Best places and times to see fall leaves this season

Sep 23, 2022, 4:32 PM
(Chris Williams)...
(Chris Williams)
(Chris Williams)

Fall is upon us and the leaves are changing into brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow. KSL Meteorologist, Matt Johnson, outlined the best times to see changing leaves.

When to see fall leaves

The last week of September, (Sept. 26) is expected to show some beginning signs of changing colors, mostly greens and yellows. The first week of October will start to show more oranges and darker colors which will continue into the week of Oct. 10. By the week of Oct. 17, leaves should be at their peak with reds joining the mix.


Best fall drives

Utah.com listed some of the best places around the state for scenic fall drives.

Alpine Loop – One of Utah’s Most Spectacular Scenic Drives

Probably the most popular drive, this loop winds through the mountains near Mount Timpanogos passing nearby sites like Bridal Veil Falls, Cascade Springs, Tibble Fork Reservoir, Timpanogos Cave, and Sundance.  Take UT 92 East from the Alpine / Timpanogos Cave National Monument exit #284 off I-15, or exit #272 off I-15 in Orem and take UT 52 east to US 189 to UT 92.

Brigham City to Logan to Bear Lake

Up north the drive from Brigham City to Bear Lake carves through Logan Canyon for one of the prettiest views of fall leaves. Drivers should follow US 89-91 from Brigham City north to Logan via Sardine Canyon (25 miles). Continue northeast from Logan on US 89 to Bear Lake through Logan Canyon (now a National Scenic Byway) and the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

Ogden to Weber Canyon to Parley’s Canyon to East Canyon to Emigration to Salt Lake City

For those interested in a more ambitious drive or a day trip, driving from Weber Canyon to Salt Lake City, hitting two other canyons along the way. Follow I-84 southeast from Ogden to the Morgan exit. Take UT 66 south to East Canyon State Park and UT 65. Continue south on UT 65 along Pioneer Memorial Highway to I-80. Take I-80 west to Salt Lake City.

Bountiful Peak Drive

This route connects Farmington and Bountiful on dirt roads in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Take the Lagoon exit in Farmington, head east to Main Street and then stay on 600 north, and end at 100 East. Merge onto Farmington Canyon Road.

Parley’s Canyon to Emigration Canyon

This is a Salt Lake area version of tour #3a 25-mile loop tour along I-80 and Emigration Canyon. Near the entrance to Emigration Canyon, you’ll pass by two landmarks: Hogle Zoo and This Is The Place Heritage Park. Other nearby sites: Fort Douglas (site of Olympic Village during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games) and the University of Utah. Option: follow I-80 east to Park City.

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Just 12 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, this canyon leads up to two popular ski resorts, Brighton and Solitude. To drive there, get off I-215 at Exit 6 and follow UT 190 south to the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Turn left here. UT 190 continues up this canyon. As you head up the canyon, you enter the Wasatch-Cache National Forest. The road loops at the top to come back down.

Big Cottonwood Canyon to Guardsman’s Pass to Park City to Heber Valley

Following the same directions to Big Cottonwood Canyon, just before getting to the cabins at Brighton, drivers will take the GUardsman’s Pass road over the mountain to enter Park City or Heber. Just know to take a sharp left turn after passing Solitude Resort!

Little Cottonwood Canyon

Little Cottonwood Canyon, (known for its flowers of the Albion Basin in the summer,) has equally impressive leaves and contains ski resorts, Snowbird and Alta. Drivers should get off I-215 south at Exit 6, then proceed south on UT 190. Continue straight through the Big Cottonwood Canyon intersection. The route becomes UT 210. Follow this road, which becomes Little Cottonwood Canyon (UT 210). The route ascends into the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

Mount Nebo Scenic Byway

Further south in between Nephi and Payson, this route climbs to over 9,000 feet, providing incredible views of the Utah Valley and climbs near the impressive 11,928-foot Mount Nebo, the tallest mountain in the Wasatch Range. To access the south end – from Interstate 15 at Nephi, take Exit 225 to travel east on State Route 132. Five miles from the Interstate, look for a left turn (north) onto Forest Road 015, which is the scenic byway. Travel north on the byway, following the signs at junctions. The byway ends just outside Payson, from which you can access I15 again.

Kamas to Mirror Lake

This 30-mile drive on UT 150 takes you from Kamas into the Wasatch-Cache National Forest. From Salt Lake City, take I-80 East until Highway 40 toward Heber.


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Best places and times to see fall leaves this season