Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Alpine Loop

Traveling the mountains along the Wasatch Front can afford opportunities to find some fantastically gorgeous views.

Driving Provo Canyon is an activity I engage in very frequently, like daily. I have several spots in that canyon that I like to hike and try to hike several times a week.

American Fork Canyon is the next canyon to the north and is where Timpanogos Cave is located and that is a very popular attraction. This canyon also has some fantastic scenery and the hike up to Timpanogos cave provides both fantastic views along with a good workout.

American Fork Canyon was cut through the mountains by the creek and at least in the first few miles of that canyon the road is bordered by almost straight rock cliffs rising up on both sides of the road.

It always amazes me to stop and just take in the awesome power of these cliffs and rock faces that make up these mountains.

There is a road that connects these two canyons, American Fork and Provo,and it is not the main highways.

If you drive to the top of American Fork Canyon the road will go over the top and start down the side that comes out in Provo Canyon. It is called the Alpine Scenic Loop.

It is not a long drive across the Loop but one well worth the time it takes to drive it. It can be done quickly or it can take some time but it is time will spent and it all depends on how long you want to stay up there.

There are picnic spots and campgrounds along the way and fishing opportunities depending on your passions but also hiking and mountain biking.

Starting from the American Fork side it is easy to find because of Timpanogos Cave and the directional signs that are along the way even on the exit signs for I-15. Timpanogos Cave is just a couple of miles up American Fork Canyon so it is well marked.

Passing the cave another 2-3 miles will bring you to a fork in the road. The left fork takes a road where there are many more picnic spots and some camp sites and will end up at Tibble Fork Reservior, which is a nice drive but the right fork will continue along the Scenic Loop.

The next few miles have some spectacular views of both mountains and canyons. Further on there is another fork in the road and the right fork turns and enters the Timpanooke Campground. This a great camping area and also has access to the trail heads that go up to Mount Timpanogos. There is also access to the Great Western Trail from this campground.

The left fork however continues on up the Loop and there are a number of places to stop and just look at the sights and there are a good number of great hiking opportunities. However there are not a lot of good parking opportunities along this stretch.

The road over the loop is not a very wide one. It is just 2 lanes but they are narrow and there a number of switchbacks on it. If you happen to be pulling your camp with you as some do you will not want to be too long as you may have problems. It is not a road to drive through fast, but with the scenery why would you want to.

Next stop is the summit or top of the loop and there is a small parking lot and restrooms. This a place where you can connect with the ridge trail which has more good hiking possibilities. Then it is down to Provo Canyon.

Just a short quarter mile or so on the down side is a turn off for a road that goes to Cascade Springs. That is another adventure to take and a worthy one. Maybe the time will be right for this opportunity or it could be a future adventure.

Our Loop journey now is downhill on this side and we will find ourselves mainly going through a thick Quaking Aspen forest. The road winds through the trees until we reach Aspen Grove.

There are cabins here and some facilities along with parking. This is also a good area to find a number of trails that go up the backside of Mount Timpanogos.

Then just a hop and a skip and we are at Sundance the ski resort and from there it is just a few miles and we come out on the main highway in Provo Canyon.

Cascade Springs

If you are taking a drive over the Alpine Scenic Loop it is not a bad idea to plan enough time to take a detour from the top of the Loop road and go to Cascade Springs.

Whether your Loop trip starts from Provo Canyon or American Fork Canyon your route will take you past the Cascade Springs turnoff. The turnoff is in a very close proximity to the top of the Loop on the Provo side and the road to Cascade Springs is a nice surprise.

While the Loop road is a narrow one with lots of switchbacks the road to Cascade Springs is a comfortable 2 lane highway with a good width.
In the area nestled at the base of the surrounding mountains there were a number of springs that derived their water from those surrounding mountains. I have heard that there were 7 major springs but that could just be a good story. Also that story said that a decision was made to use the water from those springs to build a water park. The story also said that the project was used as an activity for inmates from the Utah State Prison and that they did the work on the park. I am not sure of any accuracy to the story but it does make a good story. The result from whatever happened though is really quite pleasant. The waterways and springs have been cleaned out and worked on with falls and beautiful crystal clear pools and all set amidst the natural vegetation.
There are pathways around the various sections made of both wood board walks and rock pathways.

There are benches placed at locations to rest or to just take some time to contemplate and take in the peaceful surroundings.
Cacade Springs is a very pleasant experience anytime of the year but that is especially so in the fall of the year when the leaves are all turning.

The Springs is at a lower elevation than the Alpine Loop Road used to get into the area so the foliage differs. Instead of the Fir and Spruce and Quakies as on the Loop road there is more Birch, Scrub Oak, Maple and Boxelder and the colors are different.

Whatever time of year you go though it is worth the trip!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More Triviality

The weather that we enjoyed this spring was very wet to say the least. We had a good amount of late snow and also a heavy amount of rain. It has all been very good for the water supplies.

All the reservoirs around the area are full; Jordanelle, Deer Creek, Wanship, Echo, etc. are all full to the brim.

Even Lake Powell has received a huge boost in its water level. It was very low before but they have said on the news reports that through this spring the water level has risen 30+ feet which is a fantastic amount of water.

And there is still snow on some of the mountains. The front of Timpanogos is about clear now but the back still has a good amount of snow on it. Lone Peak still has quite a few patches on it as does Nebo.

There is one little squiggle just to the south of Lone Peak that still has snow in it. I guess it really isn't a squiggle but more like a little arc.

I was told when I moved to Utah Valley that this arc was a good water gauge and to watch it. The story was that if there was still snow in that little arc in June then that meant there would be enough water to get a good corn crop.

A few days ago when I drove to Salt Lake I even noticed a few patches on the Oquirrh Mountains north of the copper mine. That means that we have a good water year going for us and we will have plenty of corn to eat.

A couple of years ago I took some pictures of the first snow fall in this area. It was really more than a couple of years, it was more like three, it was the 21st of September in 2006.

My son was going to school in Arizona and roasting in the heat and hating it and missing the snow so I took pictures of the mountains and the new snow. It was an early storm but not too unusual. It was a fair amount of snow also.

Looking at the snow still on the mountains the first of July and then comparing to the new snow the latter part of September that doesn't leave a lot of time that the mountains are snowless in that high country.

Geneva Remnants

Geneva is now gone!

I have read that it covered up to 1700 acres when it was in operation and now that it is gone that ground is being developed for other uses, along with a huge amount of residential development that is taking place west of the old Geneva site.

It looks like the town of Vineyard which is just west of the old Geneva site looks to grow like gangbusters because of all the new homes that could be built in that towns area.

One really neat development that has happened though is the new Harley Davidson dealership that has been built across the street from the northeast corner of the old Geneva site.

It is at 555 South Geneva Road in Lindon and it is a fantastically neat new building.

They have a large selection of motorcycles and who could help but love a Harley!

But they have also constructed a very unique building and even kept some of Geneva in the whole process. The new building is constructed of recycled material that I have heard comes from the old Geneva plant.

It may sound crazy but it is something that is well worth a trip by to see and even stop to look at the Harleys!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dinosaur Park

I found some old pictures from a couple of years ago that reminded me of a park we happened to go to in Ogden.
We were in Ogden for a football game but were early and to kill time we started exploring. In the area at the mouth of Ogden Canyon nestled up against the Ogden River we found the Eccles Dinosaur Park.

It was fantastic!

I didn't even know it existed and it was really a surprise. We had a couple of hours to spend and could have spent all afternoon.

They have a walk in museum that has bones and fossils and such things as that like most of the other museums but:

There is also an outside part with paths to walk and it is filled with dinosaurs all living together and fighting and eating each other.

It was interesting and even kind of scary. Some would growl and roar and the kids didn't like the growls and screams, but they were fun. It didn't scare me though, just the kids.

And if you got tired of chasing the kids they even had a place to get a break for a few minutes.
The kids would probably like the playground better though.........and there is also areas for having a picnic if you brought one.

They have a website for the park; and it is very informative with all the information about the park and getting there.

It was well worth the time to go.

Remember I said that it has been a couple of years since we were there and from the website it looks as though there has been more added and improvements made.