I had explored some of the southern part of Mirror Lake Scenic Highway during stays with dear friends in Heber City, Utah, but I hadn’t driven the whole thing either because it was closed for winter or I didn’t have time. On a road trip from Denver to Heber City in late July I decided to make the time, especially after being in miles of construction on I-80 in southern Wyoming. From I-80, in Evanston, I turned onto Wyoming 150 going through a residential area that quickly turns into ranch and farmland. As soon as you enter Utah, it’s 23 miles to Mirror Lake and 55 miles to Kamas. The Mirror Lake Scenic Highway is a 42 mile stretch on Route 150.
The drive through the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in the Unitas Mountains is beautiful as you pass tall pines lining the road. This mountain range is unique. It’s one of the few in North America that runs east to west, instead of north to south. The Uintas stretch for 150 miles and there are twelve 13,000-foot peaks including Utah’s highest tallest mountain, King’s Peak at 13,528 feet above sea level. My first stop was at Pass Lake, quickly followed by a stop at the Hayden Peak overlook. Surrounded by aspens and pines at the overlook, the wonderful aromas of the forest after a rain filled the air as I enjoyed the near perfect reflection of Mirror Lake.
Heading up the summit of Bald Mountain Pass, the scenery completely changes to more tundra-like above treeline in a rugged and rocky landscape. North of Bald Mountain Pass you’re following Bear River. South of the summit, you follow the Provo River. At 10,715 feet high, Bald Mountain Pass is Utah’s highest paved road. As I headed south and crested the summit, I was treated to a wonderful view of the High Uintas. Just past the summit I stopped to take a picture of the glacially carved valley below. Before taking my photos, I saw some men trying to take a self-timer group shot. I offere to take some pictures and was glad I did as it was a group of three generations – grandfather, son and grandsons – making memories. Afterwards they jokingly said “see ya here next year.” I hope they get to make trips for many years to come.
My last stop on Mirrow Lake Scenic Highway was at Provo River Falls. I had been here before, but I love a good waterfall. This is a series of cascading falls. From the parking area, it’s 23.5 miles to Kamas. In those miles there are tons of hiking trails and some great snowshoe trails in winter. This is a wonderful summer or fall drive.