highway 189, the falls plunge 607 feet over limestone terraces. Admire them from a roadside overlook or turn off at Nunns Park for a closer view.

Illustration by Michael Klein

This article was first published in September 2006. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.