Tag Archives: Wolf Creek Pass

Wolf Creek Pass and Provo Canyon

Wolf Creek Pass and Provo CanyonAfter a couple of weeks without a ride, 214 miles and four hours really hit the spot. I wanted to see how the road over Wolf Creek has fared since our trip a few weeks ago with snow still on the road, so I headed over the pass to see if spring has made it to the summit yet. The road was bone dry, but there was still snow on the north-facing slopes and in the shade.

I could feel the temperature drop as I approached the summit and was glad I had my jacket on—even though it was pushing 70 degrees in the valley. It’s easy to forget what the difference in altitude can do to the temperature, so it’s a good practice to be prepared for big swings in temperature this time of year. In fact, I was sprinkled with a little bit of rain as I neared the top.

050215 WC#3The town of Tabiona was named for the Ute Chief Tabiuna-To-Kwanah, Child of the Sun, and Ute warrior. Following the Black Hawk War, the Utes signed a treaty and were settled in the Uintah Basin in eastern Utah, but as what appears to be common practice at the time, the government didn’t honor the treaty and the indian agent responsible for supplying the Utes seems to have kept the supplies for himself. Starving, Tabiuna-To-Kwanah was the Chief that Dan Jones convinced to settle in Thistle Valley. You can read about the Thistle Valley and the Dan Jones story here. Eventually, the Utes wound up back on the reservation in the “Basin” as the locals call it.

050215 WC#2I’ve said before, the ride over Wolf Creek Pass is one of my favorites and one of the first rides my brother-in-law, Paul, introduced me to a week or so after I started riding several years ago.

One of the first passes to open up in the spring, it’s also a beautiful ride in the fall when the leaves are changing. I usually see several bikes on this ride, but today it felt like I had the road to myself.

I had originally planned on taking Indian Canyon from Duchesne to Helper and then home via Spanish Fork Canyon, but the weather started to look sketchy to the southeast so I opted to take 050215 WC#1Highway 208 to the junction with U.S. 40 and scoot home before weather in the high country turned wet. I’d like to put a Wolf Creek-Indian Canyon-Fairview Canyon ride together this year, but it might have to wait until the weather is a little more predictable. That said, it will be an epic ride.

By the time I hit Heber I wasn’t quite ready to jump on the Interstate, so I hung a left and headed for Provo Canyon. The ride through Provo Canyon was a great way to cap of a fun day in the saddle.

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Provo Canyon, Daniels Canyon, Wolf Creek Pass, and the Mirror Lake Highway=Epic Day in the Saddle

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 9.58.05 PMKelly 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.

TyandKellyTemperatures 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.

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