Utah Stories and Tips

Day 9 - Utah

Scenic Alpine Highway - Mt Timpanogos Photo, Utah, United States

Today was the penultimate day of my sightseeing, and it was also
illustrative of my theme, "Don't Fence Me In." I started out of Salt Lake City with the intention of seeing Timpanogos Cave near Provo, Utah. I took Exit 285, Route 92 on I-15 and drove east into American Fork Canyon. Route 92 becomes the Scenic Alpine Highway as you enter the Wasatch Mountains. By the time I reached the gate into the alpine loop up to the cave, the waiting list for tours was three to four hours.

Here is a tip for you, so that you don't have my disappointment. If you are going to visit Timpanogos Cave, make advance reservations. Cave tour tickets frequently sell out, especially on weekends and holidays. Tour tickets may be purchased up to 30 days in advance with a major credit card by calling the visitor center at 801-756-5238. A non-refundable .50 transaction fee is added to each ticket sold in advance over the phone. It is worth the extra fee to get into the cave when you get there. The cave is only open from May to October, depending on snow conditions, so plan accordingly.

Instead of going to the cave, I drove the Scenic Alpine Highway around Mount Timpanogos, a stunning trip. It was a rather cooling drive on a hot summer day in Utah. The road offers many views of the Wasatch Mountains and the Uintah forest.

Then it was on to Green River and Moab. The drive down route 191
through Helper and Price, Utah is breathtaking, with lots of canyons and even more wide-open spaces. i even snapped a photo on the drive that symbolized my trip theme, "Don't Fence Me In."

After checking in at my motel in Green River, I proceeded down to
Moab and up into the Manti-La Sal Mountains on a 50-mile loop road. I had been to Moab, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park on prior visits, but had never been up into the mountains that are ever east of Moab. The views were fantastic!

A wonderful feature of the Manti-La Sal Loop is at the northern end of the road. A huge spire called Castelton Tower is in view for about the last ten miles. It and the accompanying formation called The Rectory, are a rock climber's paradise. I eventually passed right alongside of Castleton Tower near the junction of the loop road and UT128.

If you have the stomach for it, paste this link into your browser and watch the climb of Castleton Tower. http://wimp.com/dangerousclimbing/

After leaving the loop road, I drove through the Red Canyon along the Colorado River on UT128 back into Moab. This scenic route that starts up in Cisco, UT, is another sight that many visitors to Moab miss. It you approach Moab from the east on I-70, be sure to go down UT128 rather than taking UT191 from Crescent Junction.

After a long day of sight seeing, it was great to get to my hotel and the in-room Jacuzzi.

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