Kelly and I left shortly after 8:00 am. We headed south thinking we’d start with Provo Canyon. The beautiful Provo River meanders alongside the road but “progress?” has changed the way the river flows and the nature of the drive. As a kid I remember my parents being excited about improvements they were making to the highway. Widening the road, smoothing out what was once a winding ride along the Provo River. I have to admit, as beautiful as the drive through Provo Canyon is today, I can’t help but wonder what it was like riding through the canyon 50 years ago.
With Kelly in the lead, you never know where you’re going to end up, but I can guarantee it’s going to be a fun ride. The plan was to cruise through Midway, skirt the south end of the Jordanelle Reservoir to Francis, and head over Wolf Creek Pass, but Kelly skipped the turn in Midway and headed for Heber and US Highway 40 instead. I haven’t been over Daniels Canyon and past Strawberry Reservoir for several years. My grandparents used to live in the Uinta Basin and we’d driven over this stretch of highway hundreds of times. Although US-40 isn’t an Interstate like I-15 over Parley’s Canyon (which is how we came home), like Provo Canyon, it sees a lot of traffic.
The temperatures started to rise as we dropped down into Fruitland before the turnoff to Tabiona and Wolf Creek pass. I shed my jacket, had a bottle of water, and talked about bikes with Kelly for a few minutes. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Tabiona this way, I usually treat this ride as an out-and-back because the pass is so beautiful. The climb up Daniels out of Heber and around the north end of Strawberry was much prettier than I remembered. I was glad Kelly decided to take us this way.
Temperatures dropped as we climbed the pass to the summit, but the escape from the heat was a welcomed relief as we cris-crossed our way down the other side into Francis. The mountain valley’s in Utah are beautiful and some of my favorite riding.
We stopped in Kamas for lunch in a cafe neither Kelly nor I had been to before, The Gateway Grill. The place definitely caters to the tourists, but my cheeseburger was tasty and the service was good. I’ve been looking for a good place in Kamas and will stop there again.
Over lunch Kelly suggested that instead of calling it a day and heading home, it might be a good idea to take the long way over the Mirror Lake Highway through Evanston, Wyoming. I didn’t need to be back early, so I was all in—it never takes very much to convince me to add a few more miles. The road from Kamas to Mirror Lake and on to Evanston is beautiful. After stopping at the summit of Bald Mountain Pass for a photo, we dropped down the other side headed for Wyoming.
We hit a couple of my favorite northern Utah rides, spent six or seven hours in the saddle, and had a great time. If you like to spend the day in the saddle, you’d love this ride out of Salt Lake. Wolf Creek Pass and the Mirror Lake Highway are great rides in and of themselves, but tie them together and you have an epic day.